Community celebrates 100 years of oil and gas

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 07, 2014 07:23 am

Thousands of people are expected to wander the grounds of the Turner Valley Gas Plant on May 14 in celebration of 100 years since the discovery and oil and gas in the area. The day’s activities include guided tours, a formal program, school tours and activities at other venues in Turner Valley.
Thousands of people are expected to wander the grounds of the Turner Valley Gas Plant on May 14 in celebration of 100 years since the discovery and oil and gas in the area. The day’s activities include guided tours, a formal program, school tours and activities at other venues in Turner Valley.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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The population of Turner Valley is expected to double in size as people from across the continent come together to celebrate a monumental piece of Alberta history next week.

Diamond Valley municipalities, organizations and businesses have been working with Alberta Culture to host a celebration of oil and gas exploration at the Turner Valley Gas Plant exactly 100 years after natural gas was first discovered in the community.

The festivities take place at the provincial and national historic site, as well as various locations in Turner Valley from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 14.

“Gas originated here, oil originated here so there is quite the story and it would be nice if people would come out and hear it,” said Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck. “It would be wonderful to have people come into the community and be able to see the plant … and recognize that the Turner Valley site kick-started oil and gas.”

The day’s events begin at the gas plant with half a dozen interpreters in period costume leading the public and students from Black Diamond, Longview and Turner Valley schools in guided tours, teaching them about the history of the plant, functions of various buildings and providing entertainment including juggling and magic.

Attendees can enjoy food and beverages in the Legacy Oil and Gas tent at 2:30 p.m. and again at 4 p.m.

“This is a really good opportunity for local students, particularly through the guided tours, to get a good sense of the role of the plant, the discovery of the Dingman well and the impact that has had, not only in the community but throughout the province,” said Barb Toker, public affairs officer with Alberta Culture. “That discovery resonates to this day.”

Among those providing the interpretive tours is Diane Rosvold, who lives south of Turner Valley.

Rosvold gave tours when it was a summer historical tourist site from 1996 to 2005, and is excited to provide them again for next week’s celebration.

“I think it’s going to be quite exciting and I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. “I have an interest in history, especially western Canadian history. I’m very fortunate that this is in my backyard.”

Rosvold said she will talk about when Dingman #1 started, what the rig looked like, the progress of the oil and gas industry, the history of the site and the buildings and their functions.

“It’s really interesting to see the equipment and explain how it worked,” she said.

Calgary historian and tour guide David Finch was tasked to provide training to the interpreters for next week’s tours. He said the focus of the 30 minute to two hour tours is covering the four chapters of oil and gas: discovery, production, processing and transportation.

Finch said attendees will see where the natural gas was discovered bubbling from the ground at Dingman #1. Although the big wooden rig is no longer standing, they can view the wellhead and geological formations in the ground, he said.

An interpretive centre will be set up in the light plant, the oldest building on site built in 1921, with a temporary display including a model of a wooden rig similar to the Dingman rig, numerous photographs with descriptions and a video from the 1940s about the story of oil.

Finch said 500 invitations were sent inviting people to the event from government officials to gas and oil industry leaders.

“People are flying in (from) all over North America,” he said.

Local and provincial officials and dignitaries are invited to a formal program from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Those attending have not yet been confirmed.

Other activities throughout the community include a beer garden at the Royal Canadian Legion Turner Valley Branch #78 from noon until 10 p.m., as well as a shuttle service to and from the gas plant.

The population of Turner Valley is expected to double in size as people from across the continent come together to celebrate a monumental piece of Alberta history next week.

Diamond Valley municipalities, organizations and businesses have been working with Alberta Culture to host a celebration of oil and gas exploration at the Turner Valley Gas Plant exactly 100 years after natural gas was first discovered in the community.

The festivities take place at the provincial and national historic site, as well as various locations in Turner Valley from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 14.

“Gas originated here, oil originated here so there is quite the story and it would be nice if people would come out and hear it,” said Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck. “It would be wonderful to have people come into the community and be able to see the plant … and recognize that the Turner Valley site kick-started oil and gas.”

The day’s events begin at the gas plant with half a dozen interpreters in period costume leading the public and students from Black Diamond, Longview and Turner Valley schools in guided tours, teaching them about the history of the plant, functions of various buildings and providing entertainment including juggling and magic.

Attendees can enjoy food and beverages in the Legacy Oil and Gas tent at 2:30 p.m. and again at 4 p.m.

“This is a really good opportunity for local students, particularly through the guided tours, to get a good sense of the role of the plant, the discovery of the Dingman well and the impact that has had, not only in the community but throughout the province,” said Barb Toker, public affairs officer with Alberta Culture. “That discovery resonates to this day.”

Among those providing the interpretive tours is Diane Rosvold, who lives south of Turner Valley.

Rosvold gave tours when it was a summer historical tourist site from 1996 to 2005, and is excited to provide them again for next week’s celebration.

“I think it’s going to be quite exciting and I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. “I have an interest in history, especially western Canadian history. I’m very fortunate that this is in my backyard.”

Rosvold said she will talk about when Dingman #1 started, what the rig looked like, the progress of the oil and gas industry, the history of the site and the buildings and their functions.

“It’s really interesting to see the equipment and explain how it worked,” she said.

Calgary historian and tour guide David Finch was tasked to provide training to the interpreters for next week’s tours. He said the focus of the 30 minute to two hour tours is covering the four chapters of oil and gas: discovery, production, processing and transportation.

Finch said attendees will see where the natural gas was discovered bubbling from the ground at Dingman #1. Although the big wooden rig is no longer standing, they can view the wellhead and geological formations in the ground, he said.

An interpretive centre will be set up in the light plant, the oldest building on site built in 1921, with a temporary display including a model of a wooden rig similar to the Dingman rig, numerous photographs with descriptions and a video from the 1940s about the story of oil.

Finch said 500 invitations were sent inviting people to the event from government officials to gas and oil industry leaders.

“People are flying in (from) all over North America,” he said.

Local and provincial officials and dignitaries are invited to a formal program from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Those attending have not yet been confirmed.

Other activities throughout the community include a beer garden at the Royal Canadian Legion Turner Valley Branch #78 from noon until 10 p.m., as well as a shuttle service to and from the gas plant.

The Turner Valley Oilfield Society is hosting a 100-year tea party from noon until 2:30 p.m. at the Valley Neighbours Club, where strawberry shortcake will be served.

The Sheep River Library has a display of more than 100 photographs depicting the history of oil and gas in the area from the early years to present day provided by Alberta Culture. The photographs and descriptions are located in the art gallery this month and more photos will be displayed throughout the library on May 14, said Diane Osberg, chairperson of the Sheep River Library Board.

“It has all sorts of photos of the different buildings and what they were used for,” she said. “We are really glad to have it and be part of the celebration.”

The final event of the day is the performance of “Centennial” at the Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Hall at 5:30 p.m. See more details about this production on the Scene page.

For more information about the May 14 celebration go to www.history.alberta.ca/turnervalley/anniversary/anniversary.aspx


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