Where the “Barrel” has its origin

Explore Northern Alsace with Kultourissimo 
A short cultural story of crude oil

Our little time travel takes you to the beginnings of industrial crude oil recovery, to places where, in the 19th  century,  the hunt for the “Black Gold“ started. Not in Texas, and not in the Near East therefore, but in the Central European Rhine Graben area, which at the time was predominantly agricultural. It was there that the “Barrel” came into existence, the globally valid measurement of the crude oil industry. The then “Barrel” was a  disused herring barrel – ideal for transporting oil.


As early as the Middle Ages,  above-ground “tar pitch wells” were known to exist. A wanderer who observed wild pigs wallowing in a sticky dark sludge, rediscovered the wells in the 19th century.  He had the sticky bath water examined and found a lucrative source of income. Until World War II, more than 2,600 oil drilling sites were operated in Northern Alsace. Nowadays only a few oil pumps can be seen performing their rhythmic work in the Rhine Graben. In some places however, like for example in Speyer, new oil fields are again developed. 


We will accompany you to former production sites in the Alsace and to a refinery, which was destroyed during the war. A small museum on crude oil recovery in the Alsace will provide further insight into this part of the industry's history. In addition, it is possible to speak to contemporary witnesses of the oil processing at the museum, on request.


The tour is available from April to October. We offer translation assistance.


We will arrange the date, starting point and duration of the tour in this period with you personally and based on your requirements.





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Inge Hoffmann-Vaz
Bismarckstraße 20
D-76870 Kandel

Ph: +49 (0)7275/ 61 81 34
Mobil: +49 151 708 484 05