Another Historic View
This is another view of an oil
derrick in Washington County
during the early 20th century.
Historic Oil Well Site
An interpretive display gives
visitors a chance to learn
about early attempts to find oil
in Washington County.
Historic Oil Well Site - Falling Waters State Park
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Falling Waters Oil Well Site, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Falling Waters Oil Well Site, Florida
Historic Oil Well Site
This interpretive display at Falling Waters
State Park tells of a historic 1919 oil well.
One of Washington County's most unique
historic sites is the location of one of the first
commercial oil wells ever drilled in Florida.

Located along a nature trail at Falling Waters
State Park just three miles southeast of
Chipley, the site preserves the little that
remains of the drilling attempt and includes
an interpretive display that allows visitors to
read about the unique effort.

In 1919, following years of rumors of oil
buried deep beneath the hills of the area,
independent oil seekers drilled several wells
in eastern Washington and western Jackson
Counties.

The efforts received heavy local investment
and became something of a "treasure hunt,"
fueled in part by a suspicious document said
to have been writing by a Spanish explorer
named Jose Matanzas (read more about this
account by
Clicking Here ).

The oil well at Falling Waters Hill became a
remarkable achievement. The drillers built a
wooden derrick and pushed down to a depth
of 3,900 feet, a remarkable depth for the time
and location.

At one point they generated considerable
excitement in the area by striking a pocket of
natural gas, but no gusher was ever found. In
the end, the wildcat effort came to an end and
the well was capped. Documentation of the
efforts indicates that the drillers were not
able to find oil in what they termed
"commercial quantities."

This is a fascination notation because it
does indicate that they at least found
something. At the time, however, it was
considered to costly to continue the project.

The drilling attempts at Falling Waters Hill
and other locations in the area were not all
that far-fetched. Decades later a large field of
commercial crude was found in Northwest
Florida near the community of Jay.
While the well did not produce commercial
quantities of oil, it did eventually give the
people of Washington County a great
treasure. Decades after the drilling ended, a
cow fell into one of the sludge pits. Heavy
newspaper coverage about the "dangers" of
the site, combined with a strong push by civic
minded citizens, resulted in a decision by
International Paper to deed the ground to
Washington County.

The land formed the core for today's much
larger Falling Waters State Park and the old
oil well site can be seen along the park's
nature trail system not far from Florida's
tallest waterfall.
Oil Derrick in 1920
This photograph of an oil
derrick in Washington County
was taken in 1920.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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