31 August 2011

Olinda Oil Field History: Origins of Olinda, Part 9

With the end of the nineteenth-century, the hurried activity at the Olinda Oil Field, Orange County's first such center of petroleum prospecting, continued unabated.  For Olinda Ranch founder William Hervey Bailey, this meant further manueverings to protect and maximize his interests.  As noted previously, Bailey created the Olinda Oil Company and then assisted in the organization of the Richfield Oil Company.  But, by late 1899, he engineered the formation of the Consolidated Olinda Oil Company, which appeared to be a front for the powerful Union Oil Company.  Still, the legal issues continued.

In the 22 July 1900 issue of the Los Angeles Times, it was noted that "disputed ownership of territory in the Fullerton [really Olinda] field promises to result within a short  time in the opening of litigation involving the property of nearly every company in the district."  In this instance, this had to do with discrepancies in surveys affecting the boundary of land controlled by two entities: the Fullerton Oil Company and the Fullerton Consolidated Oil Company, the latter controlled by Charles Victor Hall, who was profiled here a while back.

As to Bailey's own consolidated firm, the issue had a short notice that "The Olinda Consolidated is moving a rig to the old Carlton township," indicating an interest in developing its operations further south and perhaps east of its main concentration in the area in and around today's Carbon Canyon Regional Park. 

There was other interesting local news.  For example, the new Soquel Canyon Oil Company (a stock certificate of which was highlighted in this blog some time back), sunk its first well, but found trouble in drilling, so pulled the rig and started a second one nearby.  This company, while working in the area where Soquel and Carbon canyons meet, near Olinda Village and the Hollydale Mobile Home Park, believed it had oil prospects because of successful wells on the same geological "strike" as that of the Columbia and Fullerton companies.  By 1902, however, the Soquel Canyon firm went belly-up as its wells turned up dry.

Meanwhile, further east and south, it was announced that "a large corps of surveyors has been at work on Chino ranch land in Telegraph Cañon . . . good oil conditions exist there."  Telegraph Canyon is the main east-west canyon that runs along the north portion of Chino Hills State Park and some interesting history there will someday be added to this blog. 
A little more than a mohth later, on 31 August 1900, the Times announced further news concerning W. H. Bailey's Olinda activities.  Some 4,400 acres of land was purchased by Bailey and partners for yet another oil firm, the Olinda Crude Oil Company.  This company's capitalization was much higher than Bailey's earlier endeavors, totaling $2 million, and featured a larger pool of investors.  These included prominent Los Angeles businessmen like Abraham Haas, Herman Baruch, H. H. Kerckhoff, M. A. Hamburger, S. H. Mott,  F. W. Braun (men involved in wholesale grocery, furniture, and pharmaceutical enterprises) and Times publisher Harry Chandler.  Its directors also featured banker Herman W. Hellman, lumberman William H. Perry, Braun, Baruch and, of course, Bailey.

Some of the new concern's lands were oil producing under lease to the Columbia and Fullerton companies and 10% of the 4,400 acres were under lease and new wells were being drilled on those, while the remaining company-owned land was to be thoroughly investigated for new wells paid for by the Olinda Crude entity.  By early January 1901, in fact, the Times reported that its first well struck oil at 740 feet.

This was Bailey's last oil company on the ranch he founded in 1887.  His oil-prospecting enterprise seems to have had some success over the years, although it was again reconstituted, using the name Olinda Land Company.  State oil reports in 1918 and 1921 noted that the firm had ten, then eleven, wells and was under the leadership of Bailey's son, William, Jr.  Meantime, in October 1906, remaining land at the Olinda Ranch was sold by Bailey to Jacob Stern, the highly successful German-born Jewish merchant, born in Saxony in 1859, who came to America in 1884 and went first to New York, then Cleveland, where he spent five years in the clothing business.

Stern arrived at Fullerton in 1889 and opened the Stern and Goodman mercantile house on Spadra Avenue, now Harbor Boulevard, building an impressive business building there.  Stern and Goodman had branch stores at Anaheim, Placentia and Olinda and eventually controlled fully 75% of all the hay and grain business in the area.  While Goodman attended to the store, Stern branched out into hay and grain dealing and real estate through a Los Angeles office.  He emerged as a particularly successful and under-recognized real estate investor, having stakes in Yorba Linda (much of the town was founded on his holdings); Placentia; Whittier; Corona; Pomona; Santa Ana; Sunset Beach (just now absorbed into Huntington Beach); one-half of the famed Rancho Cucamonga, which he leased to Charles Victor Hall of Olinda renown; other lands in Los Angeles, Kern, Imperial, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Fresno counties; and, finally, in Mexico, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas!  At one time, he owned some 20,000 acres.

In 1918, Stern and Goodman liquidated their store, while keeping the valuable Fullerton building.  Stern also had oil lands in Placentia (the old Richfield townsite) which he leased to General Petroleum Corporation.  After living in Fullerton until 1904, Stern moved to a palatial residence on five acres in what was then a rural outpost west of Los Angeles called Hollywood.  In fact, his property was at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street!  As to his Olinda land, Stern paid $140,000 and planned to subdivide it into fivce, ten and twenty acre tracts.

