I knew the history of methane in Pennsylvania's water was an old story. But this is ridiculous:

 Washington had long admired Paine’s writing, and had selections of The American Crisis (best known for its opening line “These are the times that try men’s souls”) read aloud to his troops for inspiration during the war. In an effort to secure a pension from Congress for his service to the growing nation, Paine went to see General Washington at Rocky Hill, New Jersey in the fall of 1783. It was near the close of the Revolutionary War and the United States and Britain had recently signed the Treaty of Paris, but the British had not yet left New York and the Continental Congress was meeting in Princeton. They had heard that there was a river in the area that could be set on fire, and Washington, Paine would later write, “had a mind to try the experiment.”

Cannot believe they missed this story in Pennsylvania.  Tom Paine, George Washington and naturally occurring methane. The modern day Tea Party should have jumped on this one:

 The next night, Washington, Paine, Lincoln, Cobb, and several soldiers were ferried out to a scow stationed near the mill dam. Each member of the “research team” had a job to do. The soldiers stirred the river bottom with poles while Washington and Paine, positioned at opposite ends of the scow, held lighted parchments a few inches above the surface of the water to ignite whatever substance emerged from the mud. The results, as described by Paine, were clear:

When the mud at the bottom was disturbed by the poles, the air bubbles rose fast, and I saw the fire take from General Washington’s light and descend from thence to the surface of the water, in a similar manner as when a lighted candle is held so as to touch the smoke of a candle just blown out, the smoke will take fire, and the fire will descend and light up the candle. This was demonstrative evidence that what was called setting the river on fire was setting on fire the inflammable air that arose out of the mud.




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