Local News

Wednesday, Aug 18 2010 07:35 PM

First stage of Taft's Oilworker Monument takes shape

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Workers were busy Wednesday erecting the Oilworker Monument in Taft at Sixth Street and Supply Row.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    The Oilworker Monument in Taft is being erected by workers, as seen Wednesday afternoon in the small eastern Kern County city.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Vic Killingsworth, chairman of the Oilworker Monument Committee, was on hand Wednesday in Taft as a portion of the monument is being erected.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Taft Oilworker Monument, fabricator, Warren Sauer, keeps an eye on the project, Wednesday in Taft. He is with St. Louis Fabrication Arts, a division of L.E. Sauer Machine Company.

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BY HILLARY HAENES, Californian staff writer hhaenes@bakersfield.com

TAFT -- It's taken more than four years, but the first stage of the Taft Oilworker Monument is being assembled.

Visitors can catch a peek of the monument base and oil derrick during a ceremony to thank donors scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at the site and the 10 a.m. Saturday grand opening of the Oildorado Store.

The monument will be dedicated to oil workers Oct. 15, which kicks off Oildorado, the city's 10-day, 100th anniversary party.

"It's to honor the oil workers of Kern County. We needed something very special. We started with no money, no forms, nothing -- just an idea," said Vic Killingsworth, chairman of the Oilworker Monument Committee.

The site, at Sixth Street and Supply Row, is planned to eventually include a park.

The Oildorado Store will be the headquarters for the Oildorado celebration and is located in the Pioneer Mercantile building on Fifth and Main streets. The store has dedicated a corner space for monument merchandise and memorabilia such as T-shirts, coffee and beer mugs, keychains, coasters and Frisbees.

Customers can continue to purchase bricks and plaques that will be placed at the monument site and the proceeds will be put toward monument maintenance, said Marvine Tashjian, publicity chairwoman for the Oilworker Monument Committee. So far, 1,200 bricks and 100 plaques have been sold.

The impressive bronze monument is estimated to stand just under 40-feet tall and reach 45-feet wide. The oil derrick, part of the monument, was shipped on a 53-foot truck. It was fabricated by the St. Louis, Mo. company, St. Louis Fabrication Arts, a division of L.E. Sauer Machine Company. Fabricator Warren Sauer and a couple of employees traveled to assist with the installation.

The exterior of the oil derrick may look like real, rough wood, but underneath is bronze. The fabricators treated the metal to make it resemble old wood.

Killingsworth wanted the monument to not only look historic, but also be historically accurate, down to the nuts and bolts, which were made the same size as ones used to build derricks in the early 1900s.

The other part of the monument will include three eight-foot-tall bronze statues made by sculptor Benjamin Victor.

"I made the sketch of what I wanted. As more people got on board, it started growing. We hope people will come here and relax and visit us. This is a huge deal and it's hard to believe how this has taken off and grown," Killingsworth said.

This will be the first monument in Taft dedicated to those who have worked in oil fields.

"It's something that should have been done a long time ago," Tashjian said.

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