My adorable aunt who lives in Oregon came to visit us in Williston yesterday (see photo evidence below!) She brought us goodies from home (aka Trader Joe’s), and much-needed break from the craziness of Williston. We took her to the train station this morning. As we waited 2 hours for Amtrak to arrive, we saw at least two cargo trains filled with crude oil roll by, and I learned a few things about the train system here. The oil industry is relying heavily on trains these days (yet another similarity to the Wild West). Train shipments account for about 75 percent of the crude oil being transported out of the area (nearly 800,000 barrels every day, as of April), up from 39 percent last year. No wonder we’ve been seeing so many oil-filled trains.
We also saw many travelers — men going home for their time off, and moms and kids visiting their fathers and husbands. A typical oil field schedule is in blocks — three weeks on, one week off, and many men don’t bring their families with them to North Dakota. The distance from home is a common complaint among men here, and it can strain marriages and family life.
I’ve always loved hanging out at airports and stations to watch the arrivals, and this one was particularly touching as I could guess the background stories for many people there. After the train arrived, two little girls bolted towards their dad, their tiny pink backpacks bouncing as they ran, as their father kneeled down to hug them.