Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

The Drake Well Museum Gets A Facelift

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The Drake Well, drilled in 1859

In all the Marcellus Shale excitement, we sometimes forget that drilling in Pennsylvania goes back more than 150 years. The commonwealth hosted the world’s first-ever oil boom, which got started in 1859, when Edwin Drake’s Titusville well struck crude.

The Drake Well Museum, which commemorates Pennsylvania’s early energy history, recently finished a $9 million renovation. The Erie Times has the details on its new exhibits:

“The old exhibit was a little dark and very academic,” said Melissa Mann, museum marketing and promotions manager. “The new exhibit is geared to how 21st-century visitors learn and what they expect to see in an educational venue.”

Brightly lit displays simulate shop windows in a 19th-century streetscape.

Tablet computers guide children through a Monopoly-style game where they might land on “Oil prices soar, $300,” or “Your company has lost its well in a fire, lose a turn.”

Visitors are encouraged to open drawers, peer into cupboards and push buttons, like the one that shoots “nitroglycerin” down a shaft to shatter rock and release oil.

“It’s hands-on,” Mann said. “And it’s fun.”

The exhibit isn’t all about drilling for oil. Exhibits also celebrate the people who flocked to the oil region and the myriad products and industries that it spawned.

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