ASME-Landmark:Pioneer Oil Refinery California Star Oil Works


As the supply of whale oil for lighting dwindled and the demand for lubricants increased, the petroleum industry in the United States began to develop in earnest. The commercial development of oil started in Titusville, Pennsylvania, in 1859, and soon travelled West as the price of Eastern kerosene began to climb steeply. The drilling of the heavy, sulfurous, and asphaltic California crude began in the 1870s at the Pico Canyon area, using the apparatus and techniques from Pennsylvania.

After an unsuccessful attempt at refining in Lyons, the refinery at Andrews Station (Newhall) was built by the California Star Oil Works, a predecessor of the Standard Oil Company. The Pioneer Refinery became the first successful commercial refinery in the West, producing mostly lucrative kerosenes in two grades, "Lustre" and "Prime White." Other products included small amounts of benzene—a 300 degree fire-test safety illuminating oil for use on ships, railroads, factories, and mines—as well as a light lubricating oil (24 degree gravity) for machinery and a heavy lubricant (19 degree gravity) for saw mills, quartz mills, and railroad journal boxers.

The refinery served the western market for some fifteen years until it gave way to technical progress. Each of the two largest stills had a capacity of 150 barrels a day and were restored for the public in the 1930s. See ASME website for more information