Down through the years there have been those who were so sure that there was oil to be found on the Peninsula that they brought in equipment and set to wildcatting.

In May 1953, Ernest J. Peterson of Seattle came to look over the possibilities of finding oil on the beach in front of Long Beach. He liked what he saw and went about setting up equipment. Newspaperman Jimmy O'Neil was not so pleased.

"Considerable talk went on at the coffee counter this past week," he editorialized that same week in May, "regarding some fellow who plans to drill for oil off south Tenth street here, and that the same fellow has taken a lease on most all of this beach for oil drilling.

"Not being enthusiastic over the get-rich-quick plan, this writer is trying to reason any ideas why people of this beach should not care to have oil drilling taking place on the beach; mainly, for a possibility of ruining our beach for tourist and vacationist purposes.

"We've been told that Long Beach, California, successfully mixes oil with her vacationists. However, should it be a fact that cluttering up this beach with oil-drilling equipment would ruin it as a playground, then we should be very certain that oil would pay much, much greater returns than the vacationist resource ...

"It is our hope there are those among us who are informed, and in a position to put thumbs up, or thumbs down, on oil development for these wonderful 28 miles of beach which carry a value far greater than all the oil in Texas."

-May 8, 1953

Nevertheless, by mid-July, Peterson's oil well was down to 1,915 feet with favorable indications. Light showings of oil were evident for about 600 feet of drilling, "but that is nothing to become excited about," said editor O'Neil, raining on the parade.

Later that month, after drilling down to 2,103 feet and "reading a Schlumberger test sheet at 3 o'clock Sunday morning, it was decided to cap number one hole." The Long Beach Oil Co. planned to start hole number two up the beach to the north, near The Breakers.

"For reasons not officially known to this newspaper at publication time Thursday, the Bill Love oil well drilling equipment was on its way out of this city heading for Centralia, and according to workmen they planned joining another drill outfit in the Elma country for work.

"After hole number one was capped here recently, a road was constructed into a new beach site two miles north for hole two which never got underway, as a later order was to hold everything.

"Why the drilling failed to go ahead has not yet been given out officially, although there are plenty of rumors," the Aug. 14 Observer hinted maddeningly.

Next spring, the equipment was back and drilling, around the clock, near the north city limits of town. Six weeks later that hole was abandoned because of a cave-in. The equipment moved a few feet away and drilling on hole No. 3 commenced.

In July, Mr. Peterson issued a press statement: "Although we have removed the equipment from hole No. 3 it does not mean we'll not resume the operation ... We hope to be back in operation within three weeks, and in the meantime the company will proceed with its financing, order casing and start certain legal actions to recover damages."

The lawsuit was against Fred Devine's salvage company and had to do with damage to the oil company's private road to its oil well. While Mr. Peterson was in court with that suit in November of 1954 he suffered a heart attack and abruptly died. With him died the hunt for oil at Long Beach.

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