Sunday, December 29, 2013

Louisiana: Doodlebugs

"Exploring for Oil in Mississippi Delta. Doodlebug crew in swamp setting shot line." Credit: Chevron Retired Workers

I have a feeling that as I learn some Louisiana terminology, I'll get myself into trouble sometimes, but that's part of the learning curve.

To say that oil is a big part of the Louisiana economy is an understatement. Its exploration, harvest, processing, and transportation permeate the Louisiana culture. 

So, doodlebug. The word isn't so much Louisiana-specific as it is oil-industry-specific.

(In one context, a doodlebug is what we in the Midwest call a rolypoly, you know, that bug that curls up when you touch it.)

But a doodlebug is also
.... oilfield workers know this term as describing a person who is in the oil exploration business. Mainly seismic crews.

"Some doodlebugs use dynamite to find oil and others use vibrators". "Those damn doodlebuggers tore up my cottonfield with their trucks again"

Related to oil exploration, a doodlebug is a device (as a divining rod) used in attempting to locate underground gas, water, oil, or ores. 

Doodlebug Days. Credit: Amazon

From the book Doodlebug Days: An American Family's Ups and Downs as Middle-Class Migrants, written about the Depression-era oil exploration industry: 
Between 1900 and 1936 California led the nation in petroleum production. Oil companies, certain that great reserves of oil still laid hidden, sent exploration crews - called doodlebug parties - out to find them ... 

Doodlebug (tanker) 1935. Credit: Chevron Retired Workers

Here's a song about a doodlebug who used a divining rod to find oil:



Carol Varsalona said...

Fascinating information about a profession that I never hear of before. Thank you for opening my eyes.

Mzuri said...

As mine were opened - who'd have thought? Doodlebugs! Thank you for stopping and commenting!

Unknown said...

I have been trying to find any songs concerning Doodlebugging. I spent 29 years,1983-2012 living the dream as we called it. My late brother, Gary Lee Stamey started what would become the biggest site in the world at the time dedicated to us. I have begun a Facebook Group called ",THE SEISMIC ZONE. Feel free to peruse it and join. It is a good crew. The song will fit in as todays morning post.

Unknown said...

I am a "Doodlebugger". I spent 29 years, 1983-2012, doing a job that to this day is rarely spoken of except in negative fashion due to the process of acquiring data using Seismic Refraction. There is plenty of material on the web to explain the process however, hardly a word is spoken of the type of individual it took to do the job well and not get injured or worse. I have a Facebook Group called THE SEISMIC ZONE which has brought many out who were Juggy's. A sub-specis of a Doodlebugger. It has amazing photos, stories and camaraderie rarely found outside of the military.