StoryCorps Bradford: Fred Young Talks with his Son Jeffrey

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WPSU is traveling to towns across central and northern Pennsylvania to collect oral history recordings. The first stop was in Bradford, Pennsylvania in McKean County. Fred Young talks with his son Jeffrey. They talk about the first time Fred met Forest Dorn, an oil tycoon in Bradford. It was in the early 1940s.

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Jack Young
Ithaca, NY
Jan 25, 2012

The Forest Dorn in my father’s story was one of the founders of Forest Oil Corporation. Here’s a bit from the company’s website describing that company’s activities in the Bradford area between 1916 and 1939. You can see that Forest Oil was near its peak at the time of this story:

Forest Dale Dorn and Clayton Glenville Dorn created Forest Oil Corporation in 1916 as an oil field waterflooding company in northern Pennsylvania. The company’s roots can be traced to an oil field in Bradford, Pennsylvania, that was discovered in 1871. By 1916, oil production at the Bradford site had declined to just under 40 barrels a day, and the reserve was considered by many to be dry. On this “dry” site, Forest Dale Dorn tried out a new waterflooding technique to initiate secondary recovery of oil. The process involved the injection of fluid into the oil reservoir to create energy to produce additional oil. The success of Dorn’s technique prompted him to create his own waterflooding company with his father and partner, Clayton Glenville Dorn.

Within 5 years, Forest Oil was widely recognized throughout the oil and gas industry as not only the innovator of waterflooding, but the authority and leader in secondary oil recovery systems. The company was quickly contracted by other companies to recover oil through waterflooding techniques at drilling sites around Pennsylvania that were either in the process of being depleted or completely exhausted. Forest Oil’s ideas were soon being applied throughout the industry, and were aiding in the extension of oil wells’ lives by as much as ten years, in some cases.

Meanwhile, Forest Oil continued drilling wells at the Bradford site. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the company drilled over 1,000 wells per year, and production increased from the 1916 low of under 40 barrels per day to over 9,300 barrels per day in 1939. Soon thereafter, the reserve at the Bradford site was finally exhausted, and Forest Oil moved on to new properties in Illinois and Oklahoma.

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