Everyone has heard about stories of western North Dakota. We’ve heard the heart warming stories of people spending their last few dollars to travel to Williston, pitch a tent and find a job. We’ve heard stories of tragic car accidents and emergency vehicles unable to make it to the crime scene in time. People become millionaires overnight, see car plates from Hawaii and bartenders carry guns while working. Life has changed.
After hearing all of these stories, many people want to go up there and see for themselves just what’s going on in western North Dakota. So NDFU loaded up the bus and did just that. Now I’ve been out to the Bakken area several times this year already; however, I’ve never eaten lunch at a crew camp and I did not visit the Manhatten well that is making NDFU staff member Dale Enerson very happy. I was excited for the adventure.
We left from Cenex in Bismarck around 7:30 a.m. and the first stop was New Town. New Town was a community of about 3,000 three years ago, it has nearly tripled in size since then. The Cenex is booming and it is not uncommon to see long lines of trucks in line for fuel.
We then headed up to Ross where we stopped at Dakota Quality Grain, which is a grain elevator that has the fortune of having extra railroad tracks. Big opportunity. They are now building onsite to house 20,000 tons of sand for ONE oil company. That’s so that company can maintain the fracking pace they would like. They still do all of the farming business they used too, just expanding their business to fit the needs of the area.
After Ross the group headed over to right outside of Tioga and ate lunch at a crew camp called Capital Lodge. The Capital Lodge facility can house 2,500 people in one night after their expansion is complete. I met a very helpful young lady there, her and her husband were just recently married when he got a job on the rigs, she then became employed with Capital Lodge as kitchen staff. So they get to stay at the lodge for nothing, plus get their area cleaned for them. They were from Texas and she laughed when people were complaining of the heat.
Now we were pretty spoiled, most lunches are not hot meals. For the workers it’s one hot meal a day. The area included cafeteria style dining and a game room, I felt like I was back in college again. We even got a special little dessert.
From there we headed out on the broken down beat up roads to the heart of the oil boom, the wells. We toured around Mountrail county. They have advanced the horizontal drilling to the point where you can have up to 6 wells on one pad going in all different directions. They hope to get up to 12 and beyond one day.
And on the other side was a North Dakota classic beauty.
When we finally arrived at the well, many of our heads were sore from bumping the top of the bus from the roads, ok it was not that bad, but it was quite a drive. Very first hand of the damages and the stories. Upon arrival I shoved everyone in a spot, climbed on top of the bus and snapped a photo.
Our last stop was the Cenex in Stanely. We were reminded on the tour that Stanley Cenex was wondering who to merge with about 6 years ago because there was not enough business, today it has over 100 employees and is currently building a small strip mall location. Business is booming there. Here’s a sign just to indicate how much growth it has experienced.
The best part for me was visiting with the members. They were quite the crew from Burleigh-Morton county and I got to see two of my all-time favorites Arlene Olson and Denise Brown. A great day of education, information and meeting new people. Thanks for a wonderful tour, especially to the incredible tour guide Dale Enerson. He is a walking encyclopedia, as he is originally from the Stanley area and still owns quite a bit of farm land out there. As we move into harvest and the fall the fly-in is creeping up, along with the WILD event then we will be in full on county convention mode. So enjoy this weather while it lasts, and I’m sure I’ll see you on the road!