National Historic Chemical Landmark – Oil Industry

The American Chemistry Society established the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to enhance public appreciation for the contributions of the chemical sciences to modern life in the United States and to encourage a sense of pride in their practitioners. The program does this by recognizing seminal achievements in the chemical sciences, recording their histories, and providing information and resources about Landmark achievements.

Development of the Pennsylvania Oil Industry

Dedicated August 27, 2009 in Titusville, Pennsylvania

The American Chemical Society designated the development by Samuel
Kier of the first still for refining crude oil as a National Historic Chemical
Landmark in a ceremony in Pittsburgh on August 26, 2009.  The text of the
plaque commemorating the development reads:

Near this site in the 1850s Samuel Kier constructed a cast-iron distillation unit
for refining crude oil. Kier’s one-barrel still produced kerosene, a clean burning
lamp fuel. Later, Kier built a five-barrel still and invented a lamp that minimized
smoke and odor. Kier’s refining process touched off the search for more
dependable sources of crude oil, which led to the drilling of the nation’s first oil
well in Titusville, Pennsylvania. These two technologies — refining and drilling
— made western Pennsylvania the undisputed center of the early oil industry.

Click to download The Development of the Pennsylvania Oil Industry.

Click to download the 2009 celebration program booklet Western Pennsylvania’s Energy Heritage and Future.

For more information about the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program, visit

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