“There’s gold in them thar hills!"



Geological makeup and features of the area.



Sinkholes are "natural depressions in a land surface formed by the dissolution and collapse of a cavern roof."



Fossilized remains of prehistoric life once found in New Paris.



New Paris was once a speculative location for oil drilling.



More information and photos coming soon.



New Paris is home to a number of sinkholes, including Sinkhole No. 2 (Elk Hole) and Sinkhole No. 4 (Lloyd's Rock Hole), which were excavated by scientists in the 1950's and 1960's.

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Images: National Speleological Society



The New Paris sinkholes were initially investigated in 1932 by Charles E. Mohr, now Director of Kalamazoo Nature Center and were described by him in Stone, 1932. In April, 1948, members of the Pittsburgh Grotto, National Speleological Society (N.S.S.), revisited the site and secured a partial elk (Cervus canadensis) skeleton from Sinkhole No. 2. Carnegie Museum, under a grant from the A. W.Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, excavated Sinkhole No. 2 (or Elk Hole) in 1949 and 1950. A Recent fauna of 26 species of mammals was recovered (Guilday and Bender, 1958). In August of BULLETIN VOLUME 26, NUMBER 4, OCTOBER, 1964 125 1956 the Pittsburgh Grotto (N.S.S.), working in conjunction with Dr. J. LeRoy Kay, Curator Emeritus, Section of Vertebrate Fossils, Carnegie Museum, began the excavation of Sinkhole No. 4, or "Lloyd's Rock Hole." Excavation continued until March of 1963 when sterile cave-derived sediments were encountered at a depth of 9.1 m and bedrock 0.6 m lower. 



Authors:  John E. Guilday, Paul S. Martin, Allen D. McCrady
Source: Bulletin of the National Speleological Society, Vol. 26, Number 4 (OCTOBER 1964)
Abstract: Excavation of a 10-meter column of surface-derived matrix from Sinkhole No. 4 at New Paris, Bedford County, Pennsylvania produced a late Pleistocene biota: over 2,700 vertebrates, with an accompanying pollen profile. C-14 date is approximately 11,300 B.P. The indicated environment is cool taiga parkland during the early phase of infill with progressive reforestation during a subsequent warming (but still boreal) period. ​


Author: John E. Guilday
Source: Archaeology of Eastern North America, Vol. 10 (FALL 1982), pp. 22-26
Published by: Eastern States Archeological Federation


Author: L.J. Jackson
Source: Archaeology of Eastern North America, Vol. 15 (Fall 1987), pp. 95-98
Published by: Eastern States Archeological Federation


Submitted by Cecil Cuppett, 17 Jan 2016



More information and photos coming soon.



More information and photos coming soon.



Oil Well Pipe Goes 7,900 Feet Down Into Earth

Bedford, Nov. 1.—Is there oil down under Chestnut Ridge? Bedford county's 64-million-dollar question may be answered almost any day now.

The South Perm Oil Company's big drilling near New Paris has penetrated 7,900 feet down into the earth's depth in a (quartermillion-dollar effort to find the answer—and to prove that a famous geologist named L C. White was all wrong.

According to White, America's leading authority on coal and oil prospecting, there should be no oil in Bedford county. Years ago he propounded what is now known as White's carbon ratio theory. A complicated system of predicting where oil will and will not be found, it is understood only by geologists. White drew a line northwest-southeast up through the Alleghenies. East of this line, he said, oil will not be found. Bedford county is well east of White's line.

The New Paris oil well, known among oil people as the "Jesse Miller No. 1" (after the farm on which it is being sunk) is the petroleum industry's major attempt to find out once and for all if the carbon-ration theory works. If the hole turns out to be dry, Mr. White will have been vindicated. If they find oil or gas under Chestnut Ridge, the theory will be largely discarded and vast new sections of Pennsylvania will immediately be considered "open territory" for wildcatting.

For 25 months a small crew has been working on Chestnut Ridge drilling. Their work drew some attention at first. Then, as the months passed by with no sensational discoveries, less and less was heard of the Jesse Miller No. 1.

