BOLIVER, NY - In the late 1800's profiteering came to the picturesque hills of Allegany County and other parts of the southern tier and northern PA.
A former Confederate officer named O.P. Taylor came to Bolivar to search for oil Taylor hit a couple dry holes and then on his last well, after his wife had sold all of her jewelry, they hit a gusher.
Taylor had tapped into the Allegany oil field and its 118 million barrels of black gold. Word spread quickly, and people flocked here according to Kelly Lounsberry, Vice President of the Pioneer Oil Museum in Bolivar. "Within a few months time the valley went from about 400 to 10 or 12 thousand people. This was a boomtown, reminiscent of California in the gold rush, but just to a smaller extent."
The oil-biz here hit its peak in 1882, when more than 6.2 million barrels were recovered and the industry became the lifeblood of this region. The signs for both towns reflect that. Richburg calls itself a "Pioneer Oil Town" and Bolivar goes by the moniker "The Land of the Deer and the Derrick."
The emergence of other oil-producing regions of the world, decline in the price of oil, along with the difficulty in extracting the oil in the southern tier and Northern Pennsylvania have combined to make oil production a cottage industry. There are still oilmen in Western New York, however they are few and far-between. They are also another chapter in the Unknown Stories of WNY.