Magazine

Mar 20, 2015

In Pursuit Of The American Dream

In Pursuit Of The American Dream

The American Dream is an iconic something and nothing rolled into one. The romantic notion of starting out with nothing and ending up with billions is still chased by millions living in the United States to this day.
Some make it, but most just miss the boat, or in this case the oil boom.

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
1

Bazileo Hernandez (L) and Jeff Williamson walk past a Home of Economy store along U.S. Route 85 while searching for jobs in Williston, North Dakota January 23, 2015. Home of Economy is a regional chain selling work clothing and boots to oilfield workers, among other things. Like so many before them, Terra Green, Jeff Williamson and Bazileo Hernandez came to North Dakota's oil country seeking a better life. They just came too late. Itinerant, unskilled workers could as recently as last spring show up in the No. 2 U.S. oil producing state and vie for salaries north of $100,000 per year with guaranteed housing. The steep drop in oil prices has changed that. After trying unsuccessfully for over a month to find work, the friends decided to leave Williston. ANDREW CULLEN/REUTERS

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
2

Jeff Williamson (R) and Bazileo Hernandez smoke cigarettes outside the Salvation Army office in Williston, North Dakota, on January 13, 2015. The group hoped to get help finding a place to stay for the night. They had arrived in Williston that morning in search of work in the Bakken oil field. ANDREW CULLEN/Andrew Cullen

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
3

Terra Green (L), Jeff Williamson (C) and Bazileo Hernandez wait to talk to a social worker in hopes of getting help finding a place to stay for the night at the Salvation Army office in Williston, North Dakota on January 13, 2015. ANDREW CULLEN/Andrew Cullen

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
4

Terra Green receives vouchers for food and clothing from social worker Pat Montgomery at the Salvation Army office in Williston, North Dakota, January 13, 2015. Montgomery was unable to help Green and her friends find a place to stay that night. ANDREW CULLEN/Andrew Cullen

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
5

Jeff Williamson (L) and Terra Green search for coats in a Salvation Army store in Williston, North Dakota January 13, 2015. They arrived in Williston earlier that day in search of work in the Bakken oil field. The Salvation Army gave them clothing and food vouchers since they did not have enough to weather the frigid North Dakota winter. ANDREW CULLEN/Andrew Cullen

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
6

Terra Green waits to get registered with a Command Center staffing agency in hopes of finding work in Williston, North Dakota, January 13, 2015. She and her friends had arrived in Williston earlier that day to search for work in the Bakken oil field. ANDREW CULLEN/Andrew Cullen

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
7

Terra Green sits outside a staffing agency in Williston, North Dakota, January 13, 2015. Green arrived in Williston earlier that day in search of work in the Bakken oil field. ANDREW CULLEN/Andrew Cullen

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
8

Bazileo Hernandez (L), Jeff Williamson (C), and Terra Green walk through Williston, North Dakota January 13, 2015. The group arrived earlier that day to search for work in the Bakken oil fields with no housing or transportation. ANDREW CULLEN/Andrew Cullen

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
9

Jeff Williamson (R) and Bazileo Hernandez rest in an RV parked on the streets of Williston, North Dakota January 13, 2015. Williamson and his friends asked a man they met at a staffing agency if they could spend the night in his vehicle. The man agreed to help them for the night. ANDREW CULLEN/Andrew Cullen

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
10

Bazileo Hernandez looks at his mobile phone in an RV parked on the streets of Williston, North Dakota January 13, 2015. A man offered to let Hernandez and his friends stay in the vehicle with him overnight since temperatures outside were below zero. The trio had arrived in town earlier that day with no jobs and nowhere to stay, but hoped to find work in the Bakken oil fields. ANDREW CULLEN/Andrew Cullen

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
11

Bazileo Hernandez (L) and his friend Jeff Williamson leave an RV they are staying in, in Williston, North Dakota January 23, 2015. ANDREW CULLEN/REUTERS

