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State’s first commercial oil well


Posted: November 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 17, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Abandoned oil equipment sits near the site of the Pico Oil well in this November 2011 photo.

Designated by the California Office of Historic Preservation, historic site No. 516 is Pico No. 4 – the state’s first commercially productive well.

Drilling first commenced in 1876 under the direction of Demetrious G. Scofield who later became the first president of Standard Oil Company of California. Drilling was completed at 300 feet on Sept. 26, 1876 and it produced 30 barrels of oil a day.

The success of this well prompted formation of the Pacific Coast Oil Company, a predecessor of Standard Oil Company of California, and led to the construction of the state’s first refinery nearby.

Pico well No. 4 was not only the discovery well of the Newhall Field, but was a powerful stimulus to the subsequent development of the California petroleum industry, according to the state’s historic preservation office.

Over the years a number of film and television productions have been filmed in the area of Pico Canyon including Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple,” and the HBO series "Big Love."

The historic well continued to pump oil until 1990 and is still on display for park visitors.

Today the park is maintained by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.



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