Ventura County Resources
A Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura, California
by Yda Addis Storke
Published in 1891 in Chicago by the Lewis Publishing Co.
From the time of its first settlement by the Mission fathers, over 100 years ago, Ventura County has been more or less given over to agriculture; but her grand capabilities in this line are only beginning to be understood.
When he came to Ventura County the man whose ideas of farming were formed amid the summer rains and the corn-fields of the Mississippi had to learn over again how to farm, and, now that he has learned the lesson, is growing rich on the land which at one time was deemed comparatively worthless.
A mistaken idea has prevailed to some extent among people in the East that farming is only carried on in Southern California by means of irrigation, and that without it crops would be a failure. Irrigation is not used at all in Ventura County, except for alfalfa, and for all small grains and winter crops it is not used in other countries. They are cultivated just as they are in the Mississippi Valley or the Atlantic States, and need only the regular rains of the winter and spring, or wet season, to mature them. Corn, a summer crop, is irrigated in some counties, but never here, as the natural moisture of the soil is sufficient to mature the crop. In some sections, after a winter-sown crop, raised without irrigation, has been harvested, another crop is raised when the rains are over by means of irrigation, and thus the land does double duty. In Ventura County, however, as our farmers do not desire to get rich in a day, corn is planted after the winter rains are over, and but one crop a year is raised and that without irrigation.
In many places land will be seen which is never free from a growing crop from year to year, except during the few days when plowing for the new planting. In counties where irrigation is used, where water from the river is used, the sediment held in suspension constantly renews the fertility of the soil over which it is spread.
Southern California throughout is a wonderfully rich farming section, and Ventura County is richer than any. She raises enough for her own consumption and exports more than my other county in the south. Her markets are at her very door. Lying between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, neither of which raises enough for home consumption, the question of disposing of her products is a simple one. Many things, especially beans and fruit, are shipped to the East, although the bulk of exports goes by steamer to San Francisco. But the supply is never half equal to the demand, which makes Ventura a splendid field for the industrious farmer. It is a better field than any other in Southern California, if for no other reason than that it is the only county where irrigation is not needed and not used. The number of acres under cultivation in this county is estimated at 100,000 this year.
Anything that grows in Ventura county - and anything will grow - yields a good profit to the tiller. But of course there are some things much more profitable than others. Heretofore barley has chiefly occupied the attention of the farmer, with satisfactory results; but year by year the tendency is to forsake barley and go over to
Before all others Ventura is preeminently a bean county. This is conceded on all sides, and one of the facts that has not been denied in other counties. The cultivation of the bean dates back to the earliest settlement of the county; and bean culture has always been successful. The season of 1864-'65 was the dryest and most unpropitious ever known here, and even then a large quantity of beans were exported. About the year 1875, Mr. CRANE began cultivation of the Lima bean in the valley, and it is now thought to be the most valuable bean produced in the county. The Lima bean is a very prolific product. More than a ton is often raised on an acre of ground, while twenty-three hundred pounds of the White Navy beans are frequently raised on one acre. Lima beans have often brought as high as 5 and 6 cents a pound, returning to the producer the handsome figure of $100 per acre, but $50 is probably a fair average.
This year Limas will bring 2 1/2 cents a pound. Estimating 1,800 pounds to the acre, at 2 1/2 cents, the yield in money per acre will be $44 and the profit about $32 or $33. Bean raising smuts about $7.50 per acre. This estimate includes everything - cost of seed, planting, cultivating, cutting and harvesting. And it is a liberal estimate.
Beans are planted with a bean planter, a simple machine. Two, three, and sometimes four rows are planted at a time. Cultivation after they are planted consists simply in keeping the field clear of weeds. They are planted in May, after the winter rains are surely over, never irrigated, cultivated once or twice after planting, and then nothing more is done until they are ready to cut, which is generally in August or September. At first beans were pulled by hand, but by degrees improvements on this slow method were invented, until now the harvesting of the bean is a very inexpensive, rapid and simple process; and herein lies much of the profit. They are cut with a bean cutter, also a very simple machine. It is a V-shaped knife, the blades of which are five or six feet long and are attached on either side of a wooden sled about eight feet long, one foot wide and one deep. Three horses are attached to the cutter, which is guided between the rows by one man. This way beans can be cut at an expense of about 50 cents an acre, and one man and three horses will cut fifteen acres a day. Lima beans are planted in cores three feet apart and drilled. Small white beans are planted thirty inches apart and drilled. The latter are cut earlier than the Limas. After the beans - of any variety - are cut, they remain in piles in the field for about four weeks to dry, when they are taken to the machine and threshed at an expense of about 15 cents per 100 pounds. Seven dollars and a half will easily cover the cost of seed, planting, cultivating, cutting and harvesting an acre of beans. The demand for beans is always good. Limas bring from to 3 cents a pound, the small whites from 2 to 2 1/2 cents. Farmers in Ventura have often cleared $50 an acre on a crop of Lima beans, and never less than $30. So it will be seen that bean land is not shockingly dear at even $300 an acre. Land that will pay fifteen per cent. on money invested is not exorbitantly high; it is reasonably cheap. But there is plenty of land suitable for bean culture that can be had for $150, some at $100, $75, $60, $50 - according to location and facilities for shipping. The highest priced lands in the poorest season will pay fifteen per cent. on money invested. The Santa Clara Valley has heretofore been considered the home of the bean. Before this season farmers who were not fortunate enough to own land in this favored section were afraid to embark in anything but grain, but this year some tillers of Las Poses soil were bold enough to pioneer bean planting, and crops resulting from their experiments demonstrate the fact that beans can be successfully grown in other sections besides the Santa Clara Valley. Rice & Bell on the Las Posas have as fine a crop of beans as can be found in the county, a crop that will certainly average a ton to the acre. Beans have also been raised this year on the Ojai, the Conejo, and a few in the Simi. Unquestionably the soil and climate of the Santa Clara valley is more suited to the cultivation of the bean than any one of these latter valleys, which are mostly given over to grain-growing. In the Santa Clara Valley farmers often raise 2,000 to 3,000 sacks of beans a year. A sack of Lima beans contains about sixty pounds, and about seventy pounds of small whites.
In the Las Posas Valley, good bean land - land that will raise as good Limas and as heavy crops as grow anywhere in the county - can be had at $60 an acre.
First-class bean land can be bought and paid for with two years' crops. No bean land can be bought in the Santa Clara Valley the alleged home of the bean - for less than $100 an acre, and most of it runs from $150 to $200. The latter price would seem enormously high to the Eastern farmer unacquainted with the profits of bean raising. A California bean field often embraces hundreds of acres, all in sight from a given point. The vines run along the ground and not on poles as in the Eastern States.
Next to fruit growing, bean raising is undoubtedly the most profitable industry in the farming line in Ventura county; and it is more profitable than some kinds of fruit growing.
No spot in California can excel the Santa Clara Valley in the production of corn. It grows without irrigation and has reached high as 72 centals or 120 bushels to the acre. It is planted in April or May after the rains are over, and frequently nothing more is required till it is ready for gathering in autumn. Should it rain after the ground is planted the farmer frequently finds it advantageous to plow it up and plant it a second time; otherwise cultivation will be necessary to overcome the weeds. After the corn is gathered and husked it may be thrown into open pits and left uncovered for a year or more, if not sooner shelled or fed to stock. Everything in connection with corn-raising except the gathering is performed by machinery. Until lately corn was raised extensively here and fed to hogs, but now, notwithstanding the heavy yield per acre, the ground is generally considered more profitable for some other kinds of crops. Ventura is the only county in Southern California where corn is raised without irrigation.
