I never really thought that my childhood obsession with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books would have an application to my job as a commercial real estate reporter but as it happens, it actually does. It turns out that there are a lot of similarities between what’s going on around the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota today and Wilder’s life as an early settler in De Smet, South Dakota, more than a hundred years ago.

Wilder details long, harsh winters, man camps, worker and goods shortages and towns that spring up as their infrastructure is being built around them. There’s a problem with mice and a shortage of cats on Little Town on the Prairie and there is an entire book—The Long Winter­­—that deals with how Amazon.com can’t deliver packages for months because a series of blizzards makes it impossible for the trains to get through the snow drifts (that part about Amazon actually didn’t happen but the town of De Smet was, in fact, snowed in for five or six months and was lucky to escape starvation).

All of these factors (hopefully apart from the whole being cut off from the world thing) are still in place in the region today as natural gas companies seek to build towns and cities for what is expected to be a run of at least 30-40 years. Dan Lisser of Johnson Capital and Norman Radow of The Radco Companies speak eloquently about what they are seeing in this segment of the market in the latest episode of REFI TV. Check out the video at bit.ly/1kEH1s5