Lights from a passing truck streak by a bust of Abe Lincoln on the side of highway 85 south of Williston, ND as oil work goes hard through the night.The highway is receiving a much needed upgrade due to the high traffic volume. The city of Williston lies in the heart of the Bakken oil play. Geologists estimate the formation contains up to 7.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

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Jamie Larsen of Athel, Idaho chats up a customer at the Boomtown Babes Espresso kiosk in Williston at sunrise on a crisp early November morning. Jacked-up pickup trucks and other vehicles line up at the kiosk waiting for a jolt of caffeine for the drive to work each morning. It isn't just the oilfield jobs that are filled by workers from out-of-state. From the coffee shops to the hotels and even the church's, an overwhelming portion of the employees are newcomers to the region.

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Natural gas is flared off on an oil lease south of Williston, North Dakota as slivers of sunlight streak through breaks in the cloud cover on a mild early November day. At the moment very little of the natural gas is captured for use.

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Black Gold Logistics Truck Pusher Russ Botello (R) of Rock Springs, Wyoming oversees the lifting of a large blow-out prevention unit with a crane for a drill rig as employee Jeffery McDowell (L) of Alabama guides the machinery on an oil lease west of Watford City.

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District Judge Joshua B. Rustad officiates the marriage of Britny Wilson and Dallas McCauley, who wore his work boots, in front of their daughter Sahara and other family members at the Williston Courthouse on a Tuesday afternoon. The couple from Utah moved up to the Bakken for work. "Let's go home and watch sports," Dallas joked after the ceremony. The courthouse is so busy that they doubled their number of judges to four.

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Charli Keifert, originally from Washington, checks out her new tongue stud after having her tongue pierced at Bombshell Studios in Williston, ND. Keifert has been in town for seven months after leaving home in search of better employment opportunities.

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Williston locals Kellee Black, Bill Richardson Jr. and Kellee's father Ron Black unwind at The Sports Den on a Tuesday evening. Ron moved to Williston in 1952 and raised four children in the boomtown. He's seen it boom and bust before in the 50's and the 80's. "This is the land of plenty," says Kellee.

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A sliver of light traces over rows of mobile homes just outside Watford City, ND. Work camps and trailer cities litter the landscape around western North Dakota communities like Watford City and Williston. Williston's Mayor Howard Klug estimates that with the surrounding camps up to 60,000 people are visiting Williston's businesses and facilities.

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Gus Papalambros pulls out a cigarette as friend Steven Ball drinks a beer outside their trailer in a work camp northwest of Watford City along Highway 85 after work on a chilly Thursday afternoon. The two electricians from Mississippi were unsure of how much more of the cold weather they could take in North Dakota.

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Byron Westre, a diesel mechanic from Wyoming, sips a drink at The Shop in downtown Williston. Westre keeps his head down, works, goes to church and stays out of trouble. He goes out once a week for a drink with coworkers. If trouble does find him, he's packing heat. He loves his job but not the area. He misses the forests and the good hunting of Wyoming.

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Twenty-five-year-old Valerie Wallace moved to Williston from Mississippi four month's ago. She works as a housekeeper at the Motel 6. Friends encouraged her to come out for work and then they all left but she has stuck it out.

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Twenty-five-year-old Valerie Wallace of Mississippi.

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New homes with lush green grass butt up against the tumbleweed littered Great Plains on the edge of Williston ND.

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Rocco Catalusci, originally from Southern California, carves the perpetual wave on the Flow Rider surf machine at the Williston Area Recreation Centre on a Tuesday afternoon. Catalusci is an avid surfer and uses the Flow Rider to keep up his skills while working in the oil patch. The ARC is the largest city owned rec centre in the country.

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Nate Peterson of Bozeman, Montana, unloads diesel fuel from his truck at a diesel bulk plant in Williston at sunset. Peterson has been working in the bakken region for eight years, first hauling crude oil before moving to diesel hauling.

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An almost full moon rises on the eastern horizon over a drill rig north of Watford City on a cool early November evening. North Dakota had approximately 190 rigs working in November.

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Oilfield electrician and US Military reservist Mark Benway carries a '45 automatic pistol in his truck and keeps other guns in the house. Benway says crime is terrible in Williston and has no qualms about protecting himself.

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A rig works through the night south of Williston.

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Nick Hamilton of Bozeman, Montana runs supplies from his truck to his trailer on a drilling rig site outside Watford City, ND. after returning from days off back home. Americans from every state have moved to the Bakken area for work but few call it home. Their paychecks flow back to their home states where they can afford to build a life.

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A drill rig outside Watford City, North Dakota framed by an old farm house, illustrates western North Dakota's two economic drivers; farming and oil.

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