How a Union drunkard at Fredericksburg invented fracking
Here’s my favorite chance discovery from this weekend’s reading on the Web: A piece by Len Boselovic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette headlined, “‘The Boom’: Meet the frackers.” Subhead: Journalist Russell Gold writes an even-handed history of a controversial practice.
Here’s a photo of the book’s author, who is a writer with the Wall Street Journal:
Just read Boselovic’s first paragraphs, and you’ll see why I found his article — and the new book he’s writing about — so intriguing:
“Edward A.L. Roberts was a drunken lieutenant colonel for the Union army during the Civil War. Facing court-martial, he offered his resignation, but not before surviving some of the fiercest fighting of the war during the Army of the Potomac’s mindless assault up Marye’s Heights at Fredericksburg, Va., in December 1862.
“During the bombardment preceding the charge, Roberts observed shells exploding in a small canal. Energy from the detonations moved sideways into the walls of the ditch, fracturing them.
“A few years later, Roberts, an inveterate tinkerer, found himself in Oil City, Pa. There, the practical application of his battlefield observation in the birthplace of the oil industry made him the father of hydraulic fracturing.”
Read the whole article at: http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/books/2014/04/06/The-Boom-by-Russell-Gold/stories/201404060019#ixzz2yn3LVqRW
Hat tip to “1861″ author Adam Goodheart for putting me on the trail of Gold’s book, and this article.