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Volcano, an oil boom town between 1864 and 1897, lies in Wood County. The Volcanic Oil & Gas Company was formed in 1864 and purchased 2,000 acres for oil exploration. After initial strikes, oil wells were drilled as quickly as possible. The town of Volcano was founded in 1870. During its peak years there were hotels, schools, churches, saloons, an opera house, a newspaper, sawmill, barrel factory, post office, stores, and many houses at Volcano.

At first, supplies were brought in over rough roads by horse and wagon from the nearby town of Petroleum. By 1869, the Laurel Fork & Sand Hill Railroad had been constructed. It connected Volcano with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, a few miles away.

A disastrous fire occurred in 1879, and the town was never completely rebuilt. The railroad was dismantled. A pipeline then conveyed local oil to Parkersburg. Although production decreased over the years, oil continued to flow from Volcano’s wells. A cable arrangement was devised to pump 50 wells still producing at the end of the 19th century. Later, the number fell to 40, and by the 1950s the cable was pumping just 25 wells. Some wells produced oil for more than 75 years.

Written by Borgon Tanner


  1. Callahan, James M. History of West Virginia vol. 1. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1923.

  2. Leavengood, Betty. 'I'm the One Who Stayed': Walter Taitt's 99 years in Volcano. Goldenseal, (Winter 2002).

  3. Pepper, Brooks. Volcano, West Virginia's Most Eruptive Town. West Virginia Hillbilly, 10/11/1969.