Russell H. Volk ’26

PE Hall of Fame Class of 2022

Volk standing on a rig
Industry newspaper headline
Gov Ed Johnson visits CO and WY oilmen

Russell H. Volk pioneered petroleum exploration and development in the Denver-Julesburg basin.

A 1926 graduate as an “engineer of mines,” Volk was an instructor in petroleum engineering while earning his master’s in mining engineering. While at Mines, he and other faculty formed the Plains Exploration Company.

After graduation, Volk and other faculty formed the Plains Exploration Company, and he served as vice president and director for nearly a decade before becoming president and CEO.

Volk was deeply involved at Mines after retirement. He was director of the Mines Foundation, sat on the university’s Board of Trustees. He was also president of the Alumni Board and editor of Mines Magazine.

He stands out as one of the greatest student-athletes in Mines history, earning 15 varsity letters in football, wrestling, boxing, basketball and baseball. He was inducted into Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1977 and Mines Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997. In 1974, the campus gymnasium was renamed in his honor. Volk died in 1973.

Professional Societies

  • National Chairman, American Delegation of Students representing the United States at the International Student Conference
  • Vice President, Director and Executive Committee Member, Independent Petroleum Association of America
  • Vice Chairman, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
  • President, Vice President and Director, Petroleum Club of Denver
  • Director, Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Association


  • Finney Award for Student Leadership, Colorado School of Mines
  • Distinguished Achievement Medal, Colorado School of Mines

Oil Man of the Year, Denver Petroleum Club