Boomtown

Good morning all. I just wanted to pop in for a quick hello and to let you know that after completing my call out to winter last night and shouting it to the world, all hell has indeed broke loose this A.M.

It is snowing.

Hard.

So winter has indeed arrived as I type this sitting at a computer in my hometown after  braving the thirty miles of ice with my neighbor trailing behind me creeping at 45 mph on the slick roads.  It has begun, our battle with the winter.

Ahh, yes, I like to talk about the weather here, it’s in my nature, it’s non-controversial and I think it’s something that we all have in common. But besides that this morning I would also like to share a little piece of what’s happening out here in my hometown. Our Little Boomtown.

The impacts of the oil industry and activity in Western North Dakota has recently made headlines throughout the country. If you’re not from around here, you’ve undoubtedly caught wind of it. If you’re a former resident it’s captivated you. If you live among it you know it has the power to consume you.  Regardless, we can all agree that it is indeed a story, this town of 1,200 expanding  to over 6,000 + residents and growing. It is indeed a spectacle to see the oil semis and service trucks roll on the ribbons of highway that used to carry only school children and quiet rural commuters on their way to work at the banks and stores in town. Now, because of what we have discovered below the surface 10,000 feet, something we have known was there for 60 years and we can now get to, we have something amazing to offer here on the edge of the badlands to those who are up for a challenge,  adventure, willing to work hard and sacrifice a life they knew.

Jobs.

Jobs and opportunity and challenges in what I have come to refer to as the “Wild Wild West.”

And love it our hate it it’s happening. We can have that discussion later. But all I know is that in a time in our country where people have lost their homes, their jobs and pieces of their lives that provided them comfort and security, it is out here on the prairie that people are looking for their hope.

And hope is the reason I am back here with husband. Hope that we can keep the family ranch in the family, hope that we can have a family of our own one day, hope that we can have a good life with good friends and the freedom for a little bit of adventure.

So as we count the out-of-state license plates or the headlights that pass us on our way out-of-town, as I answer the phone calls from people looking for employment and describe to them the type of winter that is settling in around here,  I like to think about all those stories, all the memories, all the struggles and triumphs and roads that brought these people here, to the edge of the buttes so far from what they know, to live in apartments or hotel rooms, to build a new house or rough it out in a camper on the edge of town. It’s hard to imagine what they have sacrificed to find their place, to find their future, to find a better life…

So yes, my little hometown has become a boomtown, but it’s not scared. It’s been there before. And yes, I have to wait in line at the gas station and the post office, something that we are not used to. We are having growing pains and there are challenges here, so we must be on our best behavior. We must be a little more aware, we must ask a few more questions, listen more carefully, take a little more time to understand what is going on around us so we can make this place the best that it can be…

We must be patient and find in us our compassion.

Please visit the link below to hear our story on Bismarck’s KXMB news channel and get a sneak peek of my new song “Boomtown.”

Scofield sings about “Boomtown” Watford City.


Catch me and Pops singing this tune and many others this Sunday at the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center
2-5:oo pm
Fort Buford State Historic Site

Visit the Jessie Veeder Music Link for more performance dates.

20 thoughts on “Boomtown

  1. What a great perspective! I love your positive words and gorgeous images. I think if we do the things you talk about… behave, listen, understand, be patient and compassionate… that we can take this boom in stride and keep our unique prairie culture in tact. My best to you, the husband AND the ranch!

    I blog a bit about the effects of oil country on our people too…
    http://mynewdirection.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/cashing-the-nd-oil-checks/

  2. I don’t know why, but when I was growing up I thought Watford City was MUCH bigger than my hometown (Bowman). I haven’t been back since the boom began – I can’t wait to come back home next year and see all the changes. Some for better and some not, I’m sure; but great opportunities are there right now.

  3. I love your blog and pictures.

    Wanted to comment since I’ve just moved from Seattle to a small town of 1600 in E. Washington, part of it because of job loss situation the other part we fortunately own a cool old building here. Can’t imagine the quick changes that the oil industry will bring to your community but totally appreciate the work opportunities and the life it will bring to your town. Our town was once thriving and important in the Wheat industry and now slowing losing population. I wish we had your problem/opportunity! It’ll be very interesting to follow your notes as this progresses.

  4. I know guys who are up there working and talking about the weather they have to live in. They are all from Texas and a bit overwhelmed. Great perspective. I really liked the lost photo of the dried plant with a derrick in the background. Well done!

  5. Love the photos! I was born in Watford City and we go back for school reunions being my mom was class of 82, very shocking how much it has changed and hearing about whats going on there.

  6. How is the one-eyed pug handling the stress of change and growth? Haven’t seen a shot of him in a while, kind’a miss him. (hint, hint)

  7. I can empathize with you. Although we hate to make room for something noisy, smelly, and ugly, it’s kind of you to think of the other side of the coin. My husband my have to visit this new ‘boomtown’ as his work is drying up here in KC. Although living in ND would be a dream come true for us contry folk, I can appreciate those invisible ‘no tresspassing’ signs as the gold-rush of sorts overtake your home. There are folks from our neck of the woods that are in your neck of the woods even now. Will we become a migrant society I wonder?

  8. Jesse loved the new tune! Thank you for sharing a positive perspective on what otherwise has been very difficult for me to wrap my mind around. Kids moving home and finding new opportunities is a grand thing. They actually may have a place to live 🙂

  9. Such a great perspective- and it brings up a question for you. I’ve got a brother who is very interested in your boomtown. He grew up on a Wisconsin farm, milking cows for the neighbors, then went out to TX for a degree in business. He was pretty disillusioned with the corporate world though, and wants to head out for one of those jobs in your parts. He said the biggest barrier is finding a place to live. Do you happen to know anything about that? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks, Kate

    • Hi Kate, tell him to visit http://mckenziecounty.net to learn more about our community. Right now the best bet for housing is to speak with the company that hires you to try and figure something out, whether temporary or long term many companies are taking the housing issue into their own hands by either purchasing or building rental units to make them available to their employees. The other best stop shop for jobs is http://www.jobsnd.com.

      Good luck to him. There are many more southern accents up here these days. Hope they packed their sweaters 🙂

  10. Thank you for taking time to put your thoughts into written word. A population boom is going on around you …. and your response is deep compassion for all those who are coming to find work.

    In today’s New York Times, there’s a story about the gritty reality of the dynamics of so many people arriving in North Dakota so quickly. Reading Boomtown and the Times article made me think about the history of the North Platte Canteen. It, too, is a story about compassion, about one small Nebraska town’s response to the arrival (and quick departure) of 6 million service women and men there, during the course of World War II.

    Your voice, responding to ND’s experience now, and the voices of the North Platte Canteen volunteers are like one voice. Compassion cannot alleviate all the challenges, but compassion does put things into a workable, hopeful perspective.

    Again, thank you for writing. Mike

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