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Canadian Pacific Langevin Number 1 & 2 Gas Wells

Alderson, Near

Other Names:
Alderson CPR 1 and Alderson CPR 2 Wells
Alderson Gas Wells
Alderson Natural Gas Discovery Well
Langevin Discovery Well
Langevin Discovery Wells
Natural Gas Discovery Well

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The site of Canadian Pacific Langevin Number 1 and 2 Gas Wells is a railway siding north of the former town of Alderson, part of a legal subdivision on the Canadian Pacific Railway (C.P.R.) line approximately 58 kilometres west of Medicine Hat.

Heritage Value
The Canadian Pacific Langevin Number 1 and 2 Gas Wells are significant as the site of the discovery of natural gas in Alberta (and possibly Canada).

In December 1883, natural gas was discovered accidentally at Langevin when a C.P.R. drilling crew in search of water drilled Well No. 1. Water supplies were scarce on the prairies but essential to the completion of the rail line: for work crews, new townsites along the line, and most importantly, the steam engines. Drilling wells also provided the Geological Survey of Canada with data on the shallow geomorphology of the area. In 1884, No. 2 was the first well drilled in Alberta for the express purpose of using natural gas as a fuel.

After 1900 settlers disregarded the C.P.R.'s planned townsite north of the main rail line, where the wells were located, in favour of land south of the rail line which was closer to a water supply; water was more pressing a need for farmers than an unproven kind of energy. Later, however, natural gas proved to be a cheap, efficient, reliable source of energy, and was integral to the development of industry and manufacturing (notably of ceramics, i.e. brick and tile) in southern Alberta.

Well No. 2 demonstrated amazing longevity for such an early discovery. Continued leakage prompted concerns about possible explosions until both wells were permanently capped in 1954, although natural gas is still produced from the same Milk River formation.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 612)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Canadian Pacific Langevin Number 1 and 2 Gas Wells include such features as:
- two wells, approximately 2.4 metres (8 feet) apart, 3.6 metres (12 feet) north of tracks, underground, marked by a commemorative cairn erected by PanCanadian Petroleum Ltd.;
- portion of railway siding on which gas wells are located.


Street Address:
Community: Alderson, Near
Boundaries: Portion of Legal Subdivision 3, Section 29, Township 15, Range 10, West of the Fourth Meridian as shown on plan dated 14 October 1980 by All Can Engineering and Surveys (1976) Ltd.
Contributing Resources: Structures: 2

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
3 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
50.282656 -111.347401 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1981/12/16

Historical Information

Significant Date(s) 1883 To 1954
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Extraction and Production
Historic Function(s): Industry : Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site
Current Function(s):

In December of 1883, a drilling crew under contract to the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Company drilled a well for water at Langevin siding when they encountered natural gas. In January 1884, the gas caught fire and destroyed the derrick and injured two men. Later in 1884, a second well was sunk, using gas from the first to fire the boiler. This second well, commonly known as 'No. 2 Langevin', was placed on production in the fall of 1884. The well was abandoned in the mid 1930s due to seepage and was permanently capped in 1954. Langevin No. 2 was the first well drilled in Alberta for the express purpose of utilizing natural gas as a fuel and signalled the beginning of the ceramic industry in southern Alberta.

Site Data Form (October 23, 1980)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0120
Designation File: DES 0612
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 32294
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 612)
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