Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Computer-Generated Text Rendering Of:

Mentryville: Pioneer Oil Town.

California Registered Historical Landmark No. 516-2.

Pioneer Oil Town

Callfornla Registered Hlstorlcal Landmark No. 516-2
Newhall Woman's Club CFWC
Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society

Charles A. Mentry, PIONEER OIL DRILLER, was born in France, coming to the United States at the age of seven, and to California in the 1870's. He sold his interest in Pico Canyon to D.G. Scofield and his associates who owned Pacific Coast Oil Co. and the California Star Oil Co., and remained as superintendent until his death on Oct. 4, 1900. He constructed the first pipe line for the transportation of oil within the State. He laid a two-inch line from Mentryville to the ocean at Ventura, an outstanding engineering feat of gravity flow. This was built to circumvent the high rates charged by the Southern Pacific Railroad. When the Southern Pacific knew the oil company meant business they lowered their rates, so the line was never used.

MENTRY HOUSE. Mr. Mentry built this thirteen-room house in the 1800's. It was heated and lighted by gas, and also boasted the first lighted croquet court (gas, naturally), and a tennis court.
Pico Canyon is now owned by the Standard Oil Company and is fenced off from the public. Employee Frenchy Lagasse, with his wife Carol and family, requested, and were granted, permission to restore the house on their own. This they have lovingly and beautifully done, furnishing it with antiques. Each of the five bedrooms upstairs is furnished in a different period. There is an original gas heater and a gas light; also, original fireplaces with gas stoves incorporated. There are no wood-burning fireplaces in the house, but a little tin shed nearby did contain a wood-burning stove where the family gathered to get warm when it was cold enough to freeze the gas in the pipes!

Home as it was 1900

Mentryville Barn

October 8, 1977
Welcome .. Frances Theilig President, Newhall Woman's Club
Master of Ceremonies ... Scott Newhall Editor of Newhall Signal
Invocation ... James A. Mentry Grandson of Charles ( Alex) Mentry
History ... Gerald G. Reynolds President, Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society
Presentation of Plaque ... Richard E. Felty, Assistant Dept. Director, California State Dept. of Parks and Recreation California Historical Resources Commission
.\cceptance of Plaque ... Betty Houghton Pember, Landmark Chairman Gerald G. Reynolds Robert E. France, Operations Superintendent, Production Dept., So. Calif. Division Chevron U.S.A., Inc. Western Region
Time Capsule .. Frenchy Lagasse, Resident, Monument designer and builder
Proceed to Felton School
Wm. S. Hart High School Band, Larry Thornton, director
Presentation of United States Flag ... Wilma Biren Regent, Alliklik Chapter of D.A.R.
Pledge of Allegiance National Anthem
Presentation of California State Flag ... Anthony Cochems Bakersfield Parlor No. 42, Native Sons of the Golden West
Appreciation and Thanks .. Betty Houghton Pember Chairman, California History Landmarks, Museums, Newhall Woman's Club, Sierra-Cahuenga District 15, CFWC LancJmark Chairman, SCVHS
Presentations ... Carol Lagasse.
Music and refreshments
Monument constructed of native stone
by Frenchy Lagasse
Monument landscaping
Garden Section, Newhall Woman's Club
Trees for Monument
Los Angeles County Fire-Department, Camp 11-2
Miniature of Felton School
Tiny Treasure Seekers
Felton School Furnishings
donated by ''Friends of Mentryville''
Antique Automobiles
Santa Clarita Valley Antique Auto Club
Preservation and Restoration
Lagasse family
Invitation printing
courtesy of Chevron USA
Hosts and hostesses
Refreshments by . Sponsoring organizations

SCHOOLHOUSE: In 1885 the Felton School District, named for U. S. Senator Felton, was formed and a school built in Mentryville, which was used until 1932. The school served as a social center where dances were held, until later when a recreation center was built. The Lagasse's Centennial project has been the restoration of the Felton Schoolhouse. Many donations have been contributed to this project by interested persons. Former pupils and two of their teachers still return each year for the annual reunion. Several of them will be in attendance here today.


The Old "Works" Date: somewhere in 1890's . Large bldg. left: machine shop -large bldg. in background
Blacksmith shop

Boarding house, which stood up by the shale bank.
PICO (CSO) OIL WELL (Pico Canyon, -Mentryville)
Oil seepage was discovered in this area as early as 1865. Sanford Lyon and his associates punched down a well by "spring-pole" method at the head of Pico Canyon. There were many who had claims in this area. Col. R. S. Baker, C. D. Scott, and Alex Mentry obtained a lease from Lyon in 1873. They drilled three wells by spring-pole, punched down a hole near Lyon's well and got six barrels of oil per day. Mentry hurried to Los Angeles to file for a 25-acre claim lease (this being under gold mining) public domain. Following wells #1 and #2, well #3 was a dry hole. Well #4 was first drilled in 1876 to a depth of 300 feet for an initial flow of 30 barrels per day. Later in the same year the well was deepened to 617 feet, using what was perhaps the first steam rig employed in oil drilling in California. Records show that it commenced pumping on September 26, 1876. The casing size 5 & 5/8. This, the first commercially productive well in California, was financed by D. G. Scofield, who later became the first president of Standard Oil Company. In the year 1885, CSO #4 was deepened again, on May 20th to the depth of 1,030 feet. It is still productive after 100 years. The success of this discovery led to the construction of the State's first refinery, nearby. The two, oil production, plus refinery, were indeed a powerful stimulus to the subsequent development of California's petroleum industry. The well site is both a State and Federal Landmark.
The man who drilled the well was Charles A. Mentry, who came to California in the 1870's after having to his credit 42 wens in the Titusville field.
MENTRYVILLE: Following the drilling of productive wells in Pico Canyon, a small town grew among the derricks. Named Mentryville in honor of Mentry, it grew to be home for approximately 100 families. Their homes were built of redwood, and many of them were lighted and heated from gas produced by a gas well. Gas is still used from this well to heat the Mentry house today.
Although there was no main street with commercial establishments, the field office, blacksmith shops and cabins were built among derricks to house the workers. Easterners were imported to work in the fields and were boarded in bunk houses. There was a schoolhouse, and also a bakery which in later years supplied the town of Newhall with bread and pastries. The stage from Newhall to Mentryville made the trip twice daily. Across the creek from the Mentry house there was a boiler house, and next to this a wash house. The ladies of the canyon had hot running water with which to do their laundry.
Except for the Mentry house, the schoolhouse, the barn, the little red house (the chicken house) by the barn, there are no original buildings left. Lumber was so scarce that as the owners left the canyon they literally "picked up their homes and took them with them." They say that many an early house in Newhall is made from lumber used in Pico Canyon. A tin garage was built when autos came into general use. One of its builders was Will (Bill) Cochems, who worked with Standard Oil Company.
Mr. Mentry moved from Placerita Canyon to Pico Canyon in the 1880's and owned two houses before he built the "big house." He married the daughter of Judge Nathan Spencer Lake of New York.

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