Oil City

Venango County, Pennsylvania

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City Hall is located at 21 Seneca Street, Oil City PA 16301.
Phone: 814‑678‑3012.


Beginnings [1]

The site of Oil City at the junction of Oil Creek and the Allegheny River once belonged to Chief Cornplanter. [Complanter, chief of the Seneca tribe of the Six Nations, owned a large tract of land on the east side of Oil Creek, the same being a part of the gift made him by the State of Pennsylvania by act of Assembly March 16th, 1796,for services rendered at the close of the revolutionary war.] By 1825 settlement had progressed to the point where the Oil Creek Furnace was in full blast, a gristmill was being built, and a town was springing up. It soon became a raftsman's rendezvous, and during the "June freshets" it was nothing unusual to see rafts tied up for a mile along the river. The success of the Drake oil well in 1859 and the rapid spread of drilling activities quickly made the town the center of the oil industry. The flats along the rivers were soon covered with shelters and the town began to creep up the hillsides. An oil exchange was opened, several newspapers were established, and hotels were built. Thousands of barrels of oil were brought down Oil Creek and the Allegheny in flatboats and shipped on to Pittsburgh by the same means or transshipped to steamboats. Ice and flood often caused flatboat jams at the mouth of Oil Creek, which covered the water with such quantities of oil from broken barrels that a man could in one day dip as much as sixty to one hundred barrels of oil from the surface of the creek. The extension of railroads to the city and the development of pipe lines put an end to this picturesque phase of the petroleum industry. The rickety shacks of the boom town burned down in the great fire of 1866, and Oil City was rebuilt on a more permanent basis.

  1. Souvenir of the Oil City Derrick Illustrating the City of Oil City Pennsylvania in the Year 1896, Derrick Publishing Company, Oil City, 1896.

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