CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An exhibit about the history of West Virginia's oil and gas industry opened at the Culture Center at the state Capitol on Friday.
The exhibit features the state's leading role in developing the oil and gas industry in the United States.
Items on display include several old pieces of wooden and metallic equipment, colorful historic signs, photographs, patent application documents and video presentations.
Old wooden gas barrels, colorful metal oilcans and water/gas pumps built 100 years ago are eye-catching.
In the oil industry's early days, derricks dotted hillsides, surrounding people's homes, in towns like Pinch, Blue Creek and Parkersburg. One old photograph features them on a hillside in Stringtown in Tyler County.
West Virginia State Museum Director Charles Morris said oil was first found in this area of the state about 200 years ago, around 1810.
"A lot of the process of drilling for oil was developed in West Virginia. When salt works opened up in the Malden area in Kanawha County, people didn't know the about the use of oil, so it was just dumped into the Kanawha River."
Morris said the Ruffner family played a major role in the early development of oil drilling and extraction in West Virginia.
The exhibit shows a variety of oilcans and "yellow dog" lanterns, which got their name because their two burning wicks resemble a dog's eyes glowing in the dark.
Antique signs in the exhibit came from companies including: the Southern Penn Oil Co., Eastern States Oil and Gas Inc., the Acme Fishing Tool Co. and Pennzoil.
One of the most interesting historic relics is an old-style gas pump from the 1920s, nearly 10 feet tall, that was used to fill up early cars like Model A and Model T Fords.