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Kansas State Board of Agriculture
First Biennial Report


Economical Geology
— Gas or Burning Wells




In connection with coal deposits we find numerous springs covered with thin layers of crude coal oil, or petroleum. It is seen in nearly all the counties in the eastern portion of the State. Soon after the petroleum wells of Pennsylvania were discovered, much capital was expended in boring for oil in several counties. Although some of the artesian wells were sunk over one thousand feet, none produced oil enough to send to market. But in several cases a supply of gas, more or less copious, was obtained. Borings for coal and water have also brought up gas. The Iola gas well has been carefully described in the Proceedings of the Kansas Academy of Science, for 1876. At Fort Scott, in boring for coal in 1870, a strong jet was opened, which has been burning ever since that time. It has afforded gas sufficient to illuminate a small town, though at present the amount has decreased, apparently from the filling up of the boring. That at Iola, as appears from Profs. Patrick's and Stimpson's report, is increasing, affording, 10,000 cubic feet daily. At the Water Works of Kansas City and at Rosedale, gas wells have been opened. But the most productive gas well is seen on the land of Mr. N. McAlpine, one mile west of Wyandotte. It was opened in 1875, and the gas struck at a little over four hundred feet. A company was formed to supply the city with gas, for heating as well as illumination. A gas holder was set of twenty-four thousand cubic feet, which is filled twice in every twenty-four hours. This quantity would illuminate a city of thirty thousand inhabitants. A lawsuit has prevented the company from completing its intended operations. All these wells struck gas under similar circumstances, viz: in a sandy shale or loose sandstone, under a bed of compact limestone or clay shale. At Iola, the gas came from a cavity twenty inches deep. It is not improbable, therefore, that the supply underlies a considerable portion of several counties, and when a better knowledge is gained, we may have systematic borings, to supply towns and villages.

The gas from all these wells has a sulphurous odor and is quite pure. Its illuminating power is about seven-tenths as great as that of gas artificially made from coal. This, however, is better than ordinary kerosene. Its heating power is much greater.