O N September 19, 1957, a Midland Utilities pipeline crew pulled up at a new gas well and began unloading pipe and equipment, getting ready to tie the well into the company's transmission line. A raw wind was blowing. The crew worked fast to keep warm and finish the job before dark. The district superintendent had dropped by to see how they were getting along.
Just as the trenching machine began to bite into the prairie soil, a message came in over the short-wave radio. The crew foreman and superintendent listened intently for a few seconds, and then shouted to the rest of the crew to load up again. A major line break had occurred some 50 miles away.
In a few minutes the trucks were rolling, with the district superintendent's car in the lead. As the trucks raced to the area of the break, the radio messages continued giving the superintendent more details on the emergency.
Some miles down the highway, one truck was detoured to a county road where it stopped beside a bypass valve. The two men in the truck jumped out and switched the gas flow to an undamaged parallel line. They stayed at the valve to close off the flow entirely if the second line should also fail. The foreman went on to the warehouse to pick up couplings and two men who were welders.
The superintendent and the rest of the crew rushed on to the break. Finally they came to a stop beside two parked cars in a wet stretch of bottomland beside a levee. Near the ears stood the general pipeline superintendent, the manager of Midland operations in a nearby town, and several pipeliners from another crew.