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Lost L.A.: Rancho Los Alamitos, before the oil wells

August 6, 2010 |  9:40 am


When an air photographer snapped his shutter in a fly-over of Fred and Florence Bixby’s Long Beach ranch in 1936, time seemed to have stood still. Groomed fields surrounded their home, nestled in a shady grove of pepper trees around a patio designed by local plantsman Paul Howard. What the photographer framed out of his pastoral vista was nearby Signal Hill. Car travel was pushing oil exploration, and the lessee of Signal Hill, Shell Oil, struck black gold in 1921 at derrick Alamitos No. 1. Thousands of gallons a day from that well and the dozens that followed on Signal Hill and at nearby Seal Beach transformed a Spanish rancho into a supplier to global petroleum markets. Read about what was gained and what was forever lost in our Lost L.A. column on Rancho Los Alamitos

-- Sam Watters

Photo credit: Rancho Los Alamitos Foundation


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