Profile America: First Refinery

Tuesday, June 28 — America’s first commercial oil refinery was put in operation this month in 1860. It was built in Titusville, Pennsylvania, on the banks of Oil Creek. That town was the site of the country’s first productive oil well in 1859, and these developments made the area some 100 miles north of Pittsburgh the cradle of America’s oil industry. The first refinery was focused on extracting kerosene from the crude oil. Any gasoline by-product was dumped into the creek. With today’s regulations and economy, that would be more than a crime; it would be a blunder. There are 137 oil refineries operating in the U.S. today. Four of them are in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, there are more than 8,000 oil and gas extraction establishments across the country, with annual revenues of around a third of a trillion dollars.

Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email