Decades before the first oil discovery in the state of Washington, Pelican Petroleum tried and failed.

The search for oil in the state led to many dry holes for decades after Pelican’s 1930 wildcat well in the far northwest corner.

Despite much investment by companies such as Continental, Shell, Texas Company and a host of start-up ventures, Washington’s first and only commercial oil well did not arrive until the late 1950s.

Sunshine Mining Company’s Medina No. 1 well, near Ocean City in Gray Harbor County, found a producing oil sand in 1957. It produced 223 barrels of oil a day from a depth of 4,135 feet near Ocean City in Gray Harbor County.

In 1938, the Pelican Petroleum Company and partner Peoples Gas & Oil Development Company drilled the Pelican Dome No. 1 well to 5,500 feet in Whatcom County. It was an expensive dry hole.

Although Pelican soon disappeared from the records, some collectors value its old stock certificates at about $70.

About 600 oil and natural gas wells have been drilled in Washington through 2010, according to Washington’s commissioner of public lands.

“But large-scale commercial production has never occurred,” adds the commissioner. “The most recent production, which was from the Ocean City Gas and Oil Field west of Hoquiam, ceased in 1962, and no oil or gas have been produced since that time.”

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