Sand Pumpings was a part-literary, part-history magazine published by the students of Olean High School that featured interviews and articles of local, historical interest in addition to literary pieces. Like the content of this publication, the title has historical and geological significance to the area and is best explained by the students who created it: We, perhaps, spent as much time sifting and searching for a name for the literary magazine as we did interviewing, taping, researching and writing the articles. We wanted a name that would in some way relate to the reader, Olean's past environment of lumbering, oil, and rivers, as well as Olean's businesses, industry, trade and pioneer origins. We finally settled upon what we call a "Pete Brunnerism," an oil driller's term, sand pumpings...the process whereby the baler brought up the drilling sands and spilled the sludge and foam into our environment. Like the drillers of yore, we hope to explore, research, and record our past, our culture, and our pioneer days. We hope to relate an insight through student efforts, to these pioneers, the times, and events that helped shape us as a people. (Source: Sand Pumpings, Vol. 1, No. 1, April 1976)
The Sand Pumpings publications provide a wealth of information for genealogists, researchers, and local historians. In these little magazines readers will be able to learn about various local history topics such as different ethnic groups that settled in the area, stories of the Underground Railroad, the oil industry in Western New York, as well as local celebrities and first-hand accounts of the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 and Prohibition. Located along the Allegheny River and on several major railroad routes, Olean, NY, was once an important stopping point for travelers moving to other parts of the country and served as a transportation hub for Buffalo, Rochester, New York City, and Pittsburgh, PA. Olean was home to manufacturing industries such as oil, glass, leather, tiles, and machinery. It also served as a bootlegging juncture during Prohibition. Slaves escaping through the Underground Railroad passed through the Olean area en route to Canada. Because of this history, many families from across the United States have roots and connections in Olean, NY. Sand Pumpings tell the stories of the people who once lived in the Olean area. Each year the Olean Public Library receives numerous requests for local history and genealogy information from people all over the country and the world who had relatives who once lived here. The Sand Pumpings series is such a valuable local history resource and receives many requests for reprints. Digitizing and providing online access to the Sand Pumpings allows patrons from all over the world to freely access this information.