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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
cetmst Folklore: Ole Bull, Norwegian violinist & idealist (17) RE: Folklore: Ole Bull, Norwegian violinist & idealist 06 Oct 09


My education continues. Growing up in northwest Pennsylvania we viewed Ole Bull as more a folk figure and a utopian dreamer than the virtuoso musician that he was. Another misapprehension was that the city of Olean NY a little way up the Allegheny from home was named for him. Not so. The city was founded and named sometime around 1800, probably for the oil that was nearby. The Seneca oil spring was noted in 1627 by a French missionary and Seneca oil was an important medication until Colonel Drake drilled a hole in the ground and found vast stores which quickly found other uses. The land around Ole Bull's settlement is indeed unsuitable for farming and was extensively logged over in the 1800's but there are a few stands of virgin timber, most notably Cook Forest State Park, and the second growth forests comprise some beautiful scenery in the Black Moshannon State Forest. (I had always assumed that was named for an early Irish settler, but the name is a corruption of an Indian term for moose land). The area is physically and culturally far removed from the stereotypical Pennsylvania of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.


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