Inside the Boom: I Can’t Escape It!


ND oil

It poured last weekend. After hours of watching the rain pummel the patch of prairie outside my window, I decided to head over to the North Dakota Heritage Center and check out the exhibits.

First off, can I just say that I can never escape my job? Everywhere I go in North Dakota there is evidence of the oil boom, and the Heritage Center is definitely not an exception.

First off, the place was crawling with children (literally there were children crawling through the exhibits), which reminded me that North Dakota is having a baby boom and an oil boom. As CNN reports,

“The 10,591 babies born in North Dakota last year (2013) was up 33% from a decade earlier and was the highest number since the state’s last oil boom in 1986.”

Second, a number of the museum’s galleries were sponsored by oil companies or electric utilities. In one gallery, I got to touch core samples taken from the different layers of the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations, where the majority of North Dakota’s oil comes from. In another, I saw little containers of Bakken oil (which readers will know I saw for the first time a few weeks ago).

Maybe my favorite part of the exhibit was this simple license plate from the 1950s, when oil was first discovered here. It is good to remember that North Dakota has been an oil state for a long time. What’s new here now is the level of production and the crazy rate of growth.

This weekend, it’s sunnier, so I’m heading off to the Badlands for some mountain biking. Guess who will be there too? The oil industry. The trail heads through a bunch of oil fields, and we’ll be spotting pumpjacks as we ride.