Title: "Reflection in Lake of Oil — Lake View Gusher — 29. Copyright 1910 by West Coast Art Co."
Publisher: California Sales Co., Pub., San Francisco.
Comments: Hey, why don't why celebrate our modern environmental disasters with postcards, like they did in 1910? We could have a whole series of glossy postcards commemorating these impressive events:
- Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Spill
- Exxon Valdez oil spill
- Bhopal disaster
- Chernobyl nuclear accident
- Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
- Mountaintop removal mining
- Great Pacific garbage patch
- And so much more...
Wouldn't that be swell? And such a fine keepsake for future generations.
Anyway, this 113-year-old postcard features the Lakeview Gusher, one of the largest accidental oil spills in world history. Over the course of 18 months in 1910 and 1911, 9 million barrels of crude oil spewed from Lakeview Gusher Number One in Kern County, California.
According to a 2010 Los Angeles Times article, "The site became a tourist attraction. Special trains carried gawkers to Taft. Preachers showed up to lead prayers that the geyser of crude 'would not flood the world' ... [And] some folks saw the gusher as a sign of disapproval from the Almighty. Hadn't one preacher in Pennsylvania warned drillers that the oil was meant to remain in the earth to 'kindle the fires of Hell'?"
Perhaps the person who wrote and sent this postcard was one of those gawkers who traveled to the "tourist attraction." He sent his postcard to Norristown, Pennsylvania, and wrote:
Sept. 5, 1910.
Received your welcome card and was glad to hear from you. This view is of the Famous oil well at Maricopa, maybe you have read about it. Hope everybody is well. I remain yours truly.
Papergreat's Chris Otto is spending June 5, 2013, blogging as many vintage postcards as possible. It's "The Fast and Furious" (and hopefully also "The Fun") for ephemera lovers and deltiologists. Read all of the posts starting here. If you don't, he will drink your milkshake.