The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

First Natural Gas Well

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The drilling first natual gas well in the US occurried in 1815, when Capt. James Wilson accidentialy struck natural gas, while drilling for salt near the foot of present-day Brooks Street in Charleston, WV. The gas caught fire from grate near at hand, quickly blazing up with great force and brilliancy. Wilson and his drill crew was so scared by the sudden ruch of gas that Wilson quickly ordered the drilling stopped.

The use of natural gas had been used by the Chinese thousands of years earlier, who transported natural gas through bamboo tubes for use in evaporating salt from brine, and also used by oracles in ancient Greek temples. In 1774, Burning Springs, located near Charleston, WV, was discovered by a early traveler.

In 1841, William Tompkins was the first man in the United States to utilize natual gas in the manufacturing process. Tompkins carried the fuel through wooden pipes to his salt furance at Burning Springs. Other salt producers in the Kanawha Valley soon followed Tompkin's example, using natural gas in their salt manufacturing process. Decades later, the occurrance of natural gas through this region of West Virginia lead to the establishment of the carbon black industry and short thereafter, the chemical industries in the Kanawha Valley, whose plants extracted of a variety of end products from natural gas.