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More Southerners Calling Pittsburgh Home As Shale Industry Grows

AVELLA, Pa. (KDKA) – Oil and gas workers from Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana have come up to Western Pennsylvania for work.

And while some have come and gone, the industry says a growing number have put down roots.

"I went to my first frack job when I was about 5 years old," said Rodney Archibeque.

Rodney has kicked around gas and oil patches all of his life in, and around, College Station, Texas, where he graduated with an engineering degree from Texas A&M.

But Texas is where Rodney used to live.

"I go back every now and then, but when I'm there I can't wait to get home," he said.

Today, home for Rodney is in Eighty-Four, Pa. and his father, mother and sister live close by. They've joined a growing legion of transplanted Texans, Oklahomans and Louisianans who have decided to stay put.

"I love it up here," said Rodney. "I love the hunting, I'm big out doors. Love going to my brother-in-law's farm and hauling hay in the summer."

In its seven-year history, the shale gas industry says it's created more than 200,000 jobs in the state. While about 70 percent of those jobs are filled with native Pennsylvanians, about 30 percent are from out-of-state.

Some divide their time between here and down south, but the industry says more and more are becoming permanent residents.

"We pretty well developed some roots here, 'cause we like it," said Rodney's father Eddie Archibeque.

Eddie came up in 2009 with Range Resources and now is an executive with Rice Energy. But he says he's stayed in large part because he fell in love with the people here from the beginning.

"I was coming out onto 19 here in Canonsburg, bumper-to-bumper traffic," Eddie said. "All of a sudden this lady shehonks her horn, blinks her headlights, lets me into the traffic. Awesome."

And sister Lacey literally fell in love. After coming here to work in the shale gas services industry, she met a young man from Hickory, Pa.

"We just got married in June and we had our whole family come up and just to let them experience Pittsburgh and the Ducky Tours and Primanti's," she said. "It was awesome."

And while embracing Pittsburgh culture, people like the Archibeques may add a little Texas or Louisiana flavor to the local mix.

"Do some crawfish boils," said Lacey.

While the Archibeques may be one of the first Texas families to relocate here, they certainly won't be the last. With more than 50 years of drilling ahead for the Marceulls, this northern migration will continue for years to come.

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