The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947 Page: 30
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30 Southwestern Historical Quarterly
it was put on rollers and pushed along. I remember one day
coming upon an old acquaintance whom I had not seen in many
years, who with a gang of five or six men was moving a large
pump in this manner. They had it on a wobbly track slowly
pinching it along. "Hello there, Ed, what you doing there," I
said, by way of salutation, thinking at least he would stop and
have a word or two of confab.
"Working like a - ," he said; and never raising up and with
the sweat dripping from his face, he kept urging the men
Of course, the really heavy material, boilers, engines, and
the like, were not moved in this way. In fact, I do not know
how they were brought in. As mentioned, it was October when
I reached the place, and the main part of the heavier work had
already been done. Doubtless, however, in the earlier days,
before the ground became so badly crowded and before it had
become worked up into a quagmire, wagons could get about
over it freely.
Another highly noticeable feature of the field was the gas.
The region is sulphurous, and the gas that comes out of the
wells is highly impregnated with the mineral. As the pressure
was enormous, forcing out millions of cubic feet of the poison-
ous fumes daily, it rendered the place highly dangerous. In
the early days little effort was made to dispose of the gas;
generally it was allowed to escape at the mouth of the wells,
spread, and do such mischief as it would. On damp, still days
it could be smelled a mile or more from the field. It had a
scent something like rotten eggs and at first was quite offensive;
but, strange to say, when a person got used to it, he rather
liked it. This particular kind of gas was what the people about
the oil field called "rotten" gas. While it was disagreeable to
be in, it was not the kind that was dangerous.
It was the gas fresh from the wells, less diffused and more
highly impregnated with sulphur that the workers dreaded. This
kind had hardly any scent, but it was as deadly as a murderer.
Its effect when breathed was much like that of chloroform. If
a person, or any other living animal, inhaled a few strong
breaths of it, he would fall over unconscious; and if he lay in
it and continued to breathe it, he would die as surely as if
As results actually went, however, the gas did not cause a
great number of fatalities. A person had to get an extremely
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947, periodical, 1947; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101117/m1/46/: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.