Eras of Energy

The timeline of the evolution of energy (of all types) in the United States


First Commercial Coal Production in U.S.


Coal was originally found in Richmond, VA in 1701. Commercial coal production began with some American colonists. These "miners" were most likely farmers who just happened upon coal as they were digging and plowing. Much of the coal was put to use towards weapons during the Revolutionary War.

First Natural Gas Well in U.S. is Drilled


William Hart dug the first well in the U.S. meant to extract natural gas in Fredonia, New York. This well was not anywhere close to as modern as the below picture, but it served the same general purpose as natural gas wells today. During this time period, the natural gas well was heavily relied on as a source of light.

Alcohol Becomes a Source of Lamp Fuel, Replacing Whale Oil

Approx. 1830

Whale oils had became a large source of lamp fuel, but as the supply dwindled, the price increased. In the 1830s, alcohol began to be used after S. Casey received a patent to use alcohol for lamp fuel in 1834. As time went on, more and more alcohol was being produced, replenishing the supply to meet the necessary demand for lamp fuel.

Edison's Electric Plant


Edison, the famous creator of the lightbulb, opened up a station to prove, very successfully, that these new electric lights he had made, did, in fact, work. This successful showing of Edison's electric light system kicked off all of New York's soon to be electric lights. Edison soon had 80,000 feet of underground conductors installed to carry electricity to the houses of his clients.

First Energy-Generating Wind Turbine Invented by Charles Brush


Charles F. Brush created the first energy-generating wind turbine in Cleveland, Ohio. It was able to generate about 12 kilowatts of power. Smaller versions of this turbine were later made to provide electricity to people such as farmers and those who lived in more rural areas that were not extremely close to other power sources.

First Federal Law Put in Place to Prevent Pollution


The Oil Pollution Control Act was put in place to ensure that fuel would not be dumped at sea and pollute the water and surrounding area. This act was not very effective because its' restrictions were very specific to certain situations which allowed for a lot of loopholes. Although it did not do much in preventing oil pollution at this time, it was a big step in the right direction of taking a stand for conservation.

Hoover Dam: World's Largest Hydroelectric Power Plant (at the time)


The Hoover Dam was built in Arizona, and, at the time it was made, it was the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world. It can store enough water to irrigate 2 million acres of land. Until 1948, it was also the world's largest producer of hydroelectricity.

First Successful Atomic Bomb Detonation


The Manhattan Project was meant to research the idea, make-up and effects of an atomic bomb. As World War ll raged on, the Allies decided to create the weapon, and they were allowed to. The bomb was tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico and successfully detonated.

Popular Petroleum


Petroleum became the most popular and widely used fuel in the U.S. A large part of this is the fact that it was used as the oil in automobiles, which were also widely used at the time. Petroleum is a non-renewable resource, so the fact that this is the number one source of fuel, is not positive on the side of environmental conservation.

British Petroleum Oil Rig Explosion


The British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon Rig was only 52 miles off of the coast of Louisiana when it exploded. The rig sank 5,000 feet to the ocean floor and the collision caused the pipe to develop a series of cracks and breaks. It is estimated that about 12,000 to 19,000 barrels were leaking a day. It is estimated that up to 30 million gallons of oil were lost.