OIL: A Real Sentimental Loss

On a summer day in 1859, a blacksmith galloped into tiny Titusville, Pa. on a mule and shouted electrifying news: "Struck oil! Struck oil!" The blacksmith was W. H. ("Uncle Billy") Smith, who had helped "Colonel"* Edwin L. Drake drill the nation's first commercial oil well, thus launch the U.S. petroleum industry. As the news spread, Titusville mushroomed into a city of 9,046 and became the U.S. oil capital. So sure were Pennsylvania oilmen that the state had been endowed with a unique gift of nature that they had a saying: "I'll drink every drop of oil found west of...

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