C&H Refinery

By: Luke Anderson

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 4.58.27 PM.pngWyoming’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.Photo by Richard Collier

Photo by Richard Collier


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