Historical Markers
Early Refinery Historical Marker
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Early Refinery

Lake Erie Region


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

Dedication Date:
September 29, 1954

Behind the Marker

An image of a refinery with several large oil tanks, smokestacks, and railroad tracks in the foreground.
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Early oil refinery, Oil City, PA, circa 1880.
William H. Abbott is credited with mastering the oil refining process. After purchasing a farm near Titusville and settling in the region he arranged for the marketing of oil with a New York distributor and worked with chemist George M. Mowbray to perfect the refining process.

Abbott's refinery included machinery, tanks, acids, and chemicals. His first successful refinement was completed on January 22, 1861. Oil could, henceforth, be prepared for sale without leaving the region.

Other refiners soon followed his example. Samuel Downer constructed a large refining works in a nearby town in 1861. The main building was two stories high and three hundred and ten feet long. Five or six other buildings comprised the remainder of the site. Twelve stills were in operation with twenty-five tanks that could hold up to thirty thousand barrels. Within a few years, the capacity had risen to one million gallons per year.

As a "boom" emerged in the oil industry, most crude was shipped out of the Oil Creek area to be processed in Pittsburgh or Cleveland, Ohio.

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