Oil Development History in Casey, IL.
Oil made Casey a “boomtown” around the turn of the century and the instant prosperity affected every part of local life.
In 1904, with a combination of proper tools and equipment in the hands of the right men, drillers from Pennsylvania began drilling on property near Oilfield. The 1,400 feet deep wells produced 45 barrels of oil a day and the boom began. In 1905, 15,000 barrels of oil were shipped out of Casey in railroad tank cars from a loading depot north of town on Rt. 49 near the present Pizza Hut.
The oil boom was prodigious indeed: by 1907, 2,000 wells had
been drilled in a 9,000 acre area between Casey and Westfield.
By 1906, southeastern Illinois produced 4.5 million barrels of oil
and in 1907, 24 million barrels were produced in the area. It had a
great financial effect on Casey and the surrounding
counties. Casey had 3 or 4 banks and 5 to 10 saloons – a place to
deposit money and a place to spend money.
Because of the oil business, the Casey railroad depot did more freight business at one time than the Terre Haute Station. Fairview Park was built around that time with a large racetrack – another place where large sums of money exchanged hands. The boom brought big money and big financiers to the area. John D. Rockfeller bought a local oil field in 1910 for more than a million dollars. A check signed by the oil magnate was brought to one of the Casey banks.
“People paid off mortgages, made new investments and earned higher wages. Hotels, restaurants and saloons in Casey and Marshall became prosperous but Martinsville and Westfield were dry. The cost of living went up to the disadvantage of farmers who depended on crops and livestock. Clark County no longer had a solely agricultural economy.
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