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250px|Edwin Drake and his oil well]]
Even though there was no one "first discover" of oil. Oil was known in antiquity when it was used to heal wounds. But by the middle of the 19th century methods for collecting oil from the ground had not changed for thousands of years. Edwin Drake's oil fundamentally changed this process and dramatically increased oil production around the world. Instead of harvesting oil in a pail or sopping it up with rags and wrung out by hand over barrels, oil wells produced thousands of barrels of oil. The creation of the oil well fundamentally altered the course of the 20th century. <ref>American Chemical Society, “The Development of the Pennsylvania Oil Industry,” 2009.</ref>
===Enter a Visionary===
255px|George Henry Bissell.]]
George Henry Bissell was not one of those obsessed with kerosene. Rather, in 1853 he was a 32-year old struggling lawyer when he saw samples of "rock oil" from western Pennsylvania on the campus of Dartmouth College in his hometown of Hanover, New Hampshire. When he saw how readily the inky black liquid burned Bissell immediately saw its potential as an illuminant and not as a medicinal salve. Furthermore, it became Bissell's plan to drill for the oil in a way that salt had been obtained for hundreds of years.
===The Dream Comes Together===
Bissell and Townsend trundled on, spewing their plans for most anyone who would listen. One who listened and was intrigued enough to buy a few shares in the enterprise was Edwin Drake, who lived in the same hotel as Townsend. Drake, it was decided, would be the man to helm the first drilling project. At thirty-eight years of age, he boasted no special training and no experience. He had worked for the railroad as a station clerk and a freight agent and a conductor but had been forced to retire due to infirmity.<ref>Dav, Urja, “Edwin Drake and the Oil Well Drill Pipe,” 2008.</ref> Drake's main qualifications as a drilling engineer were, one, that he was available and, two, his lifetime railroad pass enabled him to ride back and forth to Pennsylvania for free. That was no small consideration for the newly renamed Seneca Oil Company.