Luling: Texas-style Promised Land

Luling is conveniently located in the heart of Texas at the crossroads of US 90 and 183, Texas 80 and 86, and Interstate 10. Less than an hour from San Antonio and Austin, Luling sits at the southern edge of Caldwell County.

‘Cow Jumping Over Moon’ is located in a field on Pierce Street. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
‘Cow Jumping Over Moon’ is located in a field on Pierce Street. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located on the banks of the San Marcos River, about 45 miles south of Austin, Luling has all the elements of the perfect Texan small town—historic buildings, great barbecue, quirky history, viable downtown, lively harvest festival, a noon whistle, vintage stop signs, and eclectic shopping.

A friendly, quiet central Texas community, rich in history and Texas pride, Luling is renowned for its barbecue, rich oil history, decorated pump jacks, fresh produce and plants, abundant watermelons, and Texas’ first inland canoe paddling trail on the San Marcos River.

Entering Luling from Interstate 10, you’ll notice the world’s largest watermelon rising up 154 feet from a melon patch. Never mind that this impressive specimen is made of steel and comprises the tank portion of the town’s water tower. The horizontal green and white stripes combine with the shape of the 56-foot-diameter storage tank, to create a great watermelon effect.

However, there’s more. The center of this rural town lies along railroad tracks where oil field workers first pitched their tents—and freight trains continue to rattle on through.

This is Texas as it used to be!

Old oil pump jacks around town are decorated with quirky plywood paintings of animals and a variety of characters—a cow jumping over the moon, a shark, see saw kids, and a yokel devouring a large slice of watermelon. Most of the wells are still active, sucking up black gold under people’s lawns, in local parks, and near businesses and train tracks.

In 1922, Edgar B. Davis brought in Rafael Rios #1, which proved to be one of the most significant oil fields ever discovered in Texas. Perhaps his greatest legacy was the discovery of the Edwards Lime. It set off vigorous exploration to find the lucrative shallow production. Almost overnight, Luling was transformed from a railroad town of 500 to an oil boom town of 5,000. By 1924, the field was producing 11 million barrels of oil per year.

Experience life in old Luling at Zedler Mill Park and Cotton Gin—a turn of the century Cotton Gin—on the banks of the beautiful San Marcos River. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Experience life in old Luling at Zedler Mill Park and Cotton Gin—a turn of the century Cotton Gin—on the banks of the beautiful San Marcos River. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Over 180 producing wells have been drilled within the city limits alone! Three major oil fields surround the town.

The Walker Bros. Building also houses also houses the Luling Area Chamber of Commerce where you can pick up a map and brochures about the Pump-Jack tour, historic sites, and other attractions.

Also worth a visit is Zedler Mill, a local museum, park, meeting place, and swimming hole that sits right on the San Marcos River. This agricultural treasure was built in 1874 and originally included a sawmill, a grist mill, and a cotton gin. Today the Zedler Mill complex consists of the 1900 Fritz Zedler home and seven other structures on nine acres. It makes for Luling’s best place to picnic, swim, rope swing, and jump into the refreshing river below.

During our annual visits to this central Texan town, we use RiverBend RV Park and Campground as our home base. A Passport America park, RiverBend is a scenic 40-acre park located on the banks of the San Marcos River. With plenty of space to walk the pets and enjoy the beauty of nature, RiverBend RV park offers a relaxing get-away. Also, it’s easy-on, easy-off Interstate 10 at exit 628 (Highway 80). The campground is located on-eighth mile north on Highway 80. Reservations are advised.

While oil still flows in Luling, meats and melons have created a boom of their own. And as long as these delicious resources stay plentiful, we will continue to make our tasty pilgrimage to this Texas-style promised land.

