The park land is the former estate of George Westinghouse, an American entrepreneur and engineer, and his wife Marguerite. With an area of about 10 acres, it was the site of his mansion known as Solitude. At this house, Westinghouse worked with his engineers, including Nikola Tesla, and entertained notable people of the day, including scientist William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), and congressman and later president William McKinley. Close by was another building, a carriage house, that housed his private laboratory in the basement. There, he developed some of his residential electric lighting technology, installing a generator and running cables to the main house, with wires that were left exposed on the interior walls, so as not to cut into the woodwork. Also there, Westinghouse invented methods to control and transmit natural gas for both industrial and residential consumers. In the winter of 1883/1884, seeking a source of natural gas in his own "back yard," Westinghouse ordered drilling on his estate. When gas was struck on May 22, 1884, a blowout resulted in the uncontrolled release of gas for about a week. Westinghouse devised a way to cap the well. An illumination test was conducted by igniting the gas jet at the top of a tall pipe. It initially produced a 100 foot flame that illuminated a mile-wide area to a brightness sufficient to read a newspaper. This well was designated as "Westinghouse Well No. 1" or "Old No. 1" to distinguish it from several other wells that were drilled in the area. Eventually, several natural gas derricks towered above the estate's Victorian gardens. In modern times there is no above-ground trace left of these derricks.
Copyright: CC 3.0