Placerita Canyon Historic Photos


White oil flowing from the New Century Oil Company well in Placerita Canyon (1900-1901). Probably Well #1 of the four that New Century would drill. Note the tracks for a funicular in the background. A funicular is also known as an inclined plane or cliff railway. From the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Gift of Mr. Charles F. Lummis, "Photograph of an oil well", TheAutry.org.


New Century Oil Company well (same well as above) from "Petroleum In California - A Concise and Reliable History of the Oil Industry of the State" by Lionel V. Redpath, 1900


Probable site of the New Century Oil Company well in the previous photos. There is evidence of the funicular, including part of a track, in the gulley crossing the Canyon Trail shown here behind the white oil seep. (photo taken on 7/25/2013)


This is a funicular, probably lower down the hill from the New Century well, although it is hard to tell. From The Oil Age Monthly, Vol. 3, No. 11, April 7, 1911, p. 4.


From the Petroleum Age, Vol. 6, No. 11, November 1919, p. 480. Unfortunately, they don't tell us the name of this well.


From the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, F. H. Maude, "Lantern slide of a distant oil well in Placerita Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains", TheAutry.org.


Looking west down Placerita Canyon, two derricks visible (left of center in the middle). This is up the canyon east of the Nature Center. Those are probably New Century Oil Company wells.


Looking west down Placerita Canyon today (7/27/2012). Obviously, I'm too far away and high up to exactly duplicate the previous photo, but it's about as close I as I can get considering the amount of brush lower down.


Land bridge from Geology of the Placerita Canyon Area, John A. Battle, 1939, CIT Thesis. Another 1930's photo of the bridge from the Santa Clarita Valley History website.


1947 view of land bridge. I believe this bridge was destroyed by vandals a long time ago.


Current (4/26/2015) view of land bridge. Photo copyright Ron Kraus. Used by permission. Thanks Ron.


Plate 18 from California Journal of Mines and Geology, Volume 46, No. 1, January 1950, Geology of the Placerita Oil Field, Los Angeles County, California, by Gordon B. Oakeshott


Slighty further away view (almost north) on January 23, 2015


Plate 20 B from California Journal of Mines and Geology, Volume 46, No. 1, January 1950, Geology of the Placerita Oil Field, Los Angeles County, California, by Gordon B. Oakeshott


Hard to get the same view, but this is on Sierra Highway just south of Golden Valley Road on the west side. Not part of Placerita Canyon, but you've probably driven past this scores of times. Photo taken January 21, 2015


Two frames pasted together from "Honor of the Mounted" (1932) directed by Harry Fraser and starring Tom Tyler (born Vincent Markowski, 1903-1954). Irene (Celia Ryland) is in an out-of-control wagon rushing west down Placerita Canyon (west of Sierra Highway) with Tom in pursuit. They pass an electrical transmission tower and the first Los Angeles aqueduct (on south side of canyon). See clip here (mp4).


Looking at about the same view further away from one location. The two frames above were taken from different angles as the wagon approach, so the right background here won't be the same. Also, the background hills have been greatly modified by the oil industry since 1932. The smaller transmission tower on the right appears to be the same one shown in the movie. Photo taken May 27, 2015


Confusion Hill. From the Valley Times Collection at the Los Angeles Public Library. Photo ca. 1949



About the same view of the previous photo. View towards the southwest. Taken on 6/25/2016



Confusion Hill in left distance with Sierra Highway to the right. View towards northeast. From The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, Photo Archives, Ernest Marquez Collection. Photo ca. 1950



Confusion Hill. From the Valley Times Collection at the Los Angeles Public Library. Photo ca. 1949



Confusion Hill. From the Valley Times Collection at the Los Angeles Public Library. Photo ca. 1949



Confusion Hill. From the Valley Times Collection at the Los Angeles Public Library. Photo ca. 1949



Confusion Hill. From the Valley Times Collection at the Los Angeles Public Library. Photo ca. 1949



1957 view west down Placerita Canyon from Sierra Highway. Note the Los Angeles Aqueduct in the left distance. It can also be seen running along the ground on the left. It is only exposed on the ground like this on the north side of the canyon. The Placerita Canyon siphon of the first Los Angeles Aqueduct is 1572 feet in length and 11 feet in diameter. The total cost was $27,097 and was completed sometime in the 12 months before June 30, 1912. Image from the Valley Times Collection at the Los Angeles Public Library.


Looking down Placerita Canyon from Sierra Highway. Higher up and a wider shot then the previous photo. Photo taken April 8, 2015


View northwest down Placerita Canyon from Sierra Highway. North side of canyon showing the Los Angeles Aqueduct on the right. Date unknown, but it looks older then the previous 1957 photo based on the size of the plants and the number of tanks. From the Santa Clarita Valley History website.


It's almost impossible to recreate the previous photo. This is about as good as I could do. I was standing on Sierra Highway.


First Los Angeles Aqueduct: "Placerita siphon work", 1912, from the Joseph Barlow Lippincott Papers, 1882-1942, UC Riverside, Water Resources Collections and Archives


The gold history of Placerita Canyon can be found on the Santa Clarita History website. Here is a photograph of tailings in Placerita canyon, early 1900's, from the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, TheAutry.org, Gift of Mr. Ralph Braddock, Photo caption: "Placerita Canyon where the first gold was discovered in 1842", Maker: C.C. Pierce.