In 1875, Charles Alexander Mentry was hired by the California Star Oil Works Company to supervise drilling in Pico Canyon. In 1875 and 1876, three promising wells were drilled but the fourth, which was started in July, struck oil on September 26, 1876 at a depth of 370 feet. That well immediately began producing 25 barrels per day. In 1877, Mentry drilled the well to 560 feet, and 150 barrels were produced each day. After this success, California's first oil pipeline was constructed to connect Well No. 4 to a refinery in Newhall.

Around this time, a town called Mentryville was established down the canyon from the wells. Here Charles Mentry built a 13-room mansion and lived until his death in 1900. Mentry apparently treated employees with incredible dignity, and upon his passing the entire town of 200 traveled to Los Angeles for his funeral, carrying with them a floral arrangement shaped like an oil derrick. Eventually, due to a change in oil production and the industry, Mentryville was abandoned. During the 1930s, most of the remaining residents left and took their homes with them - board by board. In 1962, only a caretaker remained, living in Mentry's old mansion.

Today, historic Mentryville is a part of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Friends of Mentryville group works to restore and preserve what remains. Up higher in the canyon is old Well No. 4, which was finally capped in 1990 after 114 years of production - the longest continually operating oil well in the world. Well No. 4 was also declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966, one of the first in Los Angeles County.

I Visited Mentryville
6.3.2012 & 2.15.2017