Photos: How Oil Wells Once Dominated Southern California's Landscape

Photos: How Oil Wells Once Dominated Southern California's Landscape

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L.A. as Subject's latest contribution to KCET's SoCal Focus blog features archived images of oil wells towering over Southern California beaches, orange groves, and golf courses:

Ever since the legendary oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny and his partner, Charles A. Canfield, struck oil northwest of downtown Los Angeles in 1892, extracting petroleum from the land beneath Southern California has been a major part of the Southern California economy. For decades, it also had a powerful effect on the landscape of Southern California. Oil derricks towered over sandy beaches, houses, schools, golf courses, and orange groves. In one case an oil derrick even stood stubbornly in the middle of a Beverly Hills street.

Many of the wells have since been closed, and in some cases the towering derricks have been replaced by the ever-nodding horsehead pumps, but the surreal views of oil derricks dominating the Southern California landscape survive in the following images, drawn from several of the region's photographic archives.

Keep reading the full post at KCET.org.