William Hervey Bailey lived a few years beyond the Stern sale and retained presidency of the Olinda Crude Oil Company until his death at age 64 on New Year's Day 1910 at the Lamanda Park Hospital in Pasadena after a year's battle with pneumonia.  In a Times obituary, it was pointed out that "a little more than twenty years ago . . . he bought a large piece of land in the Fullerton district and organized the towns of Olinda and Richfield.  At that time it was thought the land was most valuable because of the agricultural possibilities, and it was not for many years thereafter that its true worth was discovered through the striking of oil."  Bailey's full-time residence remained in Oakland, but he had a room at the Hotel Melrose in Los Angeles.  After he contracted pneumonia, it was decided to bring him back to Pasadena for the warmer winter climate than what was to be found in the Bay Area.  Bailey was, however, interred with his parents and brother Edward at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.

Bailey's son, William, Jr., as noted above, took the reins of the company, which continued to operate some wells as well as receive lease income from other oil firms with producing wells.  It doesn't appear that Olinda Land expanded during the son's tenure, but it maintained its operations, with some occasional indications of new success, such as a 1921 well, its twnety-third, "in an undeveloped section of Olinda and Chino Canyon," this latter seeming to mean either Carbon, Soquel or Telegraph canyon.  But, in early 1938, Olinda Land Company voted to issue a liquidating dividend on its capital stock based upon "the sale of the company's real holdings in Orange county to the Shell Oil Company for $500,000."  Other assets of the firm, basically in marketable securities, were also liquidated and distributed to the company's stockholders.  After just over a half-century, the Bailey family's direct involvement at Olinda was concluded.  Two years later, in July 1940, William H. Bailey, Jr., manager of the Olinda Land Company for almost three decades, died at age 66 at his West Los Angeles home and was buried at nearby Rosedale Cemetery.

With this entry, this series of Olinda Oil Field history comes to a close, although there will be much more to add about the field in later entries focusing of different subjects.

30 August 2011

Mail Theft in Carbon Canyon

UPDATE, 31 AUGUST:  A comment was left today with this post, noting that last Thursday evening/Friday morning, mailboxes were also burglarized at Olinda Village and Hollydale Mobile Home Estates, so the reach of the thieves was much wider, though not surprisingly so, than noted below.

It's a bit of old news by now, but last Friday, a string of apparently-related mail theft occurred in several Carbon Canyon neighborhoods in Chino Hills stretching from Summit Ranch to Sleepy Hollow.  In the latter, the area in and around several mailbox clusters near the community center was littered with discarded mail. It was probably the same, or largely so, in the other affected areas.

It has been stated that a resident of Mountain View Estates, off Canon Lane on the south side of Carbon Canyon Road not only had a Bank of America debit card just happen to arrive in the mail that day, but that the thieves were able to call the bank and change the password without having to answer security questions designed to prevent just that and then drain the account.

Notably, while mailboxes are federal property and are subject to criminal laws (see here) governing them and the mail in them, there is law and then there is enforcement and sometimes the twain definitely do not meet. 

As an example, I have twice in the last few years had my mailbox physically removed from its clustered location and left lying on the ground or on a hillside slope by another resident who felt that it and several others of my neighbors were on his property.  In the last incident, I had the privilege of driving several miles to the post office to pick up my mail, while the property owner, who lived in the High Desert area, didn't have to worry about whether his own tenants got their mail, because Big Brother was encroaching on his sacred domain.  I was within a couple of days, even with an extension, of having my mail automatically returned to senders because of postal service policy preventing holding mail for longer than a couple of weeks.

Technically, in the ideal world, this type of action is against the law and would warrant actual enforcement against the perpetrator.  In the real world, seeking assistance from federal representatives and agencies like the postal service and Representative Gary Miller's proved virtually futile.  One helpful employee at the Chino Hills post office was willing to help get the property owner to talk to a few of us residents and the regular mail carrier had helpful advice and sympathy, but the final solution was negotiated by us rather than dealt with, as it should have been, by federal representatives using existing federal law crafted precisely to prevent these things from happening in the first place.

However, even in the best of economic times, the likelihood that action would be taken by federal postal inspectors (see here) on localized vandalism and theft would be remote anyway.  Funding and staffing is undoubtedly insufficient to deal with the bigger crimes of mail fraud and theft, as it is.  And, with declining usage of the mails, funding will continue to decline and services cut even further.

Fortunately, I shelled out the big bucks to get a locking mailbox with a specially-contoured delivery door that prevents being able to reach in and grab mail out, because at the time I was treasurer of an organization and received regular mail including checks and cash--though this is no longer the case.  Ours was the only (or one of two, maybe) of the seven or so boxes that was so designed.  Otherwise, it would seem that most households are on their own.

Otherwise, the best way to safeguard your mail is to rent a box at the post office or a privately-operated mail center.  Interestingly, while the north side of Sleepy Hollow received, several years back, a postal service-installed cluster box system next to the Canyon Market, a similar system installed in the city-owned community center parking area was only here for a few days before the city insisted the postal service remove it.  We still are using the old clusters (in my case, a simple piece of board attached to old metal posts that has probably been there for decades.)