Barley is the chief cereal crop of Ventura County. Its yield is large in the Santa Clara and other valleys. On the west side of the river it has reached 52 cent., or 104 bushels, to the acre. There is always a demand for barley, and there is so much land in the county exactly suited for its production that it is likely to continue one of its staple products. It may be sown after the autumn rains or early in the spring. Cut green it is used for hay, and is highly relished by stock. Year in and year out the profits from barley- raising will average from $15 to $20 per acre. The Simi Valley yields larger crops than any other portion of the county.
Wheat is an important crop in Southern California, but is not as extensively grown in Ventura County as barley. The Ojai Valley. Simi and Conejo plateaus are better adapted to wheat than the land immediately on the coast as they are less subject to fogs which occur in some seasons of the year. Wheat-raising in California is another and different thing from what it is in the East. After it ripens it may be left standing for weeks with impunity, the husk closing around the grain and holding it intact. When the farmer is ready he enters the field with headers and a thresher and cuts, threshes and sacks the grain the same day. The sacks are put in large piles and left in the field uncovered for weeks, or even for months, until he is ready to haul them to market. The wheat of California has a worldwide reputation. The State ships on an average some 15,000,000 bushels annually.
Alfalfa, or lucerne, which is being extensively grown in Ventura County, is known botanically as Medicago sativa. It has been grown in Greece for about 3,000 years as forage plant and for hay. The Romans esteemed it very highly, and Columella wrote that it yielded four to six crops a year. In France it is known as lucerne and in Spain as alfalfa. It came from Spain to South America, and thence by way of Mexico to California It is grown extensively in Southern Europe. It is a most successful crop in this county, but in most places needs irrigation. From six to eight cuttings are harvested in a year. It yields from two to three tons to the cutting, and readily nets from $60 to $75 to the acre. It is fed to cows, horses, hogs and poultry, all of which thrive upon it.
While oats are not extensively raised here, yet they grow to perfection and make excellent feed. In some portions of the county oats grow wild, covering foot-hills and sides of mountains, and they are prized by stock-men for all kinds of stock, including sheep. In this connection should be mentioned bur clover, which covers the mountains, foothills and valleys in winter with a carpet of green. It bears a bur which contains small seeds, which are highly relished by cattle, horses, sheep, goats, hogs, and upon which they thrive. About the first of June it dies and drops the burs containing the seed, sometimes covering the ground to the depth of an inch or more, and remains good until the November rains. When the country was new no provision was made to feed stock any season of the year. They were sustained during the winter and spring months by the abundance of grass which grows luxuriantly in the valleys and on the mountains, and during the summer and autumn lived on bur clover.
Vegetable raising has been largely relegated to the Chinese, who pay as high as $25 an acre rent for land. Of late, however, white men are turning their attention to this important industry in Southern California. Of late, white men have begun to see that there are possibilities for profit in the humble cabbage, cauliflower, tomato and potato, not exceeded even by the noble orange. Train-loads of vegetables are now sent East from Southern California every winter, although not by any means so many as should be sent These vegetables arrive East when everything is frozen, and fetch very high prices. The industry is growing rapidly, and offers excellent opportunities to men of moderate means, as it is not necessary to wait several years for a return. A thrifty man can support a family in this manner from the product of five acres, or even less.
Potatoes yield two crops a year and bring as much as $200 an acre. At present there is not enough raised in the county, and, with the demand East, ought to develop into a great industry in the rich valleys of Ventura County. Sweet potatoes yield immense crops and always command a good price.
Tomatoes ripen nearly all the year round, the same vines bearing for years in the more sheltered spots. Asparagus, onions, beans of all kinds, peas, cabbage and cauliflower, squashes, melons, pumpkins, and in short, nearly or quite every vegetable know to the northern or semi-tropic climes grow here to perfection.
Fruit culture in Ventura County is yet in its infancy, but it is growing rapidly. There are a few spots on earth so favored by nature, and none where the horticulturist receives larger profits for his labor. The possibilities of horticulture in this county seem almost without limit. Year by year the area devoted to it is being enlarged, and as the county is settled up orchards and vineyards increase and multiply. The profits are much greater than from grain-growing, while the labor is much lighter and pleasanter. It requires no extraordinary stretch of the imagination to see the county in a few years transformed into one vast orchard and vineyard; to see the large farms now in grain subdivided into small tracts, with a happy home in each surrounded by fruits and flowers. The great Simi, the Las Posas, all the great ranchos now supposed to be good for little but grain, will one day be an unbroken line of orchards. The growth of some of the most populous and wealthy countries of the old world has been based upon horticulture and viticulture. The chief income of the Mediterranean countries, occupying a similar latitude to Southern California - Asia Minor, Greece, the Ionian Islands, Italy, Southern France, Spain and Portugal - is derived from their export of oranges, lemons, figs, olives, olive oil, dates, raisins, dried prunes, chestnuts, preserved fruits, wines and brandies. The United States imports annually $15,000,000 to $20,000,000 of fruits and nuts, all of which, in quantity to supply the United States, may be grown within the limits of Ventura County, and, in addition, thereto, all the wine and brandy which is consumed in this country, with a large surplus for export. Horticulture, therefor, furnishes a pretty solid basis for a large population in this county, apart from its other numerous resources.
Fruits are at home in Southern California, and particularly in Ventura County. They seem at once to take kindly to its soil and climate, no matter whence they are brought. In the early days - during the '50s - there were only a few inferior varieties of grapes and oranges grown in Southern California. The Mission grape was about the only variety grown in California at that time. There were a few old orange trees in Los Angeles County, around the missions, introduced by the Catholic fathers a century ago. The success of these led to others being planted in other sections, and so the orange industry has increased until the present day. There are seedling pear trees at the missions a hundred years old. The first grafted fruit trees were brought to California in 1851, 1852 and 1853. Fruit trees at that time were a dollar apiece, and the fruits were sold at enormously high prices - from $1 to $2 per pound. As time passed, more fruits trees were planted, nurseries established, and the price of fruit and trees diminished, and before railroads reached our coast the price of fruit was not remunerative, orchardists lost their interest in fruit raising, and it was some years before fruit was shipped East with profit.
The olive is said to be the most valuable tree known to man. This is undoubtedly true in Ventura County as elsewhere. It will grow in almost any kind of soil, although it is a mistake to imagine that it prefers soil nearly destitute of life-giving qualities. The olive will grow on the hill side, among rocks, and flourish where other trees would die. But that is no reason the olive prefers that kind of soil. It will do better in rich soil, which is natural. But the cheap lands of Ventura County - the hillsides now covered with chapparal - will undoubtedly be most used in the cultivation of the olive, for these lands would not be suitable to other trees. Such land can be procured at from $10 to $30 an acre.
The profits from olive-growing are enormous. Olive trees are planted twenty feet apart, or 108 to the acre. The olive grows from cuttings, which can be had at from five to ten cents each. At present the cost of setting out an olive orchard in Ventura County, including cost of land, trees and planting, would scarcely exceed $30 an acre. This is a reasonable estimate and may be too high. The olive bears at six or seven years from the cutting.