Experience life in old Luling at Zedler Mill Park and Cotton Gin—a turn of the century Cotton Gin—on the banks of the beautiful San Marcos River. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Experience life in old Luling at Zedler Mill Park and Cotton Gin—a turn of the century Cotton Gin—on the banks of the beautiful San Marcos River. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Please Note: This is Part 4 of a 4-Part article

Part 1: Luling: Barbecue Central

Part 2: Luling: Texas Black Gold

Part 3: Luling: Sixty-One Years of Thumpin’

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

More words of wisdom from an Oklahoma Cowboy

Will Rogers was quite the cowboy, with all the wisdom of simple, honest folk. His words still ring with common sense today…
Will Rogers, who died in a 1935 plane crash with his best friend, Wylie Post, was probably the greatest political sage the country ever has known.
Enjoy the following:
10. If you’re riding’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.
11. Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier’n puttin’ it back.
12. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.

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Luling: Texas Black Gold

Barbecue sauce isn’t the only valuable liquid flowing in Luling. The town is dotted with oil pumps that still move the Texas black gold from the ground.

The Central Texas Oil Patch Museum pays tribute to the area’s oil industry. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Central Texas Oil Patch Museum pays tribute to the area’s oil industry. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once known as “the toughest town in Texas”, Luling was established in 1874 as the far western stop of the Sunset Branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The developing importance of the town as a cattle-raising center, combined with the importance of the railroad as a shipping point, allowed the town to grow and prosper. Being the northern terminus of a freight road to Chihuahua, Mexico added to its stature.

As the cattle drives to the railroad head decreased, Luling survived by turning to its rich soil and hardy folk. Luling came to be known throughout the region as an agriculture center with cotton, corn, and turkeys as its principal products.

Cotton ruled the local economy until the momentous year of 1922.

On August 9th of that year, Edgar B. Davis’ Rafael Rios No.1 blew in, opening an oilfield 12 miles long and two miles wide. The Rios No. 1 proved to be a part of one of the most significant fields discovered in the Southwest.

Thousands of oil field workers descended upon the little community. They filled every available room and constructed a tent city, called Rag Town, along the railroad tracks. By 1924, the field was producing 11 million barrels of oil per year.

Almost overnight, the railroad town of Luling went from a population of 500 to an oil-boom town of 5,000 people. Tents filled every vacant area as roughnecks and their families set-up housekeeping. Work was hard and living even harder, but the dream that unfolded was a microcosm of Texas history-a time when a community of farmers and their families responded to the coming of the railroad, only to have their lives changed forever by the discovery of oil.

The Oil Patch Museum shares the history and illustrates the life and times of the Central Texas "Oil Boom in the Oil Patch". © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Oil Patch Museum shares the history and illustrates the life and times of the Central Texas “Oil Boom in the Oil Patch”. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Davis went on to become Luling’s resident philanthropist and established an agricultural foundations that continues to this day.

We stopped by the Central Texas Oil Patch Museum to explore the history of Luling during its early oil boom days.

To preserve the memories of Luling and honor the rich heritage, the Central Texas Oil Patch Museum was established in the historic Walker Brothers building located in the heart of the downtown business district.

This beautifully restored building is an historic landmark in itself. Established in 1885, it was a mercantile store, a place where cotton was financed and traded. One of the first buildings constructed in Luling, it played a central role in the town’s social fabric.

The spacious, two-story structure now showcases early oil-field machinery and memorabilia, displays of photographs that date back to 1910, and a scale replica of an old wooden oil derrick. The Oil Tank Theater presents a 20-minute film about Luling’s colorful history and current attractions.

The Oil Patch Museum is dedicated to the collection, restoration, and preservation of historic oil producing methods, accessories, and the people of the industry. Established to share the history with the public, the museum illustrates the life and times of the Central Texas “Oil Boom in the Oil Patch”.

The museum shows the contrast of the tools and technology of the past with those utilized in the oil industry today. This collection traces the development of the oil industry, from the first strike in the nation to the social and economic impact on Central Texas.

The museum strives to demonstrate the struggles between the men and women who were the oil field pioneers and to create a better understanding of the process of oil exploration and production.

