John Eng and Adriene Biondo have been documenting their road trips into obscure corners of California for years. Here are some of their dispatches sent in from the road:
Mentryville – California’s First Oil Town
Up for a drive to a little ghost town that’s just minutes from Civilization, Magic Mountain and McDonalds? Then head north on Interstate 5 to Mentryville.
An oil boomtown that got its start in the 1870s, Mentryville is tucked into the Santa Susana Mountains at the end of Pico Canyon Road. Here the first oil strike was made in 1876, the same year the railroad came to town. Known as Pico No. 4, it was the longest running oil well in the world at the time it was shut down in 1990.
Today Mentryville is a protected historic park that is open to the public and managed by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. I enjoyed studying the layout of the town and imagining how life must have been during its heyday. Where else can you find a one-room schoolhouse and a two-person outhouse?
Bring a camera, you can photograph the abandoned oil fields and 19th century equipment that has weathered through the years. You can also take day hikes through chaparral-covered canyons.
Mentryville, a pleasant outing and a fascinating chapter in Los Angeles history. As Huell would have put it, “this is another piece of California’s Gold.”