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In the 19th century, people began to search for oil and extract it from deposits inside the earth. The first exploratory oil well was drilled in 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania. After much hard work with crude equipment, the drilling crew struck oil, and within a short time the first oil boom was on.

From the earliest days of drilling for oil, roustabouts have performed the necessary manual labor tasks of clearing the land and preparing the site for drilling. Nowadays, with increasing automation and mechanization in the oil industry, roustabouts routinely operate motorized lifts, power tools, electronic testers, and tablet computers. Although roustabouts still perform such chores as digging trenches or cutting down trees and brush, the advent of labor-saving equipment has enabled roustabouts to assume more maintenance and troubleshooting responsibilities.

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