Important Dates in the Oil History
of the San Joaquin Valley

1858 Asphalt deposits are first noticed by a land survey party at the future site of Sunset oil field
1863 Colonel Thomas Baker reclaims Kern River swamplands to lay the foundation for the future city of Bakersfield
1864 Buena Vista Oil Company incorporates on Feb. 1864 and begins refinery operations on Aug. 14 in the Temblor area (near modern McKittrick)
1865 Buena Vista Petroleum District is organized on Feb. 13
1867 Buena Vista Oil Refinery ceases operation, having produced over 4,000 gallons of kerosene

Pacific Development Company used a hand auger to drill wells on seeps near modern Coalinga and modern McKittrick (Reward), but the drilling crew is murdered by the gang of Tiburcio Vazquez

1872 John Hambleton starts commercial oil development in Kern County with petroleum collected from hand-dug pits
1877 First oil wells are dilled in Kern county at the future town of McKittrick
1878 Columbian Oil Company begins drilling an oil well near the future town of McKittrick
1887 Jewett & Blodget organize the Sunset Oil Company and erect the first oil derrick in Kern County at Sunset field near the future town of Maricopa
1887 Wild Goose well blows out just west of future Coalinga field, and an oil field boom town called "Oil City" flourishes for a few years around the oil workings
1889 First public gas lighting in Bakersfield (limited use as early as 1887)

Sunset oil field is discovered by Jewett & Blodget near the future town of Maricopa

1890 Kern County Land Company incorporates in Sept.

Southern Pacifc Railroad opens a line to Coalinga, which at the time is known as Coaling Station A

1891 First Asphalto settlement founded east of modern McKittrick

Construction begins on a Southern Pacific railroad line to Asphalto (McKittrick)

Captain John Barker on April 2 is the first to use local natural gas in his home, on his Rio Bravo Ranch near the Kern River

1892 Second Asphalto settlement established east of modern McKittrick

Jewett & Blodget produce 1200 tons of asphaltum from their operations at Sunset field

First train load of asphaltum is shipped from Asphalto (McKittrick)

1893 Standard Asphalt Company completes an Asphalt refinery at Asphalto on March 1

Third Asphalto settlement is established east of modern McKittrick and a post office there opens Oct. 30

1896 Shamrock Gusher blows out near Asphalto (McKittrick) and hastens end of tar mining operations there
1898 Blue Goose gusher blows out at Coalinga field
1899 Hand-dug oil well discovers Kern River field in May and starts an oil boom in Kern County

1900 Producers Oil Association formed

Sunset Railroad Company incorporates on Mar. 16 and completes the survey of their proposed rail line in April

Asphalto is renamed "McKittrick" in honor of Captain William McKittrick on June 1, and the McKittrick town plat is filed in Dec.

1901 Sunset Western Railroad is built 30.3 miles to Sunset (called Hazelton after 1907), with the first rail laid in Apr. A branch south 2.5 miles to Maricopa opens Mar. 1904, and a branch north 17.1 miles north to Shale and Fellows opens Jan. 1, 1909

Construction begins in Jan. by Standard Oil Company on the first oil pipeline in Kern County to transport crude from Kern River field to their refinery at Port Richmond, which is completed in 1902.

Midway oil field is discovered on May 1

1902 Independent Oil Producers Agency is incorporated

First automobile brought is brought into Kern county by Joe Ferris of Caliente. It is a 1902 1-cylinder "Oldsmobile"

H.S. Knight is the first to use a gasoline engine to power an irrigation pump

Oil Exchange building in Bakersfield opens on May 2

First rotary rig in Califonia reportedly drills a well at Coalinga field, but the hole is so crooked that a cable tool is used to redrill the well

1903 Union Oil Refinery is built northwest of Bakersfield, as the first refinery in Kern River field (closed in 1956)

Combined Kern River and Midway-Sunset production makes California the top oil producing state

Reuben Carlton Baker introduces the offset bit for cable tool drilling to enable casing wells in hard rock. This leads him to found the Baker Tool Company (modern BHI) in Coalinga in 1907

