Episodes of explosion

Gas bubbles up through a water-filled trench around the McCallion well, at the edge of a hay field, in Hartford Township, Ohio. (Matt Chasney photo

I don’t know what our little corner of Appalachia did to anger the universe, but obviously, it was something pretty serious.

In the last few months, things just keep blowing up. First, there was the railroad disaster of international proportions. A whole train just left the tracks, tumbled over and burst into flames.

This evacuated a whole town. Notice, I always say “railroad disaster” and not “insert name of town” disaster. This is because the town didn’t cause the problem — the railroad did. I think it’s important to keep accountability, front and center.

Gas well

Now, five months later, a gas well began leaking because a truck backed into it — which seems strange since aren’t those things pretty BIG? Did someone just not see it there? Did it jump out in front of the truck?

Anyway, it broke down or off or something like that? No one’s quite sure. I mean I’m sure someone is sure. I certainly hope so. Those of us on the outside of the bubble aren’t.

I like to call this incident “what if you threw an evacuation and nobody actually left?” I know they meant well with the evacuation order. Better safe than sorry. The first responders dutifully opened a nearby school to house the evacuees. Last I heard, absolutely no one showed up. Rural people are just a different breed. I don’t know if we are just jaded, trusting or simply tired.

The truth is it is exceedingly difficult to evacuate livestock. You think people don’t want to leave domestic pets behind? That also goes for cows, horses, pigs, goats, sheep and chickens. Maybe not roosters though. They can be jerks.

As the news spread that there was a damaged gas well and a leak of unknown proportions, events had the potential to be serious and scary. Yet in my corner of the world, residents seemed resigned.

I feel like a few years ago, this news would’ve been a lot more exciting. Now, we’re just all checking our phones for updates like we are waiting for the next episode in an increasingly outlandish television series — the kind where you know the writers are desperate for ratings, and you can only say “look this isn’t even BELIEVABLE.”

It’s been pandemic, explosion, followed by more potential explosion. At this moment, I think of our state’s governor. This isn’t a political essay. He seems like a nice guy. His wife is absolutely adorable.

I just wonder if in quiet moments (as if he has any), he turns to whatever friend suggested he run for governor and says, “Run for Governor you said? “How hard could it be?”


For ages, Ohio seemed like a fairly easygoing state. It is just a lot of green grass and farm fields, some fun urban areas, a plethora of state parks, pretty trees, snow sports, water sports, pro sports, a few Halls of Fame.

The state was known for producing more than its fair share of astronauts and presidents. It probably seemed to be a pretty safe bet that being governor of a state like Ohio wasn’t the worst gig you could land. Then, we had a pandemic. Trains exploded. Now, gas wells are exploding.

I realize every region has its share of disasters, trials and tribulations. I just think ours has been particularly DRAMATIC about it as of late. I’m keeping my emergency alerts active, and I’m also just going to keep praying on it — just in case a plague of locusts is some sort of season finale.


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Kymberly Foster Seabolt lives in rural Appalachia with the always popular Mr. Wonderful, two small dogs, one large cat, two wandering goats, and a growing extended family.



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