Posted by: Kordite
N 40° 26.488 W 079° 59.599
17T E 585374 N 4477244
Quick Description: Located behind USS Tower, Pittsburgh, PA.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 7/4/2006 7:39:49 AM
Waymark Code: WMGBM
The marker reads: "Using a five-barrel still, Samuel M. Kier erected on this site about 1854 the first commercial refinery to produce illuminating oil from petroleum. He used crude oil from salt wells at Tarentum."
Most residents viewed the crude oil that seeped into their water and salt wells as little more than a nuisance. But a young canal boat operator named Samuel Kier saw in oil a possibility for a more accessible illuminant.
In the mid-1840s, Kier noticed the similarity between the oil prescribed to his ill wife and the annoying substance invading the salt wells on his family's property outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He began collecting the substance and opened a bottling and merchandising house in Pittsburgh in 1849. The mysterious "cure-all", Kier's Rock Oil, soon sold throughout the northeastern U.S. and Kier began experimenting with the excess oil as an illuminant. He sold his illuminating oil, called carbon oil, for $1.50 a gallon from a warehouse in Pittsburgh. Afraid of explosion and fire, residents living near Kier's refinery registered complaints with the authorities, who then ordered Kier to move his operation from the city.
The Directory of Pittsburgh and Allegheny City for 1864-1865 lists Kier & Kirpatrick, oil dealers, as being on the corner of Ewalt (now 43rd) and Railroad Streets (Lawrenceville). This Refinery can be seen in the 1872 Atlas of Pittsburgh's Seventeenth Ward, where it is listed as the J. C. Kirkpatric Refinery - Radiant Oil Works. It was on the riverside of the railroad tracks on the left side of the street as you face the river.
A.C. Ferris, a New York businessman, ordered a supply of oil from Kier and began experimenting with its illumination potential. Ferris sold about 1,000 gallons of illuminating oil in 1858, cultivating markets that quickly made petroleum the nation's most popular illuminant.
Marker Name: Kier Refinery
Date Dedicated: 03/15/1969
Marker Type: City
Location: Small park near Bigelow Sq. (off Bigelow Blvd.), Pittsburgh
Category: Business & Industry, Entrepreneurs
Website: [Web Link]
In your log, please say if you learned something new, and if you took any extra time to explore the area once you stopped at the historic marker waymark.
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