Wiley oil wells, ~1885. Exact location unknown; west of today's Interstate 5 freeway in Wiley Canyon. Towsley Canyon is to the north; East Canyon is to the southeast.
Back of photograph in SMU collection reads: [handwritten] "Wiley Oil Wells, Canyon Newhall district 1885."
Original is a 6x8.5" albumen print.
According to local historian Stan Walker:
Records show that Henry Clay Wiley filed the first claim in Wiley Canyon on April 21, 1865.
In January of 1879, Charles N. Felton paid $1000 for the 92-acre Wiley claim. He had been obtaining leases since 1877 with the apparent intent of controlling all the California oil industry. On February 19, 1879, he, along with his partners, incorporated the Pacific Coast Oil Company in San Francisco with the intent of developing his growing oil interests. PCO then went after the California Star Oil Works in Pico canyon, which he eventualy obtained.
In early June of 1879, Charles Mentry started to put up rigs in Wiley Canyon. Drilling was slow and in between 1882 and 1883 only one other well was started. In 1884, the Wiley 4 well pumped 2 barrels per day from 1275 feet, becoming the first well with a record of production.
In 1889 PCO patented the 92-acre Wiley claim, as they had already done, or would do, to the Pico Canyon claims. This made them the land owners with the rights to do anything to the land. In the same year two of their six wells in the canyon yielded about 13 barrels per day (bpd) of oil. It was lighter than the Elsmere Canyon oil, but heavier than the Pico Canyon oil.