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
12

Bazileo Hernandez eats a hotdog outside a corner store in Williston, North Dakota January 13, 2015. ANDREW CULLEN/Andrew Cullen

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
13

Jeff Williamson reads a newspaper while he waits for a friend to complete a job application at a motel, as the pair searched for jobs, in Williston, North Dakota January 23, 2015. A week after arriving in Williston, Williamson and his friends were still looking for steady work. ANDREW CULLEN/REUTERS

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
14

Bazileo Hernandez (R) talks to a recruiter at a hiring event hosted at a local hotel by the oilfield services company RockWater Energy Solutions in Williston, North Dakota January 22, 2015. After a week in Williston, Hernandez and his friends were still looking for steady work. ANDREW CULLEN/REUTERS

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
15

Jeff Williamson calls a potential employer to ask about jobs in Williston, North Dakota January 23, 2015. A week after arriving in Williston from California, Williamson and his friends were still looking for steady work. ANDREW CULLEN/REUTERS

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
16

Bazileo Hernandez lies on a bed next to a checklist of potential employers and plays with a lighter shaped like a gun at a house where the group stayed for several days in Williston, North Dakota January 22, 2015. They met their host, a truck driver, at a Salvation Army church dinner, and he agreed to let the group stay in his house while they got on their feet. The man's landlord later said the group had to leave. A week after arriving in Williston from California, Hernandez and his friends were still looking for steady work. ANDREW CULLEN/REUTERS

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
17

A bail bond company's advertisement, printed to look like hundred-dollar bills, sits on a table in a house in Williston, North Dakota January 22, 2015. ANDREW CULLEN/REUTERS

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
18

Terra Green folds laundry while preparing to leave a house where the group stayed for several days in Williston, North Dakota January 22, 2015. ANDREW CULLEN/REUTERS

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
19

Terra Green smokes a cigarette on the roof of a house in Williston, North Dakota January 22, 2015. ANDREW CULLEN/REUTERS

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
20

Terra Green (R) and Jeff Williamson (L) kiss after being married at the Williams County courthouse in Williston, North Dakota February 6, 2015. Later the same day, Green took a bus back to Oregon, where she is from. Green and Williamson travelled to Williston with a friend, Bazileo Hernandez, in search of work. After trying unsuccessfully for over a month to find work, the friends decided to leave Williston. ANDREW CULLEN/Andrew Cullen

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
21

Shortly after getting married to Jeff Williamson, Terra Green holds a voucher for a bus ticket from a social worker at the Salvation Army office in Williston, North Dakota February 6, 2015. ANDREW CULLEN/Andrew Cullen

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
22

Terra Green (L) and Jeff Williamson (R) kiss before Green boards a bus outside the station in Williston, North Dakota, on February 6, 2015. ANDREW CULLEN/Andrew Cullen

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
23

Terra Green (L) talks with her sister, Deanna Rapisura in the kitchen of her apartment in The Dalles, Oregon, March 6, 2015. After trying unsuccessfully for over a month to find work in Williston, North Dakota, Green and her husband, Jeff Williamson returned to her hometown, The Dalles. They later split up. ANDREW CULLEN/REUTERS

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
24

Jeff Williamson (R) takes a break from yard work while staying with a friend in The Dalles, Oregon, March 6, 2015. ANDREW CULLEN/REUTERS

In Pursuit Of The American Dream
25

The Columbia River flows past The Dalles, Oregon March 6, 2015. Like so many before them, Terra Green, Jeff Williamson and Bazileo Hernandez came to North Dakota's oil country seeking a better life. They just came too late. Itinerant, unskilled workers could as recently as last spring show up in the No. 2 U.S. oil producing state and vie for salaries north of $100,000 per year with guaranteed housing. The steep drop in oil prices has changed that. After trying unsuccessfully for over a month to find work, the friends decided to leave Williston. Green and Williamson returned to her home town of The Dalles. ANDREW CULLEN/REUTERS

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