Oil: The Luck of Roaring Oneida

The fryers in Noah Blevins' hen house woke up one morning recently to find a 10-ft. flame roaring up out of the barnyard. It was a "burn-off." Like a dozen or so other small farmers around Oneida, Tenn. (pop. 3,500), Blevins had just struck oil. Before long, the chicken coops took second place to storage tanks as the dominant topography on the Blevins farm. The biggest oil boom in the state's history has brought prosperity to rural Scott County on the Cumberland Plateau of eastern Tennessee.

Affluence has its price, of course. "The...

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