A long time neighbor and I drive down Beaver Center Road gathering the last of the maple sap and taking down buckets and spiles. As we drive south from Jumbo Woods to Beaver Center, he tells me to stop the truck at the edge of a woods. We walk back a short distance off the road and I see a pitcher pump sticking up out of the ground. Bill pours a little water in the pump and tells me to pump into a bucket. At first water, the water he has primed the pump with spits into the bucket, then a light green substance, crude oil, about a pint and a half, smoothly and cleanly pumps into the pail. Water then begins to come in and Bill quickly says to stop the pump. After draining the pump, Bill takes the oil and water home and freezes it to eliminate the water and brings the oil over to my sugar house the next day, a little more than a pint of clean, light crude oil.
Thus, the same as the old timers, we also knew that in some spots in Beaver Township, crude oil lies very close to the surface of the ground. Many of the farmers here in previous centuries frequented two or three of such water wells and would use the small amounts of oil for animal drenching, liniment and machine lubrication. Seventy or eighty years before that knowledge of wells containing oil existed, two business partners from Meadville, Magaw and Clark had drilled wells 186 feet deep at a deer lick near present Route 198 in Western Beaver Township for the purpose of drawing salt brine from the ground and reducing it to then valuable salt. My assumption is they must have had boilers on the site to reduce the brine to salt which amounted to about ten barrels a day. When they increased the depth of the well another ninety feet or so in an attempt to get more brine, they struck oil which mingled with the brine ruining their salt production.
They abandoned that project in 1821 but years later many remembered there had been oil in the Beaver area and during the pre Civil War oil specultion period, local speculators such as George W. Brown, the operator of the Conneautville Courier, drilled for oil in the Valley area just east of here. This is the same man who had removed from Conneautville to Kansas during the John Brown abolitionist era in that State and he also drilled the first oil well in the State of Kansas.
Drake's well and those who followed him in the nearby oil region made for more awareness of the possibilities of gas and oil production in the Beaver Township area. Knowledgeable gas and oil men and wildcatters such as the Patterson family, tried their luck in and around Beaver for many years. Gas was struck in the shallow Oriskany sands (2000 ft) and the wells created two expensive problems for the drillers. One was piping this gas out of the area and the other was, although some of those wells had a lot of pressure, the wells seldom produced gas for long periods of return. Smaller producers always hoped to get oil from a well simply because it is far more easily removed from the well site.
As drilling technologies improved, it became possible to routinely drill good wells to the Medina sands (3400 ft) . During the 1970's there was a leasing and drilling boom in the township at which time much of Beaver was put under permanent lease by companies such as James Drilling (James I. Shearer), Paco Oil, Cardinal Gas & Oil, Eastern Petroleum, Atlas Petroleum, NFG, and many others. Cardinal and Jim Shearer turned out to have the biggest play during that period, drilling dozens of successful Medina (known as Clinton in Ohio) wells at that time in the township. Jim Shearer bought much land in the area and maintained an airport just north of the township, flying back and forth from his company based in Blairsville, Pa. During the latter part of this drilling era, Cardinal Oil tried to drill deeper to the Beckmantown and Rose Run Sands located in this area about 6200 ft. deep (As you may know, the further south you go from where those different sands are outcroppings in the ground, the deeper they are located). These early bold attempts at the deeper pockets of oil and gas were largely expensive and unsucessful. Oceans of salt brine plagued the drillers from getting the large quantities of oil and gas they knew lie at the Rose Run depths reminding one of the reverse of the 1815 Magaw & Clark well in the township which had mingled brine and oil. There was an inability to pinpoint the oil and gas at the 6000 ft. depths which lie in domed pockets in the earth. Other companies at that time (mid 1980's) knew about the Rose Run pockets and spoke of drilling there. These were companies such as Chuck Kendall (Ohio) Leasing, North Coast and Rex Drummond who had bought Paco's oil & gas interests in the township. At that time I asked Jim Shearer if he would drill to the Rose Run, he said he would not because the technology was not yet in place to pinpoint the wells. He stuck with his program of 3 or 4 Medina wells a year in the township. Jim Shearer passed away shortly before the seismic testing which zeros in on the Beckmontown and Rose Run depths came to the area.
During 2001, a large producing Rose Run well was drilled on Palmer Road just north of Shadeland Road and this created urgent interest in the deep oil and gas in the township. The realization there was more than potential for tanker loads of oil instead of barrels and hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of gas a day brought new interest from many gas and oil men from outside the area. Companies such as Kastle Resources who had been sucessful drilling to the Rose Run in the early 2000's soon became associated with G. E. Investment Capital and later with deep pockets companies Ken Oil of Wooster, Ohio. Another player in the deep wells is Range Resources (formerly Great Lakes) who are the largest in the State. Pipelines for the larger amounts of gas are now, like the smaller ones of many years ago, a major undertaking. It's also amazing to watch a tanker back into a single well site and fill up with crude oil. Of course, not everyone will get one of these wells, but thus far there is no question they have infused new money into our area. The whole township has been laid out on a grid and tested with 3D seismic equipment to see just where the gas & oil pockets may be. Wouldn't the old timers, farmers, drillers and dressers be amazed at it all? As a matter of fact, I'm amazed at it all! They tell me there is another possible drilling layer deeper than the current drilling levels. It is mysterious now like the Rose Run sands were thirty years ago. Current economic and political conditions have slowed gas and oil exploration in the area, but I'm sure the whole business is far from over.
Once in the 1980's I was in the south end of the township with township supervisor Jack Casbohm. We were talking to Sam Pees, a geologist from Meadville who has great knowledge of geologic formations in our county. Sam is the one who pinpointed the 1815 salt brine well for the State Historical Commission and while he was here in Beaver Township, surveyed many of the ancient gas and oil wells with his team. "You boys mind this" he said "This oil business started here in Beaver and it will end up back here too". With the state of the oil and gas business in Beaver, Sam's words almost seem prophetic.