California Museums


California Oil Museums List and Information

California Oil Museums

Most people don't think about the importance of oil in their lives. They do however think in more pragmatic terms about the cost of a tank of gas, or unwanted news that an oil spill has been unleashed into the atmosphere, causing great damage. We tend to take oil for granted, much as we do our steady supply of food, boxes of cereal, TV, cell phones, and other such modern conveniences.

The use of oil in California can be tracked back to the arrival of he Spanish explorers in the 1500s. They observed and documented Indians gathering very thick oil (asphaltum) from natural seeps to use in waterproofing baskets, making tomols (wooden canoes,) fastening arrowheads to shafts, and ornamentation as a form of glue. It didn't take long for the enterprising explorers to come up with other applications and uses of this wonder product that seemed abundant in some areas. The existence and use of oil actually goes back much further in recorded history and earliest records state the Chinese used a rudimentary form of drilling with bits attached to bamboo poles around 347 AD.

West Kern Oil Museum
1168 Wood Street
Taft, CA 93268
phone: 661-765-6664

Open: Thursday - Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.

The Museum is dedicated to preserving and relating the history of oil through the years, and also the history of the people and the oil companies who lived and worked in and around the communities of McKittrick, Maricopa, Fellows and Taft.

California Oil Museum
National Register Historic Site #86002619
1001 E. Main St.
Santa Paula, CA 93061
805.933.0076 tel

Open: 10 am. to 4 p.m., Wed - Sun
$4 Adult, $3 Senior, $1 Youth
Guided tours are available:
Getting there: Exit 10th St from the 126 Fwy

Guided tours are available: (805) 933-0076 x291 or

Operated by the City of Santa Paula Community Services Department, the Museum highlights the inner workings of the state's black gold industry through interactive displays, videos, working models, games, photographs, restored gas station memorabilia, and an authentic turn-of-the-century cable-tool drilling rig.

Olinda Museum and Trail
4025 Santa Fe Road
Brea, CA
(714) 671-4447
Free admission

Open daily: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To schedule a group visit or tour, call (714) 671-4447.

Take a walking tour to see the original Olinda Oil Well #1. Attractions at this museum include a once used field office, a jackline pump, a records vault, as well as a trail to view the former oil fields.

Hathaway Ranch and Oil Museum
Hathaway Ranch Museum
11901 Florence Avenue
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
(562) 777-3444

Open: Mon, Tues & Thurs 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission free, suggested donation $4
Onsite parking is free; on street parking is available but not recommended. Closed on all major Holidays. Group and off-hour tours by special arrangement.

The museum is comprised of 5 acres and contains a large two-story 1933 Spanish-Mediterranean style ranch house, along with a flat-belt line-shaft driven machine shop, oil drilling equipment and historic farm and ranching structures.

Kern County Museum - Black Gold: The Oil Experience
3801 Chester Avenue
Bakersfield, CA 93301
(661) 852-5000

Admission: $10; $9 Student (13-17) and Senior (60-up); $8 age 6-12; $7 age 3-5; Free under age 3

Wed-Sun: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. No admission after 3 p.m.

The Kern County Museum's Black Gold: The Oil Experience is a permanent science, technology and history interactive exhibit in with museum displays indoors, and 2.3 acres of outdoor exhibits with a full-size working jack plant, a wooden derrick with cable tools, pumping jacks, oil-field engines and vehicles, and historic buildings relocated from their original sites to the museum grounds.

Coming in 2015 - John A. Thomas Oil Museum

Interesting things about oil

- National Petroleum Day is celebrated on August 27

- Signal Hill, California, had one of the most productive fields per acre the world as ever known when oil was first discovered there in the early 1920s. Shell Oil Company Alamitos #1 well erupted, and soon the hill was covered with hundreds of oil derricks. It became known as porcupine hill because of its appearance from a distance.

- There are 672 cups (household measuring cups) in an oil barrel

- One barrel of crude oil, when refined, produces 19 gallons of motor fuel, 10 gallons of diesel and other petroleum products such as ink, crayons, bubble gum, deodorant, CDs, tires and heart valves.

- Top crude oil-producing states include: Texas, Alaska, California, Louisiana and North Dakota

- The United States consumes more than 25% of the world's oil, using around 19.6 million barrels of oil per day. There are around 312 million people in the U.S. as of this printing.

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