California's first commercially successful oil well at Mentryville.
“A mighty gusher of oil shot to the top of the 65-foot California Star Oil derrick on September 26, 1876. Known as "Pico Number 4," it was the first commercially successful oil well in the western United States. The well was tucked away in the Santa Susana Mountains formation of Pico Canyon, approximately four miles west of the present-day Lyons Avenue exit off of Interstate 5 in the Santa Clarita Valley. It had been punched to a depth of 617 feet by a French immigrant named Charles Alexander Mentry, just thirty years old but nonetheless a veteran of the world's first commercial oil fields in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Transient oil workers migrated to Pico Camp to harvest the bounty, and by 1880, as many as 100 families lived in what was being called "Mentryville." Young oil men lived in bunkhouses, while those with wives and children built clapboard cabins of imported redwood. Theirs was the first village in the Santa Clarita Valley to enjoy natural gas lighting. Townspeople erected a schoolhouse in 1885, and a 13-room mansion was occupied by oil field superintendent Alex Mentry and his family 1898. At the turn of the century, Mentry died. Field workers started to abandon Mentryville in the early 1900s, by which time the canyon's richest deposits of oil had been depleted, and greener — or blacker — pastures beckoned. After 1938, Mentryville's sole inhabitants were the head foremen and their families, who stayed on to manage the flow of oil that would eventually ebb to a trickle. Not only did Pico Number 4 give birth to an industry in California; it was also the longest-running oil well in the world when it ceased operation in 1990. Located at the base of Pico Canyon’s chaparral-dominated slopes, Mentryville was an 1880’s oil boom town built around its oil well, Pico No. 4. Named for Charles Alexander Mentry, the oil well’s tenacious driller—and later superintendent of the company that would become Chevron—Mentryville was home to over 100 families until the early 1930’s. Pico No. 4 went on to become the longest continually operating oil well in the world, closing in 1990. Historic buildings still stand including Charles Mentry’s grand thirteen-room mansion, a one-room school house, and a period barn. Mentryville and Pico No. 4 are registered as California State Historical Landmarks.”