Bet You Can’t Guess Where the First Gas Well in the U.S. Was Located

If you’ll indulge me for a few moments it would be appreciated: although many people already know the answer to the question posed by the title of this blog post, those who don’t know are often surprised to learn the mystery location of our nation’s first gas well. Most people in our industry know of the first commercially productive oil well in the United States – the Drake well in western Pennsylvania was the first of a litany of U.S. wells that would bear oil. Although some people not in the know might guess that it was in Texas, or Oklahoma, Pennsylvania still seems like a logical place for the first oil well given what we know about Appalachia’s abundance of hydrocarbons subsurface.

But the surprise on some people’s faces when they learn that the first gaswell in the U.S. was drilled in New York State is noticeable, and the irony is palpable. The well was in Fredonia, New York, a smaller town in the Southern Tier of Western New York roughly halfway between Buffalo, New York and Erie, Pennsylvania. I’m routinely reminded of this when making the sojourn between Pittsburgh and Buffalo that I make a few times a year.

Screen Shot 2019-07-05 at 7.58.53 PM
Taken last week not far from where I was born and raised in Western New York.

The company formed after the discovery of the Fredonia gas well would eventually become a company known well in my birthplace, National Fuel (whose E&P arm is Seneca Resources). There are not many positive ties between this industry and my home state, particularly currently, but I think that this is one of the more interesting ones.

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