Issue 1-18-15 Website - page 11

Natural Gas
I was hoping to do an article
about early electricity inLeRoy,
but ironically theelectricity failed
me and the electric bulb on the
microfilm readerblewonFriday,
so Ihaven’tbeenable toget to the
files that Ineed. In themeantime,
I thought I’d put together some
information about gas in LeRoy
and I have to admit that I don’t
fully understand what exactly
was happening. So some of that
storywill have towait –until the
newmicrofilmbulbarrives. But I
can trace theuseof “natural gas”
inLeRoy to thePavilionNatural
By definition, natural gas is
acquired by drilling a well and
capturing the gas and sending
it through pipes. (In contrast to
manufactured gas, which can
bemade by burning coal, which
I think was made at the LeRoy
onMill Street).
Itwas a surprise tome to learn
that the first natural gas well
specifically drilled to produce
naturalgaswas inFredonia,New
York in 1821.WilliamHart dug
a well on the banks of the Can-
adaway Creek that was 27 feet
deep. By 1825, he was able to
providenaturalgas to twostores,
two shops and agristmill inFre-
doniabyusinghollowedout logs
sealedwith tarand rags.Thefirst
American natural gas company
was formed in 1858 by the Fre-
doniaGas Light Company.
On July 17, 1905, work was
begun on a natural gas well in
nearby Pavilion. On August 30,
feet on land owned by J.Q.D.
Page. Thewell produced 85,000
cubic feet per day. Shortly after,
eight more wells were drilled.
One was drilled on Mr. Page’s
land, two on the farm of Jasper
Starr, and one each on land of
PercyHooker, GeorgeCarr, Ru-
fusHutchineso,B.F.Trescott and
The Starr well No. 2 was the
largest producing well in New
York Statewith 4,100,000 cubic
feet per day. The total produc-
tion of the nine wells was over
11 million cubic feet in twenty
four hours. The gas field was
controlledby thePavilionNatural
Gas Co. and consisted of about
12,000acresof land, sixmiles in
lengthand threemileswidealong
theOatkaCreek.A six-inchpipe
was laid fromPavilion toLeRoy,
adistanceof sevenmiles, topro-
vide natural gas toLeRoy.
published by the Pavilion Natu-
ral Gas Company, outlining the
progress of the new company.
Arthur H. Tryon, who owned a
hardware store in LeRoy adver-
tised his classic gas heaters and
cookstoves:“Gasheating is truly
economical with this wonderful
heater.” F.L.B. Taft mentioned
that “In selectingour gas ranges,
heaters and fixtures we have
borne this in mind the Best is
None tooGood.” ThomasGreen-
hamadvertisedDetroit JewelGas
Stovesand rangesandStevens&
Butlermentioned in their ad that
- - Everything for Natural Gas.”
Their stoves were the Douglas
and Good Luck Gas Stoves and
that the first natural gas to be
burned in LeRoy was “lighted
in the Eagle Hotel, January 15,
1907, directly after the comple-
tionof themain line”. In less than
ayear, therewere445meters in-
stalled inbusinessplacesand res-
idences throughout LeRoy. But
apparently thereweredifficulties.
Ten years later, an article in the
January 17,
, indicates
that therewas agas shortage and
itwasn’t thefirst time. “Custom-
ers of the Pavilion Natural Gas
Company inLeRoy experienced
the greatest inconvenience and
most discomfort from a shortage
of gas Monday - - - ” For some
people it meant no heat or light.
Otherswho reliedongas ranges,
sobad, that some families had to
move inwithneighborswho still
used coal for heating and cook-
ing.Kerosene lamps andcandles
provided light.
The newspaper noted that one
man in town didn’t have time
to get cold - - that was Mayor
DanielO’Shea,whose telephone
rangoff thewallwithdisgruntled
LeRoyans who were faced with
frigid temperatures and no gas.
The language of the time made
article fun to read:
“Ofcourse themayorwaspower-
less todo anything to relieve the
situation, but somehow people
seemed to take of lot of com-
fort of this nature. It was some
consolation to him to know that
the same string of complaints
embellishedwith littlewords that
are naughty but sometimes very
expressive, were being buzzed
over thewires to thegas compa-
nyoffice.Themayor and thegas
officials would both have voted
unanimously for the absolute
abandonment of all telephone
systems everywhere, andpartic-
ularly inLeRoybefore noon.”
Apparently the Pavilion wells
could not keep up with the de-
mand, and a newwellwas being
drilled, but progress had been
stopped when the drill was lost
in the well. At what point, the
gas service was improved is not
known, but the Pavilion Gas
Company continued to serve the
LeRoy community until 1980,
when Rochester Gas and Elec-
tric proposed amerger. Pavilion
Gaswas servingmost of LeRoy,
Pavilion,Covington, Perry,War-
saw, Leicester, York and Avon
and a small section ofGeneseo.
TheValleyGas Companywas
servingStafford ,Byronandpart
of Pavilion. The acquisition had
to be approved by theNewYork
State Public Service Commis-
sion, but when folks discovered
that their rateswouldgoup, they
appealed to theTownofLeRoy to
acquire thePavilionGas service.
Lengthy discussions finally re-
sulted in the decision that it was
not possible for LeRoy to take
over the Pavilion Gas Company
and itwas bought byRG&E and
Pavilion Natural Gas Company
ceased to exist.
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