RICHBURG, NY - Years before The Wizard of Oz sprang from L. Frank Baum's imagination, he was imagining wealth of a different kind. He and his father made their home in the Allegany County town of Richburg. It, like many other Allegany County and Northern Pennsylvania communities, was enjoying instant wealth.
Richburg was a small farming hamlet, until 1881 that is. A group of businessmen formed the Richburg Oil Company and bought 90 acres of farm land. On April 27, 1881 a crowd gathered to witness the first shooting of the well. It was a geyser. The well produced 250 barrels in the first hours, then settled in to about 50 barrels a day.
That discovery led to a rush on the area. Towns of a few hundred people grew to thousands. Among the many who came here in search of fortunes was Benjamin Baum. He and his son Frank ran a skimming company. As oil wells were struck,much of the product wound up in the creeks. Baum & son went into business skimming and recovering oil from the streams.
L. Frank developed a keen interest in writing as well as the theatre. in 1900, he wrote a classic, and went from the hills of Allegany County to the yellow brick roads of Oz.