28 September 2009

Carbon Canyon and San Bernardino County's First Producing Oil Well?

In the 2 October 1941 issue of the Los Angeles Times a short article titled "New Oil Well Flows at Chino" was published. The piece begins by stating "Brought in by Homer May, Jr., a driller, completion of what is characterized as San Bernardino County's first producing oil well, in Carbon Canyon, four miles south of Chino, was reported today."

The article went on to note that May was only twenty-eight years old, but had a decade under his belt as a driller in oil fields. Moreover, May admitted that his well was "financed on a shoestring" ($5,000 was spent on a five month job drilling only to a depth of 1,000 feet) and was being drilled on the "installment plan," but that he anticipated a new field would be opened up with the discovery of oil in his well, which was said to be in the same geologic formation of producing wells in north Orange County.

At the time, May stated that well was capped for unspecified reasons, but that in ten days it would be producing (and "without the necessity of pumping") and crude extracted. There were four others listed as investors in the modest project, including three Los Angeles civil engineers and a TWA pilot from Hollywood.

Unfortunately, the article did not specify the location of the well, nor is there any indication of a followup article to verify that the well did actually continue to produce oil after the ten-day capping period was over. Given that there was no new oil field opened after this and that no further news coverage ensued, it can be assumed that, either the well proved to be only very limited in its output or that it was a hoax or misguided pipe dream of some kind.

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