Old West Lifestyle & Stories

Natural Gas is Giving Out

The Supply Cannot Be Depended Upon, and Must Be Abandoned

April 30, 1892, Bee, Sacramento, California – The days of natural gas are numbered.  There is surprising unanimity among the mining engineers on this point.  They agree that more gas can be found, and that wells may continue to flow to some extent, but they say that experience has proven that the supply cannot be depended upon for manufacturing or for heating purposes.  The amount of natural gas reached its maximum two years ago.  It has fallen off each year since, notwithstanding the large number of new wells bored.

natural gas drillingSaid a Pittsburg engineer:  “We have had a pretty bad time this winter in Pittsburg.  The flow has given out repeatedly just at the time, perhaps, when most needed.  People who had no coal in their houses have had the gas go out on them in some of the very coldest weather.  Manufacturers who depended on gas for fuel have had to shut down, business has been deranged, and home life has been made miserable.  Some people are still boring wells and trying to keep up a supply by tapping places, but with only partial success.  One after another the wells give out.  When they cease flowing the only thing to be done is to turn the valve and leave them alone.  Sometimes a well will start up again and flow gas after it has been idle for some time, but all the same to reach a state of exhaustion sooner or later.  Manufacturers are going back to coal again, and householders are agreeing that it will not do to depend upon natural gas.  One thing has been made certain, the theory that this manufacture of gas is going on fast enough to supply the flow is all wrong. It is a slow process.   We have already bored holes enough to overtask Nature.”

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