The first oil wells were dug by hand, sometimes to depths of 60 feet or more!
The wells were lined with wooden cribbing to keep them from caving in. Workers would dig with shovels until they reached rock. They would then have to find ways to pound through this rock, to reach the oil below. A spring pole would be erected over this dug hole, and a man would be required to step up and down on a treadle which would raise and lower a drilling bit. This drilling bit would strike repeatedly against the rock, causing it to break apart.
A three-pole derrick would then be erected over the hole, to help the men lift heavy tools and equipment in and out of the well.