National Geographic : 1951 Oct
562 National Geographic Photographer Howell Walker Pottery on a "Merry-go-round" Streams from a Gas-fired Kiln Some 3,500 pieces of pottery pass through this kiln every 24 hours. Fired and cooled, dull, mushy clay emerges 18 hours later as glazed and fragile pitchers, vases, bowls, and other items. An S-shaped salt shaker is held by the attendant at Camark Pottery plant, Camden, Arkansas. The plant ships finished ware as far away as Africa and Hawaii. the greater, as a rule, is the proportion of gas to oil. One productive well in California is 15,530 feet, or three miles in depth. There are wells in the Southwest driven through as many as 35 gas-bearing sands. Each sand is cemented off when the drilling is completed, and in production the sands are tapped one at a time by exploding projectiles to open the flow. It is known that under some of the deepest strata of rock that have already produced oil and gas lie similar formations that promise to provide even deeper fields. Coal, Oil, Gas-Different Forms of Same Thing It is sometimes argued that oil and gas are not irreplaceable because both can be made from coal, of which there is a huge sup ply.* After all, coal, oil, and gas are merely different forms of the same thing. "Oil is just toughened-up gas, and coal is just oil in hardened form," said Senator Tom Connally of Texas in a recent Senate debate. Of course gas has long been made from coal, but not at a price or in sufficient quan tities to meet the present demand. There are, however, some new processes known to sci- ence for making both oil and gas from coal. Persons who enjoy gazing into the crystal ball of the future like to toy with the idea that both oil and gas will ultimately be made from coal at the mine head, especially since many major oil and gas pipe lines cross the coal regions. Prodigal Waste of Natural Gas Unfortunately, natural gas was wasted in the early days in a manner so prodigal as to stagger the imagination. Half a century ago natural gas street lights were left on all day, and in the Pittsburgh area it is recorded that kitchen stoves were left on all winter; if the room became too hot, windows were opened. There was no metering; one paid a flat charge of $1 a month for all the gas desired. Citizens held indignation meetings and newspapers ran denunciatory editorials in In diana in 1897 when someone tried to pass a law requiring metering, but by 1907 many of the gas fields were exhausted. In early days gas wells were lighted just to make a show. There is a story that the * See "Coal: Prodigious Worker for Man," by Al bert W. Atwood, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, May, 1944.