It would probably be a lot more secure if the city and postal service could agree on a location for the locked cluster box like the other side of Sleepy Hollow has.  As fpr the other neighborhoods hit by the theft, potential solutions could be a lot more difficult or impossible.

So, will anything come out of what amounted to probably dozens of vandalized mail boxes with who knows what amount of stolen mail? One would hope so, but given this blogger's past personal experience, it would be great to be pleasantly surprised, but . . .

29 August 2011

Olinda Oil Field History: Origins of Olinda, Part 8

As the Olinda oil field grew in importance in the waning years of the 19th-century, Olinda Ranch founder William Hervey Bailey continued to work to improve his position within the field.  Having already sold or leased large portions of the ranch he established a decade prior during the fabled Boom of the Eighties, Bailey formed the Olinda Oil Company and the Richfield Oil Company.

In early October 1899, however, he moved to expand his reach, as announced by the Los Angeles Times in an article on the 3rd, which announced that "there seems no longer to be any doubt as to the important position Orange county [sic] is to occupy in the development of oil on this Coast."  Referring to important sales of oil land in the area, the paper offered that "yet the general public has but little conception of the real extent to which the development of this industry is destined to go."  In truth, the paper had little idea either, given the oil production had not seen the advent, in any major way, of the emerging automobile industry and the Wright brothers and their airplane were still a few years off.

Interestingly, the Times indicated that, while oil was found in Olinda only within the previous few years, "it was believed to be in very small quantities—scarcely enough top justify development."  After, however, "several men with capital were attracted to this locality," lands deemed only usable for sheep grazing became highly prized for the petroleum potential.

This led to the news that "today four deeds were filed here transferring over eight thousand acres of oil land to the Consolidated Olinda Oil Company, the aggregate consideration being $340,000."  The paper went on to state that "this land was formerly owned by W. S. Bailey, Jr.," though they certainly meant William H. Bailey, Sr., not his 26-year old son.  The next sentence has a little syntax and grammar problem: "The Olinda Oil Company, the Richfield Oil Company, and the Olinda Ranch Company, the Consolidated Olinda Oil Company, has secured control of the oil interests of the other companies above mentioned."  What this seems to mean is that the new consolidated firm absorbed all the interest in the former Olinda Ranch of the ranch company, as well as those of the Olinda and Richfield entities.  The article closed by noting that "this company will make extensive developments in the oil district in this county during the next few months."

Just two days later, though, the Times reported "that the big oil deal a few days ago, by which the Consolidated Olinda Oil Company became the owner of more than 8000 acres of oil-bearing land in this county, and for which they paid $340,000, was made in the interest of the Union Oil Company."  In addition, a Union Oil representative appeared before the Board of Supervisors in Santa Ana "to present a petition for permission to pay an oil pipe line from the oil wells back of Fullerton along certain county roads to the Alamitos beet-sugar factory."  Moreover, it was observed that Union first proposed securing a right-of-way to Newport Beach, but "that the use of the wharf at Newport could not be procured."  Further, the company intended to build the line from Los Alamitos (near where the San Gabriel River empties into the Pacific at the border of Seal Beach and Long Beach [and, therefore, at the junction of Orange and Los Angeles counties]) and over to the harbor at San Pedro, recently the subject of massive federal appropriations for creating a man-made port facility that led to the modern day Port of Los Angeles.

The following day, on 6 October, the Times noted that the Consolidated Olinda Oil Company filed its articles of incorporation at Santa Ana and that $500,000 of stock was to be issued, divided into 50,000 shares at a par value of $10 each.  At the time, though, only $1,220 was subscribed among those stockholders who constituted the Board of Directors.  These were William Hervey Bailey and T. V. Bakewell of Oakland, Ralph Jones and a Mr. Donzel of San Francisco and Bailey's brother-in-law, Warren Olney, Jr., also of Oakland.  Notably, Bailey held $1,000 of the initial subscription amount, while Olney and Donzel took $100 and Bakewell and Jones but one share of $10 apiece. 

A little sidenote of interest:  Olney was married to Bailey's sister.  His namesake father was from frontier Iowa and was a teacher (one of his students was the legendary Texas judge, Wyatt Earp) before serving in the Union Army in Missouri during the Civil War.  Warren, Sr. earned a law degree from the University of Michigan and then migrated to San Francisco in 1868.  Although a sucessful attorney and mayor of Oakland from 1903 to 1905, the senior Olney is perhaps best known as a founder with John Muir of the Sierra Club and wrote its first charter, as well as serving as vice-president.  As to Olney, Jr., he also had a distinguished legal career as an attorney and served on the California Supreme Court from 1919 to 1921.  The younger Olney's son, Warren III, continued the family tradition of law and was Assistant Attorney General under President Eisenhower in the 1950s and oversaw the criminal division of the Department of Justice.  More well-known than them all, though, is Warren Olney IV, a longtime news reporter, anchorman, and radio personality in Los Angeles.

