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The Valley That Changed the World
The gripping story of the birth of an industry and the developments over the ensuing century and a half that affected everyday lives as well as world politics.



Historical documentary is part of Oil 150 celebration

PITTSBURGH – An economic boom that began in western Pennsylvania in 1859 set the stage for an industry that transformed the world. One hundred fifty years ago, Colonel Edwin Drake drilled the first commercial oil well for the Seneca Oil Company outside Titusville, Pennsylvania that led to the birth of the petroleum industry.

WQED has produced a new documentary, The Valley That Changed the World, in association with the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry & Tourismthat airs on Thursday, April 16 at 8pm on WQED-TV. The program tells the gripping story of the birth of an industry and the developments over the ensuing century and a half that affected everyday lives as well as world politics.

The program explores historic events leading up to 1859 and the Drake oil well, the oil companies that sprang out of the boom, the developments of towns like Oil City, Franklin, and Titusville, and the people and families instrumental in the industry. Like the California Gold Rush, people flocked to the region from all over the country after the discovery of oil to make their fortunes.

The Valley That Changed the World includes the following little-known facts:

· How Pithole, Pennsylvania, an oil boom town, grew to 15,000 people in 1865 and ended up a ghost town by 1867.

· How John Wilkes Booth came to the Oil Region during the boom and why he left.

· Why Drake’s oil well was called “Drake’s Folly.”

· What happened to Colonel Edwin Drake after his well began production.

· How the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania “saved the whales.”

· How the fledgling oil industry brought Union and Confederate soldiers together after the Civil War.

· How people used petroleum for medicinal purposes – hence the term “snake oil.”

Through extraordinary photographs of the time, archival materials, accounts of historians, oil industry experts and Oil Region constituents, the story of Drake’s oil strike and the impact of the petroleum industry has made on modern life is told in The Valley That Changed the World.

The Valley That Changed the World was produced by WQED for the Oil Regional Alliance of Business, Industry & Tourism and is part of a year-long celebration that includes traveling exhibits, workshops, speaker’s bureau, roundtable discussions, and contests.

CREDITS: Darryl Ford-Williams, Vice President of Production; Pierina Morelli, Producer/Photographer/Editor; Iris Samson, Producer/Writer.

This project was financed in part by a Pennsylvania Heritage Area Program Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, via Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry and Tourism. The National Park Service also provided a grant of National Heritage Area funds to the Oil Region Alliance for this project. Additional funding was furnished by the Dr. and Mrs. Arthur William Phillips Charitable Trust, the Edith Justus Charitable Trust, the Elizabeth S. Black Charitable Trust, the Philo and Sarah Blaisdell Foundation, Petroleum History Institute, and Edward Jones Investments.

WQED Pittsburgh, honored with the 2007 and 2006 Mid-Atlantic Emmy® Award for Station Excellence, was founded in 1954 as the nation’s first community-supported broadcaster. WQED creates, produces and distributes quality programs, products and services to engage, inform, educate and entertain the public within its community and around the world. WQED Pittsburgh is one of the first broadcasters in the country to be fully high-definition (HD) in its studio and field production capabilities. It is the parent company of WQED-TV (PBS); WQED: The Neighborhood Channel; WQED: The Create Channel; WQEX-TV (A ShopNBC affiliate); WQED-FM 89.3/Pittsburgh; WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; a publishing division that includes PITTSBURGH MAGAZINE; local and national television and radio productions; WQED Interactive (www.wqed.org); and The WQED Education Department.

NOTE TO WORKING PRESS: Please check local PBS station(s) for airdates and times.



WQED Pittsburgh
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Pittsburgh, PA 15213


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