Enron grew out of two companies

Published March 1, 2002|Updated Sept. 2, 2005

Question: I've seen conflicting information about when Enron was founded. One article said 1985, another "in the 1920s."

Answer: Enron traces its history through two well-established natural gas companies: InterNorth and Houston Natural Gas.

InterNorth began in 1930 as Northern Natural Gas, a gas pipeline company based in Omaha, Neb. By 1950 it had doubled capacity, and in 1960 it started processing and transporting natural gas liquids. The company was renamed InterNorth in 1980 and bought Belco Petroleum three years later.

Houston Natural Gas, formed in 1925 as a South Texas gas distributor, started developing oil and gas properties in 1953. It bought Houston Pipe Line Co. in 1956 and Valley Gas Production in 1963.

HNG sold its original distribution properties to Entex in 1976. In 1984, faced with a hostile takeover attempt by Coastal Corp., HNG brought in former Exxon executive Kenneth Lay as chief executive officer. He refocused HNG on natural gas and added Transwestern Pipeline (California) and Florida Gas Transmission.

In 1985, InterNorth bought HNG for $2.4-billion, creating the nation's largest natural gas pipeline system. Lay became CEO of the new company, called Enron, and the company moved its headquarters from Omaha to Houston.

Support for an injured actor

Question: A recent article mentioned a benefit for injured actor and reader of books-on-tape Frank Muller. Is there an address to which Muller's fans can send contributions to the medical fund?

Answer: Checks can be sent to the Wavedancer Foundation, 44 Kane Ave., Larchmont, NY 10538. On the check, write: the Frank Muller Fund.

Muller, a husky-voiced actor considered one of the superstar readers of books on tape, sustained such debilitating injuries in a motorcycle accident Nov. 5 in Los Angeles that he may never be able to resume his professional career.

A classically trained actor, Muller has read books on tape ranging from works by Stephen King and John le Carre to Shakespeare and Herman Melville.

Rockaway crash update

Question: Is there an update on the investigation into the airplane that crashed in a suburb of New York City some time after Sept. 11?

Answer: The plane, American Airlines Flight 587, crashed in Belle Harbor in the Rockaway Beach section of Queens on Nov. 12. Investigation into the cause is continuing.

The National Transportation Safety Board is issuing a series of updates into its investigation, posting them online at

Dozens of American Airlines pilots, meanwhile, are asking their company to ground its fleet of Airbus A300 jets until investigators determine the cause of the crash.

The pilots contend that visual inspections of the planes' tails, which have been ordered by the Federal Aviation Administration, aren't adequate to determine hidden flaws in the tails, which are made of a nonmetallic composite material.

The airline said it sees no need to stop flying the Airbus.

Giuliani's radiation

Question: What treatment was used for Rudy Giuliani's prostate cancer?

Answer: In consultation with his doctors, Giuliani chose radiation therapy instead of surgery to remove the prostate. He had announced in April 2000 that he had prostate cancer "in an early, treatable form."

Blood tests made two weeks before Giuliani's announcement had indicated possible evidence of cancer, with a biopsy confirming the diagnosis.

In September 2000, radioactive seeds _ 90 titanium metal pellets, each the size of a grain of rice _ were implanted in his prostate. About eight weeks later, he began a five-week regimen of external beam radiation at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center. He also received hormone injections.

Carrie Hamilton's death

Question: Carrie Hamilton, Carol Burnett's daughter, died recently of cancer. Do you know what kind?

Answer: Hamilton, 38, who died Jan. 20 was diagnosed with lung cancer in August. In November, the cancer had spread to her brain, causing her to have seizures.

One of Burnett's three daughters by the late producer Joe Hamilton, Carrie Hamilton was an actor, musician and writer, who generated headlines in the 1980s when she spoke about her drug addiction and subsequent decision to go drug-free.

The family said services were private and asked any memorial donations be sent to the American Lung Association, 5858 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048.

Have a question about the news? Colin Bessonette will try to get an answer. Call (404) 222-2002 or write to him at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, P.O. Box 4689, Atlanta, GA 30302, or e-mail him at q&