Sketch of oil well with derrick

Sketch of oil well with derrick and supporting buildings.

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1615 Brick Kiln Lane Louisville, Kentucky 40216

Sounds too good to be true? Don't you believe it!

The good people of West Virginia think that this sounds just about right when describing how they feel about their beautiful state. They show it by displaying bumper stickers that proclaim it and they show it in their enthusiasm for the popular song that contains these words. Today many West Virginians consider 'Country Roads' as sort of a state anthem, and one need only be in the audience when it's played to see what I mean.

Of course the 'Mountaineer State' is most beautiful and its people have every right to be proud of her.

West Virginia is also steeped in an abundance of history, not the least of which concerns its oil and gas industry, and is still today a big part of the state's economy.

And this brings me to the reason for writing this article namely the annual West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival which is held each year in the middle of September. A more interesting and entertaining festival will not be found anywhere. There are so many stories to be heard about the early days of oil and gas exploration, discovery and operation, whether it be about the 'nitro-man' and his rig or Gib Morgan, the legendary oil field worker whose exploits rival those of 'Big John' of coal mine fame, or a hundred more fascinating stories.

By the way, the Festival has an original and authentic nitro-glycerine wagon which it puts on display each year and you can readily see for yourself how dangerous a job this could be. The 'nitro-man' or 'shooter', as he was also called, rode on this specially sprung wagon on a seat, underneath of which was transported perhaps two dozen quarts of nitroglycerine. While undoubtedly this job was necessary and paid well, the phrase 'living dangerously,' was a gross understatement. What the relatively unstable nature of the compound and the necessarily rough roads of the time, it is not surprising that occasionally one of these rigs exploded, leaving little remaining, save a tremendous blast echoing off the surrounding mountains and a huge hole in the road.

Along with the Oil and Gas Festival and its many activities is the Old Gas Engine Show which my wife and I have been privileged to attend for seeral years now. Nowhere will you find more friendly and accommodating group of people and we have certainly enjoyed ourselves to the fullest.

The gas engine portion of the show has been sponsored for several years by one of the foremost oil companies in the nation, the Quaker State Oil Co. While Stewart Bradfield is the very capable executive director and a guiding force behind the Festival, a friendly man by the name of Arthur Shreves, along with the rest of his gang do a bang up job managing the gas engine display.

We always look forward to show time in Sistersville and the activities at City Park in the heart of town. This quanit little city nestled on the banks of the beautiful Ohio River some 50 miles south of Wheeling also abounds in history and nostalgia which rival, in my opinion, any other location in the country.

The 'Little Sister' working oil well, the ferry crossing the river, the many historic buildings, the nearby town of Paden City, famous for its glass and china ware for well over a centyr and many, many other unforgettable sights and sounds of the surrounding area.

You could not go wrong by visiting the Festival or for that matter, at any other time a visit to the area would be well worth your while.

If everything goes well, we'll be there again this year the 13th through the 16th of September and looking forward to meeting the many friends we've made, such as the Festival blacksmith, Rick an hart and Harry and Millie Horner and many, many others, and all the fine dedicated people who work so hard to make the Festival come true.

Hope to see you there!