Nodding Donkeys  LbNA # 25116

OwnerBoots Tex    
Placed DateSep 1 2006
LocationMidland, TX
Found By Shirl
Last Found Sep 26 2015
Hike Distance?
Last EditedSep 26 2015

You see them everywhere in Texas, but in West Texas, there may be more of them than people. They have been used in stationary and marine steam engine designs since the 1700’s and the engineering term for the mechanism is a walking beam. Most folks nowadays call them “pumpjacks”. Some call them grasshoppers. In various parts of the world they may be called a beam pump, rod pump, jack pump or thirsty bird. In Europe and the Far East, most likely you will hear them called Nodding Donkeys. I was born and raised in Midland, so I grew up with them, to the point that they became invisible, a natural part of the landscape, like mesquite bushes and tumbleweeds. When the rig is moved off after drilling an oil well, the Nodding Donkeys are employed to pump the crude oil, often working on the same well for decades.


This letterbox is placed at the Petroleum Museum in Midland. From I-20, take exit 136, SH 349 and turn west onto the north service road. Turn right into the grounds at the Petroleum Museum.

To the box:

Take the circle drive, which is a one-way loop, to the right about a quarter of the way around, then turn right onto a paved road to the Oil Field Equipment Exhibit, which is behind the museum. Park at the exhibit and look at the different types of “nodding donkeys”. Locate the Reed Air Balance exhibit. Walk behind the blue pumpjack and , standing at the left back corner, take 14 steps toward a prickly pear on the left and a small mesquite on the right. The camo box is at the base of the mesquite under a rock.