RESURRECTING THE OIL DERRICK: Kimball oil derrick has a new home

 

Sydney Yalshevec

Crews put up the Kimball Oil Derrick last week on city land near the golf course. It can be seen from the interstate as drivers head down the road. The derrick was originally used by the BW Drilling Company in the 1960s and 1970s.

Those driving down the I-80 will no doubt have a new landmark in their line of vision near Kimball. Last Wednesday, the Kimball oil derrick was raised and placed on land out by the golf course.

The BW Drilling Company used the derrick in the 1960s and 1970s. After that time, the company donated it to the City of Kimball. It did so because oil is a big part of the history and heritage of Kimball. The derrick itself was built in 1949 in Texas, and was brought to Kimball by BW Drilling. The derrick stood tall for quite sometime until the state decided that it did not want the derrick on its land. The state took the derrick down and gave the Chamber of Commerce $10,000. This happened roughly five years ago, and since then the chamber had been trying to figure out how to get the derrick re-erected.

One of the largest obstacles faced is that if it was to be erected on private property, the owner would see a serious increase in insurance.

About two years ago the chamber sold the derrick to Sam Gingerich, who planned to turn it into scrap. Local resident Bob Abramson and city councilman John Morrison rallied together to get Gingerich to not turn it into scrap so it might be preserved.

Gingerich immediately stopped work on scrapping the derrick. At the time Abramson and Morrison approached him, he had only gotten the shoes off it.

Abramson and Morrison, along with friend and community member Rich Flores, who works in the oil fields, worked on a way to get the derrick back up. Kim Baliman provided a place for the derrick to be stored while funds were being raised.

"About a year ago I ran into Glenn Filkins, with the historical society, and I asked for his help since he had been in the construction business," Morrison said.

According to Morrison, the project took off after they had asked Filkins to head the project.

"He knew who to get a hold of and who to talk to about planning and getting everything ready," Morrison said.

Things fell into place as well when they decided to place the derrick on city property, which would not affect the insurance rates of the city adversely. The concrete was poured at the site for the derrick and its shoes were repaired. The red letters to spell out "Kimball" were welded to the sides of the derrick. Lights were attached so that the derrick could be seen at night.


"We've had tremendous support from the community. Clean Harbors has been extremely helpful. There's a whole lot of people who are involved," Morrison said.

While the derrick is now finally standing tall once again, there are a few more things to be done. A fence has to be put up around the derrick to deter climbers, as well as some more concrete added to the foundation to prevent weed growth "We are just a touch short of funds and we've come this far so we're hoping the community will be able to help with the rest," Morrison said.

As for the electrical situation out at the derrick, LED lights are being used to light it.

"We want to be able to have funds put aside for maintenance, like if a letter comes off, or something unforeseen occurs," Morrison said.

The big cost was raising the derrick, which took two cranes and much coordination. It also took the assistance of trusted welder Steve "Pinky" Pinkerton.

"It is a part of Kimball history and heritage and we're very pleased we've been able to get this accomplished and I hope it goes to show that if you have the drive and determination, a few people can accomplish what they set their minds to," Morrison said.

Morrison hopes that the derrick will not only provide a reminder of where Kimball came from, but where Kimball is going. He hopes the effort put in to raise it once again will inspire cooperation among the whole community.

Sydney Yalshevec

Steve "Pinky" Pinkerton works to steady the derrick last week as it was being reinstalled.

 

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