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'Man camps' spring up in the North Dakota oil fields to provide temporary housing for workers

Those of us who’ve been to North Dakota know what a lonely place it can be. I’ll never forget the first time I visited my in-laws wheat farm near New England, N.D. You have to drive miles and miles along some of the loneliest stretches of road in the country to get there. Don’t even get me started on what the winters are like. Cold might not have been invented there, but they’ve perfected it.

You’ve got to be a hearty soul to make it in North Dakota, and that is why I was attracted to the pictures that AP’s Gregory Bull made for his “Man camp” story. Bull does a good job of depicting the work and temporary home life of the oil workers.

Gregory Bull / AP

Ben Shaw hangs from an oil derrick outside of Williston, N.D. With what many are calling the largest oil boom in recent North American history, temporary housing for the huge influx of workers, known as "man camps," now dot the sparse North Dakota landscape.

Gregory Bull / AP

A man walks back to his temporary housing unit outside of Williston, N.D.

AP’s Martha Irvine reports:

After a 12-hour day, Jacob Austin, a 22-year-old line cook at the camp, stands on a pile of rocks in the camp parking lot, playing his guitar.

"I could tell you the worst thing about a man camp. It's a man camp, and not a woman camp."

He pauses, strums his guitar some more, and smiles at a female reporter.

"It's nice to see you here."

Gregory Bull / AP

Jacob Austin plays his guitar in a field next to a temporary housing unit outside of Williston, N.D. on July 25, 2011.

Rupak De Chowdhuri / Reuters

Around the globe countries are drilling for it, distributing it, trading it and looking for ways to run their economies with replacements for it.