Back to Olinda.  Readers of posts on Tonner Canyon will recall that the Union Oil Company, founded in Santa Paula by Pennsylvania veterans of the oil industry like Lyman Stewart, Thomas Bard and Wallace Hardison, will recall that Hardison's sister married William Benjamin Scott, one of the "three brothers" of Tres Hermanos Ranch in upper Tonner Canyon in Diamond Bar/Chino Hills, and founder of the Columbia Oil Company, which had a significant presence in Olinda.  William Hervey Bailey's Consolidated Olinda Oil Company as a front of sorts for Union was further expounded upon by the Times in an editorial on 8 October 1899, when it referred to the recent deal with Consolidated as a transfer "from the Olinda Oil Company to the Union Oil Company."  Because, "the latter is known to have very heavy capital," it was fully expected that Union was going to get its product from the field via pipelines to ports for transfer.  This presaged a great boom for Olinda and, indeed, this was the case.

Yet, it is interesting to note that, on 13 October 1899, the Times reported that Consolidated Olinda filed a lawsuit against Columbia Oil, William Benjamin Scott, Wallace Hardison and others to take possession of 320 acres of land which it claimed it owned and which was said to be oil-bearing, as well as seeking $500 in damages.  The outcome of that case has not been found by this blogger.

Meantime, in early November, the Southern California Railway petitioned Orange County's Board of Supervisors for a right-of-way across public roads because "it is the intention of the railroad to construct a branch from the Santa Ana Cañon to the location of the company's oil wells [the Santa Fe lease] in the vicinity of Olinda."  This spur line will be the subject of a future post and reflected another example of important infrastructure to get crude oil from Olinda to shipping points.  While Union Oil was looking at a lengthy pipeline system to San Pedro Harbor, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe via the Southern California Railway was relying on a shorter, simpler transport by rail.

Another sidenote in the same 8 November 1899 Times column from above:  Burdette Chandler, a principal in the Puente Oil Company operating a few miles west and north of Olinda in modern Rowland Heights, also owned some oil lands in the vicinity of the junction of Tonner and Brea canyons and just consummated a deal to sell 200 acres to the new Brea Cañon Oil Company.

As 1900 dawned, the action was increasing with greater force and speed.  More to come next entry.

27 August 2011

Olinda Oil Field History: Origins of Olinda, Part 7

With the successful launch of the Olinda oil field, courtesy of a joint venture between Edward Doheny and the Southern California Railway (as owned by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad), in 1897, it was not long before other oil companies came into being and then the battles in the courtroom followed. 

As noted last post, William Hervey Bailey, founder of the Olinda Ranch in 1887, teamed up with other investors to create the Richfield Oil Company (later Atlantic Richfield, now known as ARCO) to develop portions of the ranch for oil development.  Moreover, the San Francisco-based real estate firm of Eldridge, Easton and Company, which had also recently been hired to sell and develop land in the east end of Carbon Canyon located within the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, was hired by Bailey's Olinda Ranch Company to do the same on his holdings.

With the formation of Richfield Oil, the idea was to transfer all viable oil lands within Olinda Ranch from the ranch company to the oil firm.  This was based on an agreement entered into between the two entities in April 1898.

Alas, a year later, problems arose amongst the principals involved in the agreement, when suit was filed in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana by Easton, Eldridge and Company (consisting of four men: George Easton, D. Easton, W. L. Valentine, and L. Phipps) against Bailey and the Olinda Ranch Company.  The allegation was that, although some Olinda Ranch lands that had bearing oil deposits were transferred to Richfield as stipulated in the Spring 1898 compact, other properties that were determined to have oil at some point before 1 April 1899 were not.  Easton, Eldridge and Company were asking the court to compel Bailey to transfer those properties and to pay for the plaintiffs costs and attorney's fees, amounting to $1000.

As often happens in matters of civil law, the parties found a way to resolve their differences without going to to the further and greater expense of a trial.  In early May, the Los Angeles Times reported that the case had been dismissed, because a deal was made out of court.  A four-party transaction involving the Olinda Ranch Company, Richfield Oil Company, George Easton (principal figure in Easton, Eldridge and Company) and a portion of the stockholders of the first two firms was consummated,

in which it is agreed that in consideration of the sum of $575 paid to the Olinda Ranch Company by the Richfield Oil Company and other valuable concessions, the Olinda Ranch Company conveys to George Easton of Los Angeles city fifty acres of land . . . transferred with this land are valuable oil wells which are now largely productive.

Clearly, despite the previous indications that there were four Easton, Eldridge and Company litigants, there was really just George Easton who was pursuing the matter and he seems to have obtained much or all of what he sought in the settlement.

Meantime, within a week, William Hervey Bailey moved to create his own oil company, although it is not clear whether he parted ways with Richfield to do so.  At any rate, he formed the Olinda Oil Company with $100,000 in stock and took on his son William, Jr. and Los Angeles investors J. W. Briggs, J. G. Mossin, and T. W. Phelps as fellow directors.

