23 February 2009

Olinda Oil Field, 1916

Although I can't be totally certain (maybe someone else is), here are a couple of amazing photos that I believe show the Olinda Oil Field at the western end of Carbon Canyon on 29 March 1916.

The images at the bottom right and top left are the full views, with the others being details. The image at the bottom shows the photographer in the driver's seat (note the left front wheel and headlight at the far right) looking north on what would appear to be Valencia Avenue, in its earlier configuration as it curved into what is now Carbon Canyon Road (the curve is at the distance just to the left of the headlight. Also, Lambert Road did not then exist at this junction.) Straight ahead are the hills, on which, to the right or east, is the Olinda Alpha Landfill. Many oil derricks are in view on and just below the hills. Meanwhile, there are also quite a number of structures, including, presumably, homes. The building closest to the photographer at left appears not to be a home, however, though it is not clear what it is. The date "3-29-16" is at the lower left. There are two details above the original view.

The second photograph appears to have been taken on what is now Carbon Canyon Road looking toward the hills to the north, where the Santa Fe section of the field was located and which is now the Olinda Ranch subdivision. Again, there is a forest of wooden oil derricks, in a greater density than in the other photo, with some storage tanks at the left. The number of structures, although there are some in view, is far fewer than in the previous image. The date is at the bottom right and, on the reverse of both photographs the word "Brea" is written along with the date.

The reason I am almost positive that this is Olinda is because there were only two oil fields existing in Brea in 1916: Olinda and Brea Canyon. The landscape, however, in Brea Canyon is far different with higher, steeper and more rocky slopes on the hills, whereas those in Olinda, as shown in these views, are gentler, lower and smoother. Also, the curve of the road in the lower photo seems to match what Valencia Avenue did when it turned into Carbon Canyon Road (this stretch of road is still extant in the fenced-in oil field area just to the east of the current Valencia Avenue--a stretch that I need to go photograph now that the fires have burned away much of the vegetation that had concealed that portion of road.)

At any rate, if someone sees these photos and can corroborate (or disprove) my assumptions, that would be great.

The photographs are reproduced courtesy of the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, City of Industry.

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