Dana McMurray wanted her big wedding day to include a much bigger symbol of her beloved grandfather.
She thought it would be great to get married in front of the 31.5-metre tall derrick that can be easily seen on the west side of Hwy 2, just south of the Blackfalds overpass.
On Saturday, the 28-year-old Blackfalds woman became Mrs. Johnson when she wed Dennis Johnson, 38, in front of 130 guests.
As raindrops started to fall and the winds picked up, the couple ended up geting married inside the decorated quonset hut where the reception was to be held. The blissful couple then rode in a 1961 Chrysler to the hill where the non-working rig stands. The small rain shower stopped by then as the newly wedded couple and their wedding party had photos taken.
Dana said she knew she wanted to get married on the property where the rig stood because she was remembering her grandfather, Bob McMurray, who died of cancer in August 2010.
“I remember everything about him,” said Dana, then wiping tears from her eyes.
The property was where her grandparents had lived as she grew up, so she was there a lot.
More than 30 years ago, McMurray, founder of Twin Rock Holdings in Blackfalds, erected his first oil derrick next to his home above the Blindman River.
The first derrick smashed to smithereens in 1993, while Bob was working with it.
Bob’s son, Punk, had been standing on the floor with his small children, including Dana, at the time.
“The base had been homemade…we had each of the legs welded. ” recalled Punk, one of Bob’s five sons. “We were sitting on the floor.”
Bob gave the rig’s controls a bounce to see how strong it was.
“This leg tore up and swung around, and the whole thing went over,” said Punk.
This derrick, also about 31.5 metres tall, came toppling down and the family had to scramble to get away.
Punk’s brother Mark said the second derrick was bought for $800 and then sold for $240,000.
The much taller rig was in working condition when it was sold to a company in the southern United States.
The present rig is decorated at Christmas time, including a big star that’s placed at the top.
Mark said his father wanted to erect these derricks because they were a symbol of his life in the oil patch.
Years later, Bob’s granddaughter Dana went to work in the oil and gas industry herself. It was this decision that led her to her now husband Dennis, who she met in Fort McMurray.
When asked what he thought about his daughter wanting to get married in front of the rig, Punk said with a smile, “the floors would have been cleaner in a hall.”