LPG industry’s beginnings marked in PFA profiles

April 2, 2021 By    

The chemist who discovered the properties of propane in 1910 and the site marking the very first LP gas installation two years later give this month’s Propane Fuels America (PFA) series a historical feel.

Walter O. Snelling hailed from Allentown, Pennsylvania, one of three states – with New Jersey and New York – profiled on the ensuing pages. His American Gasol Co. helped to establish the first domestic user of propane – for lighting and cooking at a farmhouse near Waterford, Pennsylvania.

How Snelling would react today knowing the Keystone State is among the top 10 for propane gallon sales, we’ll never know. He died in 1965.

But his story will forever be part of the industry’s long history, which is captured in a “propane and energy” exhibit at the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The museum explores the role of America’s industrial achievements and accomplishments. Visitors follow the century-long history of the propane industry by participating in a series of interactive exercises that includes a virtual hot air balloon ride.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey are also home to the nation’s largest and third-largest propane retailers, respectively, with AmeriGas and Suburban Propane. AmeriGas, which sells more than 1 billion gallons annually, is based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Suburban Propane, at over 400 million gallons, is in Whippany, New Jersey.

New York, meanwhile, joins Pennsylvania in the Top 10 for gallon sales. Based in Rye Brook, New York, Paraco Gas maintains a presence in all three PFA states, where it’s seeing opportunities to grow its nontraditional propane business. This includes an increased demand for barbecue fueling needs, patio heat and pool heat. The company also describes its growth of new generator business in New York as shocking.

Map image: Kolonko/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

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