New and Old Beam Pumps

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Somertimes when we think that something is a "modern" invention, it turns out to have been around a lot longer. Take for example, the beam pump, a staple of oilfield production since the early 20th century. The pump jack is used to bring oil from the reservoir below the surface to the surface.




It seems that this oil patch fixture has been around a lot longer than one might think as I discovered during a recent trip to Virginia. In Saltville, VA the commercial development of salt began in the 1780s. Th early "salt works" consisted of open wells from which brine was drawn, furnaces in which the material was boiled in iron kettles, and salt buildings that stored the salt. The brine was brought to the surface by "walking beam pumps."
During the Civil War, salt production grew from 15,000 bushels to four million barrels in 1864.

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