An icon of abundance in American folklore is the oil gusher, when overpressured petroleum bursts through the drillrig. But the Lakeview gusher, greatest of them all, was a calamity. Its ruins sit in the heart of California's oil patch.
A bronze plaque reads: "America's most spectacular gusher 'blew in' here March 14, 1910. Initial flow was 18,000 barrels per day and later reached uncontrolled peak of 100,000 barrels per day, completely destroying the derrick. This Union Oil Company well between Taft and Maricopa produced nine million barrels of oil in 18 months."
Most of the oil soaked into the soil or evaporated. Black mist fell for miles around. Only supreme vigilance kept it from catching fire. The price of crude plunged by nine-tenths. And when the flood ended, the well produced less than 30 barrels a day.
Today a wide oil-soaked sand pavement is topped with desert scrub. Petroleum fumes waft from nearby wells, and haze hides the scene on many days.
|The Gusher in Progress||Scene of the Lakeview Gusher||Gusher Site and Monument||Oil-Soaked Sand|
|Center of the Well||Northern Rampart||Retaining Wall||Asphalt on the Ramparts|
|Asphalt Flows||Asphalt Lake Beds||View Out the Horseshoe|
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