Skip to content

100-year-old oil rig moving from Southern Alberta to Edmonton museum

Century-old rig that's been on display in Okotok for the past 20 years is on its way to the Oilfield Equipment Museum in Edmonton.

historic oil rig is off to Edmonton after two decades in Okotoks.

The cable tool spudder rig, originally given to the Town of Okotoks in 2004 by the Okotoks Petroleum Association (OPA), is being donated to the Edmonton Oilfield Technical Society’s Oilfield Equipment Museum.

Garry Hagen, past president of the OPA, has mixed emotions about the move, which took place on June 19.

On the one hand, he said, displaying the rig at the Edmonton museum is an opportunity for more people to view and appreciate it. 

"It's a very good place for it to go," he said about the large outdoor site. "It would be well displayed... you could walk around it and look at it from different sides as well so that's better."

Though Hagen appreciates the location is a good home for the rig, he said he's disappointed to see it leave Okotoks.

"It'll be their gain, our loss," he said.

"It's just a sad situation we couldn't, or the Town couldn't, find a place where to put the rig," continued Hagen, who has been part of the OPA since its inception over three decades ago.

According to the Town of Okotoks, the search for a suitable location took more than two years, including a failed bid to relocate it to the Turner Valley Gas Plant.

"We began actually a serious discussion with the Province of Alberta to move it to Turner Valley, and unfortunately, they couldn't accept the artifact [since] it's not an original artifact of Okotoks or the region," said Allan Boss, culture and heritage leader with the Town of Okotoks.

Though this particular rig was originally used in Montana in the 1920s, Boss said it is part of the province's heritage since similar rigs were used extensively in the Foothills.

"There were lots of discussions with lots of different people and finally we got to the point where we kind of exhausted all options regionally," said Boss, who Hagen said was integral to the process of finding a suitable home for the rig.

"I gotta give kudos to Allan Boss, cause he worked hard on trying to keep it here," he said. "Allan Boss did a lot of work on this trying to find a place for this rig. He was sympathetic to our cause and so between Allan and ourselves, we found this place."

Boss said the move is a step in the right direction.

"It's sad to be losing an artifact that tells the story of Okotoks history, but the reality is it is going to a much better home where it's going to tell the story of the petroleum industry in Alberta and in Canada for years and years to come," he said.

"It will be looked after and maintained in a much better fashion and tell that story really well, and the story will include the fact that it was here in Okotoks, so I think it's a positive move."

The removal of the rig comes in light of planned development and renovations in downtown Okotoks, including the proposed installation of a sidewalk and traffic circle outside the Okotoks Art Gallery. With the rig being located just outside the building, it had to be removed to make way for the developments.

"I have mixed emotions on [the removal of the rig] but it's done already, so just have to go along with it and make it work," said Hagen.

"There's a lot of people in town with the same sentiment, but it's going to a better home."

Approximately 55 per cent of respondents to Western Wheel online poll indicated that the rig should have been kept in Okotoks.

Hagen said anybody living in or visiting Edmonton should take the time to visit the Oilfield Equipment Museum.

Amir Said

About the Author: Amir Said

Amir Said is a reporter and photographer with the Western Wheel covering local news in Okotoks and Foothills County. For story tips or questions about his articles, Amir can be reached at [email protected].
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks