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Petrolia: The Landscape of America's First Oil Boom (Creating the North American Landscape) Paperback – 21 Oct 2003
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"A wonderful demonstration of the possibilities of historical studies of technology and culture... Just as Black offers Petrolia as the prototypical landscape of industrial sacrifice, his book will surely serve as the model for a new genre of holistic historical studies of people, place, technology, and culture."(Peter Coates Technology and Culture)
" Petrolia is an intimate portrayal of the history of a major event that has affected not only this nation but the entire world as well... This book provides an excellent example of geographic writing that reveals that all places have a quality of their own, and of the kind of literate writing that is needed in our profession today."(E. Willard Miller Professional Geographer)
"A clear, concise telling of Petrolia's fascinating story... Black does an excellent job of examining the oil boom's impact on many aspects of the life and culture of the region."(Ralph Wilcox Vernacular Architecture Newsletter)
"Although Black uses the development of Petrolia to make larger points about how resource extraction changes ecological interactions, he is also interested in the region as a specific place with a specific history... While other scholars have written about what happens when capital is used to extract a resource from one region for the benefit of another, Black tells the story of transformation in this oil-rich valley at a level of detail and care that is rich and interesting in its own right."(Hugh S. Gorman Historical Geography)
About the Author
Brian Black is an associate professor of history and environmental studies at Pennsylvania State University, Altoona College, and editor of Pennsylvania History.
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on 14 August 2010
Have just spent the last 3 hours reading Petrolia and i would heartily recommend it to anyone with an interest in early american oil and industry, as well as anyone who just likes a great historical story. Black's writing style is easy to follow and he gives a comprehensive account of the discovery of Oil in Pennsylvania, the characters involved and the havoc and destruction wreaked in plundering the region's natural resources. It seems an ecological abomination now but bearing in mind recent events in the Gulf of Mexico it makes you wonder how much we've learned from history.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Amazon.com: 5 reviews
Story 'bout a man named Jed...
on 28 June 2017 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
A very interesting history revelation about... America's early industrial revolution... the realization that land use/leases could make any average citizen, of the day, a huge fortune from a newly discovered commodity that basically oozed out of the ground for the taking. And... unfortunately... a lesson for us all when greed and selfishness rules above all else at the sake of safety and our liveable environment.
One person found this helpful.
on 20 September 2015 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
It begins with the strike of oil by Edwin Drake on 27 August 1859. The world had been using whale oil for illumination but whales were getting harder to find and the Industrial Revolution called for something far more lubricating for the engines of manufacturing. Petroleum use had been developed in England but the source was difficult to obtain. Drake combined the technologies of water well drilling with salt rock excavation and, voila, created petroleum drilling. A new industry was thus born and boomed in the valley of Oil Creek in the western Pennsylvania county of Venango. Boomtowns were born and died within a span of 10 years so that they never appear on the official Federal census – not having been built yet in 1860 and defunct by 1870. The most notorious of these towns was Pithole, founded in 1865 and deserted in 1867. It was in Pithole that the petroleum pipeline was first created and built – and the technology created then is still used in modern petroleum pipelines. (I have to admit that Pithole captures my imagination!) The author spends a number of chapters discussing the destruction of the environment by the oil industry – but in the end must admit that the government has taken over the area by establishing the Oil Heritage Park, “a lovely natural space teeming with life and history.”
9 people found this helpful.
Bravo Brian Black
on 12 September 2000 - Published on Amazon.com
Never before have I read such an eloquent and informative journey through the oil boom of Pennsylvania. The photographic images that Dr. Black has chosen for his book are as captivating and clear as his text. An outstanding and brilliantly written book.
2 people found this helpful.
on 7 March 2014 - Published on Amazon.com
As a native of the old Pennsylvania oil regions and as an environmental historian/historian of technology, I looked forward to reading this book. The illustrations are great and the narrative writing relatively good. The author seems confused, however, about many technical details. For example, Bradford (the city in McKean County) and not Bradford County was the location of the oil boom soon after Petrolia. I believe even early oil pumps used a downhole reciprocating plunger pump (positive displacement) much like a hand-pumped water well. I doubt that, as the author asserts, a vacuum pump would be very effective pumping oil from even a few vertical feet--the vacuum action would release the natural gas from the oil, but not lift the fluid.
6 people found this helpful.
on 7 December 2000 - Published on Amazon.com
PETROLIA recently was awarded the Giddens Prize as the best new writing on oil history, 1996-2000.
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