10 March 2013

Another 1914 Map Showing the Olinda Oil Field

Here is the second map from the Map Folio that accompanied "Petroleum Industry in California, Bulletin 69 from the California State Mining Bureau, which was published in 1914.  As noted in the previous post showing a geological map from the Folio, the report was an attempt by the state to provide the latest information on the development of the oil industry, which was on the cusp of a huge boom that ensued in the late 1910s and the 1920s.

The map in question spans a wide area well beyond the Olinda oil field, but details here focus on the first of Orange County's fields.  The first detail above shows the short-lived 1880s boomtown of Carlton, laid out on the property of the Olinda Land Company, founded by William H. Bailey.

Though Carlton passed qiuckly into oblivion, what came within a decade was Edward Doheny's first oil well at Olinda in 1897, which turned the area into a major oil field, following Doheny's Los Angeles field (in partnership with Charles Canfield) from five years prior.

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, through a subsidiary rail line that was built through Santa Ana Canyon and along Orangethorpe Avenue through the Yorba Linda and Placential areas, had a substantial interest in Olinda.  In fact, the above detail shows a spur line built by the rail powerhouse from its mainline to the field, where two separate termini branched off to service the field.  That spur went up what is now Carbon Canyon Dam and the Carbon Canyon Regional Park.  Not surprisingly, when the Olinda Ranch subdivision opened in recent years, the main road leading into the tract across from the park was called Santa Fe Avenue.

Another interesting detail is the Pacific Electric Railway line, an electric interurban transit line which ran down to Yorba Linda from Los Angeles.  Part of the multiuse paved trail that runs from Rose Drive near Bastanchury Lane down through part of Yorba Linda is on the right-of-way of that line.

With respect to the Olinda field, the detail above shows the many dozens of wells in operation as of 1914 as well as those companies that owned or leased property there.  Each numbered dot is a well site, though it cannot be told from the map whether these wells were successful, dry, or still in construction.

In any case, the major players at the time included the Olinda Land Company, General Petroleum Company, Fullerton Oil Company, Columbia Oil Production Company, and West Coast Oil Company.  As can be readily discerned, the lion's share of the wells followed a geological slip strike running from northwest to southeast, mainly from what is above Carbon Canyon Road today in the Olinda Ranch tract and to the west down through the area to the lower right of the image.  There were, however, other wells to the south, some of which are still in operation today, while the vast majority of wells that existed throughout the field are gone and more are disappearing year-to-year.

In the periphery north and east, especially, were a few other firms trying to find adjacent successful wells.  Companies in these tangential areas included the California Crude Oil Company, the Midway View Oil Company, the Continent Oil Company, and the Soquel Canyon Oil Company.  The first two were north of the geologic belt noted above while the latter two were east toward what is now Olinda Village.  None, however, had much success in these outlying sections.

The last detail does show the property of Edward Gaines, who was a longtime cattle rancher east of the field in what became, in the imd-1960s, the Olinda Village subdivision.  Clearly, the areas just east of what is now Carbon Canyon Regional Park did not yield much activity, even though the geologic "hotspot" of what became the La Vida Mineral Springs did generate some interest for oil potential before it was realized that the hot mineral water there could be a commercial venture.  La Vida would basically be located in section 11 of the above map.

There are many other posts on this blog dealing with elements of the history of the Olinda oil field, including specific companies drilling for crude, owners of property in and around the field, and the origins of the name "Olinda."  This map adds another dimension to the developing history of a field that made important contributions to the petroleum industry in Orange County and the Los Angeles metropolitan region broadly.  Almost a century after this map was issued, however, the visible attributes of the field, including the few working wells, are gradually and inexorably fading into history.

The map images come from an original in the collection of the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum in the City of Industry.

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