The Pioneer Oil Refinery on Pine Street in Newhall dates to 1877, when oil driller Alex Mentry was breaking new ground in Pico Canyon and Chinese track layers had just completed hammering rails through Henry Newhall’s lately bought rancho. The little 15-barrel nonetheless that had been erected in 1874 at Lyon’s Station (now Eternal Valley Cemetery) just wasn’t working out. It couldn’t produce a smoke-free kerosene _ oil’s main use in those days _ and in 1875 it was shut. In addition to, it was virtually a mile away from the approaching railroad.Andrew Kazinski’s brand-new stagecoach cease on the mouth of Railroad Canyon made the perfect location for a brand new refinery. Not only did it have a bountiful supply of water for refining operations, but it sat right next to the practice tracks.John A. Scott, an skilled refiner from Pennsylvania, supervised construction. Scott moved the little 15-barrel nonetheless and one other 20-barrel still from Lyon’s to Andrew’s and added a big, a hundred and twenty-barrel cheesebox still. Accomplished in August 1877, the refinery was an prompt success.In the meantime, up at Pico, Alex Mentry had resumed his nicely-deepening campaign, which had stalled out after a water shortage. Mentry laid a pipe from a water source in a neighboring canyon for his steam drilling machinery. Within two months he was producing more oil than the Pioneer refinery could handle, so a fourth and even bigger a hundred and fifty-barrel cheesebox still was added.Oil itself was used in the distillation process. Heavy residual oil from earlier refining runs fueled the brick ovens beneath the stills. Tall brick chimneys vented what must have been massive amounts of smoke. Petroleum gasses passed right into a condenser consisting of a picket box with 1,400 ft of layered iron pipe submerged in water. The condensed oils flowed right into a lead-lined agitator, the place they were treated with chemicals and blended with air to improve their burning high quality.The Pioneer Oil Refinery at Andrew’s Station added benzene and illuminating oil for ships, railroads, factories and mines to California Star Oil’s record of merchandise. The breadwinner, though, was clear-burning kerosene in two grades.Inside just a few years, oil was flowing all along the California coast. A huge refinery was arrange at Alameda, directly throughout the bay from San Francisco _ a way more sensible location than the little burgh of Newhall. In 1888, the refining operation at Andrew’s Station ceased for all time.For a couple of dozen years, the Pioneer Oil Refinery off of Pine Avenue served to light up the western frontier. It was the primary commercially profitable oil refinery within the Western United States and is believed to be the oldest current refinery on this planet. As we speak its idle smokestacks and empty stills forged long shadows on the dawning of California’s oil business _ an industry whose roots are intertwined with these of the Santa Clarita Valley.The Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall is State Historic Landmark No. 172. _ Leon Worden 1997Notes: The town of Santa Clarita acquired the Pioneer Oil Refinery property as a present from Chevron USA in 1997 with the intent of restoring it and turning it into a public park. Funding was/is to come back in part from developer charges related to the Gate-King Industrial Park, which would encompass it. (The refinery would discover itself on the intersection of two roads main into the enterprise park.) The Santa Clarita City Council approved the buiness park in 2003 but as of 2012, building has not but commenced.
AP2926: Must be rescanned.