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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Mason Gas Well Discovery At The Turn Of The Century

Dallas Bogan on 17 August 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The writer will attempt to outline the discovery of a gas well in Mason, Ohio. The information was taken from the Franklin Chronicle, dated July 5, 1906. The location of the well was on the property of John W. Scull located just Northwest of town.
At five o'clock, Monday evening, the largest pocket of natural gas to be uncovered in this part of the State was discovered in Mason.
Saturday afternoon previous, a small amount of gas had been struck and that evening was ignited and allowed to burn until Monday morning. Newspaper accounts loudly distributed the news of the discovery and Sunday found people by the hundreds gathered to view the blazing gas.
On Monday afternoon the drilling again started and the bit began to strike a harder substance. With every screw drilled there came an additional supply of gas. Some difficulty arose in the drilling process on account of the water being blown away from the point of the drill.
At 4:45 p.m. Mr. Duncan stopped the drill for a moment at a depth of 170 feet, saying, "I believe we have struck a little more gas." Men and women by the numbers stood near and could hear the rumbling caused by gas forcing its way upward through the water.
Mr. Duncan again started the drill and almost immediately small stones and pieces of dirt began to spew from the mouth of the well. Immediately following was a rush of mud, water and gravel being thrown upwards to a height of thirty or forty feet by the pressure of the gas which was now coming forth with a noise that resembled thunder.
Duncan yelled to his assistant, Harley Ruse, to "drown the fire under the boiler." Ruse grabbed a bucket and began throwing water into the fire-box of the steam engine. Duncan made every effort to get the clamps loose from the rope in order to pull up the drill.
Because of the force with which water and gravel were being thrown from the well, a great degree of difficulty was being placed on the men. When the clamps were finally unscrewed, only 35 pounds were shown on the gauge, whereas 110 pounds is normally required to draw the heavy drill. The force of the escaping gas was such that this amount of steam proved sufficient.
For fifteen minutes the deluge of gravel and water kept up until every loose particle was blown from the well, the gas all the time progressing in force. Large chunks of wood, which were thrown into the casing, were projected out as if they were bits of paper. A wooden plug through which had been bored a two-inch hole was secured, but the combined strength of three men was inadequate to force it into the casing. The feat was finally accomplished by the weight of the drill.
The roar of the gas escaping could be heard for a mile. Mayor VanDyke placed his felt hat over the vent and it was blown fifty feet into the air. One of the audience suggested that an inverted jackscrew be placed over the well in a way that would form a whistle.
When this was done ear piercing screeches were made that were plainly heard in Bethany, five miles away. Shortly thereafter, people began to assemble and throughout the evening excitement dominated the scene.
Viewed as a noise nuisance, the jackscrew arrangement was dismantled that evening about eight o'clock. Even after this the roar of the gas could be plainly heard all around Mason. A guard was placed over the well to forbid anyone from striking a match in the area.
The force of escaping gas was greater about midnight than at any other time. By six o'clock, Tuesday morning, it had died down until there was not more than twice the volume that had been present before the pocket had been tapped. A Mr. Moore stated that evidence of the gas find was further confirmation that gas was escaping through fissures from an immense reservoir deeper down.
Monday evening found all telephone and telegraph lines leading from Mason in constant use. Strangers from various places and adjoining states gathered in the small town. Several of these attempted to lease land while others came just to look.
Drilling was continued Tuesday and Wednesday. It was found necessary to shut down Tuesday afternoon because of the large volume of gas flowing from the mouth of the well toward the fire under the boiler, thus making it dangerous to proceed.
The fires were drawn Wednesday in order to permit the repair of a leaky flue. Each evening the gas was piped to a point about 40 feet south of the well to a short section of 8 1/2 inch casing. From this it blazed to a height of twenty feet, making a light that could be seen for several miles in every direction.
The drilling slowed somewhat on Thursday morning because of the increasing amount of gas blowing the water away from the drill. The morning hours found the well was throwing mud and water with such a force that Duncan again ordered the fire out.
One estimate of the flow of gas from the well was 300,000 cubic feet per day; however, the amount that was allowed to escape Monday night was fully 3,000,000 cubic feet.
At noon Thursday the drill had reached a depth of 540 feet and the amount of gas emerging was deemed sufficient to furnish power for several mills or factories.
Mr. Scull allowed the public to walk or drive onto his land to view the gas well so long as they closed the gate behind them. He had several head of stock and was leary of losing them. But, so many were careless that on Thursday he placed a heavy chain and padlock on the gate.

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This page created 17 August 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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