Oil City is a city in Venango County, Pennsylvania, that is known in the initial exploration and development of the petroleum industry. Initial settlement of the town was sporadic, and tied to the iron industry. After the first oil wells were drilled in 1861, Oil City became central in the petroleum industry while hosting headquarters for the Pennzoil, Quaker State, and Wolf's Head motor oil companies. Tourism plays a prominent role in the region by promoting oil heritage sites, nature trails, and Victorian architecture. The population was 10,557 at the 2010 census, and is the principal city of the Oil City, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Oil City, Pennsylvania
"A Special Blend of People"
Location of Oil City in Venango County, Pennsylvania.
Oil City, Pennsylvania
Location of Oil City in Venango County, Pennsylvania.
|• Type||City council|
|• Mayor||Bill Moon|
|• Total||4.84 sq mi (12.53 km2)|
|• Land||4.49 sq mi (11.64 km2)|
|• Water||0.34 sq mi (0.89 km2)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||2,229.47/sq mi (860.89/km2)|
|• Demonym||Oil Citizen|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
In 1796, the state of Pennsylvania gave Cornplanter, chief of the Wolf Band of the Seneca nation, 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) of land along the west bank of the Allegheny River in Warren County, Pennsylvania, as well as a small tract on both sides of the mouth of Oil Creek, in compensation for his services during the American Revolutionary War. The first white settler in what became Oil City was an unknown individual who cleared and farmed about 400 acres (1.6 km2) on the west side of Oil Creek upstream from Cornplanter's land. Francis Halyday (or Holliday) purchased this land in 1803, and settled there with his family. The first white child known to be born in what became Oil City was James Halyday, born January 13, 1809. Three or four other families soon settled on the east side of the creek above the "Cornplanter Tract". Cornplanter sold the eastern half of his tract to two white settlers, William Connely and William Kinnear, in May 1818. Connely sold his quarter of the original tract back to Cornplanter in October 1818, but the land was seized by the county for nonpayment of taxes and sold at auction in November 1819 to Alexander McCalmont. McCalmont sold his land to Mathias Stockberger in the spring of 1824.
On June 25, 1824, Kinnear, Stockerberger, and settler Richard Noyes formed William Kinnear & Co., a company which swiftly erected an iron bloomery, foundry, gristmill, and several warehouses. A mill race provided water power for the furnace. Homes were built for workers, and a steamboat landing constructed on the Allegheny River. This settlement was called Oil Creek Furnace. Settler James Young opened the first general store in town, and operated it in the 1850s. The original incorporators were bought out by brothers William and Frederick Crary in January 1825. The company was purchased in February 1835 by William Bell, who changed the corporate name to W. Bell & Son. He and his son, Samuel, operated the furnace until 1849, employing about 40 men. The poor quality of iron ore in the area made their operations unprofitable and the furnace closed in 1849. The settlement was soon deserted, except for two families (the Bannons and the Halydays).
The bend in the Allegheny River at Oil City slowed the speed of the river's waters, providing a spot for barges and rafts to land easily. For many years, the Bannons and Halydays rented rooms in their homes and space in their barns to bargemen and rafters using the landing at Oil Creek Furnace. About 1852 or 1853, Thomas Moran settled in the area and built a large inn (Moran House) next to the Bannon home. It proved popular and soon expanded, and became a local landmark. Samuel Hopewell opened a second inn shortly after Moran, and in the fall 1852 his brother, John P. Hopewell, opened a third inn and a new general store on Main Street. Settler Hiram Gordon opened the Red Lion, the area's first saloon, about the same time Hopewell's store began operation. Located near the mouth of Oil Creek, the saloon provided live entertainment. In June 1856, 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of the property was sold by the Bell heirs to Graff, Hasson & Company. James Hasson, son William Hasson, and William's family took up residence on the tract and began farming.
