History of Pithole

Okay.  Time to cover what Pithole is.
Originally Pithole was just a creek near the Holmden farm in Venango County Pennsylvania.

Pithole Creek
Pithole Creek

The name supposedly came from some sulfur smelling holes along the creek.  The holes or cracks probably also leaked natural gas into the air since some unconfirmed stories say people get sick or die near the holes.  These holes do exist but it is not certain they are the source of the name.  Another possibility is pits dug by native Indians, even predating the later Senecas, in order to obtain oil for medicine and rituals.

Holmden Street, Pithole
Holmden Street, Pithole

Things began to change with the drilling of Drake Well along nearby Oil Creek in 1859.
In January 1865 oil was struck in the Pithole area.  A town soon sprung up on the location of the Holmden farm and by the end of the year Pithole City had nearly 20,000 people.


By 1868, after the oil flow slowed and many fires burned, Pithole City became a ghost town.
Today a museum is located on the site and signs mark the location of previous streets and buildings.  The museum is run by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and Drake Well Museum (Pithole.com and the Pithole Hermit are not affiliated with the commission or any state entity).



No buildings are left, but when I was a kid 3rd street hill was great for sled riding.  Probably not allowed anymore.  I don’t know.

3rd Street hill
3rd Street hill


Anyway, site of old Pithole City is about 1.5 miles from my land.  Pithole is the largest of many oil boom ghost towns dotting the hills of NW PA.  The town of Redhot was less than a mile from my location.


Two good springs are nearby.  Hengstler’s Spring on Pithole Rd and a unnamed spring on Pike Rd.

Hengstlers Spring
Hengstler’s Spring

Pithole on wikipedia
Pithole Museum link

And yes, there’s still oil in them thar hills.  Ancient remains of an old pumphouse is in the woods on the edge of my land.  And a much newer producing gas well is just down the road.

Fungus among-us

While wandering my land I discovered the combination of moist soil and shady trees is perfect for mushrooms.  I am not very good at identifying mushrooms but there are some I know well.  Here is a Cauliflower Mushroom I found this morning.  It is edible, and some say very good, but it is just too ugly for me to try eating it.


Please ignore the photos of the windows below.  I have found some double pane, single hung new windows at 84 Lumber at a great price.  One 3 by 3, two 3 by 2’s and one 2 by 2 for $55, $47 and $38 respectively.  With the veterans discount I got them all, with screens, for under $200.  Similar single pane windows would have been over $300 elsewhere.  More pictures to come.  I plan on making a greenhouse/hotbed with the old windows.

Living On The Land