Hardesty's History of Wirt County

THE TOWN OF BURNING SPRINGS

Has a history which reads like romance. Its recital calls to
mind the early days of San Francisco, the metropolis of Califor-
nia. Here was the Eldorado of 1860 and 1861. In the former
year the news of the discovery of the greatest petroleum pro-
ducing [illigible] then known on the globe, went out to the world
from this place. In August there were not a dozen souls in this
vicinity, and six months later, the morning that Fort Sumter
was fired upon there were six thousand persons. It was a
swarming mass of humanity, representing almost every nation on
earth. Fortunes were made and lost in a day. Capitalists and
adventurers from every part of the continent rushed to this 
place, as did many thousand others to California eleven years
before; United States senators, members of congress - among 
whom was James A. Garfield - governors of states, and many 
others high in official position, came in pursuit of what proved to 
be but another "South Sea bubble." A town arose, as if by 
magic, and in the spring of 1861 the Chicago hotel, every part of 
which was rendered brilliant by mains filled with native gas, had 
arisen upon what was six months before a thicket of underbrush.
A single well furnished a sufficient quantity of gas to illuminate
the cities of America. It was used for light, for generating
steam, for fuel, in fact, for every purpose. But at last it failed.
It was on a dark, stormy night, in the winter of 1867, that every
light and every fire in the town was as suddenly extinguished as
if a blast of wind had blown it out. The supply in the great
natural reservoir had become exhausted, and hundreds of families
suffered from the intense cold before a supply of fuel could be
obtained from another source. Millions of barrels of oil were
pumped and shipped from this place between the years 1860 and
1870. It was on the 9th day of May, 1863, that a detachment of
Confederate troops, under command of General Jones, visited the
place, and kindled perhaps the largest fire ever started in West 
Virginia. One hundred thousand barrels of oil were simul-
taneously ignited, and the light that night was plainly visible at 
Parkersburg - distant forty-two miles. The population in 1880 was 
1,332.

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