This makes me feel like I don’t get out much, but did you realize that there are place where oil just bubbles up out of the ground?!
This is outside of Taft, CA, which is in the southwest corner of the San Joaquin Valley, about 30 miles from Bakersfield. Also just outside of Taft? The site of the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The Lakeview Gusher blew in 1910 and flowed for 18 months.
There are oil deposits piled up higher than my head at the site of the gusher.
I think of California mainly as a produce-producing state. A redwood and sequoia-producing state. A Hollywood and Apple and Google-producing state. But it’s also a pretty serious oil-producing state. Standard Oil of California (now known as Chevron) was based in Taft before they moved to San Ramon. Other companies have operations there, too. Thousands of people moved here to work in the oil industry. The oilfields come up to the edge of town. Most people in Taft work in the oilfields, or someone in there family does (or did).
And every five years Taft celebrates its heritage with Oildorado. This year’s Oildorado festival was a big deal, since it’s Taft’s 100th anniversary. I went down there with Jeremy Miller and Todd D’Addario. It was really fun. We’re working on some stories, which I’ll link to when they’re up. I’m still processing a lot of audio and ideas. Meanwhile, in case you’ve never stood in the middle of an oilfield, here’s what it sounds like.