THE SHOW WITH AN OAL WELL


| March/April 1977



Oil derrick

View of oil derrick, boiler and steam engine.

523 S. Roberts Street, Lima, Ohio 45804.

July 3,4, 5,1976 saw an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people take a look into yesteryear. It was both a very fine display of antique steam and gas engines and a tribute to an era of wooden rigs and ironmen. This all took place at the Allen County Fairgrounds, Lima, Ohio.

It all started back in December 1975 when the Allen County Historical Society, along with the Allen County Bicentennial Commission, hit upon the idea of an oil well, complete with wooden derrick for a bicentennial project.

A distinguished, white-haired gentleman, seventy-seven years young, having spent more than sixty of them in the oil business, Mr. Jim MacDonell, president of the Historical Society, started the wheels turning, and as he stated, 'then the fun began.'

First, a lease on ten acres in the Northeast corner of the Fairgrounds was obtained from the County Commissioners and a permit to drill was issued by the State of Ohio. The wooden rig required nearly twenty thousand feet of lumber. The main sill is 16' x 16' x 28'. The walking beam is 14' x 24' x 24'. The timbers required were sawed from red and white oak, cut in the woods on Jim MacDonell's farm west of Lima, Ohio. The logs, one which measured five feet at the base were trucked to the Bill Lanwehr Sawmill at Ottawa, Ohio where the required lumber was sawed.

The steam engine presented a problem that started a search from Pennsylvania to Texas. Jim was not looking for just a steam engine. Being a perfectionist that he is, he wanted an oil-well drilling steam engine.