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C&H Refinery
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
condition of C & H Refinery, April, 2007
I found it to be more dilapidated than the last time I saw it, in September 2005.  Roof panels were removed from the boiler house.  The tenant; Global Energy Research doesn't appear to be in business there any longer.  An apparent termination of service notice was on one door of its former office.

Posted by wyoil at 5:58 PM PDT
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Saturday, 23 July 2005
Earliest newspaper advertisement for the C & H
Topic: Resources
In the Lusk Herald, May 28, 1936, it is advertised as selling: "Fuel Oil, Gasoline, Kerosene, distillate, Tractor Fuel" and also: "Laco oil burners", it further states: "Our plant has a capacity of 150 barrels per day"

Posted by wyoil at 10:59 AM PDT
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There was another small refinery in Lusk
Topic: Resources
Independent Refinery was the name of another similarly scaled plant established in 1936 by Chris Joss and Hugh Best. Located on the south side of the highway along the railroad tracks heading east of downtown Lusk just past the bridge over the irrigation canal. In 1938 Bill Hitz bought the interest of Hugh Best. In 1941 the old Chicago & Northwestern depot from Jireh, the abandoned townsite of a Christian girls school west of Lusk, was moved to the Independent Refinery to serve as its service station building. In 1945 Jennings Ruffing bought the interest of Chris Joss and was sole owner after Hitz died in 1952. In 1954 an addition to the former depot building comprising a "lubratorium" and rest rooms, was constructed. According to the Lusk Herald, August 17, 1961, it became Sioux Service, Chuck Smith, manager. I looked at the site in June 2005 and found that the old depot was still recognizable. While there's no gas pumps out in front, auto repair is still performed in the addition. The yard behind it still contains a few old steel tanks which look like some of those at the C & H.

Posted by wyoil at 10:10 AM PDT
Updated: Saturday, 23 July 2005 11:16 AM PDT
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Wednesday, 20 July 2005
My photos of the C & H Refinery
Topic: Resources
They're online and you can see them by going to Snapfish and entering, where it asks for an email address, mine, which is: , then enter the password which is: wyoil
Please email me to tell me what you think, thank you.

Posted by wyoil at 1:52 PM PDT
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Thursday, 14 July 2005
Lindsay's visit to Lusk
Topic: impressions
I took a fresh look at the C & H Refinery site on June 23, 2005, in the light of new knowledge gained from research on it, since reading in January, of the owner's call for help in preserving and interpreting it.
It's a five acre grassy lot with many trees, at a corner of a vast horse and cattle ranch with hills on the distant western horizon.
There's a cluster of four buildings, each about 50' by 25', plus numerous tanks of various shapes. Three rusty tanks are each as large as the buildings. They aren't part of the refinery's system. They've just been parked on the site, along with a pair of tall fractioning towers, lying on the grass. Apparently after the plant was built using castoffs from upgrading refineries in Wyoming, the owner continued accepting junked apparatus that was far too large to be integrated into his small scale operation, and he just left it lying around.
The core of the plant and its most ancient relics are a pair of units from the Erie City, Pennsylvania Boiler Works. The date "1850" is cast into their firebox doors. These are veterans of the world's first oil refinery, the Donner Oil Company, in Pennsylvania. In 1895, Mark B. Shannon brought them to the refinery he built in Casper, Wyoming where they served into the 1920's. In 1933, the youthful founders of the C & H Refinery resurrected them from the scrap pile and brought them by train to Laramie, then by mule team to Lusk. Zahir, the current owner has recently fired them up and refined oil with them.
My favorite trace of the homemade style of the plant's construction is the platform where a pipe outlet filled delivery trucks. A pair of running boards were cut from a Model T Ford and welded to make the steps up to it. A photo in The Lusk Herald showed Zahir sitting on these steps. I wonder if he noticed the trademark "Ford" script embossed in them and if he understood that this same company built the '78 Thunderbird which he keeps at the plant.
I classify the C & H Refinery among American Absurdities: Energy Division. I'd include in this category, the Yucca Mountain Project; the future commercial reactor waste repository in Nevada; an effort to coddle reactionary nuclear neurotics, the shale oil operations at Parachute, Colorado; the world's largest hydrocarbon deposit; repeatedly almost developed each time the price of oil rises; then abandoned when the price inevitably falls, and every last gas station in America numerating their prices with $.009 to fool people. The C & H Refinery is an absurdity in the sense that it mocked big oil.
It operated profitably for 42 years in the domain of producers who were a thousand times larger, some of the largest oil refineries in the world at Casper and Sinclair, Wyoming. Most of those years were under Democratic presidential administrations, presumably anti-business. Then came the Republican Nixon and Ford administrations and the 1973 oil crisis. Under the Federal Energy Administration, pursuant to the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act, a small refiner was protected. Those should have been salad days, when the C & H was guaranteed business while big oil was villified by the public. Nevertheless, the C & H Refinery, which had been sold in 1974 by the Hoblit family which had founded it, was closed after that regulatory agency on December 15, 1975, approved in part but disapproved in another part, the appeal for exceptional relief by its new owner Tesoro Petroleum. It had gotten hooked on welfare and wanted even more. It gave up when the government wouldn't give it. The C & H Refinery was spoiled to death.

