The American Petroleum Industry: The Age of Illumination, 1859-1899

By Harold F. Williamson; Arnold R. Daum | Go to book overview

Chapter 27
Summary and conclusion

The record of the American petroleum industry at the close of the nineteenth century was strikingly impressive. From an output of a few barrels at the time of the Drake well, production of petroleum had grown to nearly 60 million barrels annually by the turn of the century. Total output over this forty-year span amounted to almost one billion barrels of crude. This expanding volume of American oil went largely to supply the demand for an inexpensive illuminant that, almost from the very beginnings, had been world-wide. Indeed, few products associated with America have had so extensive an influence as kerosene on the daily living habits of so large a proportion of the world's population.

Long before 1900, however, demands for other petroleum products had augmented the pervasive influence of illuminating oil, and by late 1890's some 200 by-products accounted for at least half the value of the in-

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