Abstract: The Greatest Wildcatter in Oildom
WOODFORK, LARRY D.
West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey, Morgantown, WV "Oildom" was the euphemistic term used by Whiteshot (1905) to refer to the realm of the early oil industry. John H. Galey (1841-1918) is generally acknowledged to be "the greatest wildcatter" of that era - hence, my rather whimsical title!
Not long after his first oil discovery in 1868, the famous Maple Shade gusher (150 BOPD) in the upper reaches of West Pithole Creek near Pleasantville, PA, Galey entered into a life-long partnership with Colonel James M. Guffey (1839-1930). Although Galey and Guffey had similar backgrounds, they were quite different in most other respects. Galey was a rather solitary individual with little interest in money (aside from its utility to finance his next wildcat) or "the business side" of the oil industry. He seemed to be driven solely by the pursuit and thrill of discovery - an intrepid explorer! Conversely, Guffey was a flamboyant promoter with a shrewd mind for finance and business coupled with incredible willpower and inexhaustible energy.
A perfect pairing - complimentary opposites - "antagonistic synergism" - the Guffey & Galey saga was an unparalleled epic in 19th century oil exploration and discovery. From Maple Shade, through many other oil and gas discoveries in Pennsylvania, Ohio, the midwest, the midcontinental, Colorado, California, and Texas the saga unfolded, culminating in the enormous oil discovery at Spindletop, East Texas (1901) that ushered in our modern energy era.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90930©1998 AAPG Eastern Section, Columbus, Ohio