Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Los Angeles County, August 8, 1994

At the same time of the completion of Charles Crocker’s Southern Pacific Railroad line from Los Angeles toe San Francisco came Charles Alexander Mentry’s discovery of a commercially viable oil reserve in the hills above the Santa Clarita Valley, which meant economical distribution of the refined oil products coming out of the town of Mentryville. Gravity fed the oil by pipeline the six mile distance to Newhall, where it met the railroad.

“Experienced drillers from Pennsylvania came to work the Pico oil field. Bachelors stayed in bunkhouses; family men erected cabins and even a schoolhouse and bakery in the town they called Mentryville.
Theirs was the first village in Southern California to be lighted by natural gas. Alcohol consumption was forbidden; the men spent their earnings in nearby Newhall where saloons outnumbered churches” – Friends of Mentryville

Though Mentry was bought out, he stayed on to run the operation and do so till 1900 when he kept getting bitten by a bug known as ‘the kissing bug’ or ‘assassin bug” while he slept. A bite on the lips did him in on October 4, 1900. The operation was taken over by Walton Young.

The grounds of the remaining restored buildings of Mentryville are open daily from sunrise to sunset for a $5 parking fee.  

This just completed song lyric is adapted to a riffy earlier melodic progression from 1972, and should be a lot of fun to record.  

MENTRYVILLE                   © Radio Flier Music

In the Santa Clarita Valley
Lies a place not known too well
In the hills an oil discovery
The boomtown of Mentryville

Do not apply to Alex Mentry
To cable tool on Pico number four
If you’re a roughneck of low degree
He’s got a school, bakery, and a general store

(Chorus) Where California’s oil was first found
Women are fair and the men all handy
Mentryville is a family town

Young couples get a nice little cottage
Bachelors to the bunkhouse if their manner was clean
Natural gas brought the lamplight wattage
While makin’ the ‘Prime White’ kerosene

A friendly village where anything can be
Take heed of Alexander Mentry’s call
Do your best and bring the family
Don’t bring any cards or alcohol

 Plaque inscription: NO. 516-2 MENTRYVILLE - Named after pioneer oil developer Charles Alexander Mentry, who in 1876 drilled the first successful oil well in California. His restored home and barn and Felton School remain here where the Star Oil Company, one of the predecessors of Standard Oil of California, was born.
Location: 27201 W Pico Canyon Rd, 2.8 mi W of I-5, Newhall
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: NEWHALL
Google maps: 34.379504,-118.610775

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