BISMARCK, N.D. — A multi-university research team is studying temporary trailer parks occupied by thousands of people across North Dakota’s oil patch.
The team has been visiting “man camps” throughout the past three years in an effort to preserve their history. The researchers have been photographing and speaking with residents at about 50 to 60 camps in the region, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
Researcher Bill Caraher said he’s interested in social interactions at man camps that are similar to those in other communities. He said he was impressed by some of the people who have worked to make their temporary living situations feel like home.
The second biggest town in McKenzie County, Caraher said, is a man camp around a food and fuel stop.
“It’s completely modular — it will not be there in a decade, or maybe it will be,” he said. “It’d be interesting to come back in 30 years and see. North Dakota’s always been a place of dreams where more people couldn’t make it than could.”
Archaeologist Richard Rothaus said it’s “really bad methodology” to gather data just for its own sake, but that journalists are the only other ones that have been collecting information about the man camps.
“Our goal is to gather the information,” Rothaus said. “We’re not here with the answers but to have the information so that future generations can figure this out.”
The team said it’s hard to estimate how many people live in the camps, but Rothaus said there are fewer people in them than at the start of the project. It’s just hard to say why.
“Is it because of housing being available in towns like Watford City, or oil companies pulling out, or a pipeline crew that’s moved on?” Caraher said.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com
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