Remembering When

by Jerry Person
Huntington Beach City Historian

Dedicated to the people of Huntington Beach

Forgotten Oil Company Names

Today the word "oil" has been given a dirty name, but most of those people forget how much of their lives have been depended upon that black gold. From the first people who settled here thousands of years ago that used oil tar to waterproof their baskets to carry water to the many products and medicines we use today,

Today, many new people arriving into Huntington Beach-to live and when asked if they knew anything about our city's oil history here would probably have no idea it was a major industry long before we became surf city.

But today that land that once had been one of America's richest oil fields has now been converted to residential housing tracts.

If we were to ask newcomers if they could think of one name that is associated with oil, they might think of Standard Oil Company, but Standard Oil was only one company out of many trying their luck in searching for that elusive black gold in the early 1920s.

This week we'll remember some of those early company names that have faded into the past and the men who hoped and dreamed of striking it rich.

Our first company was the Amalgamated Oil Co. which had 12 wells producing here in th e1920s.

Oil wells were not just confined to the downtown coastal areas, oh no, for the Bell of Montebello Oil Co. had only a single well and was out in the Bolsa Chica area, the Bolsa Chica Oil Co. and the Bolsa Chica Petroleum Co. each had a well and out on Adams and Delaware W.H. Taylor's Argonaut Oil Co. with two wells on property owned by C.R. Johnson.

At Seventeenth and Main near where our civic center sits today was the Sandburg well owned by R.W. Edans and John F. Tracy and in that same field was the Talbert Oil Company's well.

There were long-forgotten company names like the Golden Dome Oil Co., the Gypsy Oil Syndicate, the Blue Shale Oil Mining Association and the Invader Oil Co.

Out on farm land owned by U.H. Plavan near Garfield Street the Petroleum Midway Co. had its drilling rig and at Geneva and Huntington Streets, the Motor Oil and Refining Co. struck only dry sand as did a good many would later do.

Five companies used the name of Huntington in their names like Huntington Central Oil Co., Huntington Owners Co., Huntington Mutual Oil, Huntington Signal Oil and the Huntington Sure Shot Oil Co.

These are only a few oil companies that have come and gone, all hoping to find that black pot of gold in Huntington Beach. With the passing of John Thomas and Carl Weaver, two of Huntington Beach's last important independent oil drillers, the city's oil history era is fast fading away, but at least the teams at Huntington High are still called "The Oilers."

One thing is certain today with what is happening with Russia and in the Middle East , war is on the horizon for the US and we had better get going and finding new oil supply here and also reactivate old oil fields, sooner, not later, if we do have to go to war again. 

Oil is not just black gold, having it in large supply could also mean our country's "Freedom" from an enemy too!