The Propane Industry Plans the Party for its Centennial

The first propane-powered house in the world, with the first propane customer, John Gahring. (image: National Propane Gas Association)

On May 17, 1912, two year’s after a scientist named Walter O. Snelling first identified propane gas, Snelling’s father-in-law installed a propane cylinder in his farmhouse near Waterford, Pa. It was the first home to use the fuel for light and cooking, and John Gahring became the world’s first propane customer, marking the birth of the propane business.

Now to toast the occasion, the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) is planning “unforgettable celebrations” for the propane industry’s centennial. A celebratory task force is meeting at the big propane convention in Atlanta this weekend to discuss some of the plans. And a centennial website has been launched — definitely worth a visit for info on the plans, plus some history, and a photo and video gallery.

And what became of Gahring’s home? It was torn down more than 50 years ago, according to a history the NPGA (then known as the National LP-Gas Council) released in the 1960s. But the home of one E. E. Wheeler, a neighbor and the world’s second propane customer, was still standing at the time. Several more of the state’s first buildings to use propane power were still standing too, including the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in the town of Penryn, Pa. (A caller, curious if the church still used propane, got an answering machine this afternoon.)

For more on Snelling, the father of propane, have a look here.

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