Oil Pipeline Roots in California
Completed in October 1904, the pipeline reached from Coalinga to Monterey, where it would be met by oil barges that would transport the California oil to Hawaii as well as other destinations for use as an energy source.
The two mountain range traversing pipelines 104 mile stretch is not exorbitant by todays standards, but at the time was noteworthy for its quick construction and high elevation.
Though the pipeline at its highest point pumped oil more than 2,500 feet above sea level, an unprecedented feat at that time, it was built in just ninety days.
The pipeline system built by the Coalinga Oil and Transportation Co.
included several oil storage tanks in Monterey to house oil pumped from the oil fields of Coalinga.
Regular voyages by oil barges coupled with the use of the pipeline to transport oil from the fields created the foundation for a prosperous oil operation which lasted several years.
Many people in the areas where the pipeline made American oil available began using this more cost effective source of energy to replace the coal they had used in the past.
On September 14, 1924, the sensation of the pipeline operation took a drastic turn.
An intense storm brought rain, hail, thunder and devastating lightning to the area that would bring a harsh end to the oil operation that had been flourishing in northern California.
Lightning struck one of the storage tanks in Monterey, igniting it in ferocious flames and sending ominous black smoke billowing into the sky.
News of the fire incited the arrival of droves of fire trucks in Monterey from all of the surrounding areas.
Firefighters attempted to contain the fire to the burning tank as pumps removed thousands of barrels of oil in hopes of preventing another explosion.
For hours, the fire remained contained to the tank and was seemingly under control, prompting many spectators in the area to watch the spectacle from afar.
But the fire did not remain contained to the original tank for long.
Several explosions followed, sending firefighters and locals fleeing for their lives as burning oil spilled across the land and water.
The building of oil tanks was subsequently banned in the City of Monterey.
Parts of the original pipeline remain in place today, while others are preserved in museums.
Today, oil companies such as Western Pipeline Corporation [http://the-state-of-indiana.
cfm/id/191171] comply with stringent industry safety standards in order to prevent such catastrophes.