At seven years an olive tree will bear about 120 pounds to the tree. About twelve pounds will make one large bottle of oil, which will sell readily at from $1.50 to $2 a bottle. Mr. COOPER originally sold his at $1 per bottle, but the demand was so great that he was compelled to raise the price to $2. Twelve pounds to the bottle would be ten bottles to the tree, or in round numbers 1,000 to the acre. At $1.50 per bottle this would be $1,500 income from an acre of seven-year-old trees. Say that in curing the olive and making the oil and keeping the trees clean, two-thirds - an over estimate - of this sum is expended, we have left as profit the enormous sum of $500 an acre. These are astonishing figures, but when one reflects on the demand for and price of olive oil they will not seem without the bounds of reason. As the olive has off years in bearing, divide this estimated profit of $500 by two, and you still have a yearly profit per acre of $250 from an olive orchard. Ten acres would be enough, it has been often said, and such is the fact. Truly the olive is the most valuable tree known to man. The above estimates are based on the average yield of the orchard of the pioneer olive-grower of the State.
At present there are but two varieties of the olive most largely grown, that is, the Mission and Picholine. Both have advantages. The Mission will perhaps grow on a drier and poorer soil than the Picholine. The planting of the Mission is much advocated by many, because the fruit is a large berry and the tree a rapid grower.
The walnut prefers a moist rich soil, and is at home in Ventura County. The older variety of the trees are very slow in coming into bearing, requiring about ten years or more, and this fact has discouraged many an orchardist from setting out this valuable fruit; but there is a variety of soft shell walnut that requires but six years in which to bear, and once bearing it keeps on increasing (as is the case with all kinds of walnuts) its crop for fifty years or more. Sometimes these soft-shell walnut trees bear in five years - four years from the nursery - and this year there are some five-year-old trees in the county - notably at the RICE & BELL place on the Las Posas - that are loaded with nuts. This is an exception, however, the tree not usually bearing short of six years.
The walnut groves of Ventura County will and do net their owners an average of $100 per acre year in and year out, and there are some groves of old trees that net yearly twice that sum. No crop is more easily gathered than the walnut, and it is ready to be gathered after all other crops are in. The best thing about the walnut is that it is not perishable, and the owner of a grove is never forced to sell his crop at a loss or small profit to keep it from spoiling on his hands. Then another thing is that the area in which the walnut will thrive is so small that there can never be any danger of an overstocked market. Walnut lands in Ventura County sell for from $100 to $400 an acre, according to location, and any of it, after an orchard has been in bearing a couple or three years, will pay ten per cent. interest on $1,000 an acre.
There is abundant acreage in Ventura County adapted to culture of the almond, but as yet little has been done in this direction. Mr. Joseph HOBART some fifteen years ago put out 300 almond trees in the Upper Ojai Valley, and he is almost the only grower of this article. So satisfactory does he find the enterprise that he is planting out a large number of these trees, which he regards, each for each, as more profitable than apricots, prunes, or peaches. Some of the pleasant features of this business are as follows: its successful treatment requires neither great haste nor a large crew of workers; the gathering of the crop comes in cold weather, and wet days can be utilized for hulling; the care of the orchard is less than with other fruit trees, and the cost of handling a crop of almonds is only about twenty-five per cent of what it costs to handle apricots, peaches, etc.
Probably all kinds of apples that can be grown in any country are grown here. They are of very superior quality and there is no place in the United States where they keep better than in this climate. The dried apples sent from this county here commanded double the price of ordinary dried fruit. Pears of superior quality are raised here and are found profitable both for drying and canning purposes.
The soil of this section seems to be exactly suited to the apricot. Here it finds its special adaptation, yielding immense quantities of fruit of large size and excellent flavor. This is a very profitable industry and is becoming a source of immense revenue to the county. As the district of country in which they can grow to such perfection is limited, it is not likely the business will be overdone, but there will be an increasing demand for this fine fruit year after year. So far the apricot has had no natural enemy. Neither insect nor disease of any kind has ever attacked it in this region. As instances of the profit derived from this fruit we may cite the following: A farmer sold the fruit of a nine acre orchard of four-year-old trees for $1,000, their purchaser gathering the fruit, from which he also derived a handsome profit, having obtained it for about one cent per pound. The fruit in another orchard of five year-old trees sold for $200 per acre, the purchaser in this instance also realizing a handsome profit by drying the fruit. In another orchard three years old, the owner gathered fifty pounds to a tree, which more than paid for the trees and their cultivation up to that time. A gentleman planted seventy-live acres of apricot trees on land which cost $25 per acre; he raised two crops of beans between the trees, which more than paid the cost of cultivation of his orchard and the third year sold it for $100 per acre. This is not a solitary instance for there are scores of individuals in this county who are quadrupling the value of their land in a similar manner.
One of the largest orange and lemon orchards in the county is near Santa Paula. The orange trees of this orchard of nearly 100 acres are bearing and doing well. The lemons have been more thoroughly tested and s superior to most others grown in the State. The soil is very deep, a rich, well drained alluvial or sedimentary deposit, and is pronounced by Prof. E. W. HILGARD superior to any of his acquaintance for "easy cultivation and power to raise moisture jointly." The lemons grown thus near the coast are not superior to those farther inland. Al the citrus fair held at Riverside in 1883, a committee was appointed to make thorough scientific tests for the purpose of comparison of lemons grown in California with imported lemons. The analysis embraced, first, appearance, including size and quality of rind; second, bitterness; third, percentage of acidity. The committee compared the California lemon with those freshly imported from Messina, Malaga and Palermo, and reported as follows: "From a careful analysis of the foregoing it will seem that the California budded lemon properly grown and handled is the equal in every respect of the imported lemon." The committee further says: "It is noticed in the examination that the lemon of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Diego are nearly globular in form, and all bearing a smooth, morocco-like texture of the rind, while those of the same varieties found in San Gabriel and Pasadena are now elongated in form and not as smooth, and those of Riverside and vicinity are still more elongated and rougher in rind. It is noticeable that the smoothness and thinness of rind indicates greater quantity of juice." This testimony from a Riverside committee carries great weight as to Ventura's ability to successfully grow lemons, which branch of the citrus culture it is believed will be most profitable in the future.
The growing of oranges and lemons has been successfully tested at the Camulos, Sespe, Ojai, Matilija and other portions of the county. There are also thousands of acres on the Simi, Las Posas and other portions of the county that will doubtless produce oranges, lemons and limes of good quality. This industry is yet in its infancy in Ventura County, while its possibilities are beyond computation.
Farmers and fruit growers have not turned their attention largely to grape culture, but as far as tried they do remarkably well. Raisin grapes are grown successfully and produce the finest raisins in the land. This is especially true at Sespe and Ojai valleys. At the Camulos, in the northern part of the county, a fine quality of wine has been successfully manufactured for years. The county contains thousands of acres of land not yet brought under cultivation, where every variety of grape known on the west can be successfully and probably grown. For size and flavor the grapes grown in this county will compare favorably with the best. A few miles from Ventura is one of the largest grape-vines in the world.
Prunes do well and yield profitable crops. The French prune grows to great perfection, yielding largely, and promises to become one of the paying industries of the future. Peaches of all varieties do exceedingly well in this county. They seldom or never fail; and this may be said of nearly all kinds of fruits grown here. Some years the yield is not as great as others, but is never a total failure. In addition to the fruits mentioned above, the following also do very well in Ventura's soil: Limes, guavas, loquats, currants, pears (which bear enormously), cherries, plums, figs of all kinds at all seasons, pomegranates, nectarines, persimmons (Japan), strawberries (ripe the year round), raspberries and blackberries.
THIS YEAR'S EXPORTS
The barley product of Ventura County for this year is about 120,000 sacks, the average yield being about 350,000 sacks; the low product this year is due to last year's unusually wet winter. Of wheat there were about 20,000 sacks, which is a fair average, comparatively little land being sown to wheat. Of hay are raised about 2,500 tons annually. This year hay is more abundant than usual in this county. Of corn about 150,000 will be this year's harvest, the average yield increasing from year to year, as barley-raising is abandoned for the culture of corn and beans. Of beans - that great Ventura staple - 18,200 acres were this year sown to Lima beans, yielding about 1,000 pounds to the acre, this being somewhat below the average of 1,500 pounds to the acre.
