Natural gas, so called as it is naturally occurring rather than being man-made, has been piped in small volumes over short distances in the US for street lighting since the 1820s. Manufactured gas, produced by processing coal in gas works, was carried out a few years earlier. Both natural and manufactured gas were used on small scale street lighting.
It took a massive discovery on November 3, 1878 in Murrysville, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to bring natural gas to widespread industrial and home use. The well was drilled by the Haymaker brothers.
Obediah ("Obe") Haymaker was murdered for the discovery. His brother, Michael, lived to tell the tale. The well is now forgotten, almost.
(click photo to enlarge - The plaque placed on a boulder at the well site in 1961 incorrectly refers to Michael Haymaker as Matthew. The name Michael is confirmed from multiple published sources, including the 1880s New York Times.)
Obe and Michael had been looking for oil. They had seen a neighbor using gas emerging naturally from a creek (usually a good indicator of oil) as a fuel to boil down maple syrup. To the Haymakers' disappointment they stumbled upon natural gas alone, which is more difficult to transport than oil and thus to this day trades at a discount.
Natural gas emerged uncontrolled from the Haymaker well for three years. As the capital-starved brothers were trying to finance, and later sell the well, it caught fire and burned for a further year.
Visitors from all over the US, including President Grover Cleveland, came to see the fire. Finally, after four years, the well was tamed. Pipes were constructed to bring natural gas the 18 miles to steel producing city, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Most steel plants at that time used coal. This was the first industrial scale use of natural gas in the US. Air quality in Pittsburgh improved dramatically.
Apart from a boulder covered by a tree (see the photos above and below I took on a recent visit) in the backyard of a house (the precise location is oddly incorrect on both Google and Bing maps - the correct location is here), there is little marking the place: the site of riots; the murder of one of the wells discoverers; and the fuel that to this day powers a large portion of US and global electricity generation as well as cooking stoves, home heating, and a large part of the future of transportation.