The Museum is a focal point of tourist traffic, with the Luling Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center located at its entrance. The facility also serves as a community hall where meetings, seminars, and entertainment are conducted for the benefit of the citizens.

The center of Luling lies along railroad tracks where oil field workers first pitched their tents—and freight trains continue to rattle on through. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The center of Luling lies along railroad tracks where oil field workers first pitched their tents—and freight trains continue to rattle on through. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are almost two hundred oil well pump jacks within the city limits of Luling.

No industrial eyesores for this progressive community. The creative and artistic residents have  created moveable art to decorate many of the wells along the highways and byways. The pump jacks are decorated as everything from an airplane to an orca and a football player to a cow jumping over the moon..

A map of the Pump Jack Tour is available at the Chamber.

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 4-Part article

Part 1: Luling: Barbecue Central

Part 3: Luling: Sixty-One Years of Thumpin’

Part 4: Luling: Texas-style Promised Land

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

More words of wisdom from an Oklahoma Cowboy

Will Rogers was quite the cowboy, with all the wisdom of simple, honest folk. His words still ring with common sense today…
Will Rogers, who died in a 1935 plane crash with his best friend, Wylie Post, was probably the greatest political sage the country ever has known.
Enjoy the following:
4. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
5. Always drink upstream from the herd.
6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

Read More

North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

About seven months ago I reported that a group of Minnesota partners were planning an indoor RV park to house North Dakota oilfield workers five miles south of Watford City, North Dakota.

North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold
North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

When initially proposed, the idea prompted mixed reactions.

“So many people thought we were crazy,” Louis Bonneville of Carlton, Minnesota, one of the park’s owners, told the Forum News Service.

But for workers like John Coffer, who spent North Dakota winter months in his RV and once got stuck inside when the door froze, the option to move his camper indoors was a pleasant change.

“It’s nice to step out of your RV and not step into a pile of snow,” said Coffer, a natural gas plant operator.

The North Dakota Indoor RV Park recently expanded and the owners have turned down offers to replicate the concept elsewhere, said Bonneville, the park’s managing partner.

The park consists of 10 insulated and climate-controlled buildings which house 24 RVs in each building. Each building consists of eight bays, with three RV pads per bay, three overhead doors, and two service entry doors. All doors are locked for the security of the tenants.

North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold
North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

Each tenant has two parking spaces with electrical hookups in front of their overhead door.
The buildings are sectioned into eight bays for fire protection, carbon monoxide and smoke detection, climate control, air exchanger ventilation, safety, and security. The interior walls and ceiling of the buildings are insulated for the year around comfort of the tenants.

Each bay is heated with a hanging electric heater. The insulated buildings remain cool in the summer, and the ventilation allows tenants to operate their RV air conditioner. The bays are lit with halogen lighting.

Standard water, sewer, electric, and gas hookups are available for each pad. An exhaust pipe is connected to the RV sewer vent. Utilities are all inclusive in the monthly rent. Phone and cable TV are available to each pad at tenant’s expense.

There is a commons building with outdoor patio and grilling area. Within the commons building there is a drop off/pick up laundry service, common gathering room with couches, recliners, flat screen TVs, vending machines, restrooms, management office, and on-site manager’s apartments.

North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold
North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

The ND Indoor RV Park concept is the only indoor RV Park in North Dakota and is approved by the ND Department of Health.

Eight of the buildings have been full for the past three months and two that were recently built to accommodate 41-foot RVs “are pretty much spoken for,” Bonneville told the Forum News Service.

The park did see some tenants leave during the summer, but some who tried to return as cold temperatures set in discovered that the park was full and they couldn’t get back in, Bonneville said.

Owners anticipate that next summer the facility will stay full so tenants don’t lose their spots. In addition, the park recently added 70 outdoor spots that will serve as a “holding area” while tenants are on a waiting list, Bonneville said.

