Historical Markers
John A. Mather Historical Marker
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John A. Mather

Lake Erie Region


Marker Location:
407 East Main Street (PA 27), Titusville

Dedication Date:
September 14, 1964

Behind the Marker

An inset portrait photograph of John A. Mather, and a larger photo of a small boat with a makeshift shack. Signs are visible advertising "photographic views" of the Oil Creek region.
An inset portrait photograph of John A. Mather, and a larger photo of a small...
No individual knew the extent of changes to Oil Creek better than John Mather. Mather spent hours looking through his camera's viewfinder at the monuments to oil. John Mather originally came to the region to take photo portraits of the well owners, but became a chronicler of what he felt was a unique episode in history. While many photographers took striking images of the oil boom, Mather's collection of glass-print negatives remains nearly intact.

Mather's role in the history of Pennsylvania's oil industry might not be as direct as the oil producers', but he preserved the history of a rapidly changing place. Calling himself the "Oil Creek Artist," Mather felt that the oil boom was a significant historical episode that demanded a record. It is largely his work that allows historians to truly see the landscape of the boom and to reconstruct the changes that occurred. Often, he moved up and down Oil Creek in a boat equipped with a portable dark room. Mather's photos combine with other sources to reveal a valley in which every aspect of life and each facet of the natural environment became part of the industrial process.
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