In February of 1966, Al Smith of Newcastle made history by successfully completing the world's only producing hand dug oil well. Using a pick and shovel, he dug twenty-one feet into the oil-bering Newcastle Formation. When he encountered the harder sandstone, he used dynamite and then rigged up an old Maytag washing machine motor and a bucket pulley system to haul the rocks out of the well. When completed, the well was twenty-four feet deep and approximately four feet square. Other wells in the vicinity conventionally drilled into the same formation run anywhere from three hundred to around one thousand feet deep. The hand dug well has consistently produced one-half to one barrel of oil per day and is still producing, with nothing done over the years to enhance production. It is unusual in that it contains no natural gas, distillates, or top ends. It is essentially pure oil with a little water and small amount of graphite, making it a good lubricating oil for gears and chains. Worldwide, other attempts at hand digging oil wells have resulted in failure and sometimes death, due to the presence of natural gas in the formation. When word of this accomplishment hit the news media, the account spread around the world, bringing the hand dug oil well and Newcastle, Wyoming, international attention.This well has also been included in numerous
publications and has been seen on television programs. Al Smith died in March 2005 at the age of 90, proud of his accomplishment and his contribution to this community and state.