Blotches and Pimples

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He did not know that Oil Creek had cut down through Pennsylvanian and Mississippian formations and on into a Devonian coast. Drake knew none of this in i859, and neither did the science of geology. What Drake did know was that there was negotiability in the stuff that was dripping into Oil Creek. It was even used as medicine. Fleets of red wagons had been all over eastern America selling seepage as a health-enhancing drink. “Kier’s Genuine Petroleum! Or Rock Oil! A natural remedy . . . possessing wonderful curative powers in diseases of the Chest, co-working space amsterdam Windpipe and Lungs, also for the care of Diarrhea, Cholera, Piles, Rheumatism, Gout, Asthma, Bronchitis, Scrofula, or King’s Evil; Burns and Scalds, Neuralgia, Tetter, Ringworm, obstinate eruptions of the skin, Blotches and Pimples on the face, biles, deafness, chronic sore eyes, erysipelas …” Drake had, in addition, the encouragement of a Yale professor of chemistry who ran a bottle of the seepage through his lab and said, “It appears to me . . . that your company have in their possession a raw material from which, by simple and not expensive process, they may manufacture very valuable products. It is worthy of note that my experiments prove that nearly the whole of the raw product may be manufactured without waste.” And what Drake had, above all, was the inspiration to go after the substance in its reservoir rock, not to be content to blot it up from the streambanks but to drill for it, never mind that he was making a fool of himself in the eyes of the local rubes. He would punch their tickets later. At sixty-nine and a half feet, he co-working space rotterdam completed his discovery well. There was an oil rush to Oil Creek, and frontier conditions in shantytowns, and forests of derricks on denuded hills. There was a town called Red Hot, Pennsylvania. There was Petroleum Centre. Pithole City. Babylon. In three months, the population of Pithole City went from nobody to fifteen thousand.