Working the Oil Fields During an Earlier Boom
In our almost 60 years of marriage, Bess and I have lived in most of the United States. We have some great memories of these places. Except for being cold and windy, we probably loved Wyoming most.
We purchased a home near the foot of Casper Mountain in Casper and for days we would have to have a policeman guide us home. Because of the North Platte River dividing the city, we had a problem finding our way home daily. This was before GPS.
I trained in sales at George E. Failing Company in Enid, Okla., and then transferred to Casper, Wyo., as a field salesperson. I traveled one quarter of Wyoming each week to Yellowstone Park, Jackson Hole, Devils Tower and Hot Springs. There weren’t many water well drillers in Wyoming at that time.
I was promised a cost of living increase, and after six months writing and calling the sales manager in Enid, he fired me and told me to find a job elsewhere. The next day I found a job that paid $400 per month more, and provided a new company truck and a mobile phone. I covered the same general area as before, except that I was calling on oil rigs. I wasn’t required to sell anything; my job was to have invoices signed by the tool pusher on the rigs.
I had the opportunity to stay the night in Medicine Bow, Wyo., at The Virginian hotel, a famous hotel built in 1911. It’s seen in many cowboy movies and thought to be named after the book “The Virginian,” by Owen Wister (which was written in Medicine Bow).
In my sales calls, I was able to visit the Old Faithful geyser. It shoots hot-water eruptions on a consistent schedule. The Old Faithful Lodge is nearby. It’s the largest log-constructed building that I have ever seen.
Some of these oil rigs were miles apart and off the highways. Sometimes, I would travel 70 miles down a dirt road and sometimes across or down a dry river bed for miles to a rig just to see the tool pusher to get invoices signed. If they weren’t there, I’d try to catch them the next time.
Many times, I’d come across herds of antelope grazing. Driving through the herd, they would usually continue grazing. But the instant I stopped, they would take off running, either jumping barbed wire fences or sliding under the fence — never missing a step.
Other times, I’d encounter herds of wild horses running in the dry river beds. Many times, I’d race them. They can run in excess of 30 miles per hour.
On weekends, we would take our Amphicar (boat car) to Alcova Lake. We became quite famous driving our Amphicar in and out the boat ramp and in the lake. Even the park rangers seemed to enjoy looking it over.
In the winter, we enjoyed snowmobiling and tubing in designated places on Casper Mountain.
I loved the travels and then, all at once, oil drilling stopped, businesses closed, people were laid off and shortly almost a third of the homes were for sale. Many people just loaded up and left the state. We left thinking we would return when drilling picked up again. Oil drilling didn’t pick up for many years. We decided then to never be involved in oil drilling again.
We moved to Pennsylvania to manage a water well business for a time and then we moved to Virginia Beach, where we have been for 30 years. The weather here is tolerable and we love our home. We plan to stay here the rest of our days.
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