The indoor park will save people the expense of insulating their campers and it will extend the life of their RV by protecting it from the elements, Bonneville said.

The park also does background checks on tenants and the buildings provide extra security.

Only fifth wheel and travel trailers are allowed in the RV Park. No motorhomes or campers are allowed per ND State code.

The RV Park can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet in length, and 12 feet 6 inches in height.

The ND Indoor RV Park is secluded from the traffic of Highway 85. We encourage everyone to stop by and see our site for themselves! You won’t be disappointed!

North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold
North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

Details

North Dakota Indoor RV Park

Lease Rates: May-October, $1,000-$1,200/month; November-April, $1,250-$1,450/month; outdoor sites, $900/month

Location: 5 miles south of Watford City; ½ mile east of Highway 85, with easy access via County Road 37.

Address: 2052 125th Ave NW, Watford City, ND 58854

Phone: (701) 260-3668

Website: ndindoorrvpark.com

Worth Pondering…

Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done.

—Rudolph Flesch

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Oilfield Workers Buy Up Bakken Tough Trailers

Camps for Bakken oilfield workers in North Dakota and Montana are dotted with fifth wheel trailers shielded with foam-board insulation and skirting and whatever else workers can muster to keep water pipes and waste tanks from freezing and to lower heating costs.

Dustin Bretz is shown with a super-insulated 34-foot work crew housing unit at Tour America RV Center. Many of the dealership’s RVs are headed to the Bakken oil field where the boom in jobs has created a severe housing shortage. (Source: Larry Mayer/Billings Gazette)

When Bakken oilfield workers come calling Dustin Bretz, salesman at Tour America RV Center in Billings, Montana, knows standard RVs aren’t going to cut it.

There’s camping rough and then there’s Bakken rough, living full time through the winter on the frozen prairie of North Dakota and Montana, where more than a few days of arctic weather are normal, Bretz told The Billings Gazette.

“Winter time can run as cold as 30 below zero, and a lot of RVs aren’t made for that.”

So Tour America started looking for one that could handle these harsh winter conditions and came up with a Camp Lodge, Work and Play fifth wheel custom built for the Bakken environment.

“These go relatively quickly,” Bretz said.

“It has 2 to 3 inches of spray foam on the lower chasse, heated water lines, and holding tanks. They have dual-pane windows, like your house. This is a niche product.”

In this July, 2011 photo, a man walks back to his temporary housing unit in a man camp outside of Williston, N.D. Many oilfield workers say sharing an RV beats living in a man camp any day. And, some of the oilfield work is done far from the nearest man camp, making super-insulated RVs or other manufactured housing a preferred choice. (Source: AP)

Bretz has the rugged trailers, which retail for about $34,000, parked north of his main lot in full view of eastbound Interstate 90, where semis loaded with drilling equipment and bentonite are streaming to the oil patch. His show-pony RVs are in Tour America’s corral, not so easily spotted from the freeway.

Housing of all kinds is scarce in the Bakken oilfield, where high-paying jobs have lured thousands of transient workers. Real homes are hard to come by, but so are campers and trailers. The running joke is that the oilfield holds the record for homeless people with $100,000 incomes. At a western North Dakota housing summit last spring, developers identified the need for 5,000 homes over the next two years.

That insatiable demand for housing of all kinds has become good business for Billings companies with products ready to sell. Pierce Homes now markets a modular model named for the Bakken and built by Commodore Homes. At Canadian-American Structured Solutions Inc. (CASS), the demand for oilfield housing drives a significant portion of the recently created company’s business.

“I would say the fallout from the Williston area is 25 percent of our business,” said Larry Nelson, CASS investor and CFO.

CASS, which set up shop in Billings only a few months ago, shipped a four-plex to Powers Lake, North Dakota, and created duplexes bound for Regina, Saskatchewan. The company has an apartment house building in Glendive and multiple accounts from Baker to Williston.

