More on Rural Change in Western North Dakota

Over the past few weeks I’ve give over a little of my free time to exploring the area around Williston, North Dakota via Google Earth. My goal was to get a better, albeit cartographic, sense of rural change in the area as a result of the oil boom, and to look for possible changes in settlement with an eye toward identifying a range of different temporary housing areas.

The images are so dramatic that I decided to post a bunch here without much commentary.  The light colored areas are the lots that surround oil wells.

Oil 3 20092009

Oil 3 20112011

Oil 2 20092009

Oil 2 20112011

Oil 1 20092009

Oil 1 20112011

Man camps have been a bit more difficult to identify. In my very preliminary search, I sought to identify any area with clusters of trailers. Of course, there are plenty of rural practices – including large scale farming – that requires the occasional assembly of trailers, and practices of provisional discard around farming (not to mention industrial) sites makes it difficult to always be sure what a man camp would look like as opposed to a lot of unused trailers. I’ve given it a try with these images, though.

The first lot speaks more to the change in the rural landscape, but the cluster of trailers that appeared in 2011 is suggestive particularly those with pitched roofs to the right of the image.

Camp 1 20062006

Camp 1 20092009

Camp 1 20112011

This next set show the re-use of an area that had been set aside from cultivation as early as 1995. It saw some development in the early 2000s before being used for residential purposes – it would seem – in 2011.

Camp 4 19951995

Camp 4 20032003

Camp 4 20062006

Camp 4 20092009

Camp 4 20112011

I looked around a bit for smaller scale and more provisional camps than those suggested in images above. They are difficult to spot via Google Earth, but I think I have a few.  For example, not the small cluster of trailers at the top of the images below:

Camp 2 20062009

Camp 2 20112011

Or the cluster of trailers top center in the second image below. Note the new, isolated trailer set by itself in the second image as well.

Camp 5 20092009

Camp 5 20112011

Another example of a small scale cluster of provisional housing.

Camp 3 20092009

Camp 3 20112011

These images, of course, represent only changes visible from space. The most dramatic changes are happening within the communities themselves.

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