[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
52°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
January 20
1993 - Hart High grad Dee Dee Myers (1979) becomes first female White House press secretary [story]


Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieI was going through some photographs of Mentryville and Pico Canyon and realized how few people know about the old oil boom town. I write about it a lot, but it seems even the folks who read this commentary often seem to miss when I write of Pico.

We learn more and more of the history of Mentryville just about every day. On the tours, I stated that I didn’t know of anyone who had died or was killed in the old town. Well, that has changed. We know at least one worker died when a huge tank was being constructed, and there is also the sad story of Alec Mentry’s father going into Newhall and never returning. His body was found in the canyon years later.

I’m sure others were killed in industrial accidents and health-related issues of the day. If you look at many of the photographs, you realize they moved heavy equipment up and down the hills of the canyon in many places without a real road. It looks as if they became adept at dragging stuff up the hillsides.

Those hills are steep, too. Way steep. Imagine a 10-ton steam engine being placed to drill a well 200 feet up the sides of CSO Hill.

There were two “hills” in the Pico Canyon oil field. They were named after the company that drilled them. The first wells were on CSO Hill. CSO is the California Star Oil Co. It is on the north side of the canyon above CSO No. 4, the first commercially producing well west of the Mississippi.

The hill to the south is called PCO Hill, and wells on it were drilled by the Pacific Coast Oil Co. The two companies were combined and became Standard Oil of California.

Seen from the back of the canyon, CSO Hill is at left (north) and PCO Hill is at right. Click image for more.

Seen from the back of the canyon, CSO Hill is at left (north) and PCO Hill is at right. Click image for more.

When I give a tour of the canyon today, it takes a while. From the large, 13-room mansion to the wells, it is almost two miles. That mansion is called Pico Cottage. Some folks call it the “Big House,” but those of us who lived in it like to call it by the name that was on the rental papers from the oil company, “Pico Cottage.”

Thanks to many movies that were filmed there, we can see what the town looked like in the 1920s and on with buildings and fences long lost and forgotten. We also know almost exactly where a lot of the homes were built because of a map that was located at the Huntington Library. It doesn’t show Pico Cottage in place in 1891, so we tend to think the house was built just after that.

Felton School, among the first school buildings in the SCV, originally was situated parallel to the road and was turned so that the entrance faces the road when the coat room, library and front porch were added. We don’t yet know what year that took place. The Felton School District started in 1885 and continued with classes until 1932. We do think the school building dates from 1885.

We know some really great things like the recipe that Mr. Cochems used to make macaroon cookies at the Mentryville bakery. We know the canyon that is at the bakery is called Minnie-Lotta after two girls who lived in Mentryville.

The fences at the barn are new. Well, new in the sense that the original ones were wood. What is there now are old pipes and sucker rod from the wells. For those of you who don’t know, sucker rod is a solid steel rod that screws together in sections to be connected to the pump at the bottom of the well. The walking beam and grasshopper-head-looking fixture on the end of the beam pump the well as it is moved up and down. It isn’t “sucking” anything but in reality pushes the oil up the casing of the well and out to pipes that take it to tanks.

Today we call oil field workers by many names. Roustabout, pumper and drill foreman are examples, but in the early days in Pico Canyon they were called “miners.” They guys who ran the drilling operation were called “Drillers.” Alec Mentry was a driller.

We went for years telling the story that Mentry died of “kissing bug” bites on his lip that got infected. Well, not quite right. We know now he died of typhoid. Pretty common in those days.

It was quite a town. Upwards of 100 families lived there at the height of drilling operations. Once the field was mostly tapped out, many drillers moved off to new fields and took their houses with them. Some Pico houses were moved to the fields around Taft.

But a lot of the old town remains in the stories and lore of the place. Like the “Shepherd’s Grave” on top of Mustard Hill (the hill behind the school house). It is a geological marker for surveys, but sure enough, a reporter from the Los Angeles Times in 1961 started the “graveyard stories.”

Now that the heat of summer is nearly over, a walk up the canyon is darned refreshing. Pack a lunch and plenty of water. Stroll up to the well and back.

Oh, it takes only a group of 10 or more to convince me to give a tour. Send a comment and I will reply.

With or without a tour, you can visit our very own SCV ghost town, Mentryville. Just head west on Lyons Avenue over Interstate 5 where it becomes Pico Canyon Road. Keep driving until you see the signs for Mentryville. Follow the signs for parking, and don’t forget to pay the $5 fee.

I’m ready when all y’all are. I love to show off my real “home town.” You see, for a time in the 1960s, I was the only kid in Mentryville.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

9 Comments

  1. Maybe if you gave exact location ppl would want to go check it out, is their a trail to get to it ECT it’s hard to find if you don’t know where to look Pico ??? Trail ???

