West Kern Oil Museum

1168 Wood Street
Taft, CA 93268


Once upon a time in the mid 1920's over 7000 wooden derricks covered the landscape from Sunset (Southeast of Maricopa), through the Midway Valley, the Elk Hills to McKittrick and Reward, a distance of approximately 21 miles in Southwest Kern County. It was indeed a veritable forest of derricks. By the late sixties all these derricks except two were thrown. In 1974 Jameson #17 was scheduled to be torn down too. The local American Association of University Women and some dedicated people organized and with the Jameson Company donating the derrick and 3 acres of land, the West Kern Oil Museum, Inc. was born. Today that original wooden derrick standing over its original well, with all its cable tools intact, is a part of the Museum which has grown to 8 acres.

It seemed only fitting that a Museum be on the Westside of Kern County, for even today almost one half of all the oil in California comes from these Westside oilfields. The Midway Sunset field (the oilfield on which the Museum sits) is still the top oil producing field in the contiguous United States. Then, too, three of the giant oilfields of the U.S. lie within the Westside. They are the Midway Sunset Field, the Elk Hills Field, and the South Belridge Field. To be considered a giant field, an oilfield has to produce or be capable of producing 1 billion barrels of oil.

The Museum, run entirely by volunteers, is dedicated to collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting artifacts, books, and equipment that tell the story of oil in California, particularly in West Kern County. The Museum tries to tell of the businesses, communities and people affected by that industry and is dedicated to increasing the public understanding and appreciation of the oil industry itself.

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