CASS builds its products to suit the building codes for permanent structures in whatever community to which its buildings are headed.

Bakken Reservoir fields in Williston Basin

Even businesses that don’t normally target the Bakken market are picking up customers, reports The Billings Gazette.

“We say we don’t sell single-wides, but we sell a bunch of these little cabins that are right around the $60,000 mark, the cost of a nice, fifth-wheel trailer,” said Jeff Lee, of American Homes.

Lee said American Homes in Billings has sold six of the 560-square-foot cabins since August. Not all of the buildings were Bakken bound, but he expects more will be sold into the oilfield in the future.

American sells a hunting cabin that’s a super-super insulated single-wide modular home with 6-inch walls and homelike features.

“This really is just a souped up single wide, but it has a good look and feel, laminate floors, residential doors and windows and furnaces.”

Lee said American Homes in Billings has sold six of the 560-square-foot cabins since August.

Worth Pondering…

I played as much golf as I could in North Dakota, but summer up there is pretty short.  It usually falls on Tuesday.

—Mike Morley

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: May 18

Since I like things to come in fives (and tens), here are five things YOU need to know TODAY!

1. RV Trip Wizard Available

RV Trip Wizard sample

RV Trip Wizard is a visual planning tool designed for RVers by RVers. Introduced at several Florida RV shows, it has received strong interest from a wide variety of RV owners, the developer announced.

Richard Hill, a partner in the company and long time RVer said, “A few years ago my wife and I made a 7,200 mile trip around the USA. It took us about two and one half weeks to do all the planning. That same trip can be planned in about 30 minutes using RV Trip Wizard.”

The wizard is accessible from all PCs, MACs, tablet computers, and smart phones. There is no software to buy, maintain, or update. A subscription includes a 15-day free trial and is available at rvtripwizard.com.

2. Outwell Offers Pack ‘n’ Go for RVers

Outwell Wayfarer 65 Jet Black Pack N Go Storage Bag

Bourne, UK-based camping brand Outwell has developed a range of storage solutions, the Pack ‘n’ Go collection, aimed at RV owners and campers, reports Out & About Live.

The Pack ’n’ Go collection replaces the storage boxes, grips, carrier bags, and other containers that are traditionally filled with camping gear ready for the big trip.

Using feedback from campers, the Outwell Research and Development team created the Pack ’n’ Go collection’s four ranges to address packing and storage problems associated with various outdoor scenarios:

  • Break Away collection of versatile multi-purpose storage bags
  • Day Away collection of Drift daypacks bags, Stash shoulder bags, and Coral and Coast beach/shopping bags
  • Safe Away collection of personal storage and travel safety items that range from wash bags to neck pillows
  • Cook Away collection of practical kitchen storage, coolbag, and water carrying products

For more information visit outwell.com.

3. Forest River’s Starcraft Bus Earns Ford Honor

Goshen, Indiana-based Starcraft Bus, a division of Forest River Inc., has been named Ford’s top volume pool account for the sixth consecutive year.

According to a news release, the manufacturer has purchased and sold more Ford E350/E450 bus chassis than any other bus maker in the United States.

“We look forward to our ongoing partnership with Ford as we move forward into the next decade,” said Starcraft Bus President David Wright.

Starcraft Bus services many markets, including hotels, churches, retirement centers, tour operators, and all aspects of public and private transportation. In addition to Ford, it also builds on GM and International chassis.

4. Oil Boom County Lifts RV Park Moratorium

Dunn County in western North Dakota will lift its crew camp moratorium June 1.

The Board of County Commissioners decided on Wednesday (May 16) that it will also ask the planning and zoning committee to set parameters on the number of beds and locations if different from what is stated in the zoning ordinance, The Dickinson Press reported.

“We need a place for these people to stay,” said Commissioner Tim Steffan. “If there is no place for these people to stay, they’re going to stay in all of these other places, but I think we need restrictions on them. Zero tolerance.”