About 2,500 acres were put to other varieties of beans, yielding about 1,500 pounds to the acre. The apricot and walnut yield was very large also, about 300 car loads of green apricots having been shipped to Newhall alone, for the purpose of sun-drying.
The shipment from this county of fresh apricots, delivered at the railway stations at $20 per ton, amounted to about $100,000 last season.
So abundant was the crop that one grower, Mr. A. D. BARNARD, of the Canada Large Rancho, invited through the newspapers all parties who would, to take away from his orchard all of this fruit that they would haul without money or price. Of walnuts twelve to fifteen carloads, or 240,000 pounds, will have been shipped this year. 'There are about 200 acres of walnut trees bearing, and 350 acres not yet bearing, in this county.
Of oranges and lemons, the total value will probably approach $40,000. Olives will not reach a large figure, outside of the Camulos Rancho. Peanuts enter into the exports, as many as 500 sacks, or 25,000 pounds, having gone out; potatoes amount to about 200 carloads; a variety of promiscuous products also are exported, including hogs, of which a large number are raised, sometimes as many as 10,000 a year. The yield for this year is not determinable.
This industry has been carried on in Ventura somewhat extensively for many years. When under Mexican role it consisted solely of cattle and horses, bat when the Americans took possession they made sheep-raising a specialty. Under their supervision the county has supported as many as 250,000 head at one time. At the present time there is somewhat over 75,000 head in the county. Recently imported draft and other horses have been introduced, the assessment roll indicating several thousand American horses, some 3,000 of which are graded. Percheron, Hambletonian, Belgian, Morgan and other breeds have been imported. Among cattle there have been imported Durham, Shorthorn, Jersey and Holstein breeds, making the grade of cattle the very best. The county is far in advance of many others in the best breed of horses and cattle, farmers having reached the conclusion that good stock can be as easily raised as the poorer varieties and to much greater profit. The raising of hogs is also engaged in extensively and profitably. Diseases among stock are unknown here, except scab in sheep, which has not proved destructive.
A gentleman of Santa Paula imported twenty-one head of Holstein cows four years ago and has already sold $11,000 worth from their increase, while keeping up the original number. This is a fair sample of what is being done in this and other portions of the county in improved stock of nearly every kind.
The resources and capabilities of Ventura County in this regard may be best judged by the following resume of the fine stock ranchos in this county: Three miles from Hueneme on the road to Ventura, and about half way between the former place and Montalvo, the first station on the Southern Pacific Railroad east of Ventura, is the splendid stock ranch of Mr. J. G. HILL, one of the representative and wealthy men of Ventura County.
The property embraces 630 acres of the La Colonia ranch, and is as desirably located and composed as as good soil as any part of the 40,000 acres of this magnificent property. The whole ranch is very nearly a mile square, and is fenced and moss-fenced into suitable fields for tillage, grain or grazing.
The owner of this valuable place is doing much toward the improvement of horses in this section. Several years ago J. C. SIMPSON, of Oakland, brought to California from Chicago the beautiful dapple-gray stallion, A. W. RICHMOND, which he sold to a Mr. PATRICK, the latter to H. JOHNSON, he to HILL & GREIS, and finally Mr. GREIS sold his interest to Mr. HILL, the horse dying on the latter's hands last November, at the age of twenty-seven years. This horse was said to be one of the finest, if not the best, carriage or driving horses on the continent. He was the sire of Joe Romero, record 2:19 1/2; Arrow, record 2:13 1/4; Columbine - the dam of Anteo and Anterolo, the only mare in the world that has produced two sons to beat 2:20; Rosewall, who has just made himself a record, taking six straight races, against stock imported to beat him; and a host of the finest driving stock on this coast. Being owned by Mr. HILL and Hill & Greis for some five or six years, his colts have become numerous, and are considered the best stock in the county. Most of the colts strongly resemble the sire, being showy and of a gentle disposition. Some of his progeny develop great speed, but more of them become intelligent, attractive family carriage horses, and are owned and prized by many of the best families in this part of the State.
Chief among the valuable horses Mr. HILL has at the present time is Ulster Wilkes, a two-year-old stallion by Guy Wilkes, record dam by Ulster Chief by Hambletonian No. 10, second dam by May Queen, record 2:24. This is considered one of the finest-bred colts in America. He is very handsome and will without doubt, make an extra fine horse. Fayette King, a dark brown stallion, three years old, by The King, son of George Wilkes, first dam by Beecher, second dam by imported Consternation, full thoroughbred. This is a fine horse. Sterlingwood, another chestnut stallion, three years old, by Sterling, first dam by Nutwood, second dam by John Nelson. This is also a valuable animal.
Another beautiful black two-year-old stallion, Steve White, by A. W. RICHMOND, first dam by Ben Wade (thoroughbred), second dam by Traveler, third dam by Son of John Morgan, fourth dam by Tiger Whip, is one of the prettiest colts in the county.
Aside from the above list Mr. HILL has other fine stallions and some splendid mares by Joe Daniels, Ben Wade, Wild Idler, Corbitt and other horses of high record, in all about 120, the majority of which are unusually fine animals. He has a three-quarters of a mile track on the ranch, and keeps a man who thoroughly understands the business to train his stock. Aside from running horses., one of which is Dottie Dimple, record 48 3/4, half mile, this breeder gives his attention almost exclusively to carriage and trotting horses, and has certainly done Ventura County much good in introducing a class that would do credit to the blue-grass region of Kentucky or any other section of America or the world.
This rancho is supplied with every necessary appliance, commodious buildings, well watered and fenced, and is one of the best for stock-raising on the Pacific coast. Aside from his stock of horses, Mr. HILL keeps some 400 hogs, and raises large quantities of corn, hay and barley.
About a mile from the above rancho is that of J. D. PATTERSON, of Geneva, New York, covering 6,000 acres. This was also a part of the La Colonia property, and is probably the largest horse rancho on the south side of the Santa Clara River. The whole of this, however, is not devoted to stock, 1,000 acres or more being planted to barley, the product of which was 27,000 sacks last year. This farm keeps 500 head of horses, mostly of the French draft species. Of this number 150 are brood mares.
Mr. PATTERSON is the owner of the celebrated Montebello, a pure Boulornais stallion a beautiful mahogany bay, foaled at Jabeka, Belgium, in 1875, and imported into this country in August, 1878. His weight is 1,800 pounds. He has taken first premiums wherever exhibited, as well he might, for a finer horse of its kind would be hard to find.
Another noble stallion of this ranch is Black Lewis, a California-raised black fellow, nearly as heavy as his sire. This horse is five years old. Leopold, another son of Montebello, a beautiful dapper-bay stallion, weighing 1,850 pounds, a pure blood, three years old. Caesar, another three-year-old, and Philipi, another of the same age, Victor, Bonita and Patera, the last three yearlings, are all fine stallions by same sire out of the imported six-year-old mares Marie and Lady Henrietta, and the pure blood, three-year-old, California-raised mare Florence, and are all splendid specimens of this species of horses.
The owner of this property began raising this breed of horses in 1880, and has been very successful. He sells them all over this coast and farther east.
To Mr. PATTERSON is due the credit of introducing an excellent strain of draft horses. This ranch, besides raising barley and horses, also produces large quantities of hay and corn; also keeps some 2,000 hogs. The location, soil and equipments are all superb. The fences are good and everything bears the unmistakable evidence of thrift and prosperity.
