FerndaleRefinery looking for fond memories

Published on Thu, Aug 19, 2004
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Ferndale Refinery looking for fond memories

ConocoPhillips Ferndale Refinery is celebrating its 50th year of operation this year with several special projects.

“As part of our celebration, we are compiling a complete history of events and activities that have occurred over the past five decades that have made Ferndale Refinery what it is today,” says Gary Goodman, refinery manager.

Once compiled, the refinery’s history will be presented in several formats, including a video, book and exhibit. The refinery also plans to gather items for a time capsule.

“Our current and retired employees have provided a wealth of information and materials for the project, but we’re also interested in hearing from people in the community who have special memories related to the refinery or memorabilia they might be willing to loan us for inclusion in our book, video or exhibit,” Goodman says. “We know there are probably history buffs in our area who have photos taken at refinery events that would be fun to include, too.”

Ferndale Refinery was built in 1954 by General Petroleum Company, the predecessor of Mobil Oil Corp., to process Canadian crude oil delivered by pipeline from Alberta. Longtime Whatcom County residents may recall the refinery’s groundbreaking ceremony, held July 18, 1953, that was attended by more than 20,000 people.

“We’d love to hear from people who have fond memories of attending that event,” says Wendy Eickmeyer, history project coordinator. “We have some photos, but it would be terrific to hear first-hand accounts of what it was like to be there.”

Many of the refinery’s first employees were part of a large contingent of families who moved from Olean, N.Y., to Ferndale to work at the new refinery.

“The 150 families who moved from Olean to Ferndale were really pioneers in many ways,” says Eickmeyer. “They uprooted their families and traveled thousands of miles across the country to work at the new refinery. It would be very interesting to talk with the grown children of some of these people to hear their perspectives on the experience and what they remember about growing up as the child of a Ferndale refinery worker.”.

“People may not realize the significant investment Ferndale Refinery has made in the arts, social service agencies and other community activities over the last 50 years,” says Eickmeyer. “We’ve discovered some long-forgotten images, such as a 1950s photo of the dedication ceremony for the Mobil drag racing strip for area teenagers. We’ve also uncovered some records of longtime affiliations, such as the Refinery’s 1955 participation in the United Fund drive, the precursor to today’s United Way. It would be wonderful to hear from some of the organizations we’ve partnered with over the years or from community members who recall events the refinery has sponsored.”

If you have memories, photos or memorabilia you would like to share for the Ferndale refinery history project, please contact Wendy Eickmeyer at 360/384-8458 or e-mail wendy.eickmeyer@conocophillips.com. You also can mail information to History Project, ConocoPhillips Ferndale Refinery, P.O. Box 8, Ferndale, WA 98248.