In celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Oil City, author Corey McCullough is releasing a historical fiction novel set in a fictionalized version of the Valley that Changed the World.
McCullough’s new book explores the relationship between one family and their Western PA hometown. It is told through the shifting perspectives of multiple generations living in the fictional (but familiar) town of Latonia City, PA.
Portions of the upcoming book, titled “Rust on the Allegheny,” take place in the 1930s, the 1980s, and the present day. The plot draws on a combination of McCullough’s real-life family stories and true events of local significance, including the oil boom of the 19th Century, the economic decline of America’s industrial towns, and glimpses of hope for the future of “Rust Belt” communities throughout the Northeast and Great Lakes region.
“Ultimately, the book is about the relationships between family members,” says McCullough. “Even when those relationships get messy and dysfunctional, the connection is still there. Likewise, the relationship between the main characters and their hometown, even at the worst of times, is unbreakable.”
“What really inspired me to start writing this story was when I found out that my grandparents once attended a performance by Louis Armstrong at the Latonia Theater, right here in Oil City. That story became the inspiration for one of the subplots of the book: A boy from the 1930s hoping to sneak into a magnificent new theater to see his idol onstage.”
Anyone familiar with the local area is sure to recognize some of the landmarks and events in “Rust on the Allegheny.” McCullough hopes that his work will encourage pride of place and interest in local history.
“Rust on the Allegheny” will be released on July 23. McCullough plans to be present at the Oil Heritage Artisan & Fine Craft Show (July 24–25), and will be speaking at the upcoming Oil City Book Fest on August 21. Signed copies of the novel are available for local businesses at discounted rates. Contact Corey on Facebook (facebook.com/mcculloughwrites) or on Instagram (@cbenmcc) for more details.
This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s July 2021 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.