The Raven At Rangely- Ken Bailey
"THE RAVEN AT RANGELY". Another classic book about the Rangely Oil Field, this out-of-print paperback was penned by G. E. "Bud" Keeney on the history of the OTHER Rangely oilfield, the drilling, pumping, and refining of the sweet crude from the much-closer-to-the-surface Mancos Shale in Rangely, in the years before the discovery and harnessing of the mile-deep Weber Sands trap that produced hundreds of times as much in later years.
Rangely in those early years was called "Raven Park." There was no incorporated town -- Fred Nichols, who would live into Oil Geek's era and beyond, ran a trading post-gas-station-US
Mail office on a dirt main street to service ranchers in the area, surrounded by two or three houses and not an oil derrick in sight. Meanwhile, out in the middle of what would later become the fabulous Rangely field, a little hard-scrabble company called the Raven Oil and Refining Company was clinging to the raw ground, pulling oil a few dozen barrels a day from the stubborn earth out of a half-dozen shallow wells drilled with derricks that resembled little more than poles and pumped by wooden walking beams that looked like they had been designed by Smokey Bear.
Somehow the Raven Company hung on, for decades, in a Rangely without roads, without services, without even many simple human amenities we all take for granted. They sank well after well, enduring harsh, bitter winters and blazing summers, refining their oil into gasoline in a little refinery they built right there in the Park, then trucking it over Mellen Ridge and on to Vernal where eager motorists were waiting ... with no U.S. 64 to aid them.
Eventually, companies would try to go deeper, trying to reach reputed oil waiting for them in the Dakota sands, or below ... but most of these ended in failure, sometimes with a **KABOOM**!!
Raven kept working... until one final deep test, on land they themselves leased out, brought in an enormous steel oil derrick, set up the drill bit, and --
(You'll have to come out to hear my talk on Saturday at the Museum Fireside for the rest!).
Bud Keeney captures the hardy men and hardy wives who braved these hardy times in an unforgiving land ... from the earliest wells right up to the Chevron Boom. It ends with the dedication of the Raven Well Monument in the 1980s.
A great resource and a fun read.