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Turning Back Time

By: Mollie Lair Email
By: Mollie Lair Email

"If it hadn't been for them I wouldn't have done it. I miss them."

Johnnie Boston remembers walking the oil fields with his grandfather, dad, and uncle.

But as time marches on, so does technology.

His memories now serve as a reminder of what once was.

"I used to go to a lot of these shows myself, years ago. And there's all kinds of engines, but I noticed people were wondering what do they do, how do they work. So it was my dream to put it all back together the way it was. Proudly I'm the fourth generation to have operated this one when it was still in production," says Boston

This rig was built in 1915 and Boston had his eye on rebuilding the massive machine for some time.

In 1995 he bought it from the lease owner and in 2001 spent 8 months stripping it bare to restore it to its former glory.

Using all the original wood it now stands as a fully functional oil rig and a marvel to all who come watch.

"The old timers will just stand back and go wow. You know? I remember that. And then the youngsters come along and say what it is?" says Boston.

It's a lesson in tradition and the value of hard work. An education he hopes to pass on to younger generations who are unaware of the impact this machine had on their elders and their country.

"And I want the younger generation to see. They have no idea. They have no idea what these forefathers did and what they had to work with and I want them to see," says Boston.

His engineering triumph has gained attention nationwide from Texas to North Carolina people come to get a glimpse of this unique machine.

The only mobile one of its kind.

He says the crowd's reaction makes the entire process worthwhile.

"And the greatest thing is people come up to me and say 'I really appreciate you putting this together.' And I appreciate them, appreciating me putting it together because it wasn't an easy task. It was a lot of work, but it was a labor of love and here it is and I'm tickled to death to show it off," says Boston.

The rig stands as a reminder of times gone by and a once treasured industry now at the heart of controversy.

"It's a way to preserve the oil field history also. My family has been so involved in the oil field for years and I'm very proud of that. I still do a lot of oil field work. And I am very, very proud of that," says Boston.

The story is enough to make people stop and take notice, but perhaps most poignant is his motivation. One that withstands the test of time...family.

"It, uh, it just mean everything. I mean, my grandpa and my uncle and them they taught me all of it. I'm so proud of them," says Boston.


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