If you look closely, you can see the wooden structures attached to the derrick, and a number of other small buildings scattered about. It's a little hard to tell - at least for us, since we're not oil experts - but we believe this is a wooden derrick. We're still trying to figure out what the large whitish patch on the ground is. Although it looks a bit like snow, there isn't snow anywhere else on the ground (except up in the mountains, of course).
The photo doesn't have a date on it; we think it was probably taken in the early 1900s. As for location, the mountains lead us to believe that the photo was taken in the Western U.S. -- perhaps in Colorado or California.
As we did some more research into late 1800s-early 1900s oil wells, we ran across great terms like "gushers," and learned about things like jack plants, why wooden oil barrels are a bad idea, and transporting oil from well to city/town by horse and carriage. (Can you imagine what that must have been like?) We also ran across some incredible antique and vintage photographs of the oil industry around the turn of the century - some of which we've shared below. Now we just have to go watch There Will Be Blood again....
|The Hard Way! (HistoricPhotography.com)|
|Cambridge Well Comin' In! (HistoricPhotography.com)|
|Shooting an Oil Well, 1920s Black and White Illustrative Plate (Vintage Home Recycled on Etsy)|
|Polonia Oil Derrick in Lodi, Texas, c. 1920s (TexasEscapes.com)|