On the same old La Colonia, about Coon miles from these, is located another horse ranch owned by J. K. GREIS, of Nordhoff, and Thomas BELL, of New Jerusalem, known as the Gries & Bell Ranch. This is a smaller one than the others, containing only about 425 acres, but on it are kept some very fine horses, mostly of the Richmond breed. This rancho keeps several fine stallions; and, like the two above mentioned, keeps a large number of fine brood mares, and makes a business of raising colts that develop into the best carriage and family horses. They pay special attention to the breeding of fine carriage stock and train them for this purpose, not, of course, discouraging speed in trotting or racing. Their place, which is located near Springville, is a valuable one, and is kept in "apple-pie order," being like the other two a credit to the owners and to the county.
Such marked success has attended the development of this industry here that it seems hardly extravagant to predict that the day will come when California shall lead the world in fine horses. The desirable mountain ranges of Ventura County, with the rich alfalfa fields of the valleys, are just the thing to develop the fine form and strong limb of this noble animal; and it would be no unnatural thing for this little seaside county to wave the banner of victory over the world, having achieved the honor of producing, if not the fastest running, the fastest trotting and the finest driving stock on the continent.
There are about 18,000 hives of bees in this county. In a good year the county produces about 3,000,000 pounds of honey, sufficient to fill 150 cars. In many cases 400 pounds of honey to the hive have been produced. One apiary of 700 hives, and surrounded by bees amounting in all to 1,800 hives within the radius of two miles, averaged 130 pounds each. Another apiary, containing 443 hives in the spring, increased to about 1,200 and yielded eighty tons of honey. These are presented as fair examples of the products of the honey bee in this section.
The beekeepers of this county use honey extractors, replacing the comb. They have learned to handle it economically in a wholesale way, and receive their full share of the profits. The Langstroth hive in its simplest form is almost the only one in use. The principal part of the honey is put up for shipment in sixty-pound tins, two tins in a case. Some is put up in twelve pound tins, and considerable in one and two pound tins for the English market. But the larger portion is sold by commission merchants in San Francisco, orders being received by them, from all parts of the world. Some send their honey by the car-load to the interior States, at a cost of about two and one-half cents a pound; others send it by sailing vessels around Cape Horn to the Eastern States, at a cost of less than one cent a pound.
This industry can be greatly extended in this county. The best locations are at the mouths of canons where water is plentiful. Some apiarists cultivate a little land while taking care of their bees, and others indulge in stock-raising.
Mining in Ventura is as yet comparatively undeveloped.
The mountains of this county are as yet but partly explored, and the most scientific explorers who have visited this section are unacquainted with much they contain. They will yet doubtless yield valuable returns to the faithful investigator in precious metals, valuable minerals and not unlikely gems.
Piru Mining District. This district is several miles in extent, and in scenery, abundance of timber, excellency of water, salubrity of climate in summer and healthfulness, is hard to excel. The mountains are covered with pine and oak timber; and in the Lockwood and Piru creeks, which traverse the entire district, and are never failing streams fed by springs, abundance of water can he procured for running stamp mills and other mining purposes. Most of the ore is easily accessible and can be worked with comparatively small cost. Considerable placer mining has been done in this district, in which dry and wet washers have been used. Men have made from $1.50 to $1 a day, but the principal wealth lies in the quartz ledges, which require stamp mills to reduce the ore.
Some of the mineral-bearing peaks rise 8,000 feet, and one. Mount Pinos, over 9,000 feel above sea level. Gold was discovered here long before the excitement of 1849. The territory of this district on the northern line of the county has the honor of furnishing the first gold mines discovered and worked in the State.
Professor WHITNEY says it was somewhere in this vicinity that gold was first obtained in California in considerable quantity and that was as early as 1841. M. Duflot de MOFRAS says that the locality was in the mountains six leagues from San Fernando and fifteen leagues from Los Angeles, where gold was first discovered. Bancroft makes mention of the fact of this locality having been worked more or less during the first half of the present century. It is evident that the yield of gold and silver of this locality has amounted to a large sum in the aggregate.
The director of the mint, in one of his annual reports to the Government, claims that Frazer mountain alone had yielded $1,000,000 in gold.
To preserve the chronological symmetry of the present work, is introduced an extract from the report of the director of the mint for the year 1882. Dr. BOWERS gives this at the end of his own paper on three mines, to which recurrence will be made hereafter:
"The Piru District takes its name from the Piru Creek, which runs through it in southerly direction, carrying, according to season, from 100 to 1,000 inches of water, and has placer diggings along its banks that have been profitably worked. It is about fifty miles in length by twenty-five in width, and is a strongly-marked mineral belt, carrying mineral veins of almost every kind, such as gold, silver, copper, lead, tin, iron, bismuth and antimony. It is abundantly supplied with timber of all kinds and grass. It seems never to have attracted the attention of that class of men who get up booms in mining camps. Those who frequent it are poor men, who go there to make a raise, working the rich gold quartz they find, in arrastras. The district is in Ventura County, and the part around which the principal interest centers and the work is mainly done is distant fifty-five miles from Bakersfield.
"The principal lode is called the Fraser mine. During the time it was worked, a period of eight years, until operations ceased, October 31, 1879, because of litigation arising from disputed ownership, it is believed to have yielded about $1,000,000 in gold. The difficulty is now said to be on the eve of settlement, and it will be worked by improved methods and on a larger scale than heretofore. The vein varies from two to sixteen feet in width, and will average eight feet. The ore contains a small percentage of silver, which seems to increase with depth. At the depth of 250 feet it amounts to $3 per ton, while there was only a trace at the surface. The ore contains iron and other sulphurets that assay from $3.00 to $3.50 per ton. They are all saved, but there is no means of treating them at the mine. The yield in free gold is from $15 to $25 per ton. There are many other claims in the vicinity that are successfully worked, yielding from $500 to $3,100 yearly by the arrastra process. One of these, the Castac, has yielded about $1,500.
"Some of the most valuable lodes cannot be worked by the free-milling process, because they contain lead, and therefore lie idle for the present. One of these, the Mountain Chief, a large well-defined vein, gives an average of $31 in gold and $40 in silver per ton. The ore is also charged with rich sulphates. Probably one of the most valuable lodes in the district, if it were in some other place, is a vein of magnetic iron fifty feet in width, containing fifty-two per cent, of this useful metal.
"1n this district are Frazer, Fitzgerald, Alamo, Brown and other mountains, all within the boundary line of Ventura County. In these are found true fissure quartz veins with granite walls, yielding gold and silver in paying quantities. Unfortunately for the development of these ledges they have generally fallen into the hands of persons who have had little or no capital to work them.
They are holding their claims by doing the year necessary assesssment work from year to year, awaiting the advent of men who can command the means to purchase and develop them.
"Gold has also been found in the Guadalasca range on the eastern side of the county, not far from the sea shore. The mountains rise from 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the sea level a few miles back from the ocean, and contain numerous quartz deposits in which free gold is found. It has never been successfully mined in this locality, but prospectors have recently brought in some fine looking ore carrying a considerable quantity of free gold. This section still lacks thorough scientific investigation.
"The San Emidio Antimony Mine was located by as present owners in 1872. It is claimed that this ledge was known to the Jesuit Fathers at an early day and was worked under their direction. I learn that there is a record to this effect in some of the old missions, and that implements have been found here and elsewhere in this portion of the country, indicating their use in these mines many years ago.
