Saranac Lake Gas plant Address: Payeville Road

Other names: Mountain Gas Company

Year built: c. 1909

Other information: The Saranac Lake Gas Company, known as Mountain Gas starting about 1924, manufactured light gas from coal for lighting from the early 1900s to about the 1940s.

The Mountain Gas Company office was at 96 Main Street according to an advertisement in the program for the St. Bernard's Club's Minstrel Review, circa 1930. They sold "BRAN NEW GAS RANGES, Insulated with Heat Control". The site is now that of the Vest Pocket Park.

A gas pipe at 22 Catherine Street, 2018.
Courtesy of Jim Hotaling.

The 1933 and 1936 Village directories lists Mountain Gas at 4 Academy Street (Hotel Saranac) with the plant on Pine Street. In 1938, the offices are listed at 76 Broadway.

In 2007 the Department of Environmental Conservation found that the site was contaminated with waste from the process, including benzene and benzo-pyrene; it has become part of the New York State Superfund program. The site is presently owned by Amerigas Propane, which uses it to store propane tanks. The site can be seen most clearly from the Adirondack Scenic Railroad.


Plattsburgh Sentinel, August 14, 1908

The Saranac Lake Gas Company, to supply gas for the village of Saranac Lake, was incorporated Saturday. The capital is $50,000. The directors are: Horatio Nelson and William N. Wetteran, of Poughkeepsie, and Seaver A. Miller, of Saranac Lake.


Ticonderoga Sentinel, June 3, 1909

Gas Plant at Saranac Lake.

The public service commission has authorized the Saranac Lake Gas Company to contract with O E Starr of Philadelphia to build a gas plant at Saranac Lake for $84,000.


Satellite view of the site of the Gas Plant, 2/19/2016American Gas Light Journal, October 4, 1909, Volume 91, p. 811

The Plant of the Saranac Lake Gas Company.

The illustration shows fairly the buildings and holder now being constructed at Saranac Lake, N Y., by the Public Utilities Company. Franklin Bank Building, Philadelphia, which structures are coming in for considerable favorable comment by the citizens. The entire affair will not afford a blot on the landscape, as unfortunately some of the smaller gas plants constructed in suburban places oft times are. In fact, the ensemble is usually of the severe or grotesque order rather than having the appearance of a design worked out by competent engineers. Gas companies too frequently forget they owe something to the public in their construction, when, by using a little precaution and at small extra expense, work can be designed that are creditable to the community and living monuments as well to the capacity of the designers. Abroad, this feature is taken into  consideration, but in our own country, it looks for utility and nothing for appearances.

The appearance of the plant can be easily caused to take on attraction of the advertising sort for the town as well as a place of good abode for the Company's men.  To go further, this same ornate finishing might be profitably carried on to the carts, wagons, etc., of the Company. At any rate the Public Utilities Company has eyes to this suggested feature, which is frequently lacking in the buildings turned out by gas engineers in this and other countries.

The walls of the main building are of redbrick, laid lengthwise, with black headers, in 1-inch buff gravel and cement joints. The roof is of Ludovici tile, and all of the material and workmanship are of the highest grades. The designer was Mr. Charles Barton Keene, one of the prominent architects of Philadelphia, and the generating machinery is being installed by the Gas Machinery Company, of Cleveland, O. The storage holder is by the Cruse-Kemper Company, of Ambler. Pa.

The plant will be ready for operation about the 1st of November, in fact it may be considered completed now. It will begin operation with about 500 consumers, which surely is an excellent beginning in a town of not over 6,000 residents, However, most of the people residing in Saranac Lake have used gas elsewhere, and the community as an entity is one that should cause this plant to be a paying proposition from the start.


Malone Farmer, April 13, 1910

Notice has been served on the officers of the Saranac Lake Gas Company by the board of health of that village, to abate an alleged nuisance caused by the oil, tar and other refuse from the gas plant floating down Brandy brook to Lake Flower. The company is given ten days in which to comply with the order, after which a penalty of $100 a day will be imposed by the board of health. Report has it that the scum on Lake Flower has become so thick that Game Protector Vosburgh has stated that if the nuisance is not abated by the board of health he will take the matter up with the forest, fish and game commissioner.