Posted by wyoil at 2:47 PM PDT
Updated: Saturday, 23 July 2005 10:53 AM PDT
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A Home Owned Industry
Topic: Resources
We are extremely proud of our new service station which will be opened in the near future as soon as new highway construction is completed. This station marks the continuing effort of this industry to keep abreast of the needs of the community, not only serving the motoring public, but providing all kinds of fuel oiols for ever expanding needs.
The C & H Refinery was established in 1933 when there was only one oil-burning furnace in Lusk. Today hundreds of homes and businesses are heated by oil from our plant. Our refinery utilizes crude oil from the Lance Creek oil field which is piped directly to our plant. We have an annual production of some 600,000 gallons of white gasoline, as well as 360,000 gallons of No.1 fuel oil, 140,000 gallons of No.2 fuel oil, besides kerosene and Hot Shot tractor fuel. There has been an increasing use of residue. A large portion of our gasoline is marketed in western Nebraska. Three trucks are used to deliver gasoline and fuels throughout this county. Then besides providing a necessary service to the community, this industry provides a living for five families and thus further contributes to community welfare.

(This was a large advertisement in the Lusk Herald, 1956, May 24. A photo showed the new gas station with the brand name: "Frontier" on its signpost and three glass globe topped gas pumps. The Frontier brand is still in business. I saw a Frontier branded station/convenience store in Newcastle, WY, in June '05)

Posted by wyoil at 2:32 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 14 July 2005 2:33 PM PDT
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C & H Refinery Is a Home-Owned Industry
Topic: Resources
from the program of the Niobrara County Pageant-Spectacle, in the late 1940's, found for me by the nice ladies at the historical museum in Lusk.

A small town always takes pride in its own industries, and one such industry that the community came to appreciate greatly during the war was the C & H Refinery, a "home-owned institution." Started on a bare minimum scale, it is today much enlarged and making an annual production of some 600,000 gallons of white gasoline, as well as 360,000 gallons of No. 1 fuel oil, 140,000 gallons of No. 2 fuel oil as well as kerosene and Hot Shot tractor fuel. Even residue is now used for fuel where plants have pre-heaters to utilize it.
Besides serving the immediate area, gasoline and other products are trucked as far east as Bridgeport, Nebr., west to Douglas and north to Winner S. Dak.
The C & H Refinery was established in the spring of 1933 by James Hoblit and Roy Chamberlain, who had been working for the Ohio Oil C. at Lance Creek. These men remember significantly that there was only one oil burner in Lusk then, and that the development of the fuel oil business was a difficult task. But no refinery could operate unless its by-products have a market as well as the gasoline.
At first the refinery trucked crude oil both from Lance Creek and Osage, but in 1935 a pipe line was constructed from Lance Creek, and now the refinery not only supplies its own needs, but sells crude oil. In 1937 Mr. Chamg=berlain sold his interest to his partner and Mr. Hoblit is now the sole owner.
Of the present employees, Sharon Chamberlain has been with the firm longest, and is the all-around handy man who knows every angle from the servicing of furnaces to the handling of stills. George Sylvester and Dick Spinney began working for the firm in 1935 and 1939 respectively, andf the past two years Bill and Bud Hoblit, brothers of Jim, started work as stillmen.

Posted by wyoil at 2:19 PM PDT
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Tuesday, 21 June 2005
Refineries Refined
There is more than one way to view an oil refinery. to the accountant it is simply an economic unit, swallowing barrels of crude oil at one end and spweing out greenvbacks at the other. to the car lover it may be a symbol of pleasure, helping to sustainold-fashioned notions of the good life. To environmentalists, an often to people wholive nearby, a refinery can seem a hideous and infernal monster, a tangled mass of steel and fire that pollutesthe air and watere and belches forth intolerable odors. To people concerned about regulation of business, a refinery is a pawn in a gigantic and erratic chess game between the bureaucratrs and the refiners - a theme discussed in the preceding article.
But to some, strange as it may seem, a refinery can be a work of art - or at least the inspiration for one. The paintings on these pages and on the cover express the singular vision of a 26-year old New York artist named Barry Brothers. Brothers travele to pennsylvania, texas and Wyoming to explore, photograph, and ultimately paint the nation's oldest, largest, and smallest oil refineries. As a comparing glance at the photos and paintings will show, Brothers did not attempt to be star=kly realistic. As he explains: "By reducing the visual to its essential form, ridding it of obscuring detail, one can see the true relations, the patterns, more clearly."
--Arthur M. Louis FORTUNE January 12, 1981

Posted by wyoil at 8:37 AM PDT
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Sunday, 29 May 2005
Gas Station Preservation
Topic: Resources
On NPR yesterday I heard Melanie Betz, an architectural historian with the Alabama Preservation Office, tell about their efforts to save old-fashioned gas stations for their cultural value. She especially likes the moderne style of the 1940's. I searched Google by the term: gas station preservation, and I found many relevant websites including:,,,

Posted by wyoil at 10:42 PM PDT
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