This Model 23 drill rig was made by the Star Drilling Machine Company of Akron, Ohio, about 1915. It is a cable tool rig that was used to drill oil, gas, and water wells. Star rigs enjoyed wide popularity because they were fully portable, highly efficient, and easy maintained. Star manufactured various models from the 1900’s into the 1940’s. This unit is noteworthy because of the all metal carriage I-beam frame, which was typically made of wood. It was in use from about 1919 to when it was abandoned circa 1960 in the Sand Lick area of the forest, near the last well it had drilled.
Cable tool drill rigs use a method know as ballistic well drilling. Wells are drilled by raising and dropping a drill string with a heavy carbide tipped bit that chisels through rock. They are powered by a separate vertical steam engine and boiler. Cable tool rigs are simpler and cheaper than similarly sized rotary rigs, although loud and very slow to operate.