First of all me and some friends off mine worked in Gillette last spring and here is what we saw.
Gillette is about 33,000 right now and was projected to be 50,000 by 2010. Mainly because of mining and gas bed methane. Although I have heard the gas bed methane boom may have leveled off somewhat.
Modern city with all the comforts of any city, to include WINTER that is spelled in all caps and bolded. Winter doesnt' screw around in Gillette.
Good modern and new schools and facilities. Has a great public recreation commission with fitness center, indoor pool, racquet ball, squash and handball courts. Very reasonable as well. Single person was $33.00 a month by the month.
Gillette's main problem, meth. It is pretty bad. Until BNSF told the cab company to clean its act up, several drivers were from the half-way houses for meth offenders. Gillette's other major problem is that it is all there is for several hundred miles. (as far as other cities are concerned)
There are a lot of outdoor activities and other distractions if you can get away from work.
Work for BNSF. Seniority is fairly low. You can get engine service with about 6 to 12 months. Four trainmen boards. Conductor and brakeman extra board and south pool and loaders pool.
If you have the seniority, the loaders pool is the way to go. When I was working Gillette, I made in ecess of $5,000 a half. They've lost some slots and the wages are down a bit but not too much.
Extra boards are extra boards.
South pool runs from Gillette to Guernsey.
Familiarization. The Powder River Div. just started unpaid familiarization. If you must go through it, keep track of your runs and turn in a special claim after each trip. They may or may not get paid. The UTU and BLE are both excellent up there. You may have to sue for your lost wages or submit a complaint to the Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. Right now there is a lawsuit against BNSF and the UTU (on the old Santa Fe side) for unpaid familiarization. Go to
Overall Gillette isn't a bad place to work. Lots of work but the housing is expensive. However, if you are young and plan on staying, you can afford it. The work isn't going away and the place will continue to be very very busy as more power plants are built.