1800s

1859: Colonel Drake Strikes Oil 

"Colonel" Edwin Drake, one-time railroad conductor, drilled the first commercial oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania. By the 1880s, the commercial potentialities of oil were just beginning to be realized. In two decades, oil production grew to the point where more than 80 percent of the world’s petroleum consumption was supplied by Pennsylvania oil fields.

 

1863: The Teamsters & Pipeline Gathering

The first discoveries were transported to rail stations by Teamsters using converted whiskey barrels and horses. From the very beginning, transportation was essential with the Teamsters holding the first regional monopoly position. They charged more to move a barrel of oil 5 miles by horse than the entire rail freight charge from Pennsylvania to New York City. Despite considerable ridicule, threats, armed attacks, arson, and sabotage, the first wooden pipeline, which was about 9 miles in length, was built in 1862; in essence bypassing the Teamsters.

 

1879: Tidewater - The First Trunk line

Independent oilmen, in a desperate effort to compete with Rockefeller’s position in transportation, built the first crude oil trunk line called Tidewater in 1879. Within a year, Rockefeller owned half of Tidewater and was busily laying pipelines to Buffalo, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and New York. Rockefeller looked to export his kerosene lamp oil production to Northern Europe and Russia.

 

1880-1905: Gushers and Refineries

Refineries sprang up near oil fields, and new markets, with the largest being Rockefeller’s venture on the southern shores of Lake Michigan, in Whiting, Indiana. By the turn of the century, oil was discovered as far west as California.

This timeline represents an edited version of text obtained from the book, The History of The Standard Oil Company, written by Ida M. Tarbell in 1904.