Saturday, March 8, 2008

Oil Drilling in 1919-1920

I've become interested recently in the wildcat efforts to find oil in Jackson and Washington Counties during the early 20th century. A number of oil wells were drilled in the region stretching from Cypress in Jackson County across to the Choctawhatchee River in Washington County.

Mostly funded by local investors, these wildcat rigs were fairly primitive. The derricks were constructed of locally milled timber, yet succeeded in reaching significant depths. This photo, taken in 1920, shows one of the rigs.

At least one of the 1919-1920 wells reached a depth of 3,900 feet, making it one of the deepest oil wells drilled in Florida before the 1950s.

None of the wells, however, resulted in the discovery of "commercial" amounts of crude and the investors lost their money. This is not to say that oil was not discovered, just that not enough was found to make it worth pumping out. The wildcatters also found some pockets of natural gas in the region.

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