The only giant Michigan oil and natural gas field was discovered in January 1957 on the dairy farm of Ferne Houseknecht. Her first oil well revealed the 29-mile-long “Golden Gulch.”
The story of the discovery of Michigan’s only giant oilfield is the stuff of dreams and legends, says one historian.
After decades of dry holes or small oil discoveries, the Houseknecht No. 1 discovery well of January 7, 1957, revealed the massive oil and natural gas field.
It took more than two years of drilling, but the Houseknecht No. 1 well discovered Michigan’s largest oilfield – the “Golden Gulch” Albion-Pulaski-Scipio Field.
The 3,576-foot-deep well near Scipio Township in Hillsdale County in southwestern Michigan produced from the Black River formation of the Trenton zone.
Local lore says that the well’s namesake, Ferne Houseknecht, had been told by a spiritualist that there was oil under her farm.
She convinced her uncle, Clifford Perry, to help drill a well one joint of pipe at a time between other farm projects.
“The story of the discovery well of Michigan’s only ‘giant’ oil field, using the worldwide definition of having produced more than 100 million barrels of oil from a single contiguous reservoir is the stuff of dreams, and of oil field legends,” explains Michigan oil and gas historian and author Jack Westbrook. Read the rest of this entry »