In August, the Times reprinted a lengthy article by the Santa Ana Blade, later absorbed into the Santa Ana Register, which gave some detail about the emerging Olinda field.  Notably, the unnamed Blade reporter referred to "the Santa Fe group of wells," noting that this name came from its ownership by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad and its partner, Edward Doheny.  Also of note was that the crude generated from the "Santa Fe wells" "is hauled to Richfield Station, four miles distant," this being the Southern California Railway depot in present Atwood in Placentia.  The Blade also reported that there were ten operating wells and four others in the process of drilling. 

Meantime, there were a growing number of companies and individuals mentioned at Olinda in addition to the Santa Fe/Doheny enterprise.  These included the Columbia Oil Company (which has been mentioned in this blog fairly recently as a firm headed by William B. Scott, William R. Rowland and Harry Chandler, the main figures in the later purchase of much of Tonner Canyon for the Tres Hermanos Ranch) though the Columbia was then occupied principally at Brea Canyon; the Graham-Loftus Company (William Loftus, in 1910, provided a detailed update on Olinda progress, as covered in this blog before); Charles Victor Hall, another recent notable covered here, thanks to contact from a descendant; and the others mentioned above, namely Easton, Eldridge and Company and the new Olinda Oil Company.

According to the Blade, "so far as we could learn there have been no failures," which seemed to indicate that all drilled wells came up with crude, although the paper then drew the erroneous conclusion that "there seems to be every reason to believe that oil may be developed at almost any point upon the strike [geological formation] from Los Angeles to some point east of the Santa Fe development."  It was correct, though, that "the fields already partially explored will be greatly extended," and that, "the life of the wells developed is probably very great." 

As for extended activity in the fields, the next post will cover further maneuverings involving Olinda Ranch owner William Hervey Bailey as well as an important development for "the Santa Fe wells."

12 August 2011

Olinda Oil Field History: Origins of Olinda, Part 6

After the first oil well at Olinda was brought into production in April 1897 by Edward Doheny in association with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad's Southern California Railway subsidiary, matters moved rapidly toward the development of the area, which was called the Fullerton field.

In June 1898, the Los Angeles Times did a brief profile on the Olinda Ranch, noting that the 4500-acre parcel was subdivided during the great Boom of the Eighties a decade before "with a townsite in the middle of the tract, named Carlton."  It referenced founder W. H. Bailey and his transfer of the ranch to the Olinda Ranch Company.  Yet, as the paper pointed out, "few sales were made, and most of the townsite has now been transformed into acreage," meaning larger lots of probably the 5, 10 and 40 acre ones promoted for the ranch outside the Carlton townsite.

Of note, however, was the fact that a new entity was entering the field at Olinda (fortunately, the name "Oil Center" proposed in April 1897 went nowhere!)  As reported by the Times, this was the "Richfield Oil Company," which, the paper continued, "has secured extensive rights of development, pipe-line privileges, etc., from the Olinda Ranch Company, and proposed operating not only directly, but by subleasing lands for oil development . . ."  Observing that "the Olinda Ranch lies south and west of the Santa Fe wells," which was not technically the case, as the "Santa Fe wells" were within the original Olinda Ranch property, the paper noted that W. L. Watts of the California Mining Bureau had visited the ranch to assess its oil-bearing potential.  Because of Watts' favorable report, the Richfield Oil Company, later the Atlantic Richfield Company now known as ARCO, was formed to work the field.

Also of interest is the fact that Richfield was then composed of "San Francisco and local capitalists" and that oil men in the Orange County and surrounding areas would have the opportunity to sublease from Richfield.  Readers of this blog's posts about the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino will recall that, during the 1890s, a San Francisco-based real estate firm, Easton, Eldridge and Company, were hired to market and sell sections of that ranch.    When the incorporation papers for the Richfield Oil Company were filed, this was done by Easton, Eldridge and Company, thus providing another tangible link between Olinda and Chino.

On 3 July, the Times reported that the Mining Bureau's Watts as back in the area reviewing oil properties from Puente Hills to Olinda and further east and south along what is now known as the Chino Hills, but then considered part of the Puente chain, to the Santa Ana River.  Watts, however, believed that there was no indication of oil bearing lands anywhere east of Olinda, which has proven to be the case.  As a sidenote, some attention was paid in the article to Watts' investigations in a canyon near the Southern California Railway's Gypsum side track (this, of course, being Gypsum Canyon) and that a favorable indication of coal was located where existing efforts to mine the material had already been made.  Coal Canyon, naturally, is where Watts was conducting his investigation.  In 1900, Watts completed a report, including a series of maps, that were the first comprehensive effort to examine and interpret the oil lands of southern California generally, including the new Olinda segment of the Fullerton field.

