By: Luke Anderson
Wyoming’s economy has long been driven by energy extraction. The Powder River area is home to one of the nation’s largest coal reserves and that the Pinedale area was the site of some of the earliest hydraulic fracturing (fracking) eﬀorts. What is less well-known is some of the remarkable industrial heritage sites that dot the state.
On the western edge of Lusk, in eastern Wyoming, sit two hulking cast-iron tanks. The tanks are the heart of C &H Reﬁnery, the world’s smallest operating oil reﬁnery. Listed on the National Register and recently recognized with a State Historic Marker, the C &H Reﬁnery was cobbled together by Edwin Chamberlain and James Hoblit in 1933 by scrounging equipment from old reﬁneries. Using equipment already considered obsolete, Chamberlain and Hoblit employed a process that carefully heated oil to break it into reﬁned substances capable of heating homes and fuel automobiles. It’s even possible that the 1850 still used at the C &H Reﬁnery might be the same one that reﬁned oil from the world’s ﬁrst oil well in Titusville, PA.
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