Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Historical Well of Noble County

by Brittany Perrine

Noble County is home to several significant historical sites that are easily accessible from most of southeast Ohio. One of these sites is the Thorla-McKee Well, the first oil well in North America. The well can still be seen today in its original condition and continues to give oil, gas and salt water in limited quantities.

The well is located in a small park just off SR 78, two miles east of Caldwell off exit 25. It is a peaceful, small park, no bigger than one acre, with two picnic tables shaded by towering trees. Toward the back edge of the park is the actual well, which is barely visible from the parking lot and entrance. There is also an old railroad boxcar that was donated by a local family in 1993, along with a small wooden shelter for those rainy days. A sign at the entrance of the park marks it as an official Ohio Historical Site and tells the history of the well. When Silas Thorla and Robert McKee drilled the well in 1814, they intended to find salt, but also found oil and natural gas. They cased the well with a hollow sycamore log down to the bedrock about 18 feet deep and 34 inches in diameter.

It is pretty amazing to see the drill still rigged up and the original sycamore log casing around the well. There’s just something about seeing a piece of history that is almost 200 years old and is still in the exact same condition today as it was when it was created. If you have some spare time, take the family for a scenic drive and history lesson, and check out this well in Noble County.

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