“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Newcastle in Weston County, Wyoming — The American West (Mountains)

Accidental Oil Well

Accidental Oil Well Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, June 7, 2016
1. Accidental Oil Well Marker
Inscription.  In February of 1966, Al Smith of Newcastle made history by successfully completing the world's only producing hand dug oil well. Using a pick and shovel, he dug twenty-one feet into the oil-bering Newcastle Formation. When he encountered the harder sandstone, he used dynamite and then rigged up an old Maytag washing machine motor and a bucket pulley system to haul the rocks out of the well. When completed, the well was twenty-four feet deep and approximately four feet square. Other wells in the vicinity conventionally drilled into the same formation run anywhere from three hundred to around one thousand feet deep. The hand dug well has consistently produced one-half to one barrel of oil per day and is still producing, with nothing done over the years to enhance production. It is unusual in that it contains no natural gas, distillates, or top ends. It is essentially pure oil with a little water and small amount of graphite, making it a good lubricating oil for gears and chains. Worldwide, other attempts at hand digging oil wells have resulted in failure and sometimes death, due to the presence of natural gas in the formation. When word of this
Accidental Oil Well Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, June 7, 2016
2. Accidental Oil Well Marker
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accomplishment hit the news media, the account spread around the world, bringing the hand dug oil well and Newcastle, Wyoming, international attention.This well has also been included in numerous publications and has been seen on television programs. Al Smith died in March 2005 at the age of 90, proud of his accomplishment and his contribution to this community and state.
Erected by Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceNatural Resources.
Location. 43° 49.29′ N, 104° 8.458′ W. Marker is in Newcastle, Wyoming, in Weston County. Marker is on U.S. 16 near Big Red Road, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5329 US HIghway 16, Newcastle WY 82701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Site of Field City (approx. 0.7 miles away); The Jenney Stockade (approx. one mile away); Camp Jenney (approx. one mile away); Cheyenne – Deadwood Trail (approx. 1.7 miles away); The Trains Power Newcastle (approx. 3.9 miles away); Cambria Powers the Trains (approx. 3.9 miles away); Hanging of Diamond L. Slim Clifton (approx. 4 miles away); Cambria (approx. 6.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newcastle.
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 Former oil well tourist attraction now produces family heartache -- Billing Gazette. <1>The wells never produced much oil, certainly not enough to live on. But that was never the point, said Smith’s daughter, Deb. The attraction was meant to be more than a tourist stop. An educational experience — that was her father’s dream. (Submitted on September 26, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 3, 2016. It was originally submitted on September 26, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 572 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 26, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.

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Jan. 31, 2023