In the 1970s and 80s, the proposed Wagon Wheel Project would have used underground nuclear devices to obtain natural gas outside of Pinedale, Wyoming. The project was stopped before it ever began.
To extract the gas, engineers would have placed a nuclear cylinder, one foot in diameter and several feet long, into a well 12,000 feet deep.
Next, the engineers would fire five detonations at various depths in the well.
The explosions would cause fractures that radiated outward from the well of the surrounding rock – creating a wagon wheel shape.
Project Wagon Wheel almost made Pinedale, Wyoming the nation’s largest natural gas supplier.
The Project was stopped before it began due to environmental impact reports, local protests, and concerns about structural damage, and radiation.
You can learn more about the proposed Project Wagon Wheel and the backlash in the Wagon Wheel Information Committee records at UW’s American Heritage Center.