Latitude / Longitude:
34°22′44.97″N 118°36′39.62″W / 34.3791583°N 118.6110056°W / 34.3791583 -11
1,609 ft (490 m)
Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
Mentryville was an oil drilling town in the Santa Susana Mountains in Los Angeles County, California, USA. It was started in the 1870s around the newly discovered oil reserves in that area. The first oil strike was on September 26, 1876. The town is located at the terminus of Pico Canyon Road, four miles west of the Lyons Avenue exit from I-5 in Santa Clarita.
The last caretaker of Mentryville was Francis “Frenchy” Lagasse, who moved into the old Mentry mansion with his wife and children in 1966. The property’s owner, Standard Oil of California, wanted to raze the remnants of the ghost town, but Lagasse persuaded the company to allow him to restore the town. With help from the Santa Clarita Historical Society, Lagasse eventually began offering tours of Mentryville. Lagasse was forced to leave Mentryville after the 1994 Northridge earthquake damaged the house, and in 1995, Chevron (which had become the owner upon its acquisition of Standard Oil of California in 1977) donated the Mentryville site and the surrounding 800 acres (3.2 km2) in Pico Canyon to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. A group called the Friends of Mentryville was organized to restore the buildings and open the old town as a historic park with docent-led tours.
Mentryville was eventually abandoned, partially because the amount of oil slowed over time, and partially because of changes to the oil industry. During the 1930s, most of Mentryville’s remaining residents left, many tearing down their houses board by board and nail by nail, and taking it all with them. By 1962, Mentryville had become a ghost town, with only a caretaker family living in Mentry’s old 13-room house. A visitor to the camp that year reported that “rusted oil equipment cluttered the canyon,” toppled derricks lay rotting, and the cemetery was “choked with weeds, hidden and forgotten.”
The site is now registered as California Historical Landmark #516-2. A fire nearly destroyed Mentryville’s historic structures in 2003, and a storm in 2004 washed out the visitors’ parking lot and also flooded the historic buildings. Mentryville and Pico Canyon have become popular shooting locations. They were used in motion pictures, including Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple” and “Walking Tall Part 2”, and in television series, including “The X-Files”, “The A-Team”, “Murder, She Wrote”, and “Highway to Heaven.”