The initial oil boom was triggered by Edwin Drake’s 1859 drilling of the world’s first successful commercial oil well. Its development was fueled by inventors and entrepreneurs coping with and creating new methods for the production, movement, refining and business management of this energy industry. Rapid shifts of wealth, population, communications systems and transportation established the area’s pattern of Victorian era towns along the waterways and more recent communities on the highlands. Today, residents and visitors enjoy heritage attractions, warm hospitality and four seasons of outdoor recreation in “The Valley that Changed the World.”
The Oil Region was designated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as an official Pennsylvania Heritage Area in 1994 and by the National Park Service as an official National Heritage Area (NHA) in 2004. The state and federal designations use the same boundaries, comprising 34 municipalities in 708 square miles. Included are the City of Titusville and Oil Creek Township in eastern Crawford County, Hydetown Borough in eastern Crawford County, plus all of the County of Venango.
Managed by the Oil Region Alliance, the NHA's development activities address the following goals: cultural conservation and preservation; recreation and open space; economic development and community revitalization; promotion; education and interpretation; intergovernmental cooperation and partnerships. Projects addressing one or more of these goals may seek financial assistance via the Oil Region Alliance, if consistent with the latest Oil Region Management Action Plan or the Oil Heritage Region Interpretive Plan.