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Did You Know: El Paso Natural Gas Line Extended Into Phoenix
This natural resource was brought into the Valley during the Great Depression, and when it arrived it was a one of a kind.
It was the 1930s, and the country was dealing with a financial crisis. In the Southwest, including Arizona, something else was developing — natural gas.
Did you know the El Paso Natural Gas Line came all the way into the Valley?
“El Paso Natural Gas Company. They were established in 1929 to construct a pipeline between Giles, New Mexico, which was heart of the Permian Base, to El Paso, which was one of the only cities in Texas at the time that did not have natural gas.”
Thomas Jones is a historic archaeologist who has done extensive research on this natural gas line named after the company that created it.
“With the onset of the Great Depression after their successful installation, they had no choice but to expand in order to survive as a company and keep their employees employed," said Jones. 'So they expanded a line to Douglas for another hundred miles, well, actually I think it was about 125 miles or so.”
Jones said by 1934 the El Paso Natural Gas Line was extended northwest from Douglas to Phoenix for about 220 miles. This gas path was identified as the 1007 line.
“From Douglas it went through Cochise County, through Tombstone, and then it continued west into Pima County into Tucson pretty much following the I-10 corridor up into Phoenix. I think the main entrance is on 48th Street.”
Walking along 48th Street just south off Baseline Road in Phoenix is the El Paso Natural Gas Line district office. This is the general area where the 1007 line ended. The natural gas that was transmitted here was sold to residents and businesses.
“At the time they only had limited electricity, but with natural gas they had a whole new form. So, yeah, it did represent a real step, a real advance in the residential development of Phoenix.”
There are remnants of the El Paso Natural Gas Line throughout the state. One in particular is in Tempe. On Rural Road, south of Baseline, is a bike and pedestrian walkway that leads into a nearby park. This path is named after the line because below it is a sub-line that branched from the main gas line.
“Natural gas is still an important energy source in the Unites States and especially in the last decade. Yeah, I don’t think natural gas pipelines are going away any time soon.”
Jones said in his research he discovered that the El Paso Natural Gas Line in Arizona was built by Arizonans. Remember, this was the 1930s during the depression. Jones said local union, political and business leaders pressured the natural gas company not to use machines but hire locals. As the line was being built from county to county, about 1,000 men in each area were hired along to the way to build it.