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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/845

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823
CURIOSITIES OF NATURAL GAS.

stringent laws. He, too, thinks there is a possibility of an explosion, though from another cause. For, did not the same craze possess China two centuries ago? Were not wells bored in great numbers, and was not the escaping gas ignited? So much so, indeed, that finally one huge well sucked down the fiery volume of a smaller one into its own aperture, and a violent explosion ensued which destroyed thousands of people. A similar catastrophe he considers imminent in Ohio and Indiana. Should such a disaster occur, "the country along the gas-belt from Toledo through Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky will be ripped up to the depth of twelve or fifteen hundred feet, and flopped over like a pancake, leaving a chasm through which the waters of Lake Erie will come howling down, filling the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys, and blotting them out forever"! Prompt action should be taken. The Governor should call a special session of the Legislature, and the President a special session of Congress, to enact laws to protect the nation against "destruction from natural gas."

Another, called an experienced miner, gone wild over his ignorance in regard to the Trenton limestone—words in everybody's mouth—says that probably the "so-called Trenton limestone is nothing but an incident found about already successful gas-wells. It probably came out of the rift the same as other materials. It is found in the Colorado mines, and is called by the miners bastard quartz"! Such geological knowledge requires no comment.

Still another theorist has investigated the gas-wells with telephones and delicate thermometers, and he announces startling discoveries. He distinguished sounds like the boiling of rocks, and estimated that a mile and a half or so beneath Findlay the temperature of the earth is 3,500°. This scientist says an immense cavity exists under Findlay, and that here the gas is stored; that a mile below the bottom of the cavity is a mass of roaring, seething flame, which is gradually eating into the rocky floor of the cavern and thinning it. Eventually the flames will reach the gas, a terrific explosion will ensue, and Findlay and its neighborhood will be blown skyward in an instant. Such are some of the theories gravely propounded in respect to this new fuel. The effects of the use of the fuel are almost as wonderful as the theories of its origin.

In the year 1884 the town of Findlay, Ohio, had a population of about 4,500. In the spring of that year Dr. Charles Oesterlin, who had for years been a firm believer in the existence of quantities of natural gas in and about the town, induced some friends to join him in forming a stock-company to bore for gas. Work was not begun until near the end of October, but in the course of time a well was sunk to a depth of 1,093 feet. At this depth a reser-