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.


  • LBarr

    By 1922 according to the Dept. of Internal Affairs, Bureau of Topographic and Geological Survey, 1922, there were “about 35,000″ wells drilled in the Bradford oil field.!i=2147300876&k=sdVBZPN

    • Doug Miolen

      Any idea what this well use to produce?

      • George Rodgers

        Hello Doug
        I dont know but it must have been 12-5 BOPD starting – I am hearing really good things about that area. If you can have that kind of well starting off then long term the checks flow like oil !

  • Cheri Campbell

    That well belonged to my mother’s uncle, Ronald Dennis, as late as the early 1970s. His grandfather, John Looker, was a longtime McKean county oil producer & later real estate investor. He was once the largest independent oil producer in Pennsylvania & later owned the Hotel Holley next door to McDonald’s. I just remember thinking that the well was cool – and cooler because it was in the family. I do know Uncle Ronald owned it when McDonald’s was built.

  • kabir

    3/4 gallons a day ?

  • Michael A. Moran

    3/4 gallons per day? Indeed. How is that economically justifiable? Was that a typo? It works out to 5 Barrels a year or $500-600. Could that even pay the maintenance cost?

    • nesne

      It probably isn’t profitable anymore but if you look at one of the pictures you can seek a sign saying it is the oldest well in the county. Probably more of a tourist attraction for the kids to then get them to eat at the Mcdonalds.

    • Pete

      at 0.75 BBL/day that is 273.75 BBL/yr… at $70/BBL that’s almost $20K/yr

  • marilynhutton

    When I was growing up, I was taught that “between” referred to two entities and “among” to more than two. Guess NPR has rethought that one.

  • carl

    As the photo 3 indicates, 3/4 barrel is produced per day, not 3/4 of a gallon.

  • Joe

    This reminds me the debate episode of the West Wing. ” I just saw an oil well in the parking lot of a McDonalds in Long Beach the other day.”

  • Chad

    I lived in Bradford until I was 6 years old. I remember asking my mother what the big metal grasshopper behind McDonald’s was for. I would also pretend of it was a dinosaur and a robot.

  • d blank

    .75 BOPD would equal 252 barrels of oil per year at $70 it would be equal to $17,640.00 not bad after 140 years

  • Mike H.

    That fence is far from tall enough. Children get hurt or killed playing around oil equipment all the time.

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