A Few Good Men Needed In Wyoming

CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod continues to drive from New York to San Francisco, charting the impact of gas prices across the country.

In Wamsutter, Wyoming, he reports that for years the "Dead End" sign seen as one drives into town told visitors everything they needed to know about the town.

But now, there's new blood pumping here, or at least oil.

"Yeah, I don't understand why they're raising oil prices," says Chad Gunter, a pipeline worker. "We've got plenty of oil just around here."

Everyone thought these oil fields were just about tapped out. But with the price of oil pushing $70 a barrel, oilmen are rechecking spots once left for dead.

"There are many, many millions of barrels to be produced out of the aging fields of Wyoming," says Rick Robataille, an oil company executive.

That means oil companies need as many roughnecks as they can get — those are the guy who work the rigs and fields.

Wyoming just opened a school to get aspiring roughnecks to train them.

Roughnecking is tough work. These are "real men," and John Muse teaches them safety and technique.

"I look at your attitude," Muse says. "And your heart to see if you have what it takes to be a roughneck."

Axelrod underwent some roughneck training, and found it is trickier than it looks.

"I've seen some death grips on that handrail," Muse says.

Wamsutter is exactly the kind of place the roughnecks wind up. But if you've got an image of an oil boomtown, swimming in cash, forget it.

"How do I really like Wamsutter?" wonders Josh Newby, a roughneck. "It's a little hole in the ground that I hate."

About 400 people live here full time. There are three gas stations, two restaurants and a coffee shack. Five hundred oil workers sleep in trailers, and they do not pay taxes.

Rosemary Rowe is about the only person in Wamsutter who benefits directly — she runs the only bar in town.

"They don't want to stay here," Rowe says. "They come in, look at the town, and there's nothing here."

Right now, in Wyoming alone, they need about 1,000 more roughnecks. They work seven days on and seven days off — it's good money. A roughneck starts at $50,000 with overtime — for a guy who might have been making minimum wage a couple of weeks before.
  • Sean Alfano

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