|FEW people realize that
the second oldest oil field in the United States, and consequently in the world, is
located on the lines of the Denver and Rio Grande Western railroad, at Florence, Colorado.
It was in 1862 that oil production from the Florence field started, this being three years
after the original discovery at Oil City, Pennsylvania.
The first petroleum was obtained from a shallow well or spring on Oil Creek, by A. AL
Cassedy, who came to this section from the oil fields of Pennsylvania, and knew what oil
was. He, with James A. McCandless, the founder of Florence, and another man named Murphy
erected a crude refinery, and made kerosene, which was hauled to market in Denver, Pueblo
and Santa Fe by bull team, and which sold at $6.00 per gallon.
The first deep well was drilled in 1876, to a depth of about 1600 feet, passing through
several seams of coal on the way down, for the Florence district is blessed with wealth in
coal and cement shale, as well as oil.
Since that time the Florence Oil field has produced over thirteen million barrels of oil,
and in the last year a new oil-bearing territory has been opened up, adding from eighty to
one hundred square miles of potential riches to the community. There are more wells going
down in the Florence field at the present time than has been the case for years, there now
being fifteen or twenty in progress, these being, some of them, drilled by the Continental
Oil Company, which has large interests in the field, but a large number by independents,
both Florence capital and outsiders.
The Continental Oil Company has a large refinery at Florence, manufacturing gasoline,
kerosene, lubricating oils and greases and paraffine wax. A notable fact about Florence
oil is that it is of extremely high lubricating value, in fact, in the eyes of oil men it
ranks with Pennsylvania crude in that regard, and is superior to any other oil produced in
THE FLORENCE OIL FIELD
THERE have been eight hundred wells
drilled in the Florence field, and the percentage of dry holes has been small, as even in
the early days there would be from 60 to 75 per cent of successful wells. All of the oil
produced thus far has been produced from crevices in shale, and every barrel of oil has
been pumped to the surface. The wells are the longest-lived known, as there are wells now
pumping which have produced for forty years and are still commercial wells. The source of
the Florence oil has never been found, but with modern methods of geology the outlook is
rosy for its discovery, and there are many who predict that the new southern extension of
the field is going to open up the mother pool or sand.
This may be or may not, but the fact remains that the Florence oil field affords a better
chance for the small oil man than almost any other. Wells may be drilled very cheaply $3,500
will, in many cases, complete a well which will star in pumping 100 barrels a day, and
will average 75 barrels for several years, which affords a magnificent return on the
investment. The reason for the low cost of drilling is that there is seldom any casing
needed, the strata are uniform and easily drilled, and the holes will range in depth from
1500 to 3000 feet.
The Florence refinery, which, as has been stated, is owned by the Continental Oil Company,
was formerly owned by Denver capitalists but they sold out some years ago to the
Continental and since that time the refinery has been much enlarged and modernized and now
handles not only the output of the Florence field, but also large quantities of oil from
Wyoming and the new Fort Collins field, which is shipped in in solid trains of tank cars.
This industry is one of the most prosperous along the lines of the Denver and Rio Grande
Western and its output goes far toward making Florence one of the best revenue producers
along the system's lines.
Oil Refinery, The Continental Oil Co.
An oil well in Florence [built c1880]