acres are being restored to wetlands,
thanks to the Limberlost Swamp Remembered project.
This region flourished in the late 1800s primarily
because of the gas boom. Natural gas was discovered in 1886
in Eaton, just north of Muncie. Soon, nineteen counties, most
of them in the east central region, were growing exponentially.
More than 300 factories were built, thrusting this largely
rural area into manufacturing and industry.
Everyone assumed that the gas existed in limitless
quantities and allowed the gas to burn continually. Giant
flambeaux, or torches of burning gas, would shoot 100 feet
into the air; in Hartford City, fifty million cubic feet
of gas escaped from a gusher every day. But in 1903,
thanks to such incredible wastefulness, the gas supply ran
out and the boom was over. Nevertheless, Muncie, which had
been dubbed "the Birmingham of the North" by this
time, was considered by sociologists in the 1920s to be the
"typical" American city. Its reputation as "Middletown"—representative
of most American towns— persists today.
Le Roy Oliver