"Professor William R. BLAKE, who visited this locality in 1853 as geologist and mineralogist of the expedition surveying a route for the Pacific Railroad, refers to this deposit of antimony and says that in one place he found the remains of some old smelting works. Mr. Blake revisited this locality some years afterward, being much impressed with the character of its mineral deposits. In his reports he believed the antimony of sufficient importance to pay for its transportation to San Pedro on mules, a distance of over 100 miles, to what was then the nearest seaport. The ore is principally sulphuret of antimony. The vein crops out on the summit of the San Emidio Range, and is from thirty to 100 feet in width. The hanging and foot walls are composed of granite. The ore is carried on donkeys over a trail two and one-half miles to smelting works in San Emidio Canon, which is 2,500 feet below the vein at the place where it is being mined. Here is a pulverizer and three concentrators, with other machinery, run by steam power.
"Messrs. BONCHEY & Co , the owners of this mine, are preparing to erect a tramway or slide from the mine to the works, which will be about one and one-half mile in length. There is an abundance of pine timber growing near by that may be utilized for the purpose, while in the canon where the smelting works are located is a never-failing stream of water. The ore averages from thirty to thirty-five per cent. of antimony. It is also stated that it contains from $4 to $16 per ton in gold, and from $10 to $14 in silver. *** The mountain west of this ledge is capped with metamorphic sandstones, which Mr. BOUCHEY has tested for lining the furnaces of his smelting works, and pronounces it equal to the best imported fire-bricks."
A large bed of gypsum occurs in the Ojai Valley, crossing the hill below the grade road that ascends to the upper valley. There is an exposure in the canon on the south side of the road, some fifteen or twenty feet wide, dipping slightly to the east. It disappears under the mountain, but crops out nearly a mile distant on the opposite side. It is situated so that it eau be easily worked, requiring the construction of a wagon road but about 2,000 feet along the side of the canon. A large deposit of gypsum is reported to have been found recently in the western portion of the county. It is also found in small quantities in other portions of the county.
A ledge of bituminous rock was discovered a few months since in Diablo Canon, about five miles from Ventura, and is worked by Messrs. Cyrus BELLAH & Son. It is on the side of the canon, and has been prospected a distance of forty feet and forty feet deep. The deposit gradually increases in thickness, and gives promise of being practically inexhaustible. It has been tested by the Southern Pacific Company and others, who pronounce it of most excellent quality. The town authorities of San Buenaventura have ordered sidewalks to be constructed of this material on one of its principal streets, which will test its durability and value for paving purposes. Small deposits of this mineral are found in the upper Ojai Valley and other places tin the county.
The county abounds in hot and cold mineral springs. The most noted of these are situated in the Matilija Canon, fifteen or eighteen miles from San Buenaventura. They have been in use several years by persons suffering from rheumatism, indigestion, and cutaneous and other diseases. They are found somewhat abundantly for two or three miles along the canon, varying in temperature from cold to hot. Several medicinal springs are found on the Piru and at other portions of the county, but they have not been brought to the notice of the public.
Already all the following named minerals have been found in Ventura County, and doubtless others will be discovered in other portions of the section that as yet have not been critically examined:
Agate, analcite, actinolite, aragonite, antimony, amygdaloid, azurite, alabaster, auriferous quartz, argillaceous ironstone.
Bitumen, basalt, bromide of silver, bituminous rock, breccia, banded agate, brown coal, bituminous shale.
Copper, calcite, cinnabar, chalcedony, chert, chrysolite, conglomerate, calcareous tufa, carbonaceous shale, chrysocolla, compact gypsum, coal, chimney rock.
Dolomite, dendrite, dogtooth spar, diorite, diatomaceous earth.
Feldspar, fortification agate.
Gold, garnets, granite, graphite, galenite, gypsum, granular gypsum, fibrous gypsum, graphic granite, gneiss, grit rock, granular quartz, gray kip ore.
Hornblende, hornblendic gneiss, hyalite.
Iron, ironstone, iron pyrites, infusorial earth, jasper, jelsonite.
Kaolinite, lava; limestone lignite.
Mercury, marble, moss-agate, manganese, magnetic iron, marl, mica, mica schist, mottled jasper, massive calcite, micaceous granite, massive gypsum.
Natrolite, native sulphur, nickel (?), naphtha.
Opal, obsidian, oxide of iron, orthoclase.
Porphyry, petroleum, pumice-stone, pudding-stone, pitch-stone, potters' clay, petrified wood, pyrites, picrolite (?).
Quartz, quartzose granite.
Rose agate, ruby silver.
Silver, satin spar, salt, sulphur, shale, silica, silt, stalactite, stalagmite, slate, syenite, steatite, serpentine, selenite, semi-opal, shell marble.
Tin (?), trachyte, tale, talcose slate, tufa, trap, travertine, vesicular basalt, wood opal, zeolite.
Potters' clay, pipe clay, brick clay and several other kinds that may be utilized and their manufacture grow into important industries, are found in this county. Also mineral soap is found in large quantity. This soap is composed of nearly pure silica, being the remains of infusoria, a microscopic organism that existed in vast numbers in past time. These deposits have detergent qualities, and are a valuable substitute for manufactured soap in many respects. It is also valuable for the manufacture of dynamite, in which it soaks up and retains the liquid nitro-glycerine, and is valuable for some other purposes.
Ventura County contains enough good building stone to supply the State of California for centuries to come. A ledge of brown sandstone begins at the Sespe and continues in a westerly direction (probably curving northwardly) for over twenty-five miles to the ocean. It is several miles wide and of unknown depth. It crops out in various accessible places and varies in texture and hardness. But in every instance, so far as known, it is an excellent building stone. In some places this vast ledge has been lifted to a vertical position and in others it is horizontal. It can be quarried in any size required by builders.
This stone is being used extensively for the finest buildings in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and this promises to be one of the permanent and profitable industries of the county, whose development will furnish employment for thousands of workmen, skilled and unskilled.
Other building stone is found in various portions of the county, as greenish and gray sandstone. In some places these are found in extensive ledges, but they are not equal in texture and beauty to the red sandstone above described. In the northern portion of the county may be found millions of tons of granite, syenite and mica slate. The former contains large rose-colored crystals of orthoclase, giving it a most beautiful appearance, which is heightened by polishing. The mica, feldspar and quartz are distributed in such a manner as to make the granite durable and valuable for building and monumental purposes. The syenite is exceedingly tough and durable. In other portions of the county vast quantities of compact slate rock may be obtained, and also diorite. Compact basaltic rocks in almost unlimited quantity may he found at the southeastern and northwestern portions of the county.
Altogether the building stone of Ventura County is inexhaustible. In quality it is probably unexcelled in the State. Hence-forward the "Ventura brownstone" will go into the finest buildings in every city in California.
The asphaltum or bituminous rock mines form one of the coming great interests of Ventura County. Up to this time a vast quantity has been shipped to various cities for street paving, etc., and large contracts are being filled for contractors working in Colorado and Utah. The output over the Ventura wharf will average perhaps ten tons daily. New deposits have been discovered lately, and preparations are making to ship in large quantities as far east as New York. It is hoped that this county will be able to supply the demand for this article, formerly supplied from the Trinidad Islands. These beds of asphalt, along the San Antonio Creek, were first examined before the war, and before the oil discoveries in Pennsylvania, by Professor SILLIMAN of the Smithsonian Institute. His report called attention to this territory, and led to the organization of the California & Philadelphia Petroleum Company.
(From the State Mineralogical Report.)
Owing to the vast mineral oil deposits in this section, Ventura is known as the "oil county " of California. The oil belt lies in the mountains to the north of the Santa Clara River; it starts from near the eastern boundary of the county, and runs in a southeasterly direction to the San Buenaventura River. It is also found near the Conejo Rancho and in other places in the county.
