Rangely Oil Field, Then and Now: "Last Woman Standing"

Photo by Ken Bailey

Photo by Ken Bailey

RANGELY OIL FIELD, THEN AND NOW: "LAST WOMAN STANDING." In 1966, when I came to Rangely, about 2/3 of the original wells in Rangely still had their original pumpers. Apparently, a little more than half were Lufkin conventional pumpers, and many of these originally came with standard derrick towers over them.

By the end of 1968, only a single well in the entire Rangely field remained with a derrick tower over it -- on a rather small lease on the west end of town, named for a pioneer woman named Mary E. Hefley.

Only four wells graced this lease (and three more a lease just to the west of it, sunk by a different driller) ... but in 1966, two of these four wells (#1, by the river, and #3 a half mile east and hard up against the Middle School) had been converted to waterflooding, and removed ... #4, on the corner of Morrison and Prospect Street, had a pump yet but no tower.

Only Mary Hefley #2 remained with the tower and pump intact. Out of 486 original deep weber wells, this was the last producing well to have one of these.

I wrote a letter to the Rangely Times begging Chevron to spare the tower on this one for tourists. They did. Because of me? I will never know.... but they let the tower stand for at least four more years as the pumper bobbed beneath it ... the last of its kind.

(A half dozen other towers remained over inactive pump-less wells in the town area ... and a couple out and the edge of the field. But this one was still producing oil ... and it was near the highway.)

Epilogue ... by 1992, Hefley #2 had lost tower, pump, and cement base ... all that remained was a withered-looking well-head. (All photos by Ken Bailey).