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Bishop, J. Leander (John Leander), 1820-1868 / A history of American manufactures from 1608 to 1860 : exhibiting the origin and growth of the principal mechanic arts and manufactures, from the earliest colonial period to the adoption of the Constitution ; and comprising annals of the industry of the United States in machinery, manufactures and useful arts, with a notice of the important inventions, tariffs, and the results of each decennial census
Volume 3 (1868)

Manufactures of Boston,   pp. 276-312 ff.


Page 311

THE DOWNER KEROSENE OIL COMPANY.
rapid call, and the selection of material to make it from, called into
exercise all the mental and physical powers of those engaged in it,
as it was found that those bitumens which were the best adapted for
lubrication were the most unsuitable for illumination ; and only after
much research and experiment, it was discovered that the Albert min-
eral of New Brunswick, the Boghead shale or coal of Scotland, and
the Brackenridge cannel of Kentucky, were the most desirable.
Immediately after the return of the projectors from Scotland, Mr.
Downer commenced his present works at Boston, which were put
under the superintendence of Mr. Joshua Merrill. The process of refin-
ing, then a secret, was also imparted to the New York Kerosene Oil Co.,
of New York, for a royalty, and Mr. Luther Atwood took charge of
their Works. In the following year the Portland Kerosene Oil Works
were built, under the direction of Dr. Philbrick and Mr. William At-
wood (who, with very much impaired health, had just returned from
their expedition to Trinidad), and these three factories, after expend-
ing nearly a million of dollars on their works, supplied the community
with over a million of gallons of Illuminating Oil during the second
year of their existence, without being able to supply the demand of
the public.
In 1861, the discovery of the flowing wells of Oil Creek, Pennsyl-
vania, was made. The first one was struck in the early summer of
that year ; and within four months later, the production was eight
thousand barrels per day, of which the larger part was suffered to flow
into the creek, with but little effort to save it, as there was then no
market for it. The price fell to the nominal one of twenty to forty
cents per barrel. The region was then secluded, and but little Pisited-
with poor, and much of the time impassable roads-and covered with a
dense forest, interspersed with small and poorly-cultivated farms. It
was under these circumstances, that Mr. Downer felt the necessity
of again attempting another enterprise. At first it was proposed
only to work the middle portions of the product, using the first and
last ends for fuel, or flinging them away; and Works near the wells
were deemed essential, or almost absolutely necessary. He purchased
a farm at the then terminus of the Atlantic and Great Western Rail-
road, and on which and the surrounding hills the primeval forest had
barely been disturbed ; and here, under the superintendence of Mr.
William II. L. Smith, then of Boston, but now Mayor of the new city
of Corry, was commenced, early in the autumn of 1861, their present
extensive Works. The mechanics were all brought with them from
Boston, and they immediately commenced clearing the forest, erecting
temporary buildings for the workmen, laying out a brick yagrd, building
311


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