Near Petroleum in Wood County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
William Cooper Stiles, Jr.
After an ominous start, Mr. Stiles made a major strike and later revolutionized the oil industry through the introduction of the endless cable pumping system—an application conceived from the cable system powering street cars in Philadelphia.
Mr. Stiles built the Volcanic Oil and Coal Company into a major force in the local oil industry. In 1866 at a cost of $160,000, he was the driving force in the building of the Laurel Fork and Sand Hill Railroad, a standard gauge rail system for transporting oil to refineries in Parkersburg.
For his major contributions to Volcano, Mr. Stiles was known as the “father of Volcano.” He also served as a county commissioner from 1881 to 1885.
W. C. Stiles, Jr., died at his beloved Thornhill on December 17, 1896.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceNatural Resources. A significant historical date for this entry is December 17, 1896.
Location. 39° 14.571′ N, 81° 17.784′ W. Marker is near Petroleum, West Virginia, in Wood County. Marker is on Volcano Road (County Route 5) one mile south of Robert Byrd Highway (U.S. 50), on the left when traveling south. It is at the Mountwood Park Administration Building. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Walker WV 26180, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Thornhill Mansion (approx. ¼ mile away); Endless Cable System (approx. 0.3 miles away); Early Oil Wells (approx. 0.4 miles away); Walker Creek Recreation Impoundment (approx. 0.7 miles away); U.S.S. Cisco Memorial (approx. 0.7 miles away); Volcano, West Virginia (approx. 0.9 miles away); Camp Kootaga (approx. 7½ miles away); Ritchie County / Wirt County (approx. 7.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Petroleum.
Also see . . . William Cooper Stiles, Jr. Illustrated article on the Harrison County Genealogical Society web site. Excerpt:
At that time the operators acted on the theory that oil could only be produced on the creeks and runs, and drilled accordingly. William C. Stiles, Jr. was the first one at Volcano to try drilling elsewhere. His first well so drilled was a disappointment at the start, and after watching it pump water for a few hours he started for home, but before he had gone far his men shouted that the well was making oil. This was true, and it produced several barrels a day. More wells were drilled after this and the sand was found to be regular. This sand produced oil on a regular basis for many years.(Submitted on June 6, 2021.)
Since these wells will not produce oil on a regular basis unless there is some sort of a pumping device. At this time William, who had seen power transmitted by means of wire cable, applied it to pumping oil wells. This was done by means of an endless wire cable which is set in motion by a large wheel which carries the oil to the surface. Economically this was not possible unless a system could be developed to run several wells from one power source. This was accomplished by the means of running a cable from a single power source using a series of grooved wheels leading to several wells at the same time. This system of pumping also enables the pumper to pull the tubing and rods, the same as with steam, thus making a well that only pumps a quarter of a barrel a day a paying well. William, at the time of his death had two leases running with this power, one with 45 wells and the other with 33 wells. There were a large number of other leases at Volcano and other fields pumped in this manner, and it has been the salvation of small wells. This system of pumping small oil wells was used as late as 1974.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 6, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 6, 2021, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 62 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 6, 2021, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.