California oil and water

Chinatown and There Will Be Blood are two Hollywood movies about California’s turbulent history around water and oil.

There Will Be Blood is based on Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil, published in 1927, and that story was based on Edward L. Doheny who struck it rich in oil in Los Angeles, California in 1892. The Doheny Estate is owned by the city of Beverly Hills and the Greystone mansion has a haunted story to tell.

Just south of Monterey County in San Luis Obispo County is Highway 46, the road that takes travelers from Cambria on the Pacific Ocean coast a few miles south of where Hearst Castle is located to the Central Valley of California.

James Dean Memorial Junction is the spot where James Dean died at the age of 24 in a car crash September 30, 1955 weeks after completing the movie Giant.

Highway 46 was known for years as blood alley for its 60-mile long stretch of straight two lane road between Highway 101 and Interstate 5, the two main north-south freeways in California.  The road was only expanded to four lanes in the past three years.


Highway 46 in California Central Valley.

After driving 40 miles into the Central Valley the road passes through the town of Lost Hills.


Oil country of Lost Hills, California.

There is oil all over California. Monterey County has oil wells in the San Ardo oil field in the upper Salinas Valley. Oil rigs are in the sea from Long Beach to Santa Barbara. As I passed through Bakersfield there are several vineyards with oil pumpjacks right in the middle of the grape vines.

Have you wondered what those indescribable subtle flavors are in the fragrant bouquet of that Chardonnay?

Lost Hills is also a town where the California Aqueduct passes through on its way to Los Angeles.


California Aqueduct is a 700 mile canal transporting water from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the Central Valley farms and cities along the coast.

The exploitation of California’s natural resources: Gold, oil and water made the California we see today.


California Central Valley orchards east of Bakersfield.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. Nice post! I just got back from L.A. and visited the Graystone Mansion–I was wiki’ing the info from the gardens and it was very interesting reading. thanks for posting this!

  2. @James – I was fortunate to miss rain for the entire drive. I rode the shuttle bus into Zion National Park to the end of the road and went hiking. The temperature was 70. Got hit with a hail and rain storm for 15 minutes and got a little chilled in my shorts. There were about 100 other chilly people too. I at least had a rain vest on.

    Heard thunder driving to the east end of Zion National Park. Missed the rain.

    Five miles from Bryce Canyon the storm really hit with hail and thunder and lightning. I made it to the Best Western. The temperature is 35 and it looks like winter outside with a one inch layer of hail on the ground.

    The lightning flashes and thunder were nearly simultaneous.

    Yesterday driving through the Mojave Desert I watched a full rainbow in a cloud storm for about 30 minutes on the desert floor. I’ll have a photograph in my next post.

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