California Museums


California Oil Museums List and Information

California Oil Museums

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

Hours: 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.

Early oil exploration
Oil lease housing
Wooden derrick
Oilfield equipment

Educational Programs include exhibitions, travel program, community heritage projects, lectures, hands-on workshops, living history program, guided tours, outreach to schools, fundraising events. Tours available to all ages: (661) 765-6664.

Library is a general access library with related publications, no appointment is necessary.

In the mid 1920's over 7,000 wooden derricks covered the landscape from Sunset southeast of Maricopa, through the Midway Valley, the Elk Hills to McKittrick and Reward, a distance of approximately 21 miles in Southwest Kern County. It was a forest of derricks. By the late 1960's only two derricks remained. In 1974 Jameson #17 was scheduled to be torn down but was saved by civic groups, with Jameson Company donating the derrick and 3 acres of land to build West Kern Oil Museum. Today that original wooden derrick standing over its original well, with all its cable tools intact, is a part of the Museum which has grown to 8 acres.

It seemed only fitting that a Museum be on the Westside of Kern County, for even today almost one half of all the oil in California comes from these Westside oilfields. The Midway Sunset field (the oilfield on which the Museum sits) is still the top oil producing field in the contiguous United States. Then, too, three of the giant oilfields of the U.S. lie within the Westside. They are the Midway Sunset Field, the Elk Hills Field, and the South Belridge Field. To be considered a giant field, an oilfield has to produce or be capable of producing 1 billion barrels of oil.

The story of the oil companies, of everyday life in the early oilfields and in the oil camps, as well as the story of oil itself are exhibited and interpreted. Outside one can press a button and witness a pumping unit produce oil. The other museum building exhibits and interprets the story of oil itself; its origin, geology, production methods, transportation and refining and the over 5000 products made from petro-chemicals.

The Museum is landscaped in native plants and special tours are given, pointing out particular plants and telling their uses by the Indians and early pioneers.>

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