The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Volcano, West Virginia

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Historic marker at Volcano, WV

Volcano, now a ghost town in southeastern Wood County, was one of the first oil-field boomtowns in West Virginia. It existed from about 1863 until destroyed by fire in 1879. More than 1,000 people may have inhabited Volcano, though it is now little more than a crossroads in the wooded hills near U.S. 50. The West Virginia Oil & Gas Museum, at Parkersburg, WV, is developing the town-site as part of the West Virginia Oil & Gas Heritage District. A picnic shelter, an oil derrick, an oil-pumping system, and a pump house are being added at the site.

The Volcano oil field was discovered in 1860, according to the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey (WVGES), "and from 1865 to 1870, drilling was very active, producing from the Salt sand at a depth of about 360 feet. The heavy lubricants produced led to the development of West Virginia's first oil pipeline, from Volcano to Parkersburg, in 1879." The name "Volcano" would certainly suggest a thick, lava-like flow and the potential for great heat.

In 1874, W.C. Stiles, Jr., employed the endless-wire method of pumping many wells from a central engine, "a technique he invented," according to the WVGES. "Using wheels, belts, and cables, perhaps as many as 40 wells could be pumped by one engine. One of the systems operated until 1974."

The Volcano town-site is located south of the US-50 expressway at the junction of Wood County Routes 5 and 28.

Map: Volcano, WV