Breckenridge Texan

Wimberley’s vintage oil derrick to be relocated, lights restored

Wimberley’s vintage oil derrick to be relocated, lights restored
September 28
15:29 2021

By Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

When Tommy Wimberley does things, people in Breckenridge seem to notice. That’s what happened on a Saturday morning two weeks ago when he assembled a work crew and a large crane to take down the large oil drilling rig that had stood at the entrance to Buffalo RV Park since 2015.

Removing bolts from the vintage oil derrick are Tommy Wimberley’s grandsons, Coby Wimberley and Josh Patterson, along with Tommy Ruiz, Benny Davis and Carl Huffman. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

As the crew disabled the rig and the crane gently lowered the large body of the rig to the ground, some drivers passing by on U.S. 180 slowed to a crawl as they watched. Others pulled into the parking lot at Ernie’s restaurant next door or Gebo’s across the street and sat in their cars and watched.

Wimberley said he plans to relocate the rig, reassemble it and fix the lights on it so that it’s lit up like it was when he first moved it to the RV entrance six years ago.

“I don’t know of anybody that didn’t like it,” he said. “It’s probably the first thing I’ve ever done that people liked.”

The lights were knocked out a few years ago when the tower was struck by lightning. He said this time they are going to install a lightning arrester to hopefully prevent the lights from getting knocked out again. It takes about 15,000 lights to light up the tower and originally cost around $1,700, he said.

Wimberley recently sold the RV park and the lot in front of the park where the tower was located. He said the new owner didn’t want to keep the derrick at the location, so Wimberley decided to relocate it to a lot he purchased on the north side of West Walker Street, just east of Ken’s Chicken-n-Fish. He said he expects to have it moved and set up in about six weeks.

The derrick was probably built in 1928, Wimberley said, because that was when it was first installed. He said it was built in Pennsylvania, shipped to Stephens County by railroad and set up in a field on east side of State Highway 67 about a mile from the Graham Y intersection. He said it remained in that same spot until he purchased it in 2000.

“You go out the Graham Highway and just after you pass the houses on the right, it was in a pasture out there on the right hand side,” he said.

After he purchased the derrick from Ralph Kimble and James Cox, Wimberley moved it to downtown Breckenridge and set up in a lot next to the Bealls Department store, across the street from the Stephens County Courthouse, where it stayed until he moved it to the RV park.

He said one of the reasons he wants to preserve the old-style oil rig is because they are all disappearing and there aren’t very many left.

To see more photos of the project, click here for the Breckenridge Texan Photo Gallery.

Tommy Wimberley, right, along with Carl Huffman and Wimberley’s grandsons, Coby Wimberley and Josh Patterson, move the base of the vintage oil derrick, which is being held off of the ground by the crane. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Tommy Wimberley oversees the project of taking down the vintage oil derrick that he had installed in front of his RV park six years ago. He’s planning to move the structure to a lot east of Ken’s Chicken-n-Fish. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Tommy Wimberley, second from right, and the others who worked on the project, watch as the oil derrick is lowered to the ground with a crane. To see more photos from the project, click here for the Breckenridge Texan Photo Gallery. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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Editor’s Note: This story was updated at about 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, to correct the date the oil derrick was moved to the RV Park on West Walker Street.

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