Although the village of Oil Creek Furnace was largely deserted, settlement continued in the area. On August 6, 1840, Benjamin Thompson patented nearly all of what is now Oil City east of Oil Creek and north of the Allegheny. This land was quickly subdivided and sold to other settlers. With the death of his mother in 1844, James Halyday sold his land about 1846 to Dr. John Nevins and several other settlers. Nevins was a physician, the first to practice medicine in the area. James Hollis patented 200 acres (0.81 km2) of land on the south side of the Allegheny River in 1851, and purchased the remainder of Thompson's land on January 3, 1853. Hollis, in turn, sold all his land on April 25 to Henry Bastian.
Edwin L. Drake drilled the first commercially successful oil well in nearby Titusville on August 27, 1859. Oil was struck on the Downing farm south of the river by Phillips & Vanusdall in April 1861. Oil City had fewer than six families living there in 1859. The discovery of oil changed that. By 1868, a number of boomtowns had emerged in the region, including Oil City, Petroleum Center, Pithole, Rynd Farm, and Titusville. By 1860, the oil trade was far and away the dominant industry in the Oil City area. A machine shop (which constructed pipe fittings), warehouses, and other industrial structures were built on the west side of Oil Creek. Barges were used to transport oil down Oil Creek and into Oil City, where it was transferred to steamboats or bulk barges to continue on to Pittsburgh and other locations.
In 1859, Nevins sold his property to the Michigan Rock Oil Company,[a] which built Main Avenue, platted a unnamed town around it, and erected a few buildings. On March 26, 1863, Henry Bastian sold his land to William L. Lay. Lay established a ferry near what is now the foot of Central Avenue. Lay platted a town of 80 lots near his ferry's landing on the south shore, and named the town Laytonia (sometimes referred to as "Laytona" or "Latona").[b] The same year, Charles Haines and Joseph Martin bought out the Hassons (who had continued to farm their land), and graded Grove Avenue. The two built a number of homes along the street, calling their settlement Cottage Hill. The United Petroleum Farms Association purchased part of Cottage Hill as well as an adjoining 300 acres (1.2 km2) in 1864. The company subdivided the land into lots and swiftly built homes here. In 1865, Vandergrift, Forman & Company, a petroleum exploration firm, bought the property of a number of settlers around the north landing of Lay's Ferry and established a town the company called Imperial City.[c] West of Laytonia, Charles Lee established a settlement called Leetown.
In 1862, residents in the area obtained a charter from the state, uniting the area north of the river as a borough named Oil City. South of the river, in particular, growth continued to be haphazard. Streets there often did not match up, hindering transportation. Residents realized that there were too many names in use for this area, which was causing problems. In 1866, the citizens of the borough south of the river petitioned Judge William G. Trunkey to give their borough a common name. He selected Venango City. By 1866, Venango City had a population of more than 1,500, and more than 4,500 people lived in Oil City.
Oil City began platting extensive areas of land between 1869 and 1872. This included the upper and lower south side, Palace Hill, upper Cottage Hill and Clark's Summit. A 1,600-foot (490 m) long funicular ascended the 460-foot (140 m) high hill. Built in 1872, the Panic of 1873 devastated home sales on Clark's Summit. The funicular company went bankrupt, and the track was removed in 1879.
By 1870, residents of Oil City and Venango City desired unification of their joint, growing metropolis. They sought a town charter from the state, which was granted by the legislature on March 3, 1871. Oil City was the name of the unified boroughs. The first Oil City elections were held in April, and the first mayor, William M. Williams, and 12-member city council sworn in on April 11, completing the act of incorporation. Oil City replaced her charter with a new one in January 1881 after the state implemented a new township charter law. A city hall was erected later that year on Seneca Street.
The city was partially destroyed by flood in 1865 and by both flood and fire in 1866 and again in 1892; on this last occasion, several oil tanks that were struck by lightning gave way, and Oil Creek carried a mass of burning oil into the city, where some 60 lives were lost and property valued at more than $1 million was destroyed. Oil City grew into a thriving community through the later half of the 19th century and into the 20th century. By the 1990s, Pennzoil, Quaker State, and Wolf's Head had all relocated their headquarters elsewhere. However, some oil wells continue to produce a steady supply of quality petroleum.
