The History of Natural Gas
ancient "eternal fires" in the area of present
day Iraq that were reported in Plutarch's
writings around 100 to 125 A.D. probably were
from natural gas escaping from cracks in the
ground and ignited by lightning.
In 1821 in Fredonia, New York, William A.
Hart drilled a 27 foot deep well in an effort to
get a larger flow of gas from a surface seepage
of natural gas. This was the first well
intentionally drilled to obtain natural gas.
For most of the 1800s, natural gas was used
almost exclusively as a fuel for lamps. Because
there were no pipelines to bring gas into
individual homes, most of the gas went to light
city streets. After the 1890s, however, many
cities began converting their street lamps to
electricity. Gas producers began looking for new
markets for their product.
In 1885, Robert Bunsen invented a burner that
mixed air with natural gas. The "Bunsen burner"
showed how gas could be used to provide heat for
cooking and warming buildings.
It took the construction of pipelines to
bring natural gas to new markets. Although one
of the first lengthy pipelines was built in 1891
-it was 120 miles long and carried gas from
fields in central Indiana to Chicago - there
were very few pipelines built until after World
War II in the 1940s.
Improvements in metals, welding techniques
and pipe making during the War made pipeline
construction more economically attractive. After
World War II, the nation began building its
pipeline network. Throughout the 1950s and
1960s, thousands of miles of pipeline were
constructed throughout the United States. Today,
the U.S. pipeline network, laid end-to-end,
would stretch to the moon and back