Wait 'til the sun shines, Nellie

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On a visit to Bartlesville's Kiddie Park last weekend, I was surprised to see bare dirt on the southeast side of the road, just across from the steam engine and the Hulah depot.

That empty space used to be home to a fixture from my early childhood -- a replica of Oklahoma's first commercial oil well, the Nellie Johnstone No. 1, drilled on that spot in 1897. We passed it often on the walk between our house on Delaware and the playground at Johnstone Park. There was some sort of marker on the site with the Cities Service Oil Company trefoil, so I assume the company had something to do with the replica's construction. (My dad worked for Cities from 1965 to 1985.)

The reason it's gone is that the current replica was "badly deteriorated." I can't imagine the repeated flooding of the Caney River was good for it. The replica was pulled down in mid-August. It had been built in 1964, replacing an earlier replica built in 1948. Sometime in September will be a groundbreaking for a new replica, sponsored by the Centennial Commission.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 1, 2007 5:58 PM.

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