Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pioneer Oil Refinery

Los Angeles County, August 8, 1994

The Pioneer Oil Refinery is the oldest surviving oil refinery in the world and the first commercially successful refinery in California. Today, you can’t enter the site and only during business hours can you even walk completely around the fence that surrounds it. In 1998, Chevron Oil donated the refinery site and 4.5 acres of land to the City of Santa Clarita. The city is still looking for funds to restore the site.

Star turned out several products including small amounts of benzene, and a safty illuminationg oil for use on ships, railroads, factories and mines. The company continued to produce a light lubrication oil for machinery, and a heavy lubricant for saw mills, quartz mills, and railroads. The distillation process was fired by the bottom cut in the separation process, which was something like the bulk fuel oil they used on ships. The main product however was kerosene in tow grades, "Lustre" and "Prime White" Kerosene refining was still a difficult task in those days and they needed somebody good at the process, and they found their man. John A. Scott was a Pennsylvania refiner brought out to put a refinery together in the canyon for Star Oil Works. Till refineries like this started churning out cheap and useable fuels and lubricants, the industrial revolution was greased quite literally by whales. J.A. Scott's Lustre Kerosene did its part to diminish demand for whale oil but whales provided a lot of other marketable products and the whaling stations in California were busy for some time to come.

Plaque inscription: NO. 172 PIONEER OIL REFINERY - In 1875 the Star Oil Company, one of the predecessors of the Standard Oil Company of California, drilled its first Pico Canyon well, which yielded about one hundred barrels per day. The discovery resulted in the erection of the first commercial oil refinery in California the following year.

Location: Site and private plaque at 238 Pine St, Newhall - state plaque at Lang Blvd exit of I-5 next to plaque for the Oak of the Golden Dream
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: NEWHALL
Google maps: 34.370556,-118.522525  (for site)

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