The first publicized report of oil in Nebraska was an 1883 newspaper account of a "vein of petroleum" discovered in Richardson County. Over the next 57 years, the search for oil consumed thousands of dollars, and hundreds of wells were drilled throughout Nebraska. Traces of oil were reported at various locations across the state, but Nebraska did not have a producing well until 1940.
In 1939 and 1940 the Pawnee Royalty Company had two encouraging but unsuccessful drillings near Falls City. A third well, known as Bucholz No. 1, was begun near here on April 22, 1940. On May 29, 1940, the well began producing and averaged 169-1/2 barrels daily for the first 60 days.
Bucholz Well No. 1 thus easily qualified for a $15,000 bonus offered by the Nebraska Legislature for the first oil well in the state to produce at least 50 barrels daily for 60 consecutive days. Interestingly, Bucholz No. 1 was located about five miles east of the "vein of petroleum" reported in 1883.
Although today Nebraska's oil production is largely centered in the southwestern panhandle, the pioneer efforts in this area have resulted in a major contribution to the economy of the state.