West Field Elementary School, located at 17601 N. Pennsylvania Avenue, sits directly atop one of the most productive oil fields in the nation – the second largest in Oklahoma, next to the Glen Pool of Tulsa. The West Edmond Field was discovered during World War II when the need for domestic oil supplies was imperative to Allied victory. Looking west toward the field during those days, one would have seen a vast prairie dotted with innumerable rigs, pumping from the Hunton Limestone formation an eventual 100 million barrels of oil.
The West Field was discovered by wild-catter Ace Gutowski upon advice from farmer J.M. Young who was convinced that oil lay beneath his property. Using an innovative method of a “doodle bug” attached to a gold chain hanging from a goat-skinned bottle, Gutowski selected the site for the first drilling effort. This first well brought a swarm of oilmen such as Dean McGee to develop an area of 37,000 acres, operating almost 900 productive wells. In 1944 alone, the area produced 39,000 barrels a day and employed hundreds of workers who greatly boosted Edmond’s economy.
At the time of the school’s opening in 2006, many active natural gas wells will continue to operate around its site, reminding us of the significance of the oil industry to our community. Naming the site West Field appropriately highlights the geographic location of the school and serves as a reminder of the importance of natural resources to our past and to our future.