Early 1900 Bessemer natural gas engine used
in drilling, still holding forth near Joker

Remnants of collapsed drilling rig
and bull wheel near Bessemer engine

It was a workhorse, the natural gas driven Bessemer engine, used in Calhoun in the drilling of natural gas wells during the early part of the 20th Century.

A few still dot the Calhoun landscape, holding up well, including the one shown on the old Hughes Farm near Joker, resting a few feet from a collapsed drilling operation.

This engine is located at the inspired drilling operations of famous Calhoun eccentric Eddie Austin Kirby. It is not clear if Kirby used the engine in his long-time effort to strike it rich.

Bessemer Gas Engine Company was founded in PA in late 1800s. During World War II the Bessemer contributed heavily to the war effort by manufacturing diesel engines for troop and cargo ships as well as warships, tugboats, rescue, and patrol boats.

In addition to drilling operations, The gas engines were widely used in the production of rubber, alloys, light metals, high-octane aircraft fuel, synthetic ammonia for munitions, and in refineries, chemical plants, shipyards and petroleum pipelines.

Thousands of the engines continue to operate today around the world.

The long abandoned Hughes Farm near Joker is itself representative of early farm life and drilling in Calhoun, the old house and about eight outbuildings, one for every purpose, still standing, barely


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