Natural Gas on the Mountain

Some attention has been given in the Hamilton Spectator (Aug.2, 2011) to the number of licensed and unlicensed private natural gas wells that exist in the Binbrook area. While the numbers may be surprising - the Spectator cites a historic list of over 150 private gas wells in the Binbrook area - the existence of this resource in our area is not a recent discovery. In fact, the availability of this resource first became known as early as 1794.

William Davis settled on a crown grant of 500 acres at Mount Albion in 1792. Two years later he hired Henry Van Wagner, a millwright, to build a grist and saw mill for him beside what we now know as Mount Albion Falls. In the course of excavating for the wheel-pit natural gas was encountered. According to Mountain Memories it is believed that this was "the first discovery of natural gas in Upper Canada". That natural gas was used to heat and light the mill for over a century. Albion Falls is just a few miles directly north of Binbrook.

(There used to be a small natural gas vent on the east side of DeWitt Road just below the top of the escarpment that burned continuously and was visible at night as an eerie blue glow. I have observed this many times through the years and always assumed that it was just a natural vent. I have also been told that whenever the flame got extinguished that a local who knew the exact location of the fissure would reignite it. Though I don't have occasion to pass that way as frequently anymore, I believe that road reconstruction on DeWitt has disrupted it. Probably someone in officialdom somewhere decided that it was a hazard." Bob Bernhardt

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