    • By Josh Premako, SCVNews.com says:

      He gives the location at the end of the column: “Just head west on Lyons Avenue over Interstate 5 where it becomes Pico Canyon Road. Keep driving until you see the signs for Mentryville. Follow the signs for parking, and don’t forget to pay the $5 fee.” Trust me, it’s really hard to miss.

  2. Russ Batt Russ Batt says:

    That would be cool to see

  3. Amanda Clark Amanda Clark says:

    Mentryville is not like it used to be…

  4. It’s an awesome little place to visit, especially when you know the history! We had an SCV history class in school, and we visited many locations of notable history here in the valley. Mentryville was fun to walk through and imagine what life was like for those that had been there.

  5. Do any of these buildings exist today

  6. Yes. Ive been there before . Its very nice . But theres 2 roads that lead to separate ways. There is a path on the right but u dont take that one. U go straight . And u will see the mansion

  7. Brian Durand Brian Durand says:

    Pico Canyon was so much nicer without Stevenson Ranch

  8. Going with cub scouts tonight to tour! Yay

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Thursday, Jan 11, 2018
There may come a time in your life when you need mental health care. Your Medicare covers a wide variety of such services, in both hospital inpatient and outpatient settings.
Monday, Jan 1, 2018
Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin previews Year 4 of the city's five-year Strategic Plan in his monthly message for January 2018.
Sunday, Dec 10, 2017
Derelict since the 1994 earthquake, the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall was the first productive oil refinery in the American West and is believed to be the oldest existing refinery in the world today. Unfunded restoration plans have come and gone. Now that the surrounding property is under development, will the promises be kept?
Friday, Dec 8, 2017
A National Memorial designation for St. Francis Dam will honor those who lost their lives in the nation’s worst engineering disaster and the role it played in ushering in a new era of oversight for dam construction.
Thursday, Dec 7, 2017
Eliminating net neutrality would allow Internet service providers such as Verizon, Comcast, Spectrum and AT&T to create a “slow lane” and a “fast lane” on the Internet, prioritizing certain companies over others and dictating what websites you’re able to visit and at what speed, or even blocking you entirely from visiting certain websites of your choice.
Monday, Dec 4, 2017
In his monthly message for December 2017, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin encourages residents to shop and party locally during the holidays to keep the cash in our community.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1993 - Hart High grad Dee Dee Myers (1979) becomes first female White House press secretary [story]
On Monday, January 22, 2018, traffic on McBean Parkway, between Magic Mountain Parkway and Valencia Boulevard, will experience delays intermittently between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. due to filming involving a Cessna airplane that will land at Valencia Country Club. It is anticipated there will be fewer than five brief closures throughout the day and each will last for approximately two to five minutes.
Jan. 22: Filming in Valencia Prompts Street Closures
Attorneys Brian Koegle and David Poole of Santa Clarita Valley law firm Poole & Shaffery, LLP will provide insight on legal matters affecting California businesses at the Valley Industry Association's February luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on February 20 starting at 11:45 a.m.
Feb. 20: VIA Luncheon, 2018 Employment Law Update
Oak Hills Educational Foundation and Oak Hills PTA will be hosting their annual science fair at Oak Hills School in Valencia in the form of an exciting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Expo event on Jan. 23rd-26th.
Jan. 26: Oaks Hills STEM Expo
2017 was an exceptional year for the Santa Clarita Valley economy, and 2018 promises even more positive growth.
Live, Work, Play in SCV: All to Improve in 2018
Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation Mythbusters tackle a tough and persistent question: Is growing a community a good thing?
SCV EDC Mythbusters: Why Growth is Good
The nonprofit SCV Mayor’s Committee For Employment of Individuals with Disabilities will host its second annual Educate-Empower-Employ Recognition Luncheon at COC on Thursday, February 22.
Feb. 22: SCV Mayor’s Committee Annual Luncheon, Fundraiser
CalArts alumni will stage the second annual Co-Incidence Festival, an experimental music festival and residency hosted at Washington Street Gallery in Somerville, Massachusetts from Jan. 19-28.
Jan. 19-28: CalArtians Stage Co-Incidence Festival in Mass.
Joseph Wayne Monroy, a South Gate man charged with the murder of a Newhall man in January 2016, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Los Angeles Superior Court today, and was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Monroy Sentenced to 21 Years for 2016 Newhall Murder
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. has appointed Joseph Hedges to the position of Chief Operating Officer and Pamela Mizukami as Chief Deputy Director of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
Brown Expands High-Speed Rail Exec Team to Move Project Forward
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reports that influenza activity has declined over the last two weeks; however, activity is still widespread and higher than peak levels observed during recent seasons.
Flu Outbreak Eases in LA County, But Still Widepsread
The Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District has appointed Brittany Kruczynski as the new Director of Fiscal Services.
Kruczynski Named Hart District Fiscal Services Director
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies were out in force stepping up enforcement of pedestrian and bicycle safety laws and issued 69 citations to drivers Wednesday, but none to pedestrians.
SCV Deputies’ Pedestrian, Bike Safety Push Nets 69 Citations
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today issued a statement calling out Acting Director Mick Mulvaney of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for requesting a total of $0 for the agency's second-quarter budget.
State AG: ‘Trump Officials Treat Consumer Financial Protection as a Joke’
The Santa Clarita City Council will hold its next Regular Meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 6 p.m.
Jan. 23: City Council Regular Meeting
Amazon announced its list of top 20 finalists for their new headquarters Thursday, and the Los Angeles area -- including the Santa Clarita Valley -- was named among them.
LA, Including SCV’s Newhall Ranch, In the Running for Amazon’s HQ2
1967 - Original airing of Star Trek "Arena" Episode: Kirk battles the Gorn commander (Saugus resident Bobby Clark) at Vasquez Rocks [watch]
In an exciting conclusion of events, approximately 40 inmates who participated in the Education Based Incarceration program received either a high school diploma or certificate of completion for vocational training.
Largest Class of Inmates in Education Based Incarceration Program Graduates
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (SCV Water) has selected its inaugural leadership to preside over the launch of the newly formed water provider.
SCV Water Selects Inaugural Leadership
Well V-205, located near McBean Parkway and Valencia Blvd., was voluntarily removed from service in April 2012 when perchlorate was detected in low concentrations, below the Detection Level for Reporting (DLR).
Perchlorate at Out-of-Service Well Reaches Actionable Level
The Santa Clarita City Council will consider purchasing the 4,598-square-foot building Roger Dunn Golf Shop building in Newhall when the council meets next week.
City Eyeing Purchase of Roger Dunn Building
Here are the Santa Clarita arts-related events for Jan. 20 and Jan. 25:
Jan. 20, 25: Santa Clarita Arts Calendar
Following in the footsteps of her grandfather, dad, mom and several other family members, Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin always wanted to be a teacher.
CSUN Alumna Nabs Teacher of the Year
Legendary Band, "The Chieftains," will celebrate their 55th Anniversary with a performance at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (SCPAC), Saturday, Feb. 24, at 8:00 p.m.
Feb. 24: The Chieftains 55th Anniversary Tour
SEATTLE - Amazon reviewed 238 proposals from across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to host HQ2, the company’s second headquarters in North America.
Los Angeles on Short List of Amazon’s HQ2
The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Board of Directors will hold its Regular Meeting Friday at 11:30 a.m.
Jan. 19: SCV Sanitation District Regular Meeting
Kevin Young has been selected as the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) 2018 Katie Jacobson Writer-in-Residence. Young will conduct workshops with CalArts students in the MFA Creative Writing Program and present public readings, which will be held at CalArts on Feb. 15 at 7:00 p.m. and at REDCAT in Downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 16 at 8:30 p.m.
The New Yorker’s Poetry Editor Selected as CalArts 2018 Writer-in-Residence
LOS ANGELES – The County Interim Health Officer is issuing a Cold Weather Alert due to the National Weather Service’s forecast for low temperatures. Wind chill temperatures are expected to be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Affected areas include:
Cold Weather Alert Issued for SCV
Here is the Valencia Crime Information and Public Safety report for the week of Jan. 1:
Crime Blotter: Shoplifting, Burglary, Grand Theft Auto in Valencia
Here is the Saugus (Zone 4) Public Safety and Crime Prevention Information for the week of Jan. 8:
Crime Blotter: Burglary, Grand Theft Auto in Saugus
Here is the Stevenson Ranch (Zone 3) Public Safety and Crime Information Report for the week of Jan. 8:
Crime Blotter: Attempted Robbery, Grand Theft Auto, Burglary in Stevenson Ranch
Here is the Newhall (Zone 6) Public Safety and Crime Prevention Information for the week of Jan. 8:
Crime Blotter: Commercial Burglary, Vehicle Burglary, Grand Theft in Newhall
1899 - Martin & Richard Wood buy J.H. Tolfree's Saugus Eating House, rename it Saugus Cafe [story]
The dismantling of a multi-state drug trafficking organization that used the U.S. Postal Service to mail packages of crystal methamphetamine and marijuana from California to traffickers in Pennsylvania since at least April 2016 - and the arrests of five leaders who spearheaded the corrupt organization, including two from the Santa Clarita Valley - were announced Wednesday by Montgomery County (Penn.) District Attorney Kevin R. Steele.
2 from SCV Netted in Major East Coast Drug Bust
With The Master's University's 2018 baseball season about to begin, TMU Sports Information Director Mason Nesbitt offers a preview.
TMU Previews Mustangs’ 2018 Baseball Season
Several CalArtians are among the Chicago-based United States Artists' annual fellowship class of 45 artists and collaboratives who will each receive an unrestricted $50,000 grant for their respective art practices.
CalArtians Among United States Artists’ New Fellowship Class