1904 Kern River field produces 17.2 million bbls of oil to exceed the annual production from Texas, and become the largest field in California

First automobileis sold in Bakersfield by Hillman Arms

1907 Town of "Reward" is founded near the William McKittrick Ranch. (Post office established on July 20, 1909)
1908 Town of "Moron" (later Taft) is founded at Sunset railroad Siding No. 2, midway between Maricopa and Fellows, near Midway oil field

"California Oil World" begins publication on Aug. 6

Rotary drilling rigs and crews arrive in California from Louisiana and successfully drill wells at Midway-Sunset field and erase the embaressment of the Coalinga experiment six years earlier

1909 Buena Vista Hills oil field is discovered

Cymric oil field is discovered northwest of McKittrick

President William H. Taft speaks at the Southern Pacific depot on Oct. 10

"Taft" post office established on Apr. 22, but fire destroys the town on Oct. 22

Moron is renamed Taft in honor of President Taft. However, the railroad station retains the name Moron until 1912

Well No. 2-6 (Midway gusher) blew blows out and makes the Midway Oil Field famous on Nov. 27

Severe wind storm sweeps the west side Dec. 5, causing extensive damage in the oil fields

Silvertip gusher blows out at Coalinga field. It is the biggest gusher in the united States until eclipsed the next year by the Lakeview Gusher

1910 West Side oil boom begins, due in part to arrival of the railroad, and in part to the Midway gusher

Lost Hills oil field is discovered

First natural gas pipeline is completed in Bakersfield and marks the beginning of commercial gas industry

Town of "Oildale" (formerly "Waits"), is founded near Bakersfield when Samuel Dickinson subdivides ten acres of his land

Devils Den oil field is discovered

Taft "Midway Driller" begins publication on Feb. 26

Lakeview Gusher blows out on Mar. 15 to become the largest gusher in the United States

Taft incorporated in Oct.

1911 Belridge oil fields (North and South) are discovered

Town of McKittrick becomes incorporated

Lakeview No. 1 Gusher is stopped on Sep. 9

1912 Elk Hills (NPR #2) and Buena Vista (NPR #3) Naval Petroleum Reserves established with nearly 70,000 acres set aside for the military

Petroleum Club is organized in Taft on Mar. 4. The club later moves to Bakersfield

North Belridge oil field is discovered in June

Kern Front oil field is discovered in July

1913 Gas pipeline is built from Midway oil field to Los Angeles

Destructive fire burns the McKittrick business district on June 21

K.T.&O. oil well catches fire near Taft in Oct.

1915 Poso Creek oil field is discovered
1916 Severe wind storm on Jan. 17 causes extensive damage in the west side oil fields

Oildale post office opens

1919 Elk Hills Hay No. 7 blows out and catches fire to become the most productive gas well in the world on Jul. 26. It is extinguished using dynamite by a team that later trains Red Adair in fire-fighting techniques
1921 West Side oil workers strike begins Sep. 12 and lasts until Nov. 1

Fierce windstorm causes extensive damage in the oil fields in Dec.

President Harding transfers control of the Naval Petroleum Reserves at Elk Hills and Buena Vista Hills from the Navy to the Dept. of the Interior, setting the stage for the Teapot Dome scandal

1922 Wheeler Ridge oil field discovered (Nov.)
1923 Wheeler Ridge oil field is discovered
1924 First steel oil derrick appears in Kern County
1925 Kern No. 1 oil well catches fire on Nov. 2
1926 Mount Poso oil fieldmis discovered May 25
1927 Buttonwillow gas field is discovered in Sep.

Round Mountain oil field is discovered Oct. 11

1928 Fruitvale oil field is discovered Feb. 8

"Oilfields Dispatch" begins publication in Taft on June 1

1929 First electric well logs in California run by Shell in a well near Bakersfield
1930 Mount Poso oil field discovered

New deepest oil well in the world is the Standard Oil Mascot No. 1 rotary drilled to 9,629 feet at Midway-Sunset in Mar.