A good part of the lack of publicity has been due to the reluctance at the South Penn Oil Company and its associates to divulge any information. Their reluctance is understandable. After all, a man digging for gold doesn't shout about his findings until he has staked his claim. The South Penn has probably several hundred thousand dollars tied up in its Bedford county venture and would have nothing to gain by giving out a blow-by-blow description of it's findings down under the ridge.

But even though the men who know won't confirm it, the crucial stage of the New Paris drilling may be drawing near. It may be even days away.

Increased Activity

There have been fascinating signs of increased activity up on Chestnut Ridge lately. Two young geologists have moved to Bedford and are keeping close watch on the well. Four times a day when the 7,900 foot cable is drawn up to the surface, they carefully sample the sand which clings to the drill.

A few weeks ago an elaborate series of tests was conducted to sample the rock structure from the surface down to the bottom of the drilling. The results of this test are kept about as secret as are the blueprints for the atom bomb.

All drilling was stopped and the hole was lined to its very bottom with seamless steel easing. Altogether it weighed nearly 280,000 pounds. Installing and cementing it in was a large and costly operation. 

More recently a control gate has been installed at the top of the casing to regulate the flow of oil in the event that a gusher comes in. Huge tanks—presumably for storage—were moved to the well site and set up. An ample supply of water is kept near at hand, so that the open fires in the well can be quickly doused if oil is struck.

Drilling has now been resumed. It is going on, night and day, driving toward the 8,000 foot level if the geologists have an idea, that there is oil somewhere below that line, they won't tell you. Ask them about the casing, the gate, the water and the storage tanks and they'll reply: "Just precautions we'd take anywhere."

But even a layman can figure out that they wouldn't bother to take those precautions if they weren't down to what they consider a critical zone.

Nation Eyes County

There is one sure thing in all the guessing that's going on about the well. If the Jesse Miller No. 1 brings in a gusher—or if it strikes natural gas—the secret will be out. Even the taciturn geologists admit that. One of them, Richard Elicker of Pittsburgh, said yesterday: "We can keep our work a secret only until we strike something. After that the word will spread like wildfire."

"Every big oil company in the United States is anxiously watching the work on Chestnut Ridge," he said. "If we strike anything good, it may open up this entire section of Pennsylvania to the oil business."

If the Jesse Miller No. 1 does "come in"—this month or a year from now—there'll probably be no movie-type sensational black gusher spouting hundreds of feet up into the air. If there is, it'll only last for a minute or two. 

According: to one of the engineers at the well, the men on watch will have only a scant half minute's warning that oil is on the way up. When the drill punches through into "pay dirt" the subterranean upheaval will cause the entire length of the drill cable to convulse. Then, it will take roughly 30 seconds for the uprushing oil or gas to roar the 8,000 or more feet to the surface.

Scant Warning

In that half minute the workmen will have to get a lot done. First they'll extinguish the fires in their forge and in the pot-bellied heating stove in the shack. Then they'll get the control gate ready to close.

When two minutes after the first convulsion, the gate will have been closed and the oil or gas will be under control—if all goes well, that is. If the well'comes in, the people of New Paris may see a gusher spout momentarily upon the hill. They will probably hear a brief but almost thunderous roar before the gate closes.

That will be enough. A secret that has been kept untold millions of years will be out. The USA will know that geologist White was wrong. Many Bedford countians may find themselves wealthy beyond their fondest dreams.

But the big IF still remains. All this will happen IF the New Paris well comes in. The oil experts are very careful to keep their feelings concealed. They won't even say whether they're hopeful or not. They'll just tell you the Jesse Miller No. 1 is still listed as a wildcat (exploratory) well. It'll remain that way until it produces oil or is given up as a dry hole.

So far Bedford county's 64-million-dollar question remains unanswered. But New Paris folk are glancing up at the derrick on the hill more and more often these days.

Will they see something soon?

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