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Ohio Oilfield Workers Find Temporary Home At Cadiz Campground

The number of employees to work on fracking wells and pipelines in eastern Ohio surpasses the number of available homes.   The sudden influx of workers has prompted the construction of new hotels.  But there is another housing option - campgrounds at a so-called 'man camp.'

On U.S. route 22 just outside Cadiz, the highway caution sign warns...."entering seismic zone."  A double axle truck I passed a couple of miles back was hauling explosives.  Recently fracked oil and gas wells in the area are among the most productive in the region. Now, flatbed trucks loaded with 40 foot long sections of steel pipe are supplying pipeline construction companies .  I'm looking for Industrial Park Road and the entrance to Sally Buffalo Park and campgrounds.

Sally Buffalo serves as a temporary home to dozens of nomadic oilfield and pipeline workers.
Pulling large and small trailers, they rent narrow parking spots tucked in along walking trails and a small fishing lake.  The campground offers showers, laundry  and electric hook-ups. Scott Porter is park ranger.

"We have them from all over, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, we have them from a number of states, " says Porter.

The village of Cadiz owns this park. It reserves  67 trailer spots for long-term use by the oilfield workers.  Most of the sites are occupied, about a dozen are vacant.  As lower oil prices caused a slow-down in drilling, Porter says the camp emptied a bit during the winter and spring months.  Now, it's beginning to fill  up again.

"It's just a nice, quiet, village owned park that's what a lot of these guys want when they come home from work, they don't want all the commotion. It's a pretty laid back park for them to reside in," says Porter.

But, what Porter calls 'commotion' is nearby, within walking distance..  A Denver pipeline company just opened a regional headquarters within sight of the park entrance. The company is recruiting pipeline workers to connect newly fracked wells to natural gas processing plants and oil refineries.  

The jobs pay above average salaries often with health insurance.

The Davis family arrived in Cadiz last week.  Shayne Davis washes clothes at the campground laundromat while her husband is at work.

"He's a welder so we travel for his work,"  says Davis.

The Davis' are from Maine, but have been moving from job to job for years.

Davis, her  husband,  and teen-aged daughters,  found the village campground through word of mouth from other pipeline workers.  She says the family prefers camping rather than long motel stays.   

"Because I can keep all my belongings in my camper without dragging them from one motel to the next," says Davis.  "I like that they have parks for kids. It's pretty friendly, everyone's pretty friendly,  the baseball park, they play games here all the time. And it's nice. "

The campground is less expensive than lengthy motel stays. Campsites rent for about  $450 per month.  Nearby motel rooms cost more than $100 dollars per night.  Unlike nearby state parks where campers are limited to two-week stays,  campers at Sally Buffalo can stay as long as they pay the rent.  

Davis expects the family's stay at Sally Buffalo to last awhile.  She sees telltale signs of more pipeline construction all around.

"It's been going on for quite sometime so I don't see it stopping anytime soon. If you go down the road  a little bit more you'll see the laydown yard. There's a lot of pipe there which means a lot of work and if you drive down the road you'll see them digging up more areas to put more pipelines. So, that's what we're hoping," says Davis.

While her husband works 50 hours or more per week, her daughters get their education from online schools.  She says if a job commute lengthens to an hour or more, the family will move to the next spot.  In the meantime,  She likes to fish.