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The cache is placed in an abandoned Natural Gas Camp. Easy to locate, just in the ruins of the camp with a lot of downed trees, old foundations, weeds and creepy crawlies. Easy parking nearby.
Here are the ruins of a whole way of life, apparently gone forever. This “camp” was started in the middle 1930’s when the natural gas boom sprouted out of the oil boom. In the 1940’s the pipeline system was finally becoming part of the infrastructure we know today, but even then you could drive from Jal to Odessa and beyond at night just by the light of the flares that were burning off the natural gas so they could pump the oil. Then the natural gas became valuable and furnaces, stoves and even “ice boxes” (refrigerators to you newbies) were powered by natural gas.
El Paso Natural Gas Company Jal #1 plant was built to collect, treat, and pump natural gas all the way to California. To support the plant, houses were built for the employees and their families. An instant middle class was formed by the camps that sprouted all over the oil fields. Other companies like Phillips, Shell, and Texas-New Mexico quickly joined suit. Jal, New Mexico was then advertised as the “Gas Capitol of the World”. More natural gas flowed through these companies’ pipelines here than anywhere else in the world. I still advertise “Oil Field Trash, and Proud of it!”
The plants were unique communities. Every employee had a house as a benefit of employment. Every house had indoor plumbing, free water, free electricity, free garbage collection, and of course, free natural gas! It was a Company Camp. The plants had to make their own electricity to run, and the camps benefited. The plants had to obtain their own water and the camps benefited. The houses were built and owned by the companies because the plants ran 24/7 and the workers were conveniently nearby working shifts.
The kids that grew up in the camps virtually lived in a large family setting. Everybody knew everybody and lived in a homogeneous mix of mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters where we learned to get along. We still get along and call ourselves Camp Brats.
Jal became sort of a Company Town, with many plants surrounding it and the Main Office(s) located there. The Company built a golf course. The Company built the Clinic and hired/attracted a doctor to come to Jal. Company ball teams were formed.
The tax structure of the State, at the time, benefited Jal, New Mexico. The oil and gas royalties off the School Lands in the area went directly to the local schools. Jal had a great school and great teachers! Virtually every Camp Brat had at least an opportunity to go to a college or university, and most of us did. Life was good, life was great! What could go wrong?
The “Government” is what went wrong. Local, State and Federal government intervention went wrong. Free houses? Can’t have that, there aren’t any taxes paid. Free water? Can’t have that, there aren’t any taxes paid and it is just not fair to everybody else, so they said. Same for the electricity, the utility companies just weren’t getting their cut. State school land taxes were shifted to the general fund and Jal lost most of its school funding to the northern population centers of the state.
By the 1970’s our way of life was falling apart. By the 1980’s the camps were being broken up and the houses torn down and/or moved away, lock, stock and barrel.
What you see left here 20 to 30 years later is government’s handiwork.
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Last Updated: on 2/18/2018 3:40:26 PM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (11:40 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum