Book cover image for: Roughnecks, Rock Bits, and Rigs: The Evolution of Oil Well Drilling Technology in Alberta, 1883-1970

Roughnecks, Rock Bits, and Rigs: The Evolution of Oil Well Drilling Technology in Alberta, 1883-1970

Sandy Gow

$44.95 CAD / $51.95 USD

464 pages, 156 illustrations

978-1-55238-067-3 (Paperback)

978-1-55238-444-2 (Institutional PDF)

December 2005

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About the Book

Roughnecks, Rock Bits, and Rigs is a detailed study of an important and little-documented area of the history of oil and gas in Alberta. It is the first comprehensive study to focus on the technologies that made Alberta’s oil industry viable. Author Sandy Gow provides an in-depth look at the evolution of oil well drilling technology from 1883 through 1970, the era of conventional oil exploration in the province. During the early exploration years, the individuals working in the oilfield developed and adapted technologies, such as drill bits and power sources, to suit their specific needs, largely through trial and error. This spirit of innovation and ingenuity is captured in accounts of the evolution of drilling processes and equipment, as well as in the personal stories of those who worked on the rigs. Gow puts the technology of the oilfield into context with an overview of the history and geology of oil and gas in Alberta, as well as a look at the human side of this vital provincial industry.

Sandy Gow is a professor of history at Concordia University College of Alberta.

Praise for Roughnecks, Rock Bits, and Rigs

Roughnecks, Rock Bits, and Rigs is a thoroughly researched and detailed account of the evolution of oil and gas drilling technology from the last quarter of the nineteenth century until the 1970s. This modest description, however, only begins to scratch the surface, because Gow’s research investigates the interrelationship between the evolution of technology and the economic and social changes that have occurred in the Canadian oil and gas industry.

– Paul Chastko, The Canadian Historical Review 


WINNER, 2005 Petroleum History Society of Canada Book of the Year | 2005