Skip to Main Content

Oil pioneers: bronze
Oil pioneers: bronze"Partners" Mack Chase and John Gray.

The Derrick Floor

Field review by the editors.

Artesia, New Mexico

Three bronze sculptures define "Oil Pioneer Plaza" in downtown Artesia. They were dedicated on April 24, 2004, as part of the 80th anniversary of the first commercial oil well in southeastern New Mexico.

The Derrick.
The Derrick.

"Woman's Intuition" depicts Mary Yates sitting on a spool of cable, pointing to a spot on the ground. Her husband had drilled two dry wells, and the Yates' hired geologist refused to pick another. So Mary chose a spot and said, "Drill there." Her husband did, and struck oil on April 9, 1924, ushering in the Artesia oil boom.

"Partners" shows big-bellied oilmen Mack Chase and Johnny Gray leaning across the artfully floating hood of a pickup. The two local men went into the oil and gas business in 1972, and for 20 years ran a successful company making most of their business deals this way: no lawyers, and just a sun-baked truck hood desk.

Oil workers on The Derrick Floor.

The third sculpture, "Derrick Floor," is a full-size 37-foot-high drilling rig created by artist Vic Payne. Visitors are welcome to climb onto the drilling platform and examine the sculpture's obsessive technical detail. According to its plaque, the sculpture is meant to ennoble the workers "who take the risks and do the work to find, produce, and refine New Mexico oil and gas" -- so its four-man crew is scaled at a hero-size 125 percent.

The Derrick Floor

S 6th St., Artesia, NM
S 6th St and W Main St/Bus US Hwy 82
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Large Old West StatuesLarge Old West Statues, Artesia, NM - < 1 mi.
Living Desert Zoo and GardensLiving Desert Zoo and Gardens, Carlsbad, NM - 29 mi.
Alien Alien "Welcome to Roswell" Art, Roswell, NM - 33 mi.
In the region:
Tree of Knowledge, Roswell, NM - 39 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in New Mexico

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in New Mexico.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Map and Plan Your Own Roadside Adventure ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

New Mexico Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Poozeum: Dinosaur Turds, Williams, Arizona (Jun 10-16, 2024)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings