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Archive for August, 2015

Hello Fellow Fans of Mattole History!

It’s time for a little catch-up on the current situation of the MVHS.

I sent out a General Update to our email list last October (2014); that long message included the idea of a Mattole History Art Festival, which has not gotten off the ground. And this March, I mailed out a 4-page notification of the good fortune of a new building site being offered to us. All MVHS members should have received that mailing—the one with the photo of the old Rock House, the Knights of Pythias building, and a rough sketch of a  new building plan. Also, all members were updated in our Spring newsletter, Now… and Then.

Since we got news of this offer of land on the Petrolia Square in January, 2015, and particularly since our late March Board meeting where we decided that the option of building there downtown (rather than at the Grange location) was best for our Historical Society as well as for the town of Petrolia and for many of our members (though certainly not all), we have been enjoying a new wave of energy. I have been very happy to find myself working amidst a group of a dozen wonderful, interesting, and dedicated people—our new Board. Many others have come forward, also, to ask how they can help. They are not only wanting to help make the new building a reality, but are offering to conduct interviews with old-timers, help organize the present Grange office, throw in their energy in the future on actually building the structure, etc. It is a very welcome wave of community involvement.

There were certainly many arguments for a mid-Valley location (Grange property) for a new building, and several good cases made for simply carrying on as we have been, while digitizing the entire historical collection as quickly as possible, to achieve true fireproof security. However, the people most willing to be involved came forward and agreed upon seizing the opportunity to do something big and good for the whole Valley, based in downtown Petrolia, which would become a “historical town”. Here is our current situation there:

The northwest corner of the Petrolia Square, summer of 2015. Our builder, Jeff Hoalton, set this up for us.

The northwest corner of the Petrolia Square, summer of 2015. Our builder, Jeff Hoalton, set this up for us.

We have held monthly Board meetings in the open air, right there on the Square in Petrolia, but, for various logistical reasons, are skipping the August meeting. In lieu of the gathering, I am sharing, briefly,  the news of our progress.

Basically, there are two fronts we are working. One is the building plan. Jeff Hoalton has been given the responsibility of coming up with an initial plan. He is working within the general idea of making a place that fits with a historical Western theme, but is not as expensive as building entirely with natural materials. One of the first considerations is that the building be fire-safe, and of course, in our area, it must be relatively earthquake-safe, and able to withstand some mighty winds and rain. Jeff is particularly desirous of working with some of our elder members, to make sure we enjoy the old-timer seal of approval.  So we have a sort of “de facto” building committee in that Jeff says he wants to work closely with Board members Becky Enberg, Francis Sweet, Bob Stansberry, and of course our younger-generation builder on the Board, Kelton Chambers.

The other important work we’re doing is in the paperwork department. We are reviewing by-laws, articles of incorporation, and our non-profit 501(c)3 status. We have also added new official signers to our Coast Central Credit Union account, and opened a special savings account named the Building Fund. The officers we have named for these official purposes are Dyan Damron, Treasurer; Ken Young, Secretary; Laura Cooskey, Director/President (I really dislike that latter label, and have been assured that in general, my duties will be more along the lines of Historian–focussing on preserving and enlarging our actual store of historical information; for that reason, we have a new position, Connie’s, as follows); Connie Thunman, General Coordinator; and Cindy Lyman, Corresponding Secretary. These five, plus the five listed in the paragraph above, and two more Board members, Ellen Taylor and Bob Stansberry, make up our Board of 12 members.

We have discussed all the things we have to do at great length, and finally achieved some clarity with the realization that we can’t get the cart before the horse; things must go in a certain order, and I believe we are focussed on the necessary first steps now. The general order will be:

  1. Get a rough plan going, including site issues such as water, septic, utilities, and access.
  2. Meantime, establish our legal legitimacy as a non-profit corporation with the sorts of paperwork described above; basically, this means getting our own 501(c)3.
  3. Finalize the plans, including the phases needing permits, with Board approval.
  4. Make sure the lease agreement is legally tight and approved by the Board.
  5. Apply for initial permits.
  6. Apply for grants and fundraise in many other ways.
  7. The fun part—get to work on the site and the building!

It’s never too early to start gathering funds, however; feel free to mail a contribution to the Building Fund of the Mattole Valley Historical Society, acct. #104881, at the Coast Central Credit Union,  2650 Harrison Ave., Eureka, CA, 95501.

I put out my feelers for a weatherproof box to put on the signpost on the Square, and Joyce Benton of Capetown came through. There is now a stack of information sheets about the MVHS, including a plea for donations, in that plastic box hanging below our sign.

But note that since we don’t have our new non-profit number, you won’t yet be able to claim your donation as a tax write-off. (For years, we were umbrella’d under the Mattole Valley Community Center’s non-profit status. I don’t know that anyone ever used that status or the number for it, and I’m afraid I don’t even know the official number of that 501(c)3. But not to worry; our capable new Treasurer, Dyan Damron, is working on our new number, and I will let you all know when it’s ready.)

Members who pay dues should know that unless we are expressly told otherwise, from now on, whenever anyone pays their dues with a particularly generous contribution, anything over $50 will automatically go into the Building Fund. The usual dues amount paid is $20 per membership/subscription; we frequently get a bit extra from particularly grateful or interested members, and if our checking account gets up to where we’re unnecessarily storing cash there, we transfer it to Savings. Now, of course, we’ll transfer it to the Building Fund.

Slowly it goes, but it goes. Meantime I seem to have a bit more time for this blog; and my next real focus as Historian will be to set in motion a series of interviews with some of our elders. There are several “old-school” old-timers we need to talk with; and a whole crop of “newcomer” back-to-the-landers who are over 70 and, if we are not premature, well worthy of in-depth interviews. Some people like the idea of video recordings of the sessions—Living History, as they say—and others prefer the old-fashioned notes-and-essay form. We do have one eager young woman who would like to put together a collection of written interviews in the form of a new Mattole history book, and will be meeting with her next week. Please let me know if you’d like to be interviewed, or know any others whom we shouldn’t overlook!

Yet there is also the organizing and digitizing of our collection. That is surely the best bet against any threats to our photos and other paper archives. Therefore, I will try to set a regular day a week, at least, to clear up and organize our present Grange office, and to start scanning and saving as quickly as possible. Several people have offered to help with that, but I don’t yet have a system in place. I would like to use a mounted camera over a table, such as Greg Rumney uses for photographs, rather than a traditional copier-scanner—and we don’t have a camera set-up yet. It would save an immense amount of time in scanning such a great amount of material, not to have to save each image separately while re-positioning items upside-down on a small screen.

So there is a general idea of what’s up with the Mattole Valley Historical Society lately. Please get in touch if you have any suggestions or would like to get involved—or of course, to sign up for a membership, which includes the twice-yearly newsletter, Now… and Then.

Please mark this change, also, somewhere in your files: All previously listed phone numbers will not work! Since I am living in Arcata now, and the office at the Mattole Grange does not have its own phone, the best way to reach the MVHS is by emailing mattolehistory@frontiernet.net; by writing to us at PO Box 144, Petrolia, CA, 95558; or by calling me, Laura, at 707-840-6044, or my cell phone, 707-601-7300. Thank you all for your enthusiasm!

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Elijah and Sarah “Granny” Boots were Mattole pioneers hailing from the Midwest. They arrived in the Mattole Valley in 1866, and found a “a tract of land on the north side of the Mattole River about eight and one-half miles from Petrolia. The land suited Boots’ ideas. It was an ideal place for hog-raising, cattle-raising, poultry-raising, and bee culture. Such being the case, Boots filed his homestead right on the land and acquired title to it, and held it until his death in 1901.” So says W.W. Roscoe in his History of the Mattole Valley. The land is now part of Francis Scarpulla’s Lost Coast Farms, and Francis has generously offered to show the place and its old Boots apple orchards to people interested in this  history. (Contact me so that we can communicate with him and make a plan, if you are interested in a tour; it’s been some time since he extended this offer.)

Elijah generally claimed to have been born in Ohio in 1814, though on some censuses he says Indiana; and Sarah Rebecca Jones Boots was born in 1816 in Indiana, according to most censuses, and Ohio or Tennessee on others. She lived until 1909. In about the year 1836, the two were married in Randolph Co., Indiana. As part of the great westward migration, they lived briefly in Missouri, then, in the 1850s, in Washington Territory, just north of the Columbia. In 1865 they decided to move to Humboldt County with their four younger children (Aaron, Mary Etta, Thomas, and John). I often wonder why a place is lit upon like that–did the Bootses know someone who was already here? If nothing else, they would have heard of the oil prospects of the area, and that the Indians had been thoroughly defeated. Well, they didn’t figure prominently in the oil boom–they were more like self-sufficient, community-minded small farmers. W.W. Roscoe goes on to relate that “It was often said that with ‘Granddaddy’ Boots’ simple tastes, he was, in effect, a wealthier man than Rockefeller. He is remembered as one of the most successful hog and bee raisers of the Mattole Valley. He was also a splendid rifle shot, and many a deer or panther (he called a panther a ‘painter’) went down before his well-aimed muzzle-loading rifle.”

Local history buffs have read a respectable amount about the Boots family (there are Boots stories from W.W. Roscoe and Ken and Neb Roscoe; in the Humboldt Historian; and in several other local books, family trees, or scrapbooks). But we didn’t have many photographs until recently meeting Elijah’s great-great-great-great grandson, Phillip Nicklas of Arcata. Phillip’s great-great grandfather was Jim Boots, who lived until 1963. And the sisters of his gt-grandmother–four beautiful daughters of Jim Boots and Birdie Harrow–produced distant cousins who passed on many of the old family photos to Phillip, who has a keen love of history. He also has the generosity to have shared with us a disc full of these old pictures, organized by decade. Today we will look at some of the pictures from the 1870s until the 1910s.

For handy reference, here is a rough sketch i worked up of the family’s genealogy:

Please click on this chart to enlarge it.

Please click on this chart to enlarge it.

And to make this a little more clear, how about a simple lineage:

7 generations back: Sarah and Elijah Boots, and Sarah and Asa Harrow.

6 generations: Their respective children, Aaron Boots (who married Mary Ellen Vandecarr) and Fletch Harrow (who married Kate Titus).

5 generations: Their respective children, Jim Boots and Birdie Harrow.

4 generations: Mabel “Babe” Boots.

3 generations: Barbara Hash Smith.

2 generations: Cynthia Nicklas.

Present: Phillip Nicklas.

GrannyBoots,finalPSfrBestScan,lo-res

Granddaddy and Granny Elijah and Sarah Boots, seated, with unknown descendants.

Here is Granny, in typical dress and hairstyle for the 1860s or '70s. This one photo was from our Mary Rackliff Etter collection.

Here is Granny, in typical dress and hairstyle for the 1860s or ’70s. This photo was from our Mary Rackliff Etter collection.

Johnny, a son of Granny and Elijah. He was a blacksmith who never married, but lived in the Mattole nearly all his life, until his death of cancer in 1908.

Johnny, a son of Granny and Elijah. He was a blacksmith who never married, but lived in the Mattole nearly all his life, until his death of cancer in 1908. Another photo from Mary Rackliff Etter.

I don’t know who the parents of Mary Ellen Vandecarr were, but can say that her genes made a strong stamp on the features of future generations, as you will see in photos below. Here is her image on an old tin-type photograph:

Mary Ellen (Ella) Vandecarr (Mrs. Aaron) Boots, at the age of 14.

Mary Ellen (Ella) Vandecarr (Mrs. Aaron) Boots, in the late 1870s at the age of 14.

William Aaron Boots, known as Aaron, on the left. Unknown on right.

William Aaron Boots, known as Aaron, on the left. The young man on the right is unidentified, but the paternal hand suggests it is Jim, who was 23 years younger. Perhaps.

Ivan and Delbert Harrow, with their sister Birdie, future bride of Aaron Boots, in the middle. From about

Ivan and Delbert Harrow, with their sister Birdie, future bride of Jim Boots, in the middle. From the early 1890s.

James E. Boots as a youth.

James E. Boots as a youth.

Jim Boots and Birdie Harrow, before their marriage in 1907. Hauling tanbark.

Jim Boots and Birdie Harrow, before their marriage in 1907. Hauling tanbark.

Photo taken in 1908, with Mabel

Photo taken in 1908, with Mabel “Babe” Boots as the baby in the center; her grandfather Aaron holds her, and grandmother Ella Vandecarr Boots is in the upper left. Her parents Jim and Birdie are on the right of the picture. I am not sure of the identities of the other children, those who so resemble Babe and her father and grandmother–possibly her aunt Bertha (born 1904) is one of them, and the others perhaps Addie or Lily and Bill, a few more of Jim’s much younger siblings.

Birdie (Adeline) Harrow Boots and daughter Mabel (Babe).

Birdie (Adeline) Harrow Boots and daughter Mabel (Babe).

Three generations: Birdie and Mabel Boots, Katherine Harrow and Les--her youngest, born 1909, and Mabel's little uncle--and Allie Harrow Carr, Birdie and Les's sister, with her baby Charlie.

Three generations: Birdie and her little Mabel Boots; Birdie’s mother Katherine Harrow holding Les–her youngest, born 1909, and Mabel’s uncle; and Allie Harrow Carr, Birdie and Les’s sister, with her baby Charlie.

Recreation on the Mattole: Fletch Harrow with his daughter Birdie and Jim Boots, and baby Mabel.

Recreation on the Mattole: Fletch Harrow with his daughter Birdie and Jim Boots, and baby Mabel in front of him.

Left to right, Vie or Viola, Birdie Boots, baby Bootsie, sometimes called Birdie, Jim Boots, Clara, and Mabel

Left to right: Vie or Viola, Birdie Boots, baby Bootsie, sometimes called Birdie, Jim Boots, Clara, and Mabel “Babe”.

Mabel

Mabel “Babe” Boots at age 8, with her dog. 1916.

Aunt Lily (Jim's sister) in a 1917 Dodge, with Aaron and Mary Ellen (Grandma to the girls), Jim Boots next to Vie and holding Bootsie, Clara, Babe, and their mother Birdie.

Aunt Lily (Jim’s sister) in a 1917 Dodge, with Aaron and Mary Ellen (Grandma to the girls), Jim Boots next to Vie and holding Bootsie, Clara, Babe, and their mother Birdie.

Briceland Saloon. Possibly well-known cowboy Jim O'Dell in the front, with the wooden leg.

Briceland Saloon. Probably “Bogus” Bill Frazier in the front, with the wooden leg. Click on this one; there’s lots of great detail.

Both of these Briceland photos were marked with the studio tag “Hazeltine, Mendocino.” Martin Mason Hazeltine was a photographer who practiced in Mendocino from 1866 or ’67 until at least 1883, then off and on until his death in Oregon in 1903. You can see a photo of his Mendocino studio, which i assume carried on under his name for some time after his 1880s departure, at this link.

The old Briceland Store. It looks as if a baseball game is noted on the blackboard behind these people. Notice the blue cross next to Jim Boots, and the Native man beneath it. There were many mixed-blood families in Briceland around the turn of the last century.

The old Briceland Store. It looks as if a baseball game line-up is noted on the blackboard behind these people. Notice the blue cross next to Jim Boots, and the Native man beneath it. There were many mixed-blood families in Briceland around the turn of the last century.

Mabel at the Garberville Hotel.

Mabel and friends in front of the Redwood Inn, south end of Garberville.

Jim Boots at the wheel of old Wagner Leather Co. truck. They were the Briceland tanbark company.

Jim Boots at the wheel of old Wagner Leather Co. truck. They were the Stockton-based leather tanning company who had an extraction plant in Briceland. 

Jim hauling tanbark.

Jim hauling tanbark.

Jim Boots tell his story in the slim volume, Golden Adventures from THE HUMBOLDT HISTORIAN. His selection is titled, “The Life of an Old Stage Coach Driver and Mule Skinner (1883)”–that being the year of his birth. Jim describes his first job driving a six-horse team from Fruitland to Elinore (Camp Five); getting a job driving an overland stage from Dyerville to Harris; working a six-mule team with two wagons hauling tanbark, ties, and lumber on the Mendocino Coast, then driving team for the Wagner Leather Company from Briceland to Shelter Cove. Around that time, Jim met and married his beautiful Birdie Harrow, and spent the last of his teaming days working for Lewis Roscoe, bringing tanbark from Upper Mattole to the wharf at the mouth of the river, which was owned by Calvin Stewart and the Mattole Lumber Co. Eventually, he was driving a truck for the Wagner Leather Co., then he became a bus driver, working for a conglomerate that became the West Coast Transit Company, eventually supplanted by Greyhound. He finishes his story, “For many years I hauled for hire, logs and lumber. I sold my equipment in 1951 and have been retired ever since. My hobby was driving team and riding broncs–most of my life has been put in on this hobby.” (Read the whole story by finding it at your local library, or asking me at the MVHS office.)

This is Shelter Cove. Someone fill me in on what's going on here. Unloading hay from the loco-mobile, or barrels of tanbark extract?

This is Shelter Cove. Someone fill me in on what’s going on here. Unloading hay from the loco-mobile, or readying barrels of tanbark extract for shipment? And is “loco-mobile” another way of saying “trailer truck”–a locomotive pulling trailers, on wheels?

Before leaving this post, i would like to thank Phillip Nicklas very much for giving us these images. Please do not repost the pictures without asking permission, and giving due credit to Phillip! There will be more put up here soon, photographs from around 1920 until the ’40s. I hope you have enjoyed these!

Back to the older generation. Here are Katherine, better known as Kate, Titus, and her husband Joel Fletcher

The older generation again. Here are Katherine, better known as Kate, Titus, and her husband Joel Fletcher “Fletch” Harrow, parents of Birdie Harrow Boots. And below, a more formal portrait of the pair, probably from around their 1884 wedding:

Fletch and Kate Harrow, lo-res

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Earlier this summer, I went up to the Humboldt County Public Library, enticed by a poster reading: “Petrolia 1865, California’s first oil field: A century of disappointment.” The speaker was Dr. Ken Aalto, an HSU professor emeritus who has studied Humboldt’s geology since 1974. The advertisement went on to explain that Aalto would be sharing a “tale of how Petrolia’s shear zone geology, at the noted Mendocino Triple Junction, kindled and dashed the hopes of oil explorers for a century.”

The Events room, off to the left just as you enter the Eureka library, was packed full as it has been every time I’ve been to one of these series of Saturday historical talks, which are presented jointly by the Humboldt Co. Historical Society and the Humboldt County Library. However, there were not too many Mattole faces there, so I am reporting on the presentation here, with the benefit of some of the diagrams and maps–and mostly, a paper–that Ken Aalto used in the slide show.

The clarity of the graphics on this blog site is not high; however, they make satisfactory illustrations of the general ideas, for the layperson. Luckily, I found Ken to be a generous man, and he allowed me to share any and all of the material he emailed me; so, if you would like to see any of these papers in greater detail, please let me know, and I can forward you a better copy, or more complete information. (Of course you would want to continue to give credit where it is due if you were to use his writing or maps anywhere else.)

I have been pretty ignorant of the science of our local geology, knowing little more than what I’ve read in local news reports around earthquake time, or in old-time descriptions of the oil-producing capabilities of the Mattole area. I confess that many of the words and coded designations on these maps make little sense to me. But it was the big question that drew me, and its answer was most satisfying. The question was, “With all this oil known to be around here, and with the new technologies that allow fracking to squeeze oil and gas out of previously impossible situations… are they going to try to start fracking around here?”

Dr. Aalto showed us several dozen slides, mainly of maps and diagrams of the earth beneath our feet. Some were of historical newspaper articles about the oil excitement, and a few were color photos of today’s landscape. His expert interpretation of these images was very interesting, if a bit hard to grasp and retain (for me!). However, he kindly sent me the paper he wrote, which seems to sum up his talk; and the abstract from it sums up the paper. So, here is the crystallized gist of the paper “PETROLIA, CALIFORNIA’S FIRST OIL FIELD–A CENTURY OF DISAPPOINTMENT,” by K.R. Aalto, Department of Geology, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA  95521 (kra1@humboldt.edu); published by the Petroleum History Institute in the journal Oil-Industry History, v. 12, no. 1, 2011:

“ABSTRACT: The Petrolia oil field, the first to be developed in California in the 1860’s, attracted considerable interest and investment among oilmen because of the abundance of oil and gas seeps throughout that region. The ‘Union well’, first producing well drilled in California in 1865, yielded some thirty barrels of high quality oil, but production soon slowed to one barrel per day and the prospect was abandoned. However, over the next half-century exploration and drilling continued throughout the region with little or no success.
“Although touted as a potential major oil district, the highly deformed Franciscan Complex basement rocks, that were structurally imbricated with Neogene marine strata as part of an actively growing accretionary prism atop the subducting Farallon plate, did not provide adequate reservoirs. Rather, oil and gas seeped to the surface along shear zones. The tectonostratigraphic setting of California’s only oilfield unequivocally located in an active subduction zone precluded its success.”

Here is an excellently detailed schematic of the area's geology. If i orient myself as if i were underneath King Peak and looking northwest through the Earth, it makes sense.

An excellently detailed schematic of the area’s geology. If I orient myself as if I were under the ground south of King Peak and looking northwest through the Earth, it makes sense. Click on the image to make it full-screen.

Here is an overview of the Triple Junction area, showing the older Pacific Plate, to the south, pushing up into the Gorda/Juan de Fuca Plate, which is pushing underneath the continent (the North American Plate). Volcanoes east of us are one result of the pushing of the Pacific Plate under the westward-moving North American. We all know another result!

Here is an overview of the Triple Junction area, showing the older Pacific Plate, to the south, pushing up into the Gorda/Juan de Fuca Plate, which is pushing underneath the continent (the North American Plate). Volcanoes east of us are one result of the pushing of the Pacific Plate under the westward-moving North American. We all know another result!

Aalto-oil,detail,enlarged

In this zoom view, I put a little red dot where the town square of Petrolia sits, and highlighted the river in blue. It’s a blur if you blow it up too much (though you should click on it once), but as I said, I can email you a better copy if you are interested. There is also a key to all the colors and codes–it’s a humongous bunch of information, too big to put up here. One thing I find interesting about this map is the line of some sort of fracture going out northwest from Petrolia toward the ocean at McNutt Gulch. Several people have theorized that at one time, the Mattole River emptied out to the sea through that gulch, and that a massive uplift of “the Table” with its flat, straight lines and abrupt rises, diverted it south to its present bed.

These first three images are from USGS map series MF-2336, by R.J. McLaughlin, S.D. Ellen, M.C. Blake, Jr., A.S. Jayko, W.P. Irwin, K.R. Aalto, G.A. Carver, and S.H. Clarke, Jr., et. al.; from the year 2000.

Ken Aalto’s 2011 paper on our local geology (cited above) lays out the situation far better than I can. Allow me to copy directly from his document (and note that the definition of “terrane” as used here is “the area or surface over which a particular rock or group of rocks is prevalent”–Merriam-Webster):

“MODERN INTERPRETATION: Basement rock in the Petrolia area consists of penetratively deformed Franciscan Complex Coastal belt which is divided into several tectonostratigraphic terranes that include rocks ranging from Late Cretaceous to Middle Miocene age (Fig.1). The sandstones of these terranes are highly sheared, well cemented and discontinuous, thus their reservoir potential is low. Franciscan rocks are locally depositionally overlain and structurally imbricated with thin slabs and slivers of Miocene and younger non-accretionary marine strata (the Late Cenozoic overlap assemblage) originally deposited in forearc or marginal basin settings (Fig. 1; Aalto et al. 1995; Miller and Aalto, 1983). Miocene and younger source rocks are depicted as imbricate slices in an accretionary complex (Fig. 4; McLaughlin et al. 2000). H. D. MacGinitie recognized this structural style, noting that:
‘[t]he Tertiary outcrops are found as elongated strips following the structural trends [of the subjacent Franciscan Complex]. The strips are synclinal in nature and are usually overturned toward the south and bounded by overthrust blocks of the Mesozoic rocks on the north side.’ (MacGinitie 1943, p. 633).
“Source rocks, originating in forearc or marginal basin settings, are thrust beneath False Cape and Coastal terranes, and possibly provide a source for the oil presently leaking from seeps and wells within the Coastal terrane of the Petrolia area (Fig. 4; McLaughlin et al. 1999).
“MacGinitie (1943, p. 634) noted that the abundant oil and gas seeps of the Petrolia region commonly occurred ‘…in connection with major lines of faulting’ and that ‘…the source of the oil in the seeps and from the wildcat wells may be found in black, organic shale.’ However, he suggested that ‘…the folding and faulting have been so strong in the areas where oil indications occur that the majority of the structures are too broken to furnish satisfactory oil storage’
(MacGinitie, 1943, p. 635). Ogle (1953) determined that sandstone beds of Lower Wildcat Group (Fig. 3, part of the overlap assemblage) served as reservoir rocks in the gas fields developed near Eureka. Franciscan basement rocks did not appear to be suitable as reservoirs, although some sheared areas were permeable.
“In 1997, McLaughlin et al. (1999) collected some dozens of samples from active seeps and oil and gas wells of the Petrolia region. These have stable isotopic compositions similar to petroleum derived from Miocene source rocks elsewhere in California. In assessing possible source rocks among exposed Tertiary rocks, McLaughlin et al. (1999) concluded:
‘Fair to good petroleum generative potential is indicated for thermally immature Miocene shale and mudstone [of the Petrolia region], with TOC values of 1.1-1.8 wt %, HI>200, and Tmax values of about 420 degrees C.’ (Text from poster presented by McLaughlin et al., 1999).
“These data and regional structure suggest petroleum could very well have been generated from similar forearc source rocks that were structurally interleaved with the Franciscan Complex during growth of the modern accretionary prism, and which reached thermal maturity during thrust burial to several kilometers.”

Here is a good diagram from Ken Aalto's paper.

This diagram appeared in the Ken Aalto paper “Petrolia, California’s First Oil Field…”

And now, for the all-important…

“CONCLUSIONS.
“McLaughlin et al. (1999) concluded that:
‘[t]he oil systems of this area are unique in California in having reservoir rocks within the youngest part of the Franciscan Complex and in being the only California oilfield that is unequivocally associated with an active subduction zone setting.’
“Such a setting is unlikely to persist in geologic time due to the extensive structural dismemberment that accompanies the growth of the prism by the continuous stacking of thrust plates. Ongoing faulting and duplexing of oil-generative rocks engenders leakage to the surface and consequent destruction of hydrocarbons (Fig. 4). Reservoirs, whether created within duplexed younger sandstones or within zones with enhanced fracture porosity, are likely to be destroyed by ongoing deformation. Thus the richest oil fields in the world at Petrolia were never to be.”

Or, as Dr. Aalto put it at the end of his presentation, “There is no hope. There is never enough of a reservoir or a yield to be profitable.”
Thank you, Ken Aalto!

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