4350-4364 Case Rd
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Charted on the earliest maps of North America after La Salle’s visit August 1669
Caused by escaping natural gas. Once mystery to visitors
By the New York State Education Department — 1937
What was there
Natural gas springs. The gas was formed when organic material was caught in-between layers of mud millions of years ago when this region was covered by a shallow ocean. The organic material decayed and was subject to intense pressure, forming natural gas, which became trapped within layers of shale rock. The ravine in the region cuts through the gas-rich layers of shale and the gas leaks out.
French explorer Robert de La Salle, was brought by the Seneca of the village of Ganagaro in August of 1669 to inspect the spring.
What is there now
The marker stands near a private residence and adjacent to the stream into which the spring empties. The stream is on private property. The gas springs are up the ravine from the road.
An excerpt from “The natural, statistical, and civil history of the state of New-York, Volume 1″ by James Macauley (1829) reads:
An excerpt from “The northern traveller: and Northern tour; with the routes to the Springs…” by Theodore Dwight and Henry Dilworth Gilpin (1831) reads:
From a pit which was sunk in one of the hillocks the gas was once conducted through bored logs to the kitchen of a dwelling.
An excerpt from “A history of Ontario County, New York and its people, Volume 1” by Charles F. Milliken (1911 ) reads:
The Earl of Belmont, Governor of the province of New York, gave these instructions to Col. Romer, whom he sent on a journey through the country of the Iroquois in 1700 : “You are to go and view a well, or a spring, which is eight miles beyond the Snecks furthest castle, which they have told me blazes up in a flame when a light coale or fire brand is put into it. You will do well to taste the said water and give me your opinion thereof, and bring with you some of it.”
This “burning spring,” as another writer has said, “is located near Bristol Center, about eight miles from the foot of Canandaigua lake, in a direct line south of Boughton hill. The spring is on the south side of a small brook which empties through a ravine into the west side of Ganargua or Mud creek. The banks opposite the spring are from eight to twenty feet high, the spring being on a level with the bed of the brook. By applying a match the water appears to burn and is not easily extinguished except by a heavy rain or high wind.”
About this naturally occurring gas
It is important to note that this is naturally occurring flammable gas (mostly made up of methane). It is relatively odorless and invisible. It is the same gas that can be harvested via the controversial Hydrolic Fracturing or “Fracking” process. It is important to note that occurrences of this gas stem from the rock bed, not the water itself. Instances at this site stem from the rock and do not saturate the water (it is not typical for naturally occurring gas springs to saturate water to make water flammable). Natural cracks in the rock at this site seep pressurized natural gas, which then bubbles up through the mud and water. In some locations, or if funneled through holes in snow or ice, these seepages can be ignited. The water itself can not. There is a fundamental difference.*
We would like to thank the following for helping us with this entry:
Matthew Conheady – (*author has a degree in environmental sciences and has been studying stream ecology, and hydraulic fracturing controversy for over a decade).