Motorists along Route 66 expect to see many things—classic diners, period motels, and no shortage of tourist traps. But what such a traveler probably wasn’t expecting but certainly cannot miss, is the massive Parker Drilling Co. Rig 114, parked right along America’s Main Street. This 181 foot tall rig is one of the tallest rigs as well as the deepest drilling and stands as testament to the rich drilling history in Elk City, OK, the “Natural Gas Capital of the World”.
While the rig has found its final resting place in the middle of Elk City, it truly has traveled the world. Rig 114 has operated in Alaska, Texas, as well as its current home in Oklahoma. In 1967, rig 114 was known as Parco Rig 2 and drilled nuclear test holes in Alaska for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. Along with two other rigs, Parco Rig 2 drilled a 4,500 foot deep hole, 120 inches in diameter—the largest diameter hole ever drilled.
Once the nuclear test holes were concluded, Parco Rig 2 was redubbed Parker Rig 144 and converted back to conventional drilling. Between 1973 and 1982, the rig drilled ten wells in the oil and gas rich Anadarko Basin, outside of Elk City. Four gas wells sported a total depth of 20,000 feet or deeper.
The rig has been on display since December 15, 1990, when it was moved to its current position as a compliment to the Western Oklahoma Earth Science Museum. Though the museum is now closed, the rig remains for all to see. Any traveler tracing historic Route 66 can’t help but pull over to marvel at this behemoth of engineering.