The first time American crude oil was mentioned was in an account by Sir Walter Raleigh, the celebrated hero of Britain. He visited the Trinidad pitch lake in 1595 and made a mention of it in his writings. Incidentally, the Trinidad pitch lake is the world’s biggest asphalt deposit. The ‘lake’ is spread over 40 hectares and is said to be at least 75 meters deep in places.
Thirty seven years after Sir Walter Raleigh’s account, we have the account of a Franciscan clergyman, Joseph de la Roche d’Allion, who saw oil springs at New York. Peter Kalm, a Russian adventurer went a step further and drew a map of Pennsylvanian oil springs in 1748.
Native Americans were already using petroleum before the pioneers came
Native Americans were the first people to use petroleum in the Americas and they employed it in medicine, magic and in painting. The American pioneers used this oil in medicines (they bought it from the Native Americans) and it came to be called Seneca oil.
The first commercial oil well was dug in the US by E. L Drake, an oil prospector and that was the beginning of the petroleum industry. The oil well was dug at Oil Creek in Pennsylvania, which later became famous by the name of Titusville. Soon, many oil wells came to be dug in the region. One petroleum derivative, Kerosene later replaced candles and whale oil lamps, being used until then. Petroleum was used for little else until the gasoline engine was developed. Now, the US is the one of the largest producers of petroleum in the world and also one of the largest consumers.