Sunday, August 4, 2019

Revisiting the Lakeview Gusher

One thing I love about this blog is that you never know when or how a post from the past is going to resurface in an interesting way.

More than six years, during the Postcard Blogathon 2013, I had a short post about the largest accidental oil spill in history — the 1910-11 Lakeview Gusher. That blowout in California spewed for 18 months and drew disaster tourists from all over. I featured a West Coast Art Co. postcard of the accident; it had been mailed in September 1910 and included this message: "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."

Recently, I was contacted by Dan Brekke, a reporter at KQED/NPR in San Francisco. He was working on a story about the Lakeview Gusher and wanted to use the front and back images of the postcard that appeared on Papergreat. When I did the original post, I had only scanned the front of the card. So I wasn't sure whether I still had the postcard, in order to scan the back. After some literal shoebox searching, it turns out I did. So I was able to provide it for Brekke's story.

It's a great piece, titled "The Chevron Oil Spill Is Big, But This One Was Bigger — a Lot Bigger." It compares century-old and modern-day petroleum catastrophes. Here's an interesting excerpt:
"The Lakeview Gusher wasn't front-page news at first. But as crude oil continued to blast from the hole, it was regarded first as a natural wonder, then as a wild, uncontrollable force, and finally as a headache — an outpouring so overwhelming that it blackened the countryside for miles around and produced so much oil so fast it created an oversupply that depressed the California oil market."
You should check out Brekke's full piece, which has lots of fascinating historical nuggets and contains images beyond just those from Papergreat.

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