The year is 1985. It's a summer evening in Titusville, Pennsylvania and you are dancing the night away under the light flares of the disco ball while the DJ plays "Raspberry Beret", "We Built this City", and other chart-toppers that please the crowd. The building you are in houses a great deal of history tracing all the way back to the oil boom era and in a mere thirteen years will no longer exist. Where are you? Welcome to the Colonel Drake Hotel.
When the City of Titusville bought the home at 732 East Main Street in June 2018, the controversy was immediate. Regardless of one's feelings about the purchase of the property or the plans for its future, few likely know the full extent of the home's history, its previous residents, and its place in Titusville's past.
While most people flocked to Titusville due to oil, there was also a little known gusher of another valuable kind just east of Titusville up the hill. In 1906, Dr. S.N. Burchfield capitalized on this other valuable substance that was springing out of the earth. What was it, you ask? Water!
It's a brisk Thursday night in September. The year is 1939. Town is abuzz with activity and Spring Street is alive with activity. Where is everyone going this fine night, you might wonder? The line stretches down the block for the main event: the opening of the brand new Penn Theatre.
Seventy-three years ago on this very day, the people of Titusville and the surrounding areas were talking about the same thing we have all been talking about in hushed whispers today, hoping it will pass us by: SNOW.
Can you remember the sound of the hammer ringing out across town? How about the clanks and clangs of the presses or the scrape of the cold chisel? The plumes of steam and smoke rising into the sky on the east side of Titusville? These were all hallmark signs of one of Titusville's most lucrative non-oil industries: steel-making.
Petroleum Centre, summer 1866. The streets are muddy, the hotels are bawdy, and you just finished a long day of work in the oil fields and are looking for a place to relax for the evening. You saunter into one of the local bars and before you is one of the most fearsome figures of Petroleum Centre, "Bully Tom" Quirk.