Adirondack Record, February 12, 1915

Sale of Gas Company Postponed The sale of the Saranac Lake Gas Company's plant, franchise, mains and other property, advertised to take place at the gas plant in North Elba, February 5 has been postponed to Saturday February 13 owing: to the illness of Special Master Nash Rockwood, appointed by the United States District Court of Northern New York.


Malone Farmer, December 20, 1916

An explosion in the Saranac Lake gas plant Saturday wrecked the walls of the boiler room. Frost made the gas back up into the room, where it took fire, with the result that all the windows were blown out and the south and west walls were cracked and bulged. The roof was also so badly torn that it finally fell in. Fortunately the gas-maker was outside about a rod from the building when the explosion occurred. He was knocked down but not seriously injured.


Ticonderoga Sentinel, December 21, 1916

GAS PLANT DAMAGED

Fire damaged the buildings of the Saranac Lake gas plant Saturday noon to the extent of $2,000. The cause of the fire is unknown. Two explosions of gas demolished two of the smaller buildings and bulged the sides of the main building two feet. As a result the town is without gas and many families are inconvenienced. C. A Gruber, manager of the plant, expects to have the plant in good working order within a week.


Plattsburgh Sentinel, June 24, 1919

The Saranac Lake Gas company is being reorganized, the old company being out of business, following bankruptcy, and the new company will be incorporated to take over the plant and franchise. $25,000 worth of bonds are being offered to the public. Extensive improvements which will triple its capacity will be made.


Plattsburgh Sentinel, June 10, 1921

The hearing of the consumers of gas in Saranac Lake against the Mountain Gas Co concerning the prices charged for gas will be held at Saranac Lake today. Commissioner Voorhis will preside at the hearing.


Lake Placid News, February 15, 1924

PLAN STEADY FLOW OF GAS IN SARANAC TO BE ASSURED

Large New Gas Holder Will Be Built in the Spring

No signs of any business slump in Saranac Lake is seen by Ernest Grubb, new owner and president of the Mountain Gas company, who reports a 15.4 per cent increase in gas sales for the three months just ended over the same period one year ago.

So hopeful is the outlook in the view of Mr. Grubb, who took over the business last fall, that he now plans a number of important improvements in the spring, with the following as the principal items of his program: construction of a new 100,000 cubic feet gas holder; connection of dead ends in present mains; and laying of new mains to streets not served at the present time.

These improvements are expected to accomplish regularity of flow of gas and give better service in every way to a larger number of customers than is possible under existing conditions. The present holder has a capacity of 50,000 cubic feet and operates under such low pressure that a "booster" pump has to be used to force gas thru the mains. The new holder, with its capacity of 100,000 cubic feet will be used in connection with the old one.

Newly made gas will first pass into the small holder and purifying apparatus will then act upon it as it passes from there into the larger holder. From the latter, the gas passes into mains under a sufficient pressure to send it to all parts of the village. Estimates on the new holder are now being prepared for the gas company, which plans to build on land which it owns adjoining the plant.

A complete map of the present distributing system has been prepared by Mr. Grubb, which shows that about ten miles of mains are in the present system. Dead ends are shown on many of the mains, which Mr. Grubb explains is another cause of uneven gas flow. By connecting these ends whenever possible, flow becomes more regular. Accumulation of water in pipes is also eliminated to a great extent. Some of this work was done last Fall by the company and will be continued in the spring.

The map of the system shows a large portion of the village without pipes for gas. In fact, little expansion has taken place since the system was installed nearly 16 years ago. The Riverside drive and Lake street sections have no gas service, and there is practically none on the streets between Ampersand avenue, Broadway and Olive street.

Tests of gas now being sold here were made by an inspector of the public service commission last month, and his report was that the gas is clean and higher in quality that the State standard. Another measure upon which Mr. Grubb places great importance in bringing about better gas service is the replacement of worn out and out-of-date equipment with modern stoves and plates. He asserts that some of the new type ranges use but one-third the amount of gas required for the same results with some of the old equipment [illegible] old appliances.


Lake Placid News, April 18, 1924

SARANAC  LAKE CHAMBER INSPECTED GAS PLANT

Large New Gas Tank to Be Built-- Quality of Gas Is High

(Adirondack Enterprise)

Indicating renewed interest in the affairs of the Mountain Gas company of Saranac Lake under its new management, a committee from the Chamber of Commerce recently visited the plant and offices with a view to learning more of the progress of this local industry.