As to Richfield Oil Company's efforts, an article in the same paper from two weeks later, noted that "work on the first of a series of wells to be put down on the Olinda ranch commenced this week."  Commenting that oil experts were favorably impressed with the potential at Olinda, the Times reported that "if expectations are realized, plans made for an extensive pipe-line sustem will be put in effect at once."  This system was projected to run "from the ranch to Richfield station on the Santa Fe [Southern California Railway]."  This refers to the station at what became Atwood, along today's Richfield Avenue in Placentia, where the railroad track still runs parallel to Orangethorpe Avenue.  From that point, the article continued, "from Richfield, over an easy route, the line will be run to this city [Los Angeles], coming in at the west-end depot of the Southern Pacific.  From there it will be run to Los Alamitos, where, it is said, the sugar factory will be supplied with oil for fuel," a contract apparently being imminent.  By sugar factory, this was a sugar beet facility like the one Richard Gird established at Chino, though, eventually, sugar beets as a source of sugar dissipated in favor of protected tariffs for production from Louisiana and Hawaii's sugar cane fields.

As to the wells owned by the Santa Fe Railroad, an August 1898 feature in the Times noted that 8000 barrels of crude were extracted and shipped from Olinda by the company in July and that expectations were for a larger proportion in August.  Well #1 continued to be the best producer, at 125 barrels per day, but an unspecified number (probably a few) were also in production.  Of course, Well #1 is still in operation today and is a feature of the Olinda Oil Museum within the Olinda Ranch housing subdivision on the old Santa Fe property.  Another tangential tidbit:  the article referred to two officials from the Santa Fe being at Olinda looking over the situation, one of these men being Chief Engineer for the company, Fred Perris.  He, of course, is the namesake for the Riverside County city of Perris, a station stop on a company-owned line (once on the California Southern Railway) from San Bernardino to San Diego.

More on early Olinda oil fields next time!

08 August 2011

Olinda Oil Field History: Origins of Olinda, Part 5

As noted last post, the Olinda Ranch, as established by William Hervey Bailey in the late 1880s, was promoted as an agricultural subdivision and struggled to do so through depression and drought for most of the 1890s.  Fortunes changed dramatically in 1897, however, thanks to the efforts of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad and oil man Edward L. Doheny.

Doheny, born in Wisconsin in 1856, became a government surveyor while still in his teens, working in Kansas before leaving the profession to become a mining prospector in South Dakota, New Mexico and Arizona.  While living in Kingston, New Mexico, he met Albert Fall and Charles Canfield, who both figured prominently in Doheny's later exploits.  Doheny and Canfield worked together in mining, but did not experience financial success, so the latter went off on his own to another mining area nearby and made a small fortune.  Canfield then went off to Los Angeles about 1887, the same time that William H. Bailey made his purchase of the land that he named Olinda Ranch.  Although Canfield lost most of this money during the ensuing bust of the real estate boom, Doheny caught up with him in Los Angeles, arriving there in the Spring of 1891.

Hearing about the presence of asphaltum in the area, Doheny used a $400 investment from Canfield to hand-dig a primitive oil well just west of downtown starting in Fall 1892.  Within months, the well proved to be successful, though a small producer, and it inaugurated the Los Angeles Oil Field.  Despite his initial success, however, Doheny struggled to keep himself as a player in the rapidly-emerging and evolving industry, until he formed a partnership with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad and its local subsidiary, the Southern California Railway.  This latter had a new line which went into Los Angeles through Santa Ana Canyon, passing through the area on what is now the track that parallels Orangethorpe Avenue through much of northeastern Orange County.

Doheny convinced the Southern California Railway that the emerging regional oil industry would allow the railroad to move to oil-powered engines rather than coal.  Because of the success of the Puente Oil Company, a company founded by William R. Rowland, former sheriff and scion of an early ranching family in the eastern San Gabriel Valley, with William Lacy and Burdette Chandler, which, in 1885, made a discovery of oil on the north side of the Puente Hills in what is now Rowland Heights, Doheny looked to nearby areas as possible sources of oil.  It should also be noted that surface appearances of asphaltum or tar were so common in the general area that the canyon dividing Los Angeles from Orange County on the eastern end of the Chino Hills had been known in the Spanish and Mexican eras as Cañon de la Brea, and a Mexican-era rancho of that name was created there.  Local ranchers used the raw brea to cover the roofs of their adobe brick homes long before any thought of drilling for oil was considered.

Doheny settled on the area in and around the Olinda Ranch and worked to obtain a lease for some 3,000 acres of the ranch from Bailey.  By the end of 1896, a test well was started at the hilly northern end of the ranch.  Readers of earlier posts in this series will recall that, in 1888, when Bailey began promoting the Olinda Ranch, advertisements noted the presence of oil in this area, but it was completely untested.  At least, until Doheny and the Southern California Railway entered the picture.  Working with an executive from the Santa Fe, the SCR's parent company, named Almon Maginnis, Doheny sited the well and began drilling.

At 400 feet, a shallow depth, oil was encountered, but the well was deepened to twice that depth.  Although the pump encountered typical levels of sand in the well, there was such enthusiasm for the potential of a major strike that the Los Angeles Times trumpeted the project before it was fully determined to be a producing well.  Indeed, in its 28 April 1897 edition, the paper announced that there were plans to have oil extracted from Olinda taken eight miles by a pipeline to Fullerton and the Southern California Railway line.  Addtionally, it was noted that timber was already being gathered about 500 feet away from the first well for a second one.

