Locations of Gas Plants and Other Coal-tar Sites in the U.S.
► THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA
As this is an oil-rich State the reader might suspect that some degree of confusion would be encountered here when working with companies serving “gas.” One of the difficulties to be expected is the coming and going of reliable natural gas, and then only in those locations relatively near a gas field.
Some early manufactured gas service was installed about 1892, but favoring the generally light nature of Oklahoma crude oil. Oklahoma City apparently was the location of the first gas works in the State, with the Kendall Oil Gas process.
Manufactured gas service in Oklahoma appears also to have been of the shortest duration of any State and it is believed that Oklahoma City became served by natural gas in about 1910. Most of the remaining manufactured gas plants in the State were installed between 1903 and 1916, after which there was a definite ramp-down to complete natural gas service around ____. A natural split between coal gas and carbureted water gas was such as the former were most likely in areas around Oklahoma coal mines, and the latter covering the remainder and making use of light oil fractions of the naturally light Oklahoma crude oil. Generally speaking, early manufactured gas appears to have been dominated by coal-gas, with carbureted water gas following about 1910, and making use of oil-field naphtha washed from refinery light-oil fractions, and so likely was available at a very favorable price. Oklahoma crude oil of the time apparently was relatively light and yielded a good naphtha content for use in CWG enrichment.
Oklahoma manufactured gas plants typically were financed by out-of-State interests, a condition which quickly migrated toward holdings companies headquartered mainly in Chicago. The Byllesby Company was the largest of these interests (at Chickasha, El Reno, Enid, and Muskogee, for example), and the Oklahoma City Gas & Electric Company many have seen Insull control (also Chicago) for a time before WWI. Other holdings companies confined themselves to operations within the State, but most of these became incorporated into national holding companies by the time of the Great Crash of 1929.
Of alternative coal-tar sites, Oklahomans were highly appreciative of ice and ice cream, and those ice plants generally were powered by gas engines, such as at Drumright and Sapulpa (1917) and Waurika (1907)
In the course of improving conditions on the numerous Indian reservations of what had been known as the Indian Nations and the Oklahoma Territory, Congress authorized an 1899 program of gasoline-gas lighting at the boarding school of each of the tribes (for instance, the Arapaho Indian Boarding School in Darlington and the Osage Boarding School at Pawhuska).
Producer gas engines were popular at oil refineries, where it was possible to strip off and purify refinery gases to power such devices. The Rathbun-Jones Company, of Chicago, for example, began powering the Oil State Gasoline Refinery at Tulsa, in 1917.
By the 1920s, manufactured gas was on the wane in Oklahoma, and during a brief interim (1920-1924) mixed manufactured and natural gas was to be found (Bartlesville, for instance, 1922).
Alternative gas-making and coal-tar producing processes active in Oklahoma were the beehive coke oven plants (such as at Schulter, ca. 1913), and wood preservation plants, mainly in eastern Oklahoma where pinewood was available within attractive haul distances. In 1898, at Hugo, the American Creosote Company, Inc., of Louisville, KY was present and preserving pine wood and another preservation plant was located at Panama,
Fort Sill, in south-central Oklahoma, a traditional Army Artillery post, was the scene of WWI observation balloon training and its 1st Balloon Company was yet on post in 1929. Generally the U.S. Army employed manufactured gas made on its posts, for lifting balloons. Attention is called to the lesser danger involved with manufactured gas as opposed to pressure-cylinder hydrogen, which the Army used in the field, especially in combat in France in WWI.
Limited municipal gas service was put in place in 1916, at Norman.
Natural gas was first supplied to an Oklahoma town at Red Fork, in 1903. The gas came from a nearby gas field which also was used in 1904, as piped into Tulsa. In 1930, the Lone Star Gas Company apparently began to supply natural gas to Guthrie in 1930 as a result of having emplaced its long-distance pipeline being installed for the purpose of supplying Nebraska.