Few people have done more to change the world and have gotten rewarded less for their efforts than Edwin Drake. On August 27, 1859, Drake became the first person in history to successfully drill for oil. Despite his early start, within a few years of his discovery Drake was nearly broke. He had spent most of his money, unsuccessfully, buying up land in search of more oil. Two decades after his revolutionary finding, Drake died with little money to his name. You might hear this and think that Drake was one of the unluckiest people in history, but that’s not the full story.
The only reason Drake was able to find oil in the first place was due to a particularly lucky set of circumstances. Drake had been a railroad conductor most of his career, but was forced to retire due to health issues. It was through a chance meeting at a hotel during his retirement that Drake met George Bissell and Jonathan Eveleth, the two men he would go into business with in the quest to find oil.