Interestingly, the paper wondered whether or not it was accurate to label this newly-discovered oil field as part of the Puente field, which was not only several miles to the northwest, but was part of a different geological setting.  Ironically, it was decided in short order that the new field should be referred to as the Fullerton field, though it was several miles from that small, emerging town.  The fact that there was a plan to send oil from the new wells to Fullerton seems to have encouraged state mining officials and others to refer to the new field by that name.

This is a ca. 1920s photograph of the Olinda oil field, which, upon the April 1897 announcement of the first well dug by Edward Doheny for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad's Southern California Railway subsidiary, was first called by the inelegant name (even for an oil field) of Oil Center.

Meantime, the Times also pointed out that Union Oil Company, which got its start in Santa Paula in Ventura County, had obtained some nearby property for oil prospecting, while, up in Tonner Canyon, a tract owned by the People's Bank of Pomona was involved in negotiations for sale and development for oil, as well. 

In these early days when the geological formations and the science of examining and identifying these was still in a primitive stage, the paper reported that there was some confusion and uncertainty about the nature of the new field's structure. Lacking familiar means such as examining rocky outcroppings, prospectors would have to deal with the fact that "the whole country is upturned," presumably meaning not uniform as to surface indications.  Doheny's first well was sited close to an area in which brea was seeping to the surface and the second well was placed near another like tar deposit, in the expectation "that the rocks slope downward to the north" and thus indicating a direction where oil would be most likely to pool.

Two days later, on 30 April, another article promoted that new oil discovery, particularly noting that the Southern California Railway had its own source for oil, independent of middlemen, for its newly-emphasized reliance on the product for fueling locomotives.  While the first well was described as at 900 feet and not complete, there were already some 40 to 50 barrels of crude being extracted daily.  The railway, which had a twenty-year lease, was planning its pipeline, which, thanks to the geography of the new field, would allow oil to simply flow down to the company's tracks by gravity.

Interestingly, the paper reminded readers that, because oil prices had skyrocketed a few years before, the SCR had switched its use of fuel from oil to coal, but, now that there was every expectation of an oil bonanza at the new site, it was looking to return to oil.  The Times also noted that, as the orange industry comtinued to blossom (!), the need for more trains to ship the product out of the area was becoming more pronounced.  It also pointed out that, unlike in Los Angeles, where oil promoters had to deal with the lease of many small lots, the discovery of oil in the hinterlands of Olinda Ranch meant that developers could lease or buy larger tracts and not have to deal with the smaller parcels that could bring a host of issues.  Finally, the paper also stated that older maps, from the 1870s or so, indicated that the area consisted of "coal lands" because of the knowledge of existing tar seeps at the surface.  Of course, the adjacent "Carbon Canyon" also was part of that earlier identification of "coal lands" for the Olinda area.

By late May, another feature was issued by the Times, which, on the 25th, stated that the first well was still not done, but the output from the current apparatus was yielding some 50-60 barrels of crude per day.  However, the second well was in the process of being dug and "will probably be producing oil before many days."  There were immediate plans to begin the digging of the third and fourth wells, too.  In discussing the desire of the railroad to move back to oil-fueled engines, the paper reported that the advantages included less smoke, no cinders, and the resulting cleanliness of the cab meant "that the engineers can almost wear their Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes without fear of getting soiled."  The work of the locomotive firefighter would also be materially easier with oil than coal, while other workers on the cars would benefit from not having "to shovel coal till your back breaks."

As to the very earliest name of this new oil field, the first Times article of late April was eager to note that "this new metropolis has sprung unheralded upon the world, and probably this is the first time its name has been seen in print."  Even though there wasn't yet a proven well on the property, the paper saw fit to note that "yet the possibilities of the location seem unbounded."  Consequently, it was announced, the new name of the field was Oil Center and the by-line was so indicated.

Fortunately, the very direct, but clunky name of Oil Center did not stick and soon the Olinda appelation came to be accepted, even under the broader field designation of Fullerton!

03 August 2011

Olinda Oil Field History: Origins of Olinda, Part 4

From its creation during an immense southern California real estate boom in 1887-88, William Hervey Bailey's Olinda Ranch was intended as an agricultural subdivision, promoting "fertile farms" and "beautiful villa sites."  Early ads, as noted in a previous entry here, promoted the raising of fruit, grain, alfalfa and other products with an "ample supply of water for irrigation and domestic use."  In addition, promotional materials trumpeted the "now building" Anaheim, Olinda and Pomona Railroad, which, evidently, was going to go north and south through Brea Canyon between the established towns of the former and latter.  Notably, there was mention of a $50,000 plant to develop "immense deposits of asphaltum" found on the northern portion of the tract.

The great boom went bust, however, by the end of the Eighties and the 1890s proved to be a long, dreary decade of drought and depression.  As noted in other posts here about Richard Gird's struggles to develop his new town on the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, the real estate marked remained moribund for that period.  But, like Gird, Bailey made efforts to promote his subdivision despite prevailing conditions.

