On the derrick, a crew of three push the drill bit deeper towards paydirt.

A length of pipe is retrieved from the squirrel cage at the top of the rig, lowered to the captured and clamped pipe at the top of the hole. The new length of pipe is screwed onto the top of the pipe coming out of the hole by two men using chains. The tool pusher touches a gear when hands are clear and down drilling continues.

Drilling in the continental U.S., hasn’t changed much in a hundred years. The derricks now are built from steel instead of wood, the drill bits are sharper and last longer, there is electricity instead of whale oil lamps. Drilling is quicker and there are more tests to determine if a well will be profitable.There are improved methods of extracting oil from your discoveries. There are more environmental regulations. The men on the derrick are rough and tumble pickup driving young men with crazy habits and a bucket of problems. Most of these men have too many girlfriends, too many kids, too many addictions, and not big enough paychecks. 

When the price of oil drops, drilling drops and small towns like Benkleman suffer. Much of the employment here is in the oil fields and state revenues are buoyed by taxes on each barrel of oil brought out of the ground. When the price of oil increases, good times roll. Few youngsters stay on the farm, remain in little dots on the road map in fly over states. They follow jobs to the city.. Around Benkleman, oil and agriculture is all there is.

Seeing a new pair of boots in the driller’s shack is comforting. The country still needs energy, unpopular as the idea is to some. 

You can’t learn the oil business from books, you don’t find oil if you don ‘t drill., and doing what your dad does is natural.

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