100 Years ago, San Juan County went from growing apples to producing commercial natural gas. Built by Gas, Farmington Museum’s newest exhibition, celebrates the birth of an energy industry and how it changed a small farming community into a national energy resource center. You’re watching the Local NEWS Network, brought to you by Traeger’s and Three Rivers Brewery. I’m Hannah Robertson. In October, 1921, a gas well drilled one mile south of Aztec blew with such force that it could be heard 10 miles away. And just like that, a boomtown was born in the San Juan Basin. In 1951, a transmission pipeline was built to California, launching a second boom. Farmington’s population grew from 3,500 to 24,000 by 1960. There was plenty of work, but housing options were few.
It was a gold rush. I mean, everybody was trying to get in on the action. You know, we know of people that rented out garages. In some cases, we even have heard of people renting out chicken coops for people to live in. So it was definitely the wild west.
Schooling all the children new to the county was another issue.
You know, within that 10 years, they built seven new schools, within that 10 years. Kids were, there were so many kids coming into town that some kids had to go in the morning. Some kids had to go in the afternoon. They went to half-day schools instead of going full-time.
It was the most incredible growth in Farmington’s history.
So that pipeline, when it went in, brought in all different kinds of companies. It spurred a construction boom that built a lot of the subdivisions that are in Farmington. It was just an incredible growth in Farmington’s history.
The exhibition is sectioned into the different booms, and sadly, the inevitable busts.
Over time, you know, when we hit a bust, we really knew we hit a bust, and it really affected the town. In like, the early to mid-80s, there was a bust during that time. And you know, a lot of businesses went out of business, and it was a very tough time in Farmington’s history.
That first Aztec Well is highlighted in the show, along with the subsequent events and timeline that brings us to the present, and the new push to finally diversify Farmington’s economy away from oil and gas production. The exhibit opened on November 12th and is sponsored in part by the Leadership San Juan Alumni Association. $3 donations are welcomed at the door. To see a museum schedule, go to fmtn.org/builtbygas. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local NEWS Network. I’m Hannah Robertson.