By Mary Giorgio
Prior to the Civil War, most homes and businesses burned coal gas. It was easy to manufacture and safe to use. After the Civil War, kerosene became popular as a fuel for lamps. Both coal gas and kerosene were in high demand, and new supplies of fuel were needed. Natural gas was prevalent in the United States, but at the time, no one had developed an effective means of using the resource. It was highly flammable and quite hazardous.
In Indiana, one of the earliest discoveries of natural gas occurred in 1867, when G. Bates discovered a supply of natural gas while drilling for oil. However, since commercial markets had no use for the gas at the time, the well was simply filled in.
By the 1880s, production methods had developed to utilize natural gas as a fuel. On January 20, 1886, a huge supply of natural gas was developed near Findlay, Ohio. The Great Karg Well produced 20 million cubic feet per day. Pressure was so great that a huge plume of fire burned for four months. Visitors flocked to Findlay to see the tall flames.