Over the past year, Dunn County commissioners approved construction of six crew camps. Camps housing more than 1,000 oil workers are already in operation in Killdeer and Manning, small communities located north of Dickinson.

5. How to Locate a Dump Station?

RV owners periodically find themselves needing to locate an RV dump station.

This may be a result of dry camping with no sewer service or dump station available, spending the night at Wal-Mart or a truck stop or the weekend at a public recreation area without dumping facilities, or trying to get on the road quickly without taking the time to use the campground dump station.

Also affected are RVers that work on the road, tailgate at college and pro football games, NASCA races, agricultural fairs and exhibitions, dog shows, and other local and national events.

Finding an RV dump station along your route, near your destination, or in your home town can be a major challenge.

Click here to continue reading.

Have a great weekend.

Until next time, safe RV travels, and we’ll see you on the road!

Please Note: As a result of limited interest in “Five Things You Need to Know Today”, I’m planning on suspending this Friday feature at the end of May with next Friday, May 25 being the finale. If you wish to weigh in please leave your comment on my Facebook page.

Worth Pondering…

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would rather not.

—Thomas Jefferson

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Indoor RV Park Opening Soon

A family joke about living in an RV parked in a pole barn has led a Minnesota contractor to come up with a new housing solution for the Bakken Oil Patch: an indoor RV park.

Indoor RV park

Chad Lekander of Mahtowa, Minnesota, said he was researching possible business opportunities in North Dakota when he remembered his uncle’s idea to put an RV indoors, The Dickinson Press reports.

Now Lekander has formed B&H Construction Companies with partner Louie Bonneville to construct an RV park about five miles south of Watford City.

The park will consist of 10 buildings to accommodate 240 RVs and will be managed by NETA Property Management of Fargo.

The goal is to provide a safer, more comfortable housing option for oil boom workers who are forced to live in campers because of the housing shortage, said Bill Triebwasser, president NETA Property Management.

“It’s basically care-free RV living,” said Triebwasser, whose company manages 500 apartment units in North Dakota and Minnesota.

The first 48 units will be available July 1, with another 48 opening every month after that, Triebwasser said.

Kenan Bullinger, director of the food and lodging division for the North Dakota Department of Health, said this is the first such project in the state.

“I think it’s a great concept,” Bullinger said.

The developers had to work out some safety issues before the health department approved it, Bullinger said.

The buildings will have drywall partitions inside to prevent fire from spreading. Each building will house 24 campers with each building separated into eight bays.

Each camper will have water and sewer hookups, and the building will have adequate ventilation, Triebwasser said.

The park also will have laundry facilities and a common gathering room.

“We’re trying to provide a healthy, safe environment,” Triebwasser said.

If the project is successful, the partners will look to build indoor RV parks in other areas, Triebwasser said.

Concerns about health and safety of living in RVs year-round have prompted Williston officials to consider banning them from yards, driveways, and other areas within the city that are not part of an RV park.

Map of Williston Basin with Bakken and Three Forks Formations. (Source: EPRINC)

The developers haven’t finalized the rental price, but say it’s going to be less expensive than an apartment in western North Dakota and comparable to outdoor RV parks in the area. Tenants would have to sign 12-month leases.

“We’re not trying to gouge,” Triebwasser said. “We’re trying to offer something that’s obtainable and make people a little more at ease about the living situation.”

Lekander said he started researching opportunities in North Dakota after hearing about the oil development.

“We live in a very stagnant economy right now,” Lekander said of the Mahtowa area, about 30 miles from Duluth, Minnesota.

He and Bonneville will be living in North Dakota during the construction, and some of their family members will help them during the summer.

They are keeping their homes in Minnesota for now, but are looking to make a long-term commitment to working in North Dakota.

“We’re so excited to be part of this,” Lekander said.

When the buildings are no longer needed to house RVs, they would be ideally suited to be storage units, Triebwasser said.

