Spring-pole oil drilling demonstration project plans by Don Woelke.
A lot of wells were started with the spring-pole. This method required strong legs and considerable time. The outfit was simple: a long pole, a weight to anchor the butt end, a fulcrum, stirrup, manila rope, oak rods, downhole tools including the percussion bit. More tools and other improvements would be added to the drill string as time went on.
The stirrup would hang from the spring-pole very near to the intended position of the borehole, maybe 3½ feet to 4 feet from the working end of the pole. It could be a piece of manila rope looped at the bottom or it could resemble the stirrup on a saddle or look more like a playground swing. The drill string (a vertical series of tools and components) would be fastened about 3 feet from the end of the pole. It would consist of manila rope or oak rods with metal connectors, rope socket, a sinker bar, jars, an auger stem and a bit. The downward push of the driller's leg in the stirrup would bring the tip of the pole down and allow the bit to smack the rock. When the rock was smashed, or the dirt loosened, a hollow pipe would be connected to pull it out and the well was drilled just a little bit farther. A highly motivated operator could drill up to 2 or 3 feet in a day under optimal conditions.
Once the railroad was developed in Santa Clarita, more modern drilling tools could be shipped in. The first commercially successful oil well in California was drilled here in Santa Clarita in 1877 — CSO 4 in Mentryville.
HS9701: Download individual pages here
. SCV Historical Society document archive.