January 10, 2009 6:48 AM Subscribe
posted by hoppytoad (4 comments total)
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When the modern oil industry began 150 years ago
, many speculators moved into Northwestern Pennsylvania. Among them was John Wilkes Booth, who walked off the stage and onto the oil fields in an attempt to increase his fortunes with the Dramatic Oil Company
Their well, the Wilhelmina, began producing oil at a rate of about 25 barrels a day (pdf, pg 11)
during the summer of 1864. Looking for more return, Booth invested in the Boston Oil Well Company, but in a few months, he left his oil ventures with a dry well and a wallet emptied of over $6000.
Had Booth's business lasted into 1865, his well might have been saved by Roberts Torpedo
, a more reliable method of shooting wells to resume oil flow after a build-up of debris and parrafin, and his investment would have yielded return on the 500 barrels a day
produced by the Homestead well.