Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Snow Highlights History

The wind was causing the clouds to scurry across the sky this morning creating an interesting pattern of light and shadow playing across the landscape.  Looking for an image, I noticed how at this moment the sunlight highlighted the distant pipeline right of way as it crossed Sidling Hill Mountain.

For the most part pipelines are fairly uninteresting to most of us unless you happen to live in the path of where one is to be built or perhaps you are concerned about the environmental impact, however this pipeline has a very special place in our nations history that deserves retelling.

During World War II our nation had a serious problem with German submarines attacking our shipping fleet along our Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.  The problem was so bad that moving oil from the western oil fields to the east coast was seriously hampered.

The answer was to build pipelines and on August third of 1942 the project commenced.  Two pipelines were to be built. The Big Inch, a 24" pipeline running from Long View Texas to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania where it then branched with one branch running to Linden, New Jersey and the other to Philadelphia delivered crude oil.  This pipeline was finished an amazing 350 days later!  The second line, nicknamed the Little Big Inch, a 20" pipeline, began in Beaumont Texas, joined the Big Inch at Little Rock Arkansas, and from there shared the same right-of-way and pumping stations until it reached its terminus in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Unlike the Big Inch, the Little Big Inch carried refined products; gasoline, heating oil, kerosene, and diesel with each product separated by a solid rubber ball slightly smaller than the pipe diameter.  This pipeline is credited with making a very important contribution to the war effort.  Much of the fuel and oil products that supplied our troops fighting in Europe flowed through these two pipe. 

I remember my grandfather Hill telling stories about the pipeline during the war.  He recounted how people were hired to walk the line checking for leaks.  He told of one particular individual who walked a section in our area who would add to his income during the winter by trapping fur.  Granddad recounted how the man would bore a hole about in inch in diameter and two or three inches deep into trees along the right-of-way. Then driving three or four nails at an angle into the opening and placing a bit of sardine into the hole he fashioned a trap that would grip a paw. It would have been a gruesome trap to be sure, but with money tight in those days, no doubt it was an inexpensive method to acquire some much needed income.

The pipeline became surplus property after the war and was sole to the Texas Eastern Corp who converted it to carry natural gas.  While the pipeline has changed ownership a few times since and has been upgraded it still serves as a vital energy link for our country.

For a short but interesting read concerning this historic pipeline follow the link Here