The Anvil Points Facility in Colorado

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View of the pump house at Locality 5 at the Anvil Points Facility, Colorado.

View of the pump house at Locality 5 at the Anvil Points Facility, Colorado.

Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. (CRA), conducted a Class III cultural resource inventory for Locality 5 of the Anvil Points Facility. Six other Localities were recorded by CRA personnel for a previous project. Locality 5 included the mine water supply area. The inventory was required to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. This inventory was completed at the request of Golder Associates Inc., in conjunction with the Glenwood Springs Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Garfield County, Colorado.


The Anvil Points Facility was built in 1945 by the Laramie Energy Research Center, a division of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, and began development of mining oil shale at Anvil Points. The project included an underground mine, an above-ground refinery and retort, and a residential area to house project personnel. The facility was decommissioned in the mid-1980s. Other Localities have been previously documented and include the plant site (Locality 1), the housing area (Locality 2), the trash disposal area (Locality 3), the mine (Locality 4), the water pump station (Locality 6), and the road system (Locality 7).

Cultural Resource Inventory

Overview of mining feature at the Anvil Points Facility.

Overview of mining feature at the Anvil Points Facility.

CRA recorded the water supply area in September 2006. This consisted of two ponds, the remains of a pump house, a possible pump house, a dismantled power line, and the remains of a water tank. The Anvil Points Facility is eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria A due to its importance to the economic development of the region and its importance in the history of oil shale development in Colorado.

CRA developed a Data Recovery Plan to provide mitigation against remedial actions planned for the Anvil Points site. The plan included archival photography, archival research, oral interviews, and monitoring during re-vegetation of Locality 2 to document and protect the history of how the site worked and its social environment.

15 comments on “The Anvil Points Facility in Colorado
  1. Margaret J. Shaw says:

    My father, Van E. Shaw was a chemist at the Anvil Point facility and director of the lab the last year of it’s full operation. I lived in the housing area from the summer of 1946 until the summer of 1955. I am glad that something is being done to preserve the history of the facility and hope that it will eventually get put on the National Register of historic places.

    I haven’t been to Rifle since 2010 but noted then that the road to the mine still leaves a scar on the landscape. But, this is part of history. I am glad that the EPA got the place cleaned up. I am surprised that more of us did not become ill as careless as people were then about the environment. It was a unique place to grow up and I think about it often. Margaret (Peggy) Shaw

    • Savannah Westerfield says:

      Thank you so much for stopping by our blog. It is always wonderful to hear from people who have been touched by some of the sites we get to help preserve and document.

    • Marilyn Ludwig says:

      I would love to get in touch with Peggy Shaw. She was a childhood friend back when we were neighbors in Anvil Points. My maiden name was Moore. Have been back to visit Anvil Points many times. My father was Ted Moore, who designed the water and waste treatment plants..

      • Margaret (Peggy) Shaw says:

        Marilyn, I just read your reply from website on Anvil Points. I was so glad to see it. I think about Anvil Points a lot and wish more was being done to preserve what is left of it. I would love to see someone get it put on the National Reg.of Historic places. I made an effort to get the road to the facility from the highway put on the register back in 85 or 86 but there wasn’t much interest and I wasn’t there long enough to do much about it. It was the first road paved oil from shale. I am 74 today and in pretty poor health and can’t travel much anymore. I in Harlingen TX. Would love to hear from you. I miss your dear mother. Peggy

    • Marilyn Moore Ludwig says:

      I might have seen this too late. I’m wondering if Peggy might remember me – Marilyn Moore, a neighbor of yours in Anvil Points. I was a few years younger, but we were good friends. I still have a photo of us playing dress-up.

  2. Morgan Bear says:

    The house I grew up in was originally from this project. I know the homes were relocated to different parts of Garfield County. I have been looking for pictures of the houses from Locality 2, in their original setting. Do you have any?

    • Savannah Westerfield says:

      Thank you so much for stopping by our blog. I can check our archives and see if we have any historical photos acquired during research and get back to you.

    • Savannah Westerfield says:

      After consulting our archives and also the project manager, I was unable to find any pictures of the houses you asked about. Our Project Manager noted that only foundations of the structures remained when he began the fieldwork in 2006. However, there are two references that the Project Manager recalls seeing pictures of the houses in. Those are listed below. Again, thank you for stopping by our blog, and I hope this helps!

      Albee, R. and C. Albee
      1974 “The Oil Shalers of Anvil Point” Empire Magazine, pp 36-40. Denver Post, June 2, 1974.

      United States Bureau of Mines
      1947 Dedication of the Oil-Shale Demonstration Plant Rifle, Colorado.

    • Margaret (Peggy) Shaw says:

      I have lots of pictures, but unfortunately they are buried in my heated storage unit in Tacoma WA. I sold my house and became a genealogy gypsy in 02 and have been RVing full time ever since. I am 74 today and in poor health and don’t know when I will be able to get my things out of the storage unit. It won’t be until I move into assisted livng.

    • Marilyn Moore Ludwig says:

      I have several.

    • Gary Naugle says:

      I have a picture of my house…53 Anvil Points. Lived there 1965-1967. My mom worked at the library in the Rec Hall. My dad worked on Rifle Gap Dam Construction. Remember riding bikes down oil shale refinery road.

  3. Rick Wildrick says:

    I was wondering if anyone has a map to the site or GPS coordinates that they might share, I would like to visit the site as part of research I am conducting on the history of energy exploration/development in the Western US

    • Savannah Westerfield says:

      Hi Rick,
      Thank you so much for stopping by our blog. The work we conducted at the Anvil Points Facility in Colorado was for the BLM and we are not allowed to give out site locations. Additionally, part of the land worked on is private and we can’t give anyone access to someone else’s land. You can contact the BLM in Silt, Colorado, about Anvil Point and they then can decided what information to release to you. If you are in Colorado, you are welcome to come in and talk to the project manager, Ted Hoefer at our Longmont, Colorado, office about the project and he can show you some materials from the project. Thank you again for your interest!

  4. jim mccoy says:

    Does the aboveground facility still exist and is it still active in retorting shale? I had read that Development Engineering Inc., had leased the facility to do testing of a new process?

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