On August 30th 1919, about 300 petroleum companies converged on a natural gas field near Pittsburgh within months of the “Snake Hollow Gusher” of McKeesport, Pennsylvania USA.
There was an oil well drilled near the Monongahela River, the discovery well produced over 60 million cubic feet of natural gas a day. It prompted an exploration frenzy that witnessed $35 million invested in a nine-square-mile area.
“Many residents signed leases for drilling on their land,” the local newspaper later reported. “They bought and sold gas company stock on street corners and in barbershops transformed into brokerage houses.”
This oil well was a good one for the city and many opted to take on the oil business even without proper knowledge of the business. The excitement led to a few well thought out businesses and also failed ones. In this time the citizens and visitors exploited these wells a little too much, and it led to its demise.
The excitement in the natural gas field ended in just seven months. At the beginning of 1921, natural gas production had declined in 180 wells; over 440 exploratory wells were dry holes. Of the millions invested during the boom, only about $3 million came out. The field was soon described as “the scene of the Pittsburgh district’s biggest boom and loudest crash.