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"McKean: The Governor's County"
Rufus Barrett Stone
Chapter 8
Submitted by PHGS Member
Mike Henderson

"McKean: The Governor's County", Rufus Barrett Stone. Lewis Publishing Company, Inc. New York, 1926. Pages 48-50.


In the year 1878 on the western edge of the Bradford oil field as then known, near to the mouth of Marilla Brook, a roaring gas well was struck whereupon C. E. Hequembourg and others became associated and obtained a charter under the Act of 1874 as the Bradford Gas Light & Heating Company to supply gas for light and fuel to the inhabitants of the City of Bradford. While individual instances of the household use of natural gas, as at Fredonia, had been known, Bradford was the first city in which it was so supplied in a systematic way. Success bred competition. The company applied for an injunction against the competitor alleging an exclusive right for the period apparently assured by the statute. Issue was joined, and Judge Acheson of the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Pennsylvania, after hearing, held that the Act of 1874, enacted before the discovery and use of natural gas, was not intended to provide for its supply and hence the exclusive clauses of the Act were not available. From this decision an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court of the United States, and, pending appeal, the company sold its entire system to its competitor, where. upon it was eventually transferred to the United Natural Gas Company.

It may be added that the petroleum and natural gas industry has in a large degree defined the character of the manufacturing industries of the county. Into commercial commodities it manufactures its own natural products; its petroleum into gasoline, kerosene, petrolatum, lubricants, paraffine, coke and grease; its petro. leum coke into carbon brushes for electrical machinery; its timber into lumber, and its lumber into sash, doors, blinds and mantels; its wood into charcoal, alkali, oxalic acid and other chemical products; its shale into brick and tile. For such manufacture it makes its own machinery and tools; that is to say, the tools and machinery peculiarly deigned for the production of oil and gas; engines and boilers, air compressors, drilling and fishing tools, wheels, tanks, pipe couplings, pumpingheads, working barrels, berite and glycerine. It has foundries of its own. There are other contemporaneous manufactures, foreign to the oil and gas industry, of no little consequence; knife and cutIery, steel sections, brushes, silk, labels, printing and binding, and withal, notwithstanding the comparative scarcity of gas fuel, the county is still an important headquarters of the bottle, window and plate glass industry. Bradford is at the foot of the mountain grade where coal from the hills and ore from the lake might advantageously be brought to the furnace. But the Board of Commerce is not stressing this advantage. It is seeking to make Bradford a city of happy people, its industries keeping pace with the needs of its people.

By voted bond issue and private subscription the county net-work of improved roads has become highly developed under the energetic leadership of Colonel Andrew Burns, now president of the Bradford Board of Commerce. Such improved lines of transportation are not only calculated to promote commercial prosperity at the centers of population, but they also afford to agricultural interests an invigorating stimulant. The annual exhibitions of the McKean County Fair Association reflect the new Vigor which the improved road system has imparted.

The average altitude of the fertile valleys of the county above sea level is about fifteen hundred feet, while at the highest summit the elevation reaches 2,495 feet. The contour and altitudes of the county thus indicate grazing for cattle and sheep with its auxiliary crops of silage, oats, barley, potatoes and fruits, including apples, pears, plums, cherries and small fruits.

Note: Computed from the various sources of farm income in the county of McKean, tabulated in the latest bulletin (August 1, 1925), of the State Department of Agriculture, the total value of products for the year 1924 was $1,883,720.43. This includes, however, the reported quantity of milk (2,689,872 gallons) at the average estimated price of twenty-four cents a gallon. Hay and milk in nearly equal value constituted about two-thirds of the entire income. The cost of commercial fertilizers and time during the year amounted to $108,817.50. The total value of live stock on January 1, 1925, is reported at $948,8420.

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