Along this stream the first white explorers found Indians skimming surface oil. From 1859 to 1865, the center of oil production and its refining was along the banks of Oil Creek.
As white settlers moved into the Oil Creek region after the American Revolution, they were met with the Seneca Native American tribe. The Seneca Native Americans used petroleum as healing salve, mosquito repellent, purge, and many other things. As they began to settle around the Creek, they began to skim petroleum from the little springs either in the bank or in the actual bed of the stream. The European explorers and settlers in Western Pennsylvania were quick to adopt “Seneca Oil” as a cure-all. In the beginning and throughout the Creek’s prime, petroleum was valued for medicines, lubricant, mineral oil, petroleum jelly, petroleum and many other remedies, which were presented and taught to them by the Native Americans around the area.
When first beginning the process of extracting and producing petroleum, in 1853, Dr. Francis Brewer took seep oil to Dartmouth College, where a chemist thought it had great commercial value if large quantities could be found. This prospect prompted Jonathan Watson to loan Edwin Drake money to drill in company land. In less than six months after Drake first struck oil in August 27, 1859, creating the first well along this Creek, more than five hundred wells perforated both sides of the creek for its sixteen mile length between Titusville and Oil City. With the discovery of this new and seemingly unlimited resource, the tide of oil now moved swiftly and turned this area into the Petroleum Center. By June 1860, the daily production in this tiny region dubbed “petrolia,” roughly amounted to twelve hundred barrels and by September 1861, five thousand barrels. After Drake’s well struck oil, Watson leased property in Oil Creek, pushing the market for land around the Oil Creek’s river side and transforming Titusville from a village of three to four hundred people to a bustling town full of new opportunities.