Saturday, August 8, 2015
I am closing in on my final day in the trenches. I have been researching and writing reports for the National Park System, through my major professor in the Landscape Architecture department at Iowa State University . I do this part-time (contracted for 18 hours per week). Of late, I have been consumed with finishing a rough draft of a NPS report--a historic narrative of Arbuckle, aka, Chickasaw National Recreation Area in southeastern Oklahoma.
The Arbuckle Reservoir Project was a 1960s water project built by the United States Bureau of Reclamation. The project supplied water to several surrounding communities and the Kerr-McGee oil refinery in Wynnewood, OK. Pretty interesting stuff, eh? Well, actually it is. A couple of months ago, I wandered off the research path and turned over a stone that led me to some interesting information . In the research world it is known as going down the rabbit hole, or better yet, collecting shiny objects like a magpie. The shiny objects paid off one day when I found out the Kerr-McGee oil refinery was owned by the 12th governor of Oklahoma, who later became a U.S. Senator.
I don't have any doubt that the Kerr-McGee founder and Oklahoma Democratic Senator Robert S. Kerr (1949-1963) was key to President John F. Kennedy's authorization of the Arbuckle Reservoir Project. Water and oil were the only thing that mattered to the man known as the “the uncrowned king of the Senate." I prefer another quote: “Mr. Kennedy asked; Mr. Kerr decided”. If Kerr's oil refinery needed water to produce petroleum-based products, then Kerr's oil refinery got water--one to two million gallons per day for pennies per gallon. Unfortunately, the American taxpayers paid over half of the total cost of $13.1 M for the Arbuckle water reclamation project that delivered water 18 miles north to Kerr-McGee Oil Refinery.
I love my job. Research is fun, especially when you discover the shiny objects. I am here, glued to my chair for a few more weeks...writing.