Survival of an American Boom Town

No stirring debates reverberate through the chambers of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall; white-hot molten steel no longer pours out of the fiery cauldrons in the sprawling mills of Pittsburgh and Bethlehem; and little coal ripped from the earth by giant steam shovels in Carbon, Schuylkill, Luzerne, and Lackawanna Counties in the Keystone State’s anthracite region. As surprising as...
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Barbara T. Zolli on “A Drop of Oil”

Crude oil, found in abundance in northwestern Pennsylvania, held out many possibilities by the mid-nineteenth century. It burned when ignited, served as a practical lubricant, was thought to have medicinal properties, and had been used for various purposes by generations of Native Americans. That it might be in ample supply became apparent to many locals when it oozed from the ground and...
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1st Drive-In Filling Station

Pittsburgh’s Mellon family owes much of its fortune to the oil industry. In 1902, William Larimer Mellon Sr. (1868–1949), with the help of his uncles, Andrew William Mellon (1855–1937) and Richard Beatty Mellon (1858–1933), was placed in charge of the J. M. Guffey Petroleum Company, with its rich Spindletop oil fields and a refinery at Port Arthur in Texas.Mellon guided Guffey Petroleum,...
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