We lucked out with the weather and our drive was smooth. There weren’t any signs to tell us that we were entered the Bakken. Yet we could see signs of the transformation from Minnesota farmland, to eastern North Dakota grain fields, then into the heart of the oil producing area. Near Minot, the flat plains turned into rolling hills, then around New Town we began to see badlands terrain. Generally, the topography is more dynamic than I expected.
The oil wells emerged from the landscape suddenly as we rose over one of the many rolling hills. We were anxiously awaiting the appearance of oil activity the whole way. First it was BNSF tanker cars carrying oil eastward. Then large pieces of equipment traveling the roads, around the same time that we started to see drilling and logistics companies outside of Grand Forks. Things seem to build up rather logically, the train cars look like ones you see anywhere on the rails, the metal sheds and heavy machinery are ubiquitous beyond this area. Yet, there is something austere and tough about this area. The land literally breathes fire (check out the background of the photo of me and Dan above), and it seems like the surface of the earth has been scraped bare. So much is happening beneath the surface, while the constant stream of traffic and the glow of derricks and flares tells a story about what is working on the surface.