CASPER, Wyo. – Film footage posted online gives a visual lesson on life and work in the oilfields during the 1930s.
The film, posted by archive firm Periscope Film, was shot as an instructional or promotional tool for the Burlington Railroad, which itself was a major contributor to growth and transportation in the booming oil towns.
The opening shot shows Casper and the title card “Casper. Wyo. – The Oil City.”
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The massive Standard Oil refinery is seen looming behind the newly-constructed NCHS. Surrounding the school are dozens of tidy new bungalow houses in what would be known as the “big tree neighborhoods” decades later.
The instructional 17-minute film then moves to the oil fields and gives a clear overview of drilling techniques of the era, which involved the dangerous job of packing explosives into the well.
The film, titled “Petroleum,” continues to follow the path of the newly-extracted crude as it gets processed and distributed.
Also seen is the massive Salt Creek power station and its roaring burners that helped power the operation. The shell of the building remains today. The towns of Midwest and Edgerton became bustling small cities during the oil field’s heyday.
In the final moments, a few members of the Burlington crew are shown standing apparently at the then-new Burlington Railroad station in Casper, which still stands today.
The film was likely shot around 1930 and gives a fascinating glimpse into the booming and potentially dangerous job of collecting oil.
The Salt Creek Oil Field near Midwest, about 40 miles from Casper, was one of the most prolific in the region at one time. The first well there was drilled in 1889, and by 1923 produced 132,000 barrels of oil that year.
The entire moving time capsule can be seen below: