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1806: RUFNER BROTHERS DRILL AND COMPLETE FIRST WELL IN AMERICA

In the USA the first well was drilled in 1806 by the Rufner brothers, it was a brine well. But long before this date many wells were successfully drilled in the world. According to the writings of Marco Polo, wells as deep as 1,500 ft were drilled around 1200 A.D. French drilled the first oil well in Pechelbronn in 1745.
David and Joseph Ruffner inherited a salt property in the Great Kanawha River near Charleston, West Virginia. The demand for salt exceeding the supply, the Ruffner brothers decided to drill a hole down to the source of the salt. They used the spring pole principle. A long pole acts as a spring-loaded lever to raise drill tools upward after they have been pulled manually downward. The well is drilled slightly deeper each time the drill bit strikes the bottom of the borehole. They commenced the well in 1806 and completed it 18 months later at a depth of 58 ft. The hole size was 48 inches. The well was not only drilled but a wooden casing was set. The casing sections were made by splitting and coring a tree. This was the first well drilled and completed in America. Following the success of the two brothers many other wells were drilled in the region. The brine was often associated with oil and gas.
The Rufner brothers jump-started an industry that would produce more than three million bushels of salt annually and make the Kanawha Valley the salt capital of the nation. David was also the first to use coal to manufacture salt and laid out the present town of Malden.
(Image: Spring pole drilling near the Kanawha river in the early 1800’s)