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

 

March 27, 1855 – Canadian Chemist trademarks Kerosene

petroleum history march 21

A Canadian March 2000 stamp featured kerosene’s inventor.

Canadian physician and chemist Abraham Gesner patented a process to distill coal into kerosene. “I have invented and discovered a new and useful manufacture or composition of matter, being a new liquid hydrocarbon, which I denominate Kerosene,” he proclaimed. Because his new illuminating fluid was extracted from coal, consumers called it “coal oil” as often as kerosene.

The U.S. petroleum exploration industry was launched when it was learned that kerosene also could be distilled from crude oil. With new oilfields discovered in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, inexpensive kerosene became America’s main source of light until the electric light bulb arrived. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Indiana natural gas discoveries of the late 1880s revealed the vast Trenton Field, which extended across the state into Ohio. Abundant gas supplies soon attracted manufacturing industries to the Midwest.

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 »