Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

You Want Oil With That?

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Cline 1 oil well was drilled in the 1870s. Since then, a McDonald's has sprung up around it.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated the well produces 3/4 gallons of oil a day. The correct total is 3/4 barrels.

Bradford, McKean County is littered with abandoned oil and gas wells. More than a third of the 8,200 known abandoned wells in Pennsylvania’s statewide database are located in McKean County.

But drilling isn’t entirely a thing of the past in Bradford, as I discovered when I visited McKean County to report for StateImpact Pennsylvania’s “Perilous Pathways” series. Even though the Bradford area hasn’t been part of the Marcellus Shale boom, it’s still covered with signs of active oil and gas drilling: pumpjacks, green storage containers, refineries.

One site, in particular, stands out, and that’s not because it’s Bradford’s oldest producing oil well. It’s the fact that the well is located smack in the middle of a McDonald’s drive-through lane.

The well – Cline Number 1 is its official name – is  1,125 feet deep. 140 years after it was first drilled, a McDonald’s has sprung up around it, but the well still produces ¾ barrels of oil a day. “That’s where they get the oil for the fries,” a motorcyclist joked as I stood there taking pictures.

Here are a few more pictures of Bradford’s drive-through oil well.

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