In the early 1800s, the main source of oil was from whales used for kerosene lamps. But George Bissell wanted to find a more reliable and plentiful source of oil. After putting together a team of financiers, “Colonel” Edwin Drake was hired to research the area and how to easily retrieve the oil that was seeping from the ground. He got an idea from drills previously made to drill for water and he put his men to work. Drake’s original derrick was constructed on the ground and then raised into proper position, earning the nickname “Drake’s Yoke” by the men who actually did the work of raising it.
They kept drilling until the investors finally gave up and told Drake to shut it down. But the day after shutting down the drill, they found that oil had finally seeped through and the hole was full of oil! Within a day people were using Drake’s design to build their own derricks and within two years there were new towns popping up in Pennsylvania full of steam engines working all the new wells.
Drake’s story of persistence and resilience is an inspiration to us. His innovative design motivated the Texas oil boom in the early 1900’s where oil completely changed the land and contributed to enormous economic growth for our beautiful state. Although the first well was in Pennsylvania, it has been a huge part for Texas history.