|WELCOME||Atlas of the Oil Region of Pennsylvania||WELCOME|
The Atlas of the Oil Region of Pennsylvania by F. W. Beers is unusual for a classic 19th century county atlas. Despite the name, it is an atlas of Venango County, but with some added maps of the surrounding region. Dating to 1865, it is one of the earliest cartographic representations of the northwestern oil region of the state; the site of the beginning of one of the world's great, well, great maybe isn't the right word, say large industries. This atlas is about 16 x 19 inches, wider than tall which itself is unusual. All of the maps are single page with blank verso, except for the Venango county map which is printed on onionskin type paper and folded in. Unlike most of the county atlases, this one was printed on low quality paper, with the result that few copies survive and those in poor condition, as is the one shown here.
Frederick William Beers was a New York map publisher, the principal partner in F. W. Beers & Co. He was born in 1839 in Brooklyn, New York, and worked as a surveyor before going into the map publishing business. He died in Newtown, Connecticut in 1933, at the age of 94. He published about fifteen Pennsylvania county atlases, the Oil Region Atlas being the first. The Beers family (Fredrick, Silas, James and Daniel) flourish from about 1860 to 1890, usually with partners, as with A. D. Ellis and G. G. Soule for this atlas; and they were all publishers of county atlases.
The pages from the atlas are reproduced below. A Table of Contents is followed by a page of statistics and then the map of Venango County. The pages with ads are printed on both sides of a sheet, then come the township maps with blank versos. There are several maps depicting oil lands along Oil Creek from Oil City up into Crawford and Warren counties, and several depicting the Allegheny River. These oil lands along the rivers were the first to be exploited because of the ease of transportation. There is also a map showing oil lands up in New York State. The atlas ends with more pages of ads and an article on petroleum. This article is "a few facts relating to Petroleum, historically, scientifically, and commercially, reviewed by Ivan C. Michels, Editor of the Philadelphia Coal Oil Circular and Petroleum Price Current."
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