The first oil well in the world was drilled by Colonel Edwin Drake in Pennsylvania, Cowboyland, in 1859. Everyone in the oil industry, and probably every American child, know the story of how Colonel Drake knocked the well 21 meters down, hit pay and changed the world.
But, no, it wasn’t. The first oil wells in the world were dug a few years earlier in the Old World, in southern Poland. The hill landscape of southern Poland lies at the toe of the Carpathian Mountains. With rolling hills, forests and farm land, it reminds of Tuscany, moved north.
But in the 1850s, this land was not a part of Poland, because there was no Poland. Through the late half of the 18th century, the grand Polish-Lithuanian kingdom, which had covered large parts of the Baltics, Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, was cut and shared like a cake by the mighty powers around it.
The hilly toe of the Carpathians ended up as the Kingdom of Galicia, a part of the Austrian Empire, but with some domestic independence. Most people in Galicia were poor farmers and workers, with some wealthy land owners and the church on top. People here had long known that some places, oil seeps came out of the ground. The black liquid turned out very useful: It was used for waterproofing wooden roofs and clothing, and also for medicine.
The place of the oldest oil well in the world may be a matter of definition of “well”, but a good candidate is at Puste Pole. Today it is a quiet forest where the locals pick mushrooms, but look closely at the ground, and some peculiar features emerge: Round holes, a meter or two in diameter. Today they are often filled with rubbish, but clearing the litter reveals shafts up to twenty meters deep – and sometimes with oil at the bottom.
For the rest of this article: https://karsteneig.no/2017/11/where-was-the-worlds-first-oil-well-poland/