Historic City of Pithole

The Stories of Venango County

Historic City of Pithole

Pleasantville, Pennsylvania 16341, United States

Created By: Venango Tours


In January 1865, the wildcat Frazier Well struck oil along Pennsylvania's Pithole reek, launching an oil frenzy. Four months later, Colonel A.P. Duncan and George C. Prather purchased land on Holmden Farm and laid out 500 lots for lease, founding Pithole.

By September, 15,000 people lived in Pithole and the city boasted 57 hotels, 3 theaters, an infamous "red light district," a daily newspaper, the third busiest post office in the state, and more.

But, Pithole City declined almost as rapidly as it grew. The oil ran dry, major fires decimated wells and the city's hastily constructed wooded buildings and new oil discoveries in other locales pulled people away. By December 1866, Pithole's population was less than 2,000. The city charter was amulled in 1877.

Today, all that physically remains of Pithole City are cellar holes in the hillside meadow, but the legend continues to live on through the stories told about a historic oil boom town that vanished to ghost town in less than three years.

The grounds at Historic Pithole City are open dawn to dusk year-round. There are three annual events, including the snow-celebratory Cabin Fever Party in February, Wildcatter Day in June, and ghostly Lantern Tours in October. For questions or more information contact Drake Well Museum at (814) 827-2797. For more information about the Pithole Visitor Center, check out the Pithole web page on the Drake Well Museum website.

Historic Pithole City is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in partnership with Friends of Drake Well, Inc. This tour was adapted from a brochure promoted by Drake Well Museum and Park and funded in part by the Oil Region Alliance.

This point of interest is part of the tour: The Stories of Venango County


Leave a Comment



Download the App

Download the PocketSights Tour Guide mobile app to take this self-guided tour on your GPS-enabled mobile device.

iOS Tour Guide Android Tour Guide



Updates and Corrections

Please send change requests to changerequest@pocketsights.com.