Gone in a Blink of a Moment. Becoming Rich Without a Dime Part 2

Pithole in 1865Pithole now

"Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle." (Prov 23:4-5 NIV)

How can a town of 15,000 people disappear within 3 years? Is that even possible?

Let me tell you the story of a city named Pithole. Yes, you read that right: Pithole! Quite unusual, isn't it? I can't even imagine who would like to live in a town with such a name, but exist it did, in 1865, in the midst of the Alleghany National Forest in North-Eastern Pennsylvania.

It all started with the discovery of oil. Precious oil. Not for automobile fuel, as cars didn't exist back then, but oil that could be used to light homes. Soon thousands of people, all seeking a get-rich-quick scheme, moved to . . . For some reason it really bothers me to name that town, but you can say that they literally went to Pithole!

The town was quickly built up to cater to the needs of 15,000 people. Hotels (over fifty of them!), shops, banks, bars, drug stores and even a post office, a theater, and a prison (now why would they need one of those???) quickly appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. And even more were planning to move there, all in the name of the almighty buck!

However nothing lasts forever, and that oil ran out quickly. Without oil, the town couldn't sustain itself, and within three years, Pithole was little more than a ghost town, with only a few die-hards who were persistent enough to try to coax oil from those dry fields.

In 1878 the land that had once been valued at two million dollars was sold to Venango County Commissioners for the meager sum of $4.37. There are no buildings remaining on the town site now, and nature has completely taken over the exploits of men. Only relics of the past still remains, like rusting machinery.

The same thing can happen to any of us. Some of us think that credit cards are the answer to all of our problems: I am rich! But sooner or later we will have to pay it all back, with hefty interest. The problem, though, is that many of us overextend our credit to the maximum, just like our Northern neighbours whose ratio of debt to personal disposable income rose to 152%. Imagine what would happen if interest rates suddenly rose?

There is no security in earthly possessions. This is why Jesus encouraged all of us: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt 6:19-21 NIV)

"Hey, I found crude oil in my backyard!"

"Is this really good news?"

Rob Chaffart

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