Profile America: Up Came A Bubbling Crude. Oil That Is.

crude oil, oil well, petroleum

Sunday, August 27 — The U.S. petroleum industry got its start on this date in 1859. That’s when blacksmith William Smith saw a dark film floating on the surface of the water in a hole he was boring near Titusville, Pennsylvania. Rising from a depth of just 69 feet, it was the oil he was seeking for his employer, Edwin Drake. Soon, the nation’s first commercial oil well was pumping out crude oil. Western Pennsylvania was the center of the infant industry, as new uses were found for the long familiar product.

Today, there are over 600,000 oil wells in the U.S., producing about 13.5 million barrels of petroleum products per day. Some 7,900 businesses engage in extracting oil and gas, employing 135,000 people in a $311 billion a year industry.

Profile America is in its 21st year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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