Antiqua Print Gallery Oil City, Pennsylvania
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Oil City, Pennsylvania

Oil City is a city in Venango County, Pennsylvania noted especially in the instrumental exploration and development of the petroleum industry. After the first oil wells were drilled nearby in the 1850s, Oil City became central in the petroleum industry while hosting headquarters for the Pennzoil, Quaker State and Wolf's Head motor oil companies. Tourism now plays a prominent role in the region promoting oil heritage sites, nature trails and Victorian architecture.


In the early 1600s, the Seneca nation first settled in the region; by, the late 1700s Chief Cornplanter was given three tracts of land as a gift from the State of Pennsylvania. In 1818, local prospectors purchased the land and built a blast furnace, which closed in the early 1850s. As population in the area began to decline, Colonel Edwin L. Drake drilled the first commercially successful oil well on August 28, 1859 in nearby Titusville. A number of boomtowns came to life in the area, including Oil City, Titusville, Petroleum Center, Pithole and Rynd Farm.
Barges were used to transport the oil down Oil Creek and into Oil City, where it was transported to steamboats or bulk barges to continue on to Pittsburgh and other locations. Oil City was founded in 1860, incorporated as a borough in 1863, and chartered as a city in 1874. The Borough of Oil City was incorporated as a city in 1871. The city was partially destroyed by flood in 1865 and by both flood and fire in 1866 and again in 1882; on this last occasion, several oil tanks that were struck by lightning gave way, and Oil Creek carried a mass of burning oil into the city, where some 60 lives were lost and property valued at more than $1 million was destroyed. Oil City grew into a thriving community through the later half of the 19th century and into the 20th Century. By the 1990s, Pennzoil, Quaker State and Wolf's Head had all relocated headquarters elsewhere. However, some oil wells continue to produce a steady supply of quality petroleum.
Oil City was the home town of Col. Francis "Gabby" Gabreski. Gabreski was the top American fighter ace in Europe during World War II and a jet fighter ace in the Korean War.

(Source Wikipedia)