Huntington Beach History

A street is disecting an oil field with oil well drilling rigs on both sides of the street; photograph probably dates from the late 1920s or the early 1930s.
In Huntington Beach, some beachgoers sunbathe while others prefer the shade of an umbrella. On the bluff behind them are rows of oil derricks. Discovered in 1937.
Photo shows an oil well burning on the shore. Water is being sprayed onto the flames (right side). Photo dated: June 25, 1949.
View along Pacific Coast Highway, with about 40 oil well drilling rigs visible on both sides of highway, with automobiles, palm trees, kiosk, and lampposts, with railroad tracks and ocean at right; sign on 1 rig in foreground reads (reversed): Pacific Coa[st] Oil Co. Image is reversed
The plant in Huntington Beach was purchased from Southern California Edison in 1998 and has been in operation since 1958. It uses conventional GM steam turbines among others. (Photo from

In 1895, the Southern Pacific Railroad built a route going to Huntington Beach which connected to the farm area. Philip A. Stanton and Col. H.S. Finley visited the area and believed it could be a good location for a resort on the west coast. They bought 1,500 acres for $100,000 and named the area Pacific City. A year and a half later they sold out to another group of investors which included Henry E. Huntington and this is where the city got its name. One of the first things the Huntington Beach Company was build a wooden pier. The city became officially incorporated on February 17, 1909 and its first mayor was Ed Manning.

The pier is one of the most important aspects of Huntington Beach. The first pier was wooden and 1,000 feet long and it was in bad condition after the 1912 winter storms. A bond was approved by voters and the new 1,350 foot pier was the longest, highest, and only solid concrete pier in the United States at the time. It was lengthened by 500 feet and twice again in 1939 and 1983, storms made away with the end of the pier. It wasn't until 1990 that another pier (the one that is there now?) was built, but this time it was built to withstand wave impact, uplift, and earthquakes.

Huntington Beach is well-known for oil. In the olden days, Native Americans used to use it to make their baskets and reed boats waterproof. The Spanish also used it for light and heat for a long time. In 1919, the Huntington Beach Company met with Standard Oil and they leased 500 acres to them for exploratory drilling. Huntington Beach became California's fourth largest oil field.

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