1933 Mountain View oil field is discovered May 13
1934 Trico gas field is discovered

Buena Vista Lake gas field is discovered in June

1935 Semitropic gas field is discovered in Mar.
1936 Ten Section oil field is discovered at Stevens Siding in June, becoming the first field in the state using seismic data. The well also marks the discovery of the Stevens Sandstone.

Greeley oil field is discovered in Dec.

1937 Rio Bravo field is discovered Nov. 4

Canal oil field is discovered Nov. 21

1938 New deepest oil well in the world is drilled near Wasco to a depth of 15,004 feet

Canfield Ranch oil field is discovered on Jan. 19

Wasco oil field is discovered Apr. 13

Coles Levee oil fields (North and South) are discovered Nov. 11

1939 Arvin oil field is discovered Apr. 11

Strand oil field is discovered June 11

Paloma oil field is discovered on the bottom of Buena Vista Lake Aug. 31

1941 Shafter oil field is discovered in Oct.
1943 Blackwell's Corner oil field is discovered

Deepest well in the world is the Standard 20-13, drilled to 16,246 feet at South Coles Levee

1944 Gosford oil field is discovered
1946 Belgian Anticline oil field is discovered
1951 "Super Inch" natural gas pipeline completed through Kern County
1952 Tehachapi earthquake at 7.6 magnitude hits July 21 at 4:52 am with 14 lives lost

Bakersfield earthquake at 5.8 magnitude hits August 22 at 3:42 pm with 2 lives lost

1953 Deepest oil well in the world is drilled at Paloma oil field by Ohio Oil

Deepest well in the world is Richfield 67-29 drilled to 17,895 feet at North Coles Levee in Dec. It is also the deepest producing well in the world.

1957 North Tejon oil field is discovered in March
1961 First steam recovery projects in Kern County start up at Kern River and Coalinga fields after a successful pilot by Shell at Yorba Linda field in Los Angeles
1962 Asphalto oil field is discovered
1965 Largest producing oil well in the state is the Standard Oil 7Z, No. 558 near McKittrick
1967 Tenneco acquires the Kern County Land Company for $430 million, to become the largest holder of oil acreage in California. This acreage later passes to ARCO (1988), then Vintage (1993), and finally ends up with Occidental Petroleum (2006).
1973 West Kern Oil Museum is established at Taft
1974 Tule Elk and Yowlumne fields become the last 100-million barrel fields discovered in Kern County
1979 Elk Hills is ranked as the state's top producing oil field

Shell Oil Company purchases Belridge Oil Company, and with it most of South Belridge Field, for $3.65 billion

1980 First horizontal well in San Joaquin Valley is the Texaco Gerard #6 in fractured schist at Edison field

1981 The 12th oil refinery in Kern County is built by Independent Valley Energy. It is also the last, and by 2010 only two remain open.
1985 Steam flooding pushes San Joaquin Valley oil production to an all-time high of almost 300 million barrels/year (256 MMBO/yr for Kern County alone). At the same time, California reaches an all-time production high of 424 million barrels of oil/year.
1993 Yowlumne field becomes the 16th Kern County field to produce more than 100 million barrels of oil
1998 A spectacular blowout and fire at the Bellevue #1 wildcat in the East Lost Hills subthrust fuels hopes for the first major Kern County discovery in over a decade

Elk Hills Naval Petroleum Reserve is sold by the U.S. Government to Occidental Petroleum for $3.65 billion

2002 Black Gold: The Oil Experience - a world-class exhibit on the oil industry, opens at the Kern County Museum
2009 Occidental announces a major oil field discovery between Elk Hills and Railroad Gap fields, which is named the Gunslinger pool. At 150 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE), it is the largest San Joaquin Valley discovery in more than 30 years. However, reserve revisions over the next several years knock the potential size of the discovery down to perhaps as low as 30 million BOE, which still makes it the most significant find since the 1970s, just not the giant oil field that Oxy once thought they had.