A postcard from where Alaska's oil industry and wilderness meet


In our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to a NewsHour Shares, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

Oil started flowing down the Trans-Alaska pipeline some 40 years ago. Every summer, thousands of workers come to work in the oil fields in and around Deadhorse, Alaska, transforming this small town and keeping postal worker Les Dunbar very busy.

From Alaska Public Media, Eric Keto has this profile.

LES DUNBAR, Postal Worker: It's just the Arctic is awesome. It's a very, very awesome place.

I mean, look at the size of his paws. He was probably like, not even two miles from here. Figured he was like 800 pounds.

My name is Les Dunbar, and I am the postal clerk for the Prudhoe Bay Post Office.

I have been doing this about 18-and-a-half years.

ERIC KETO: The Prudhoe Bay Post Office is located in Deadhorse, Alaska, a collection of industrial buildings clustered at the far north edge of the state. People get confused when Les tells them about the place she works.

LES DUNBAR: They all think it's a town with stores and churches and hospitals. And it's not. It's actually a work site.

ERIC KETO: Just like the thousands of oil workers who staff Prudhoe Bay, Les lives in modular housing that's trucked in and stacked up. She eats meals prepared in a company cafeteria, and she works long days.

LES DUNBAR: It's 10, 12 hours of work a day. We do two-week hitches. So, we work 14 days. And then we get 14 days off.

I meet a lot of neat people that work up here, but the really interesting ones, obviously, are the travelers, the adventure people.

ERIC KETO: Les' bulletin board, right outside the post office window, features a handful of the people she's encountered over the years.

LES DUNBAR: There was a lady that flew her horse up here on a freight plane and then rode the whole pipeline from here to Valdez.

ERIC KETO: For Les, working at Prudhoe Bay is one way to connect with the wildness of Alaska.

LES DUNBAR: You got to make your own entertainment. I enjoy the hike, winter or summer. And I'm a real advocate for keeping the wilderness the wilderness, which is funny for me to be saying, because I'm working up here in the oil field.

Some Alaskans have never been up here, and it's getting more and more popular to drive up, do some camping along the way, and you got to buy a postcard or a hoodie and mail it home.

ERIC KETO: And if you're lucky, Les might just add your photo to the bulletin board.

From Alaska's Energy Desk, I'm Eric Keto in Deadhorse.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you for that view.

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