Oil and Natural Gas History, Education Resources, Museum News, Exhibits and Events


March 28, 1886 – Indiana Natural Gas Boom begins

A natural gas boom comes to Portland, Indiana, when the Eureka Gas and Oil Company finds gas at 700 feet. For a time, the state becomes the world’s leading natural gas producer.

The discovery comes just two months after a spectacular natural gas well about 100 miles to the northeast – the Great Karg Well of Findlay, Ohio. “Natural gas had previously been found in large quantities in western Pennsylvania and had revolutionized the iron, steel, and glass industries of Pittsburgh, as industrialists adapted their factories to use the natural gas in place of the more expensive coal,” notes historian James Glass of Ball State University. Read the rest of this entry »


Indiana natural gas discoveries of the late 1880s revealed the Trenton Field, which extended across the state into Ohio and soon attracted new Midwestern industries.

Indiana natural gas

Midwestern communities took pride in what they thought to be an unlimited supply of natural gas. Indiana lawmakers banned “flambeaux” lights in 1891 – becoming one of the earliest states to legislate conservation. Photo of Findlay, Ohio, during its 1888 Gas Jubilee courtesy Hancock Historical Museum.

Discoveries of natural gas in Eaton and Portland quicky ignited Indiana’s historic gas boom. New exploration and production will dramatically change the state’s economy.

The “Trenton Field” as it would become known, spread over 17 Indiana counties and 5,120 square miles. It was the largest natural gas field known in the world. Within three years, more than 200 companies were drilling, distributing, and selling natural gas.

Replacing Coal Gas

In 1859, the same year that “Colonel” Edwin L. Drake drilled the country’s first commercial oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania, there were already 297 “manufactured gas” (known as coal gas) companies in the 33 United States. Read the rest of this entry »