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Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:02 PM

 

North Dakota Went Boom

By CHIP BROWN
The New York Times
January 31, 2013

Long before the full frenzy of the boom, you could see its harbingers at the Mountrail County courthouse in Stanley, N.D. Geologists had pored over core samples and log signatures and had made their educated guesses, and now it was the hour of the “landmen,” the men and women whose job was to dig through courthouse books for the often-tangled history of mineral title and surface rights.

Apart from a few fanatics who sometimes turned up at midnight, the landmen would begin arriving at the courthouse around 6 a.m. In the dead of winter, it would still be dark and often 20 or 30 below zero, and because the courthouse didn’t open until 7:30, the landmen would leave their briefcases outside the entrance, on the steps, in the order they arrived. And then they would go back to their cars and trucks to wait with the engines running, their faces wreathed in coffee steam. Sometimes there were more than 20 briefcases filed on the courthouse steps. The former landman who told me this — Brent Brannan, now director of the North Dakota Oil and Gas Research Program — said he sometimes thought he could see the whole boom in that one image, briefcases waiting for the day to start, and it killed him a little that he never took a picture.

For many years North Dakota has been a frontier — not the classic 19th-century kind based on American avarice and the lure of opportunity in unsettled lands, but the kind that comes afterward, when a place has been stripped bare or just forgotten because it was a hard garden that no one wanted too much to begin with, and now it has reverted to the wilderness that widens around dying towns. In a way, of course, this kind of frontier is as much a state of mind as an actual place, a melancholy mood you can’t shake as you drive all day in a raw spring rain with nothing but fence posts and featureless cattle range for company thinking, Is this all there is? until finally you get out at some windswept intersection and gratefully fall on the fellowship of a dog-faced bar with a jukebox of songs about people on their way to somewhere else.

All of which may explain the shock of coming around a bend and suddenly finding a derrick illuminated at night, or a gas flare framed by stars, or dozens of neatly ranked trailers in a “man camp,” or a vast yard of drill pipe, or a herd of water trucks, or tracts of almost-finished single-family homes with Tyvek paper flapping in the wind of what just yesterday was a wheat field. North Dakota has had oil booms before but never one so big, never one that rivaled the land rush precipitated more than a century ago by the transcontinental railroads, never one that so radically changed the subtext of the Dakota frontier from the Bitter Past That Was to the Better Future That May Yet Be.

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/magazine/north-dakota-went-boom.html

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Reply North Dakota Went Boom (Original post)
UnrepentantLiberal Feb 2013 OP
Arctic Dave Feb 2013 #1
UnrepentantLiberal Feb 2013 #2
Arctic Dave Feb 2013 #3
DURHAM D Feb 2013 #5
DURHAM D Feb 2013 #4

Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:34 PM

1. What's with the oilfield romaticism?

 

Do you work in North Dakota?

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Response to Arctic Dave (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:40 PM

2. Huh?

 

It's a New York Times article talking about the North Dakota oil boom that I found interesting. Do you think posting an excerpt from the article on DU makes me part of a conspiracy?

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Reply #2)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:45 PM

3. LOL, Conspiracy?

 

What I find interesting is the way this guy tries to portray the enviromentally damaging and shortsided drilling in ND as some kind of romantic achievement.

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Response to Arctic Dave (Reply #3)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:58 PM

5. I agree that the writer was generally more focused

on short term boom than long term problems. For example, he focused on the current damage to the roads but ignored the likelihood of destroying much of the land for agriculture use.

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:48 PM

4. Good read - thanks for posting.

I grew up in an oil patch.

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