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The West Virginia. Cyclopedia


Big Moses

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The capped "Big Moses" well
Sunk in 1894 on the property of Moses Spencer 10 miles southwest of Middlebourne, WV, in Tyler County, the "Big Moses" gas well was believed to have been the most productive gas well in the world, producing more than 100 million cubic feet of gas daily. After the well was capped in the late 1980s, a hand painted sign guided visitors to the site of the original well. New drilling on the property, however, has since required the property owner to prohibit visitors. The community around the well (map) on Indian Creek is also often known as Big Moses. The following article from the Parkersburg Daily State Journal (June 15, 1895) describes the conflagration at Big Moses after it was struck by lightening:


A Pillar Of Fire: The "Big Moses" Struck By Lightning

The "Big Moses" gasser, located about fifteen miles back of Sistersville, whice [sic] has been such a "White Elephant" on the hands of its owners ever since it came in, on account of their inability to control the gas, is now in a worse shape than ever. It is now a roaring mass of flame. The storm cloud which passed by on the other side of this city yesterday afternoon, broke over the region of the "Big Moses" and the column of escaping gas was struck by lightning which set it on fire. Nature has taken the problem out of the owners' hands and solved in her own way the question of what to do with the gas by metaphorically setting a match to it and thus burning it. The resulting blaze is menacing and terrific. The scene is said to be grand and awful. The flame, leaping and twisting to a height of many feet, lights up the country, at night, for miles around. Crowds of curiosity seekers are flocking to the scene to witness an almost unprecedented sight. The owners of the "Big Moses" are filled with consternation at this new and unexpected complication of their difficulties. If the control of the big gasser's output was a knotty problem before, it is now an enigma worthy of the attention of an Edison. It seems equally impossible to shut off the gas or extinguish the flames and the only course left to take is to let it burn.