Regional governments and public organizations promote tourism by thoroughly educating the public about oil history. Oil City's location along the Allegheny River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains provides excellent opportunities for exploring Northwestern Pennsylvania.
The Oil City Downtown Commercial Historic District, Oil City North Side Historic District, Oil City South Side Historic District, National Transit Building, and Oil City Armory are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Oil City, Pennsylvania is located at the confluence of the Allegheny River and Oil Creek at . According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.7 square miles (12 km2), of which, 4.5 square miles (12 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (4.65%) is water.
Many layers of rock and sedimentary material containing fossils can be seen on the bluffs in and around Oil City. Oil City is framed by the surrounding foothills with the Allegheny River winding through downtown.
The Allegheny River and Oil Creek freeze occasionally during the winter, sometimes causing ice jams; although remediation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has reduced ice formation via a floating ice control structure on the river and a fixed concrete weir on the banks of the creek. Flooding of the river flats is a possibility throughout the year due to ice jams, excessive snow melt, large volume storms and hurricane or tropical storm remnants.
As of the census of 2000, there were 11,504 people, 4,762 households, and 2,981 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,548.4 people per square mile (984.9/km2). There were 5,276 housing units at an average density of 1,168.8 per square mile (451.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.84% White, 0.89% African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.11% from other races, and 0.57% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.63% of the population.
There were 4,762 households out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.8% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.4% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the city, the population was spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 17.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $29,060, and the median income for a family was $36,149. Males had a median income of $30,072 versus $19,697 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,696. About 16.2% of families and 19.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.3% of those under age 18 and 12.4% of those age 65 or over.
In recent years, Oil City has undergone a renovation of the downtown area. Older sidewalks were replaced with new sidewalks along with a Victorianization of the architecture in the Historic District. Anodized bronze plaques have been mounted near historic areas to describe the event that happened there.
Main Street Program: The Main Street Program vitally contributes to the economic and aesthetic development of downtown Oil City. In 2014, as part of the Oil Region Alliance and Main Street's effort, Oil City became a part of the Trail Town Program (www.trailtowns.org). Throughout the year, Main Street organizes various business related workshops, fundraisers, community events, and partners with the City and civic groups to sustain a vibrant downtown district.
Arts and Culture The Oil City Arts and Culture Commission, is the main entity that develops the local art and entertainment scene. It offers all year round public events for music, festivals, performing and visual arts. This commission was the first attempt that Oil City made to promote and foster the public interest and appreciation of all the arts. Two established galleries under this commission are: Transit Fine Arts Gallery and Graffiti Gallery. As a result of its decades long effort, many smaller cultural ventures have sprouted recently.
Arts Oil City Under the City, there is a new and growing effort to make Oil City an artist relocation destination. This program offers affordable housing and studios, and proximity to regional art markets. Artists from California, Chicago, New York as well as Pennsylvania have relocated, bought property and opened businesses and studios in Oil City.
The Oil City Oilers were a Minor League Baseball team located in Oil City, Pennsylvania between 1940 and 1951. The team played in the Pennsylvania State Association from 1940 to 1942, and later moved to the Middle Atlantic League after World War II ended. The team began in 1940 when the Pittsburgh Pirates relocated their affiliate, the McKeesport Little Braves, to Oil City. The team stayed affiliated with the Pirates until 1947, when it began an affiliation with the Chicago White Sox. That year, the team's name was changed to the Oil City Refiners. The team's name was changed one last time to the Oil City A's, when they merged with the Youngstown A's, in 1951. The team the folded, along with the league, at the end of that season.
Benjamin Koyack (born April 9, 1993) is an American football tight end for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Jaguars in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He played college football at Notre Dame.Charles Almanzo Babcock
Charles Almanzo Babcock (1847 – 1922) was a late-nineteenth-century superintendent of schools in Oil City, Pennsylvania. He is credited with launching Bird Day, a day to celebrate birds in American schools, on May 4. The first Bird Day was celebrated in Oil City schools in 1894, and by 1901 the practice was well established. His wife was the author, Emma Whitcomb Babcock.Dusty Miller (1890s outfielder)
Charles Bradley Miller (September 10, 1868 in Oil City, Pennsylvania – September 3, 1945 in Memphis, Tennessee), was a Major League Baseball outfielder. He played all or part of seven seasons in the majors, between 1889 and 1899, for the St. Louis Browns/Perfectos, Cincinnati Reds, and Baltimore Orioles.
