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I grew up playing games like Red Rover and Freeze Tag  and Blind Man’s Bluff and occasionally, on rainy days, Hangman.

I didn’t give any thought to how macabre the name was at the time.

I’ve always been a poor speller so it wasn’t one of my favorites.

I could think of lots of great words that I didn’t know how to spell.

I’ve been doing some reading about drill sites.

I discovered that the game Hangman and the  Derrick on an oil rig can both be traced back to the same man who made his name in the gallows.

There’s a happy thought!

The derrick on a drill site is the one thing everybody recognizes.

Derrick at Parr 1852

It’s how people find us in the middle of the night when their directions read something along the lines of: head south out-of-town and go on until you get there.

The fellow that the derrick was named after, Thomas Derrick, was a nasty chapter in English history.

His fame came as an executioner, not a popular career path. Friends and families of the deceased tended to hold a grudges.

Those guys wore those hoods for a reason and it wasn’t to look scary!

In Thomas Derricks’ case, he was sentenced to death and then pardoned by the Earl of Essex on the condition that he become an executioner.

He apparently took to the job. He executed more than 3,000 people in his career including, ironically, the Earl of Essex.

He spent so much time at work that he took the gallows to a whole new level.

He improved on the old rope-over-the beam by devising a beam with a topping lift and pulleys for his hangings.

The derrick arriving in Smiley

Eventually the word derrick became an eponym for the frame that supported the hangman’s noose. Kind of like sandwich, which was famously consumed, if not invented by, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. 😀

When hangings became less popular, the word derrick was adopted to describe cranes and other large lifting devices which used a similar support system.

The basic oil derrick has an upright stationary section that can support hundreds of tons of weight. It also has a movable boom which is used to raise and lower equipment.

The job of the Derrickman on an oil rig crew, fortunately has no connection to Thomas.

The derrickman gets his name from the fact that he works on a platform attached to the derrick, typically 85 ft or so above the drill rig floor.

In a typical trip out of the hole (TOH), the derrickman wears a special safety harness that lets him to lean out from the platform ( the monkeyboard) to reach the drillpipe in the center of the derrick, throw a line around the pipe and pull it back into its storage location (the fingerboards) until it is time to run the pipe back into the well.

In an emergency, the derrickman can leap to the ground by an escape line called the Geronimo line. The Geronimo line is an interesting story but I’ve already exceeded by 500 words for tonight.

This post is a bit of background for tomorrow nights’ tale of our Derrickman, Jimmy and his noose.

7 thoughts on “Hangman

  1. I think you need to triangulate the satellite, spin around three times with your thumb touching your nose and pray to the Azimuth Gods to get the menu……!

  2. There’s a new show on dish network called “Cold Diggers” it has a Nabors rig up in northern Montana and another company up above the arctic drilling. I learned alot from the show. It’s channel 193 on Dish.

  3. Pingback: The Derrikman and the Noose « FORK IN THE ROAD

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