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Huntington Beach California Historical Information


Many who visit Huntington Beach today will notice the signs of oil in many landscapes--especially noticeable are the oil fields overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Coast Highway. Though less prominent than the role it once played, oil has not completely disappeared, as evidenced by the oil fields, derricks and pumps you can see along the coast and offshore of Huntington Beach.


But when you study the history of this oil-rich land, you may be shocked to discover there once was so much oil industry that it was a marvel people actually thought of the city as a tourist attraction. Oil helped turn Los Angeles and the US into the economic power it became for a century, and oil still is the primary fuel for that moves the economy in the start of the 21st century.


In 1901, Col. Robert Northam owned 1,400 acres of land in what is now Huntington Beach. Then, in 1919, S.H. Gester, a young petroleum engineer with Standard Oil in San Francisco, looked over Huntington Beach and decided it had potential as an oil-production area. Standard Oil leased some land from Northam and brought in the Discovery Well on May 24, 1920, name A-1, and it produced 72 bopd. Late that year in November, the Bolsa Chica #1 blew. It gushed with 1,742 bopd and 4,000,000 cubic feet of gas.


To commemorate the Discovery Well, Huntington A-1 and the beginning of the Huntington Beach Oil Field, the Standard Oil Company of California and Petroleum Production Pioneers, Inc. placed a stone marker at the site on September 10, 1960. On May 24, 2002, Huntington A-1 was rededicated with a final tribute.


On February 14, 2002, a group of long time Standard Oil Company employees and representatives from the City of Huntington Beach met to discuss the rededication of the park encompassing the Discovery Oil Well in Huntington Beach. As a result, a committee was formed to plan the rededication ceremony held on May 24, 2002.  A program consisting of a panel discussion of oil production workers was held at the Huntington Beach Art Center.