The committee learned that the total number of meters now in service is 629, approximately seventy-five of these having been connected up within the last five months and without the extension of any of the company's mains.

The company can, it was learned, connect up fifty per cent more customers than it now has on lines already in service. Heretofore the general impression has been that in order to create this amount of business it would be necessary to expend a great amount of money to extend its mains in various parts of the town.

The thing which interested the chamber committee was the plan for installing immediately a new 100,000 cubic foot high pressure modern gas holder which will triple the present storage capacity and give Saranac Lake a constant supply regardless of the heaviest demand—and all under good pressure.

The attention of the committee was especially called by Manager Ernest Grubb to the fact that Saranac Lake gas users are now getting a quality of gas ten per cent above the state law requirements.


Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 12, 2021

Howard Riley's column

Saranac Lake Police Blotter, June 13, 1939

Call from Mrs. Carpenter that a gas main on the Baker Bridge [Pine Street] was leaking and the gas was burning. I called the gas works and talked to Mr. Fogarty, who came and put the fire out. His truck was out of commission, so I took him to Gladd's Garage to get some tools and then drove him home. We think lightning struck the bridge and started the fire as the call came right after an extra big bolt of lightning and a loud crash of thunder. --- Jones


Plattsburgh Daily Press, August 11, 1941

PERMISSION IS REFUSED

Saranac Lake Denied Right to Buy Gas Company and Issue Stock

The Public Service Commission Saturday denied the Saranac Lake Gas Corp., permission to purchase gas plant formerly owned by the Mountain Gas Company, Inc., and to issue $65,000 worth of capital stock.

The Commission based its refusal on findings that the gas property, consisting of a small gas manufacturing plant and distribution system in the village of Saranac Lake, is unable to carry any fixed charges, and has only “remote” possibilities of earning any return.

In a report on the gas property, prior to the formation of the Saranac Lake Gas corporation in 1939, Commission Examiner William T. Wilkinson disclosed “certain proceeds” realized from the company's securities sales “were misappropriated for other purposes,” and that with the exception of a rotary station meter, the plant equipment “is not useful in the public service.”

The Saranac Lake Gas corporation proposed to assume a present indebtedness of $19,101.50, consisting of $15,100 of principal amount first mortgage bonds and $4,001.50 matured and accrued interest. “The company is unable to carry any fixed charges. A refinancing of the debt to be assumed would therefore accomplish nothing,” Wilkinson's report said.


Plattsburgh Press-Republican, June 17, 1944Plattsburgh Press-Republican, March 2, 1943

SARANAC LAKE

The Mountain Gas company of this village will discontinue its service to customers within three months. Bottled gas equipment will be installed in many homes to replace the gas furnished by the company.


Lake Placid News, July 9, 1943

May  Start Foundry In Saranac Lake

Saranac Lake may have its fourth industry if plans now in formation are carried out.

Ginsberg Bros, of Glens Falls have begun negotiations for the purchase of the Mt. Gas Co., also known as the Saranac Lake Gas Co. plant, at Payville, to turn it into a foundry for war material. Progress of the negotiations is not yet known but it is believed the sale is close to consumation.

The company closed down the gas plant after it received permission from the public service commission to halt operation as a local utility. It had been in financial difficulties for many years. Several attempts to reorganize the company and to refinance it during the past year, were unsuccessful.

Now in operation is Gladd Bros. plant that is turning out airplane parts and uses three shifts each day; Duso's machine shop, also turning out material for defense; and in operation within a few weeks, a glove factory owned and operated by the Arris Co. of New York city.

The glove factory to be located in the Boyce building in Woodruff St., will employ more than 150 women. The machinery already is being moved into the building and the company expects to start operation before July 15. The glove factory not connected with the war effort will be a permanent industry in the community. Fabric gloves will be manufactured in the plant.


From Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 11, 2016: "Brandy Brook to undergo testing" 

. . . The former Saranac Lake Gas Company operated a manufactured gas plant (MGP) from the late 1800s through the 1940s, providing gas for lighting the Village of Saranac Lake using a coal gasification process. The process produced coal tar and other volatile organics as waste products, which were then dumped on site and into Brandy Brook. The waters of Brandy Brook transported those contaminants into Pontiac Bay. . . . [The dates above may have come from this wiki summary at the top of the page. The "late 1800s" date is contradicted by the article in the American Gas Light Journal of 1909.]

 

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