Miller died in Memphis, Tennessee in 1945 of coronary thrombosis.French Creek Council
The French Creek Council serves Boy Scouts in six counties in northwestern Pennsylvania and one township in Ohio. The council was organized in 1972 from a merger of the former Washington Trail Council of Erie, Custaloga Council of Sharon and Colonel Drake Council of Oil City, Pennsylvania. It has headquarters in Erie, Pennsylvania.Jane Hajduk
Jane Hajduk (born October 26, 1966) is an American actress. She is known for playing the role of Researcher Taylor in the film Zoom.
Hajduk is married to actor and comedian Tim Allen, with whom she also appeared in Zoom, Joe Somebody and The Shaggy Dog. They were married in October 2006, and have a daughter together, Elizabeth (b. 2009). She is also stepmother to Allen's child, Katherine (b. 1989) by his first wife.Josephine McKim
Josephine Eveline McKim (January 4, 1910 – December 10, 1992), also known by her married name Josephine Chalmers, was an American swimmer who won three medals at the 1928 and 1932 Olympics. In 1928 she won the bronze medal in the 400-meter freestyle event. She also swam in the first heat of 4×100-meter freestyle relay, but was replaced by Eleanor Garatti in the final. Four years later she won the gold medal in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay and was fourth in the 100-meter freestyle. During her career McKim set five world records in various freestyle events.
McKim served as the body double for Maureen O'Sullivan in a deleted nude underwater scene from MGM's adventure film, Tarzan and His Mate (1934), which has since been restored to home video releases. She also had a bit part in Universal's Bride of Frankenstein (1935) as a mermaid, one of Dr. Pretorius' "miniaturized" people. This role was reprised in Columbia's The King Steps Out. She also appeared with her Olympic teammate Buster Crabbe in Lady Be Careful (1936). Both attended the University of Southern California. Later she had a stage career on Broadway (1938 to 1942) appearing in "Family Portrait" (1939) with Judith Anderson and Tom Ewell at the Morosco Theater and a Lee Strasburg production "Dance Night" (1938) among several others. She married her husband, John "Jack" Chalmers, in 1947. Her older sister, Musa McKim Guston, was the spouse of painter Philip Guston and a painter in her own right, as well as a published poet.
McKim was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an "Honor Swimmer" in 1991.She and her sister were born in Oil City, Pennsylvania, and both died in Woodstock, New York in 1992.Oil City, California
Oil City is an unincorporated community in Kern County, California, about 5 miles (8 km) northeast of Bakersfield, adjacent to the Kern River Oil Field.Another "Oil City" is located in Fresno County within the Coalinga Oil Field, about 9 miles (14 km) north of Coalinga, at an elevation of 449 feet (137 m).The town was named for Oil City, Pennsylvania.Oil City, Cambria County, Pennsylvania
Also see Oil City, in Venango County, Pennsylvania.Oil City is an unincorporated community in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, United States. The bridge over nearby Bens Creek is on the National Register of Historic Places.Oil City Athletic Club
The Oil City Athletic Club was a professional football team based in Oil City, Pennsylvania from 1893 until 1903. The team was the intrastate rival of the Franklin Athletic Club. The team later folded as a result of a series of bidding wars with Franklin over the era's best football players in Pennsylvania in 1903.Oil City Oilers
The Oil City Oilers was a minor league baseball team located in Oil City, Pennsylvania between 1940 and 1951. The team played in the Pennsylvania State Association from 1940 to 1942, and later moved to the Middle Atlantic League after World War II ended. The team began in 1940 when the Pittsburgh Pirates relocated their affiliate, the McKeesport Little Braves, to Oil City. The team stayed affiliated with the Pirates until 1947, when it began an affiliation with the Chicago White Sox. That year, the team's name was changed to the Oil City Refiners. The team's name was changed one last time to the Oil City A's, when they merged with the Youngstown A's, in 1951. The team the folded, along with the league, at the end of that season.
