In 1907 the La Belle Iron Works of Steubenville, desiring to prospect for gas, purchased a track of 190 acres from the Ohio River Realty Company, just east of the P.W.& Ky. railroad tracks, and began drilling. In additional to finding gas, they got a sixty-barrel a day oil well. The realty company, which owned land between the railroad and river put down a well in January 1908, and had a 400-barrel gusher. Derricks went up all over the oil field just above the new town of Follansbee. By the summer of 1909 at least seventy-five derricks were producing 3,000 barrels daily. The Follansbee field, which formerly was part of the Mahan estate, extended to the river edge and was sold out by Ohio River Realty to Ferguson & Company in 1909. The Follansbee field immediately sparked a rush to get holdings and erect derricks along the Ohio River bottoms in Steubenville and Mingo. The Follansbee field was considered dangerous by the men working in it because the wells were close together.
The Ohio Valley Reality Co. initially purchased 600 areas, or nearly all of the Mahan estate where the oil field existed. In 1908 some of the owners of oil wells in the Follansbee field included the following: La Belle Iron Works Co., 1.305 barrels per day; Ohio Valley Realty Co., 3.520 barrels per day; Mahan Oil Co., 380 barrels per day; Mahan & Ferguson, 160 barrels per day; and J. D. Owens & Co., 10 barrels per day.
Photo Follansbee Library Brooke Co. Division.
- Mines and Mines, “Oil Field at Follansbee, W.VA.” December 1908, p. 207.
- The Pittsburg Press, “New Oil Producer May Extend Producing Area in Lower Southwest Fields,” June 21, 1908.