Related Stories

Worth Pondering…
Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done.

—Rudolph Flesch

Read More

4 RV Parks Pending in Bakken Shale Area of North Dakota

During the first quarter of 2012 nearly $40 million worth of projects were permitted in Williams County, North Dakota—including three RV parks—with a fourth campground being planned in the Bakken (BOKK-en) Industrial Park.

GMX Resources finishes drilling a horizontal well targeting the Three Forks formation in North Dakota. (Source: upstreamonline.com)

Stacks and stacks of paper fill the make-shift office of the Williams County Planning and Zoning Department.

The growing staff recently took over what used to be the Williams County Commission meeting room. The setting is still in the organizational stage—but it gives everyone the room they need to handle the influx of construction projects.

“I am swamped—just like everybody else,” says Jill Edson, Williams County Planning and Zoning Administrator.

While the RV Parks will help ease concern about banning them from parking within the Williston City limits, they won’t be ready anytime soon, reports the Williston Daily Herald.

“The Williams County Commissioners instructed us to fast-track RV park applications,” Edson says.

The current applications will be reviewed in May by the planning and zoning commission. The three pending projects include:

  • A 30-acre park being planned by David Loyens in the Missouri Ridge Commercial Park
  • Bill Sheldon is seeking permission to build a 5-acre project with 38 lots in the Nesson Valley area
  • Kevin Heinen is planning to build a 10-acre RV Park near 60th Street on the west side of US Highway 2

A fourth campground called the Prairie RV Park is being planned in the Bakken Industrial Park—which is located within the Williston city limits.

Bakken/Three Forks Play (Source: investorshub.advfn.com)

Edson says the county expected a lot more interest in RV campgrounds.

Other projects that were permitted during the first quarter of 2012 in Williams County were a Jehovah’s Witness church, a school in Ray, 36 single family homes, six shops, two water depots, eight office buildings, two ready mix plants, six commercial buildings, and two apartment buildings.

Edson says they have seen a lot of residential and commercial projects during the first three months of the year and they expect the pace to continue.

“They all want high density housing, townhomes, and apartments,” she says. “There are a lot of people that really do want to help with the housing shortage.”

Bakken/Three Forks Shale Oil Area

The Bakken and Three Forks are vast, deep rock formations rich in both natural gas and quality crude underlying much of the western third of North Dakota in addition to broad areas of both Montana and Saskatchewan, an area the size of France.

North Dakota’s oil and gas fields have continued to grow and produce as rapidly as labor, materials, housing, transportation, and state permitting allow.

Expansion continues to be fueled by innovative drilling and extracting technologies, demand, and favorable crude prices.

Explorers have targeted the Bakken system for oil and gas for many years.

Three‐Dimensional Geologic Model of Northwestern North Dakota. The Bakken lies at a depth of around 11,500 feet with the additional need for rigs to drill 20,000 feet coming from the use of horizontal drilling along the formation, which is typically only around 150 feet thick. (Source: dmr.nd.gov)

The contemporary Bakken story began in Montana in 2000, when horizontal drilling started to open up the shale oil play.

In 2006, discovery of the Parshall Field in Mountrail County, North Dakota, created a second front of intense drilling activity.

Both the Bakken and the Three Forks have long been known as productive oil targets, but with mostly hit-and-miss economics—until the advent of a new approach to unconventional reservoirs.

It took long-lateral drilling and multi-stage fracks to tap the full potential of shale-oil production, first in the Bakken Shale, now in the Three Forks.

The Three Forks is some of the oldest production in the Williston Basin—it goes back to the 1950s. It has taken 50 years for the technology to catch up with this reservoir.

Current thinking puts recoverable oil from the Bakken Shale at just over two billion barrels, and from the Three Forks Formation at just under two billion.

Related Story

Worth Pondering…
WORRYING does not take away tomorrow’s TROUBLES; it takes away today’s PEACE.

Read More