Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Daniel Thompson

Group Rallies To Re-Erect Oil Derrick


The oil derrick that once sat on the edge of town as a monument to the oil boom that occurred here decades ago has been laying on its side for the past couple years. More recently, the tower was sold, leaving a lot of local residents wondering why.

Fortunately for those who wish to see the derrick installed again, it remains intact and waiting for a new location.

According to the Executive Director of the Kimball-Banner County Chamber of Commerce, Jeanette Rabender, it was originally sidelined because of the land it sat on.

“The state took it down originally, because they had bought the land that it was on so we had to move it. It got laid down there where it was. The person there said we could erect it on his property, but then he turned around and sold his property so we had to move it again,” Rabender said.

The struggles to get the oil derrick back up did not end there for the Chamber of Commerce.

“For two years, we have been trying to get it raised. There’s quite an expense involved in that. Clean Harbors offered to erect it for us, to pour the foundation and everything that we needed for it, but it had to go on somebody’s land, and there were certain things that had to happen. It had to be lit. It had to be insured. A fence had to be put up around it. The cost just got too prohibitive, and there was no one particular person or business or company that wanted to take that over and the Chamber couldn’t afford to do it. After two years of exhausting every avenue we had, the board decided to scrap it,” Rabender said.

However, the Chamber of Commerce has not forgotten the history of the oil derrick, and its decision to abort plans to re-erect it is not meant as a slight to that history.

“We understand that it is a representation of Kimball, but it is an expensive representation of Kimball. With the economics of the town, it’s prohibitive, but we do understand the significance of it,” Rabender said.

Recently, public interest in getting the oil derrick re-erected has piqued since the Chamber sold the derrick, according to local resident John Morrison.

“We just heard last week that the Chamber had sold it for scrap and that’s when everybody got excited,” Morrison said.

This action has led local residents such as Bob Abramson to try to figure out ways to get the derrick back up and serve once again as a symbol of Kimball.

“The derrick was used by BW Drilling in the 60s and 70s and donated to the city after things had settled. Oil was such an important part of our history. I think it would be a great addition to put it in a place where people can see it. If we could put it somewhere close to the interstate, it could serve as a marker for Kimball to let people know we’re here. People would know that to get to Kimball you just turn at the oil derrick, and you’re there,” Abramson said.

Although talks of the oil derrick have at times been very passionate among the town, Abramson makes it clear that there is no animosity felt in the movement to get the derrick back up.

“We’re not trying to battle with the Chamber. We just think that it’s something that needs to be done,” Abramson said.

Residents trying to get the oil derrick re-erected such as Morrison and Abramson know the that the cost will be great, and it will take a lot of planning to get the job done.

“We’re trying to organize and talk to people and see where we can put it. Right now, we’re just getting information, and after we get enough information, we’re going to see who we need to approach to get it put back up,” Morrison said.

Overall, they feel pretty confident they can at least raise the money to get the derrick put back up, but the true problem lies in what happens after it gets put back up.

“We feel really confident we can raise the money to get the derrick re-erected. The real problem is sustaining it once it’s up. We’re still in the early stages and need to figure out a location and utility costs and insurance costs and see if it is something we can really do,” Abramson said.

The derrick is currently sitting on the property of Sam Gingerich who bought it in order to salvage it until a time when it could possibly be used again.


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