Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oil Wells in Los Gatos Canyon?

[I really wanted to end that title with "Mooo!", but I suspect many readers wouldn't get the Berkeley Farms tagline.]

I've commented in the past on oil wells in Los Gatos Canyon, but I'd lost the original citation that there had been a siding on the railroad for the oil wells. The quote came from "Santa Clara County: Harvest of Change" in a section on Moody Gulch. ("Harvest of Change" is half history and half vanity publication for valley businesses; as cheap as it can be found used, it's probably a better book to find in the library.]

According to the book, the Moody Gulch oil wells were discovered in 1861, and serious development started in 1877 as a fuel source for Garden City Gas Company. In 1879, the developers laid a 2 inch pipeline from the drilling site to a 250 barrel tank at Alma, and the South Pacific Railroad constructed a 400 foot siding. There was even talk of building a refinery in Alma because the nearest refinery at the time was 400 miles away at Andrews Station near Newhall. The Santa Clarita Valley history has a bunch of other details on the Moody Gulch project. Later, the oil went by rail to Alameda and the Alameda Point Oil Company's refinery.

The oil deposit never produced that much - maybe 10 barrels a day, and 24,000 by 1886. There was another
attempt in the 1920's to extract oil from Moody Gulch that was abandoned after 1938 with an estimated 98,000 barrels of oil produced in total. Here's what Moody Gulcy looks like today.

Maybe there's still time for a boom. There still was an oil well
in Los Gatos a few years ago, though I never was able to find it. The USGS report on oil in the Santa Clara Valley also throws in occasional tidbits.

I hadn't known that they were still pumping oil in Alma in the 1930's. Maybe the crazy idea of a (non-prototypical) branch to an oil spur near Moody Gulch isn't so far-fetched.

1 comment:

  1. The well is out in the Forrest in Moody Gulch. The folks on Brush road and Old Well Road know how to find it.