29 January 2011

Olinda Oil Museum and Historic Trail

Introductory text panels in the Olinda Oil Museum and Trail parking area.
It was far too long overdue, but driving home from work this afternoon, I stopped by the Olinda Oil Museum and Trail within the housing subdivision of Olinda Ranch (formerly the Olinda Oil Field) to see if the former was open.   Finding that some lead abatement and repainting was going on in the 1912 field house (which I have yet to actually go into), I walked around the displays of oil-related equipment, of which there are photos included here.

The field house for the Olinda Oil field, built in 1912.

Most notable of the items around the museum, which include rigs, trucks, tanks and other equipment, is the original Olinda Well #1, first put into production back in 1897, and still generating some output some 115 years later.  It and the other wells in the area are now owned and operated by Breitburn, a small, independent company.

Olinda oil well #1, brought into production in 1897 by Los Angeles tycoon
Edward Doheny, and still yielding crude 114 years later.

What had changed in the several years since I last went to the site was the creation of the Olinda Trail, a loop that starts from the museum complex and winds up the hills behind it and then to the east before descending into a canyon and out to a paved road that terminates at Santa Fe Road, the main entrance off Carbon Canyon Road to Olinda Ranch and the museum.

A view of the Olinda Oil Museum complex from the trail.

The trail was funded by two grants from the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles River and Mountains Conservancy totaling over $140,000 from California Proposition 40, the Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002.  The first phase took the trail up to dedicated open space on the hilltop adjacent to Chino Hills State Park (this area north of Carbon Canyon Road was added to the park several years prior).  The second phase completed the loop, which is 2.2 miles total.

Looking west at the Olinda Ranch subdivision and points beyond,
including new construction in Tonner Hills.

There is a 275-foot elevation gain, so there are a few sections of fairly steep climbing, albeit with switchbacks to ease the effort, but the payoff is a series of panoramic views taking in Carbon and Soquel canyons on the east, the Santa Ana Mountains and the Orange County coastal plains to the south, and the Fullerton, Brea and La Habra areas to the west.  Today was somewhat hazy, so a clear day would probably afford views as far off as Santa Catalina Island in the distance.

Looking southeast toward Diemer water treatment,
Chino Hills State Park and the Santa Ana Mountains.

Along the way there are a series of markers to keep hikers well-oriented as to the trail's direction and several interpretive panels discussing the history of the oil field, the people who lived and worked there, and other topics.  These are well-done with some nice photographs and enough text to give basic information, but not too much to overwhelm.  With the abnormal level of rainfall in December (tempered somewhat by the complete absence of the same this month), there is a nice carpet of green on the hills and even some early wildflowers, as shown in the photo below.

Another westward view.

Because most of the trail ascends the south face of the hills behind the museum, road noise from Carbon Canyon Road was everpresent, but there was a welcome respite from this when the trail descended and then momentarily turned into the canyon at the east edge of the Olinda Ranch subdivision.  This brief escape soon ended, though, when an asphalt road led along the back of some of the homes and in between others before leading back to Santa Fe Road.

Looking east and seeing virtually no signs of "civilization"!

For experienced hikers used to long treks in, say, Chino Hills State Park or the nearby mountains, this is a very easy walk, but, if any bit of history is of interest, the trail provides that and some nice views to boot.  An hour should be plenty for even a leisurely walk, though a little more time could be expended on reading the panels and taking in the views. 

At the peak of the trail looking southward.

Even if the museum is closed, the park is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily with the parking area at 4025 Santa Fe Road, just north of Carbon Canyon Road and directly across from the entrance to Carbon Canyon Regional Park.

A cluster of wildflowers along the trail nourished by December's heavy rainfall.

To see the City of Brea's Web page for the museum and trail, click here.  For the .pdf of the brochure (which needs updating because the Olinda Trail has been completed for a few years now), click here.

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