The Pioneer Oil Museum is located in what used to be the McEwen Brothers Oilfield Supply Store, in the heart of the old "Allegany Oil Field".
395 Main St
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Pioneer Oil Museum
The Pioneer Oil Museum, begun in Bolivar, New York in 1965, is a repository for artifacts used in the oil businesses found throughout Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties in southwestern New York State. Included in this collection are early drilling tools and oilfield service tools, as well as antique oilfield engines, model rigs, and other oddities. A comprehensive array of photographs complements the collection, which dates from the 1870’s to the present.
This region was where Europeans first sighted oil on the American continent. In 1627, a group of local Indians led French missionary Joseph De La Roche D'Allion to Seneca Oil Spring in nearby Cuba, New York. His writings were the first recorded mention of oil in North America. Also some 100 miles to the south is Titusville, Pennsylvania, the site of the nation’s first major oil discovery.
A significant amount of the Museum’s focus is dedicated to the “Oil Boom” which hit Bolivar and neighboring Richburg on April 27, 1881, transforming this pastoral valley of some 450 contented people into a boomtown of more than 10,000 people in a matter of just a few weeks. Photos and other displays highlight this event, which was to forever change the complexion of this valley.
The Museum, housed in a building constructed in 1851 and eventually becoming McEwan Brothers Oilfield Supply store, is located in downtown Bolivar in the heart of the “Allegany Oil Field.” These nearby oilfields are the northernmost extension of the nation’s oldest oil-producing region: northwestern Pennsylvania. For over a century the “Penn Grade” fields of Appalachia have been the source of the world’s finest lubricating oils. The Museum’s goal is to save and continue the legacy of the local petroleum industry, as well as remember those men and women who were (and still are) the backbone of this amazing history.