The wells are mostly situated from three to six miles north of the edge of the Santa Clara Valley, in and about a series of canons which run southerly to the Santa Clara River. The names of these canons in order from east to west, are as follows: Piru, Hopper, Sespe, Santa Paula, Adams. Saltmarsh (a branch of Adams), Wheeler, West Wheeler (a branch of Wheeler), Sulphur and Coche (these two being branches of the Canada Larga). There are also a few wells in the Ojai Valley.
Westerly from Santa Paula Creek, between the Ojai Valley on the north and the Santa Clara Valley on the south, there extends an unbroken mountain ridge, whose highest crest is about 2,000 feet above the sea, as far west as the San Buenaventura River. This ridge is called "Sulphur Mountain," and all the canons above named to the west of Santa Paula Canon lie on the southern flank of Sulphur Mountain.
Piru Canon.—From Camulos station it is about six miles to the well of Messrs. RHODES & BAKER, head of Brea Canon. * * *
The well is about 250 feet north of the anticlinal axis, and is now (July 12, 1887) 715 feet deep. • • They have stopped drilling this well for a while, because their water supply for the engine gave out. There is a moderate quantity of gas in the water from this well. The oil from the well is dark brown in color. This is said to be the only well in or about Piru Canon. And certain it is that in the Piru Canon itself thee visible surface indications of bituminous matter are very slight. From 200 to 300 feet south of the well there is extensive deposit of asphaltum mixed with surface sand, and numerous little springs of black maltha scattered over perhaps an acre of ground. Next west of Piru Canon comes
Hopper Canon—at whose mouth * * * a well was drilled in 1887, by M. W. BEARDSLEY, to a depth of 300 feet * * * when the work was stopped for lack of funds * * * Even at that depth * * * it would probably have yielded three or four barrels per day of of light green oil. From this well, in an air line * * * about one and one-half miles, * * * are two wells about 200 feet apart. The lower one is ninety feet deep, and was abandoned because the hole became irretrievably crooked. There was here a good deal of heavy black oil. The other well is a new one just started * * * yet they have a little heavy black oil on the tools even now.
All the way from here down to the mouth of the canon there is liquid oil floating on top of the water in the creek. Some of it is green and some of it is black. The aggregate quantity of oil which thus oozes away and floats away on the water is, of course, not large; nevertheless it is greater in this canon than in any other canon yet seen in Southern California.
About opposite WARING's house, in the hills on the south side of the Santa Clara Valley, on the Simi Rancho, and on the northern slopes of the San Fernando range of mountains, there is a large deposit of asphaltum, together with extensive outflows of liquid petroleum where, some years ago a man gathered for a while about ten barrels of oil per day. Oil men believe that with the expenditure of a moderate amount of labor a surface flow of forty barrels per day could he obtained there. Mr. Hugh Waring states that this is the most westerly point where asphaltum is found In the San Fernando Range. He also says that east of there, in the hills somewhere to the south of Camulos, he has seen cattle mired and dead in pools of viscid and muddy maltha.
Sespe Canon. - Sespe Creek, occupying the canon next west of Hopper Canon, is the largest and longest northern branch of the Santa Clara River in Ventura County. It heads far back to the mountains to the north of the Ojai Valley, and at first flows nearly east for a number of miles, passing entirely around the head branches of Santa Paula Canon, then curves around so that its general direction for the last ten or twelve miles of its course in the mountains is nearly south. The mouth of the canon is something like ten miles east if the town of Santa Paula. "Tar Creek" and the "Little Sespe" are two different branches of the main Sespe Canon, both of them coming in from the east, the mouth of Tar Creek being several miles above that of the Little Sespe. The latter is a short canon not more than four or five miles in length, but Tar Creek is a longer stream. * * * Near the mouth of the main Sespe Canon one small oil spring occurs in the bed of the Canon. In the Little Sespe there is a nice little spring of water, and occasional small oil springs and seepages. * * * In the Little Sespe are the so-called "Los Angeles" wells, of which there are two. One of these is about 1,500 feet deep, and is said to have yielded at first, for some time, about 150 barrels per day. But about the year 1882, in the course of a "freeze out" game amongst the owners, while still yielding some forty barrels per day, it was maliciously plugged by somebody, and thus ruined. The other one went down about 200 feet, when it became crooked.
The present wells of the " Sespe Oil Company" are scattered about the upper branches of Tar Creek. • • • Well No.1 is on the right bank of the main Tar Creek. It was begun January 26, 1887, and finished February 12, 1887; is 196 feet deep, and pumps about forty barrels per day of a very dark-colored greenish-brown oil. This well first started off at about 100 barrels per day.
No. 2 is about 200 feet southeasterly from No. 1. It was drilled in April, 1887, and is 206 feet deep. It first started off at about 150 barrels per day, but afterward fell off, and now flows about seventy-five barrels per day of a dark green oil. It also produces considerable gas.
No. 4 is probably 1,200 feet northwesterly from No. 1, and is a new well, not yet drilled. Nos. 1, 2 and 4 are nearly in a straight line. No. 5 is on Oil Creek. Here they have not begun yet begun drilling.
No. 3 is down about 500 feet, and they are still drilling.
No. 6 is located some 500 feet easterly from No.1. Here the grading has been done, but the derrick is not yet erected.
The foregoing statements refer to the condition of the wells July 25, 1887. Some months later No. 2 was reported pumping instead of flowing; beginning with 225 barrels per day, it continued with about 140 per day. No. 4, now about 400 feet deep, was pumping twenty-five barrels per day. Nos. 8 and 4, having gone down about 700 feet, proved dry holes.
The report of the State Mineralogist for 1888 contains the following:
In addition to the report relating to these deposits, publishing by the Mining Bureau, last year, I have to say that work has steadily progressed, and the output of oil for the last fiscal year has increased from 62,500 barrels to 226,050 barrels.
The following is a statement of the work which has been done in this district during the year ending September 18:
Hopper Canon. - Considerable work has been done here, but the returns have been meager. The formation is so broken up that it is not unlikely the oil exudes at the surface as rapidly as it is elaborated below. In order to thoroughly test this locality two wells have been drilled during the past year, one 400, and the other about 800, feet deep. In the deeper well a small amount of oil was struck, and a large flow of water. In the 400-foot well a flow of soda water was obtained, which is said to be of excellent quality, and may be profitably utilized.
Piru Canon.—Like Hooper Canon this seems to be outside of the paying oil belt. Two new wells have been drilled here during the past year. One was sunk to a depth of 1,000 feet, but no oil was obtained, and it was abandoned. Another well was sunk one- fourth of a mile away, but it was abandoned for the same reason.
Sespe Canon.—The efforts of the oil company have been much more successful here. Eight new wells have been dug here during the year, which, in the aggregate, yield a large quantity of oil.
No. 7 is located about thirty rods southwest of No. 5. The depth reached was 300 feet. When first completed the well produced twenty barrels a day, but now yields ten barrels daily.
No. 8, located about eighty rods north of No. 4, was drilled to a depth of 650 feet, and yielded seventy-five barrels a day; now reduced to forty-five barrels daily.
No. 9, located about 600 feet from No. 4, is down to a depth of 400 feet, and is producing about eight barrels a day.
No. 10 is about 500 feet south of No. 7. It is 350 feet deep and pumps seventy-five barrels a day.
No. 11 is southwest of No. 8, and is down to a depth of 400 feet. It produced thirty or forty barrels a day, but quickly ran down to its present product of about nine barrels.
