Oil Refining History

The Stories of Venango County

Oil Refining History

Sugarcreek, Pennsylvania 16343, United States

Created By: Venango Tours


In 1879 A.L. Confer constructed a refining still in Reno, PA and it was originally called Empire Oil. The main product being produced at this time was lamp oil being distilled from crude oil. In 1928 Empire became Wolverine Empire Refining Co. The companies main product at that time became oil specialized in aviation and the company was the direct supplier to Pan - American Airways. In 1940 the company became Wolfs Head Oil and was tasked with supplying WWII flying fortresses and B29 bomber fuel and oil. In 1963 Wolfs Head was purchased by Pennzoil and eventually concluded refining processes at this site. In 1995 the holding tanks on site were cleaned and cleared by the PA DEP and all production was ceased. Packaging and shipping was still active at the site in 2002 when Shell Oil purchased the entire site.

In its most recent era, Justin and Jessica Zacherl purchased the retired refinery in 2022 to use as the site of their current granite fabrication company, Creekside Granite. The company has been located at the site since 2008 and has grown in size every year. The property is under demolition currently and the tanks are being removed and the buildings that are under disrepair are being removed. Plans in the future for the site include redevelopment, historic preservation and site beautification. Many former workers have been known to stop at the site and share their memories of the property and the current owners are always willing to listen to the history of the property anytime it is offered. Reno remains home to many of the men that reported to work at the Wolfs Head Refinery for years.

Much of the information provided here is derived from online historic sites, the Oil Region Alliance, the library at Venango Campus as well as first hand storytelling of the former occupants of the property. For more information, please contact Jessican Zacherl at jess.csgandmore@gmail.com.

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


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