Rice Canyon, Santa Clarita, California

Northeast view out of Rice Canyon (photo taken on 10/17/2009)

Rice Canyon is east of Wiley Canyon and Leaming Canyon and is a tributary of East Canyon. It bisects the Pico Anticline just like Pico, Towsley, Wiley, and Leaming Canyons. It was evidently named for a Mr. Rice, who filed the first claim in 1865. This was stated by Ludwig L. Salvator in his "Los Angeles in the Sunny Seventies" book. We do not know who Rice really was. Confusing the issue is that a WP Rice bought land in the canyon around 1900 and drilled wells.

The first mention of Rice Canyon that I have found is from the "Resources of the Pacific Slope" by J. Ross Browne (San Francisco, I.H. Bancroft and Company, 1868) on page 262:
"The oil stratum varies in width, being in some places a mile or more, as in Rice canon, in others only a few hundred feet; but is continuous for many miles."
Rice Canyon was mentioned by Peckham in his 1882 report of his travels to the region in 1866, but we can't be sure of what the canyon was actually called in 1866.

Rice's claims were bought by Dr. Vincent Gelcich in the 1873-74 and then bought by Charles Felton for Pacific Coast Oil in 1880.

There were 14 documented wells drilled in Rice Canyon starting in 1899. In 1936 there was a major plane crash in the canyon that killed 12 people.

The land up the canyon east of the creek bed up to the top of the ridge between Rice and East Canyons is still privately owned. See the end of the photos webpage to see a map.


History of Oil Development
Newhall Mountain Oil Company Well No. 1
Oil Artifacts
1936 Plane Crash Kills 12