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Locations of Gas Plants and Other Coal-tar Sites in the U.S.

THE STATE OF TEXAS

Introduction

            Manufactured gas came to coastal Texas barely before the Civil War and did not spread widely thereafter. Workable seams of Cretaceous-aged coal were discovered and published by 1840, and thereafter large amounts of Tertiary-aged lignites came to light. It is probable that early manufactured gas was able to subsist on indigenous feedstock from the very beginning. By 1877, later State Geologist Edwin T. Dumble (Dumble, 1892) was commissioned by the Houston & Texas Central Railway to investigate the lignites and other brown coals as potential locomotive steam fuel. Dumble was able to make coke from lignite by adding “a small percentage” of coal-tar pitch. This improved the usual powdery nature of the lignite product. In 1882, Professor H.H. Dinwiddie, then President of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas recommended the utilization of Texas lignite for production of water (blue) gas, probably as an industrial fuel. Dumble was then sent to the lignite regions of Germany and Austria to recover such technology as would place Texas in a position to manufacture gas from its lignites (Dumble, ibid.). From Dumble’s remarks one can presume that the use of Texas lignite for manufacturing of illuminating gas, as well as fuel gas would likely have begun within the remaining decade of the 1890s.

            Unlike nearly all other States, the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC; Established 1891), never regulated the production and sale of manufactured gas. Following the truly big crude oil strikes of 1918-1919, the Legislature created a Gas Utilities Division within the TRC. Annual reports of activities appear with 1921 but the control was limited to conservation of natural gas at the oil or gas field and no information is to be had with respect to manufactured gas. The total number of Texas sites known to the author (78) is significantly larger than shown by US EPA (1985, Survey of Town Gas and By-Product Production and Location in the U.S. [1880-1950]), due to historical economic fluctuations relating to fuel and feedstocks and a relatively large number of producer gas plants that began operating on lignite, beginning in about 1890.

            Most of the distribution and marketing systems surviving today stem from mid-1930s consolidations to develop and distribute natural gas, including those of the Southern Union Gas Company (Austin), the Texas Public Service Company (of Peoples Light & Power Company), the Lone Star Gas Company (Dallas-Fort Worth), and the Texas Cities Gas Company.

Click the blue "EPA" link below to view the
 Texas map of the EPA 1985 Radian FMGP Report.

Click the green "Hatheway" link below to view the
 Texas map of Professor Hatheway's research.

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