The Oilers name originated from an earlier team that represented the city between 1895 and 1907, in the Iron And Oil League and the Interstate League.Scott Hutchinson
Scott E. Hutchinson (born August 19, 1961) is a Republican member of the Pennsylvania State Senate representing the 21st district. He also served as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 64th District from 1992 to 2013. In 2012, Hutchinson was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate to succeed retiring incumbent Mary Jo White.Shauna Howe
Shauna Howe (1981–October 1992) was an American 11-year-old girl from Oil City, Pennsylvania, who was murdered in October 1992. Howe's kidnapping and murder by being thrown from a bridge became a cause célèbre in Pennsylvania, receiving widespread media attention for over a decade. In September 2006, Eldred Walker, James O'Brien, and Timothy O'Brien were convicted for participation in Howe's murder.Tubby Spencer
Edward Russell "Tubby" Spencer (January 26, 1884 – February 1, 1945) was a catcher for the St. Louis Browns (1905–08), Boston Red Sox (1909), Philadelphia Phillies (1911) and Detroit Tigers (1916–18).
He led the American League in being hit by pitches (9) in 1917. In nine seasons he played in 449 games and had 1,326 at bats, 106 runs, 298 hits, 43 doubles, 10 triples, 3 home runs, 133 RBI, 13 stolen bases, 87 walks, .225 batting average, .281 on-base percentage, .279 slugging percentage, 370 total bases, and 27 sacrifice hits.
He died in San Francisco, California at the age of 61.Venango Catholic High School
Venango High School is a private, Roman Catholic high school in Oil City, Pennsylvania. It is located in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie.Venango County, Pennsylvania
Venango County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 54,984. Its county seat is Franklin. The county was created in 1800 and later organized in 1805.Venango County comprises the Oil City, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area. It is defined as part of the Pittsburgh media market.Venango Regional Airport
Venango Regional Airport (IATA: FKL, ICAO: KFKL, FAA LID: FKL), also known as Chess Lamberton Field, is a public airport in western Pennsylvania, 2 miles (3 km) southwest of Franklin and about 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Oil City. Both cities are in Venango County, which operates the airport. The airport has limited airline service, subsidized by the Essential Air Service program.
Per Federal Aviation Administration records, the airport had 681 passenger boardings (enplanements) in calendar year 2008, 1,583 enplanements in 2009, and 1,380 in 2010. It is included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015, which categorized it as a general aviation facility (the commercial service category requires at least 2,500 enplanements per year).W. S. Borland
Walter Siverly Borland (sometimes spelled Boreland) (February 1, 1878 – November 22, 1959) was an American football and baseball coach. He served as the head football coach at Louisiana State University from 1901 to 1903, compiling a record of 15–7. Borland was also the head coach of the LSU baseball team from 1902 to 1903, tallying a mark of 10–11–1. Borland was a graduate of Allegheny College in 1900. While at Allegheny College, he was captain of the baseball team and sophomore class president in 1898. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Allegheny College. He died in 1959 and was buried in Oil City, Pennsylvania.WKQW (AM)
WKQW (1120 AM) is a radio station broadcasting a sports talk format. It previously had an oldies format until July 13, 2012 and before that, a classic country format until August 15, 2008. Licensed to Oil City, Pennsylvania, United States, the station is currently owned by Twilight Broadcasting, Inc. WKQW remains Venango County's only locally operated, programmed, and managed full-service radio station.Woody Jackson
Woodrow Wilson Jackson III, known professionally as Woody Jackson, is an American composer, producer and session musician. Jackson is best known for his scores for the video games Red Dead Redemption (with Bill Elm), Grand Theft Auto V (with Tangerine Dream, The Alchemist and Oh No) and Red Dead Redemption 2. He operates and works at Hollywood-based Vox Recording Studios, which he overtook in 2009.