No. 12 is north of No. 8, and is about 650 feet deep. This well produces seventy-five barrels daily.
No. 13 is one-half mile north of No. 12, on Irelan Creek. It is 600 feet deep, and pumps ten barrels a day.
No. 14 is west of No. 13, and was drilled as a test well, going down 1,400 feet. About 500 feet below the surface a small deposit of oil was struck, but the well is practically dry.
No. 15 is south of No. 13, and is still drilling at a depth of 700 feet. Considerable water has been struck, and a small quantity of oil.
No. 16 is down about 100 feet, and still drilling.
These wells are located twenty-five miles from the ocean, at an altitude of 2,800 feet.
Adams Canon. - Well No. 16, which was completed in January, at a depth of 750 feet, is the largest flowing well ever struck in California. The oil, when reached, shot up to the height of nearly 100 feet, and flowed at the rate of 800 or 900 barrels daily. Before it could be controlled it sent a stream down the canon for a distance of seven miles. After the lapse of nine months it continues to flow at the rate of 500 barrels daily.
No. 17 is drilled to a depth of 1,400 feet, but is a small producer, barely paying for pumping.
No. 18 is located about 400 feet south of No. 9, and is about 900 feet deep and still in process of drilling.
The Adams Canon wells are about the head of the canon, and most of them strung along a very narrow belt about three-quarters of a mile long. These wells are quite productive. No. 13, when one year old, had produced 74,000 barrels, and is still producing 220 barrels daily. There is considerable asphaltum on the surface of the ground in Adams Canon. The largest patch covers probably one or two acres of ground and contains numerous little springs of black maltha. Adams Canon well, No. 16, is probably also the largest gas well on the Pacific Coast. At the present time it is producing sufficient gas to run all the works and machinery in the Canon.
Saltmarsh Canon, - named after John SALTMARSH, promises well.
Well No. 1 was completed in January, 1888. It is 290 feet deep, and produces seventy-five barrels daily.
No. 2 was abandoned on account of "crooked hole" and caving, at 350 feet deep.
No. 3 is finished to a depth of 400 feet. It is producing forty barrels per day.
Santa Paula Canon, - formerly called "Mupu Canon," contains the group called the "Scott" wells, situated about five miles from the town of Santa Paula. They are from three to ten years old. There were eleven or twelve in all, some five or six only of which are now producing an aggregate of about eleven barrels per day. They range from 200 to 1,000 feet deep. The oil is black.
Wheeler Canon - contains three wells, drilled in 1887-'88, which yield only about ten barrels per day in the aggregate.
Aliso Canon - promises to produce oil in paying quantities
During 1887-'88 the HARDISON & STEWART Oil Company erected at Santa Paula refining works which are claimed to be the most complete of the kind in the country. The machinery and equipment in general include the latest improvements for oil refining. This company manufactures benzine, illuminating oil, gas and domestic fuel, distillates, wool oil, neutral oil, lubricating oils, and maltha. The crude oil yields from fifteen to twenty per cent. of illuminating oil, and from twenty to twenty-five per cent.. of maltha or asphaltum. The illuminating oil is of excellent quality, and claimed to be superior to any that has been made on the Pacific Coast. It burns with a clear and steady flame, and is free from smoke or disagreeable odor. The asphaltum is used for pipe dipping, for the manufacture of paints and varnishes, and for coating roofs, bridges, etc. It is a beautiful glossy black, absolutely impervious to water, and particularly adapted to coating iron. The lubricating oil is said to have a lower cold test than any other ever discovered in the United States. It does not harden until it reaches a much lower degree of cold than any other oil known, hence is adapted to locomotives and other machinery subject to cold weather.
The oil regions of California have headquarters at Santa Paula, where there are six companies, viz.: the HARDISON & STEWART. Oil Company, Sespe Oil Company, Torrey Canon Oil Company, Mission Transfer Oil Company, Ventura Oil Company, and O'HARA Brothers. The most extensive petroleum oil operations are on the Rancho ex-Mission, situated along the south side of Sulphur Mountain, beginning about four miles northwest of the town, and extending westerly eight miles. These works are owned and operated by the HARDISON & STEWART Company, incorporated with a capital stock of $1,000,000. Lyman STEWART is president and general manager; W. L. HARDISON, vice-president and treasurer; Alex. WALDIE, secretary. This company has been most successful in its development, having a large production from their many wells and tunnels. There is connected with the company's offices at Santa Paula a complete telephone system. The region is a network of pipe lines conveying the oil to Santa Paula, Ventura and Hueneme. The next most extensive oil developments in this region are located at Sespe, and are owned and operated by the Sespe Oil Company, with its office Santa Paula. The company has a capital clock of $250,000. Thomas R. BARD is president; D. McFARLAND, vice-president; W. L. HARDISON, treasurer and general manager; Alex. WALDIE, secretary. The Torrey Canon Oil Company is operating three miles south of Piru Station. Its officers are: Thos. R. BARD, president; W. S. CHAFFE, vice-president; I. H. WARRING, secretary; W. L. HARDISON, superintendent. The production of the region is also very large, and is piped to Santa Paula. The wells have telephone connection with the main office. These four companies keep a large force of men constantly engaged in the drilling of new oil wells; and thus the production is being constantly augmented. The Mission Transfer Company bas a capital stock of $500,000; T. R. BARD is president; Lyman STEWART, vice-president; W. L. HARDISON, treasurer and general manager; I. H. WARRING, secretary. This company has about 100 miles of pipe lines and forty tanks, the largest one holding 30,000 barrels. They have fifty-two oil-tank cars, and have a refinery, where they make all the various products usually manufactured from petroleum, notably lubricating oil, gas oil and naphtha. Asphaltum (maltha) is also refined in large quantities, and is used extensively both on this coast and in the East for coating pipe and other iron goods, for roofing, and for paving purposes. No industry in the Golden State promises better results than its oil developments; and nothing is more beneficial to Ventura County, and to Santa Paula in particular, than the business of these four oil companies. With an abundance of cheap petroleum for fuel no section offers better advantages for manufacturing purposes than Santa Paula.
The prospects of this industry are now brighter than ever before. The Sespe Oil Company has now drilled thirty-one wells, varying in depth from 450 to over 1,800 feet, yielding at this time an average product of 7,000 barrels monthly. The last well, No, 29, promises to give 150 to 300 barrels per diem. Developments have just began on the "Kentucky Oil Claim" where, in well No. 2, was struck near the surface sand-rock so full of oil that it could not be drilled over 200 feet; after exhausting this well by pumping, work will be continued. The Sespe Oil Company has a lease of about 7,000 acres of the best oil lands on the Simi Rancho, and are beginning to drill thereon, the territory being deemed rich in oil. The production of the HARDISON & STEWART Company is increasing very rapidly, being 8,000 to 9,000 barrels per month. Adams Canon well, No. 18, opened August, 1887, has to date produced 125,000 barrels, which, at the average price of fuel oil—$1.75 per barrel—has been a fortune in itself. They have in all drilled thirty-four wells, the last of which, in Adams Canon, averages over 125 barrels per day. They have at present three sets of tool, each employing four experienced drillers, pushing developments more rapidly than ever before, and the expectation is that 20,000 barrels per month will be reached before the close of the year. No part of the development has paid better than the oil tunnels. Adams' Tunnel, No. 3, where three men were killed in April, 1890, by a gas explosion, was at that time 950 feet long; work has just been resumed, and it is expected to reach 1,000 to 2,000 feet further into the mountain, which it will drain of oil. In 1889 work was began in the Upper Ojai Valley, and two wells are yielding average production, with a third well now in process of drilling