Historical Markers
First Oil Pipeline Historical Marker
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First Oil Pipeline

Lake Erie Region


Marker Location:
PA 227, 4 miles Southwest of Pleasantville

Dedication Date:
November 15, 1954

Behind the Marker

The early oil industry was disorganized and inefficient. Few developers took time to engineer solutions to problems such as transporting oil to market instead concentrating on drilling additional wells. Samuel Van Syckle, an inventive oil worker from New Jersey, was one of the first to focus on transportation. Van Syckle constructed the first successful pipeline in 1865 that extended five miles and connected Pithole to the Oil Creek railroad.

The logistics of transporting oil defined the early petroleum industry. Teamsters and wagon drivers delivered the oil in wagons over rough roads, made worse by mud created by run-off water and crude oil. Teamster's charges were based on weather and road conditions. With a transportation monopoly and the access to the world's supply of oil, they could name their price. This, of course, displeased oil companies who wanted control over their commodity and pricing.

A black and white photograph of group of men dropping a large pipe into a shallow trench using wooden planks as levers.
A black and white photograph of group of men dropping a large pipe into a shallow...
Oil producers tried to find an alternative means of transporting oil as early as 1861. By 1863, the first pipelines had been constructed to cover short distances. Typically, these short lines ran between producing areas and shipping depots or refineries. Teamsters fought against the new technology, dropping prices and even resorting to sabotage.

Van Syckle buried the welded iron pipe joints that constructed his pipeline two feet underground to protect it. At the time, teamsters received three dollars per barrel to cart oil out of the Valley; Van Syckle charged only one dollar per barrel. Angry teamsters began tearing the pipe from the ground to stop what they called unfair competition. The Sheriff posted guards along the line and the oil continued to flow. Technology won this fight; the teamsters eventually left Pithole.

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