Pioneer Oil Refinery Recent Photos

Overview of refinery site looking south

All the photos were taken by me in late June through early August of 2010. They were taken at different times of the day to take advantage of the sun position. All were taken from outside of the fence surrounding the site. Note that the fence to the concrete and asphalt recycling company (on the left in the above photo) is only open during business hours (6:30am-3:00pm Mon-Sat). If it is closed, you can't get close to the stills or behind them.

From Pine Street, looking east down the dirt road toward the refinery site

The dirt road is occasionally maintained

Just about at the refinery site. It is at the intersection of two dirt roads, one going to a recycling company on the left (with the yellow sign) and the other to the Tire Guy on the right.

At the northwest corner of the site

Pioneer pump house

Straight on view of pump house

View inside of the pump house looking at the engine and sign

This pumping equipment provided water for
oil producing operations during the early 1900s.
It was located here because of a supply of spring

The engine is a 12 horsepower, one cylinder
Fairbanks Morse "hit and miss" type N built in
1908. It used natural gas as fuel. Through the
leather belt it powered the vertical triplex
pump, sending water 5 miles to Pico Canyon,
about 225 feet above this elevation.

See here for an instruction manual for this type of engine (PDF - 2.2MB).

Another view of engine

Pump house looks like it has been filled with at least 6 inches of sediment

This is the pump. I can't get close enough to it to see the manufacturer name.

Between the engine and the pump is this belt support or stretcher

Acid tank with wash tank in the background. There were other tanks on the refinery site at one time, but they are gone. In the historic photo taken on the dedication day in 1930, you can see another tank at the very right of the photo.

Opposite view of acid tank. It almost collapsed in the 1994 Northridge earthquake and the base looks ready to cave in at any time. After distillation, the oil was mixed here with sulphuric acid to separate out all the foreign ingredients such as tar and sediments.

1930 restoration sign says "Acid treating tank"

Here is the conical bottom of the acid tank.

After treatment in the acid tank, the oil is transferred to the wash tank, where the acid is removed. The base for this tank is also close to collapsing.

This piece of wood is helping to support the wash tank

The kerosene and benzine storage tanks in the foreground and the refinery stills in the background

View of tanks from opposite direction

The kerosene and benzine storage tanks. I do not know if each tank only stored one of the liquids or if both tanks could store both liquids if needed.

Another view of storage tanks. You can just make out the old graffiti.

View of the remaining stills. On the hilltop to the right is one of two large crude oil storage tanks. Crude oil flowed to the refinery by gravity, however, the tanks on the hill today are not the original tanks.

Closer view of the stills. These are still #4 on the left and still #3 on the right. Stills 1 and 2 and the boiler were removed by Standard sometime in 1961 to be shown at their Richmond Oil Museum. Although the museum is long gone, the stills and boiler are still at the site and in excellant condition.

Same view at different time of year

The tank in front of the stills.

Another view of tank showing pipe going toward stills. The residue from the stills was drained into this tank. Some of it was used to make an oil sold to railroad companies. The rest was reused as fuel for the stills.

Same view at different time of year

The sign at the left of the stills is no longer readable. There is an old photo of it on the refining page.

Closer view of the sign and Still #4

The whole site was restored in 1930. You can see the plaque on still #3 on the right. You can also see the brick damage on still #4 and the collapsed chimney behind still #3. This damage was caused by the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Still #4 on the left and still #3 on the right

Closer look at still #3 showing the commemorative plaque (see history page for what it says). Note also the old graffiti on the still.

Above the commemorative plaque is this small sign saying that Still #3 has a capacity of 100-barrels (4200 gallons: 1 barrel = 42 gallons)

The small sign on Still #4 says that it has a capacity of 150-barrels (6300 gallons)

From the rear of the Still #4

A little closer view of Still #4 showing the pipes of the condenser. There were 1,400-feet of two-inch and three-inch iron pipes immersed in water enclosed in a 5-ft x 5-ft x 125-ft wooden trough. The wooden trough obviously no longer exists.

A slightly different view

The rear of still #3 showing the fallen chimney

Closer view of chimney on top of the condenser pipes

Still closer view shows the squished condenser pipes. One pipe has a sign saying Charging Line. This is the pipeline used to transport fresh crude oil from the tank to the still.

Still #3. Note that the chimney was filled with concrete, it was not real. The chimney for Still #4 is also filled with concrete.

Another angle

View of the end of the condenser pipes. They were enclosed in a large wooden trough, now missing. The distilling oil flowed from top to bottom.

On top of the hill to the south of the refinery are these two large storage tanks. They are not the original storage tanks for the refinery which had tanks of 20 and 100 barrels (White 1962). These are much larger. I measured the two tanks and the one on the left has about a 1935 barrel capacity and the one on the right has about a 2145 barrel capacity. Also, the pipe connections and pipes from these tanks extend directly toward the railroad tracks, not toward the refinery. Don Ball tells me that oil was still shipped out from here by train until 1943. The oil must have been stored in these tanks before being transferred down to the trains for transport.

The lower tank is on this flat area with the little building. The refinery site under the trees on the middle right.

Looking inside the building. There is an electrical circuit box attached to the outside of the building. It looks like for some reason crude oil passed through here. There are two pipes coming into the building.

On Pine Street just before you get to the dirt road to the refinery is this railroad track spur. I originally thought that it might be heading to the refinery or to below the storage tanks. However, Don Ball says that this spur used to serve an industrial building on the east side of Pine Street. He also says that a Southern Pacific plat of the area shows the the actual oil siding spur a little south of here. Don lived in Santa Clarita for 20 years until about 5 years ago. He has been interested in the refinery since the 1960's and has also been collecting refinery data and photographs for many years.