There have been a number of questions about the free gas at this farm. Those of you who live in West Virginia or other states prolific in oil and gas know what I’m talking about, but I realize it’s confusing for others. Many parts of West Virginia are rife with oil and gas wells. Roane County is one of those areas. Most often, if there is a natural gas well on a property, the property owners are granted free access to that gas as a courtesy, and the rights are usually listed in the deed and transferable through subsequent owners. In the old days, people ran not just cooktops or furnaces on their free gas but also their lights. My father recalls in his writings about his boyhood in Roane County (in Stringtown) of the pride his family felt with their gas lights–at a time when electricity wasn’t available in rural areas and neighbors without gas wells were still using candles. Free gas can run out, by the way! The free gas lasts for the life of the well. At one time, there was free gas at the Slanted Little House and I can remember as a child the gas light outside in the yard that stayed lit day and night. Why bother to turn it off? Back in those days, people didn’t think the gas would ever run out and they used their free gas liberally (and sometimes carelessly). Most people today are more frugal with their bounty as we have learned that lesson from our forebears. The photo above shows the position of the well house from the front porch. This photo below is a closeup of the well house.
This well has been providing gas for a long time, so I will be frugal with it and hope that it lasts a long time into the future. The well provides me with free heat from my gas furnace, which is a wonderful thing.
By the way, there isn’t anything “wrong” with the natural gas here preventing use of a gas cooktop. There is, in fact, a gas cooktop in the studio where the sister lived and she used it. One of the previous owners who lived in the main house told me, when I asked why there was an electric stove in the house, that he had no experience cooking with gas and wasn’t comfortable with it. I will be switching to a gas range as soon as possible.