In late Summer 1891, for example, a small article appeared in the Los Angeles Times about Olinda Ranch, subtitled "Where Orange Land May be Had at a Reasonable Price."  The piece noted that, while oranges could not be raised everywhere in the region, it could be done at Olinda for under $200 an acre in 5, 10 and 40 acre parcels.  Described as "beautifully located on gentle, sloping ground, commanding a magnificent view of the surrounding country," the ranch was noted as being "on the Santa Fe line," meaning the railroad line of the Southern California Railway, a subsidiary of the massive Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway then engaged in a storied battle with the Southern Pacific Railroad for control of western America's burgeoning railroad system.  Actually, Olinda Ranch wasn't exactly "on the line," though a spur line was constructed from Atwood (now a neighborhood in Placentia) northwestward to the ranch.

The article also claimed that the parcel was "just far enough from the ocean—about 13 miles—to escape fogs and yet insure [ensure] a temperate climate all year round."   This also tinkered a bit with the truth.  The distance to the Pacific from Olinda is more like 20 miles and while dense fogs may be very rare now, a certain blogger who lived in Placentia thirty years back can well remember heavy blankets of fog in the area.  Still, the temperate climate part is basically the case.  Another example of toying with accuracy was the statement that Olinda "adjoins the celebrated Chino beet sugar ranch," although, of course, a few miles of the Chino Hills and Carbon Canyon separate the two.  While noting that there was an existing "orchard of bearing orange and other trees," the piece went on to say that the tract's land was "adapted to vegetables, grain and stock."

In fact, regarding the last item, there was an attempt to graze cattle on the ranch during this period, but it proved unsuccessful or, at least, not profitable, as the Olinda Ranch Company advertised in the Times in August 1892 for the sale of registered Gallaway cattle, bulls, cows and calves "at a bargain" through an Anaheim office. 

This detail from a 1924 California State Mining Bureau map shows the Olinda area, including the abandoned Carlton townsite, the Santa Fe Railroad spur line from Placentia and parcels still held by the successor to the Olinda Ranch Company, the Olinda Land Company, headed by William H. Bailey, Jr., son of the founder of the ranch.  Courtesy of the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, City of Industry.

The following year, the Company tried trumpeting some success with a field crop, as the Times noted in a June 1893 issue that "a field of red Texas oats on the Olinda ranch, near Fullerton, has yielded this season the large crop of five tons of hay to the acre, which sells readily at $12 per ton."

Two years later, in December 1895, the Times published an article about castor bean growing, citing The American Cultivator's discussion about the difficulties in raising the crop, used as a "purgative" or laxative, because of the need for very rich soil and "peculiar" and costly machinery to hull the bean from the pod.  Although the Cultivator noted that some farmers in Kansas and Missouri were raising the bean for a St. Louis market, the further expense in pressing the oil from the bean was also viewed as an issue.  Consequently, the journal opined that the bean was better raised in small home gardens for local use rather than on a larger farm-based scale.  Undeterred, the Times offered the rebuttal that "in this region the harvesting of the bean does not entail any such trouble."  It went on to say that, "Mr. Bailey, who owns the Olinda ranch in Orange county, informs The Times that he obtained 2 1/2 cents per pound in San Francisco for the hulled beans which he raised."  The paper reported that Bailey, who offered that growing castor beans was basically like raising corn, simply had the pods spread upon the ground in the hot sun, which effectively hulled the beans without machinery.  Moreover, the Times observed that "Mr. Bailey finds that his castor beans pay about $30 to $40 an acre" and concluded that "this is enough to warrant the farmers in Southern California to pay some attention to a crop which can be easily marketed."

This did not prove to be the case and the difficulties of promoting and selling the land, even as Bailey did so in his native Hawaii, advertising Olinda in the Hawaiian Gazette newspaper, for example, during 1896, led him, in Spring 1897, to transfer the main office of the Olinda Ranch Company from Los Angeles, where it had been for almost a decade, to San Francisco, across the Bay from his home in Oakland.

Still, by Spring 1898, the agricultural and ranching possibilities of Olinda were being touted, as the Times, in early April reported that, due to the efforts of San Francisco real estate firm Easton, Eldridge and Company, sales of two tracts totaling some 90 acres brought in $12,500.  Notably, the connection to Chino comes to the fore here, as Richard Gird hired the same firm to market and sell his ranch during the same period.  Moreover, the buyers of the two Olinda parcels were "cattle men from Arizona, one of whom is feeding cattle on the adjoining [!] Chino ranch, with pulp from the sugar factory."  Gird, as blog readers might remember, bought the Chino ranch with money made at the Tombstone, Arizona mines he helped found and develop and these ranchers were associates of his from that territory.

Whatever may have transpired with this stock-raising activity, the 1898 piece hearkened back to something touched upon, but not heavily emphasized, in earlier promotional efforts about Olinda.  Namely, the piece observed, "in the hill section of the ranch are oil deposits, which are reserved.  Several wells have been sunk here by the Southern California Railway Company" and it concluded by reporting that "another sale of several thousand acres of this ranch is pending." 

Indeed, Olinda was on the verge of a transformation from a stagnated subdivision intended for farming and cattle ranching to a new enterprise that would make it far more famed than William Hervey Bailey or anyone else, for that matter, could have foreseen a decade before.