I joined the oil rush to an American boomtown. Guess who got rich?

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People said Williston, North Dakota, would boom for decades. Instead, Michael Patrick Flanagan Smith learned, it went the way of every other legendary boomtown

Life in a modern boomtown is living on the frontier but with a smartphone. “Capitalism on crack” is the way historian Clay Jenkinson referred to it – everyone taking what they can get, as fast as they can.

I spent nearly a year in an oil boomtown: from summer of 2013 to winter of 2014, I worked in the Bakken oil patch out of Williston, North Dakota. At the time, politicians, geologists, and much of the national media claimed the town would be booming for decades to come. They were all wrong.

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