Mysteries of the Historical Oil Tanks in Durbin

Our resident “Bartow Weatherman” slash local historian, Jason Bauserman, spends a lot of time perusing the historic records at the Durbin Town Hall and sometimes reads something, or in this case saw an old photograph from the 1920’s and that sends him on a search through history. He noticed in that old photo of Durbin, three large steel tanks pictured and he dug deeper to learn their significance, but we’ll let him tell the story.

“For the first time ever, I came across this picture where it had Goodsell Garage on the far East side of Durbin and it also had the three oil tanks that were put up on the Durbin side of the Depot,” said Bauserman. “And, I had never, never seen a picture with those in it. I want to read the standard contract that came from the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. It was a short contract, but it was really big for the Town of Durbin since they had a railroad, and this was a new energy source. Originally, the first store in Durbin, Wilmoth & Kerr, they were buying firewood to heat their store and then they started to get into coal, and now here is a new energy source. So, this was dated January 1st of 1923, from Standard Oil of New Jersey to the Town of Durbin. I’ll read verbatim here: ‘Council met in regular session with the following officers present, H.H. Hudson, Mayor; A.T. Carpenter, Recorder; Kenna Rexrode; S.H. Hiner, and S.A. Wilhyde as Council Members.”

“And here is the contract: ‘Whereas the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey has made application for a permit to erect the following construction on lot located at Durbin, West Virginia, within the corporate limits of the Town of Durbin: Two 10 by 30-foot vertical steel storage tanks, storage of petroleum products, to be placed on concrete foundations; One 20 by 40 galvanized iron warehouse; and one 12 by 12-foot galvanized iron pump house. It is resolved and permission be, and the same is hereby granted to the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey to erect said construction in accordance with the said application on their property, South of the C & O Railway station. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a time copy of the permission granted by the Town council, at their regular meeting held January 1, 1923, and approved by the mayor, H.H Hudson and A.T. Carpenter, Clerk.’ “

“They did ask for two 10 by 30-foot vertical steel storage tanks, but looking at the picture, there were three. That was amazing. I have a hunch that one of the tanks could have had oil, but the other kerosene probably in another tank, and I don’t know if the third tank would have been some other kind of oil produce or not.”

“Railroads just changed everything when they came and were able to transport products in. We started seeing coconuts and oranges.”

So, even this piece of history has mysteries that haven’t yet been understood. For me, another mystery here is what in the world was the Durbin Town Council doing meeting on New Year’s Day? (Which had been made a federal holiday in 1870.)

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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