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This web site courtesy of Noble County Tourism and funded in part by the State of Ohio TANF Program. Web design by Suzanna.Net in affiliation with David Cater. Photos courtesy of David Cater and Jim Langston unless otherwise noted.

Thorla-McKee Well - "First Oil Well In North America"

First Oil Well In North America- The Thorla-McKee Well, (Designated a “Great Ohio Adventure in Learning” by the State of Ohio), is located just off SR 78* two miles East of Caldwell I-77 Exit 25 at the junction of SR 564.

At this site is the original log casing used by Silas Thorla and Robert McKee in 1814 when drilling for salt where deer were known to lick. They found salt, but also oil and natural gas, which was a nuisance at first. They bottled the substance and sold it as “Seneca Oil” for tonic. Not until 1859, when the refinery of oil was perfected, was it used for lamp and heating oil. A small amount can still be extracted for this purpose today.


Bob Ball and David Lucas demonstrate oil production at the site the way it use to be done, while showing that small amounts can still be extracted and used after all of these years since the discovery in 1814.

Click here or on the photo for more History of the First Oil Well In North America.

Also see Caboose #33.

*Special Note: State Route 78, which runs East and West all the way through Noble County has been named by Car and Driver Magazine as one of the most scenic drives in the United States!
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