Category Archive: Oil

Oct 18

Morro Bay Museum opens 50 years ago

Morro Bay Natural History Museum under construction July 19, 1961. © The Tribune

Fifty years ago the Morro Bay Natural History Museum was dedicated. Admission was 25 cents for adults. Adult admission price has gone up since then to $3 but the displays are a whole lot better as well. When the facility was dedicated the view of the bay was the best part, now there are interactive …

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Dec 23

Sinking of the Union Oil tanker Montebello, World War II week by week

Sinking of the Union Oil tanker Montebello was a headline in the Telegram-Tribune on December 23, 1941. The news was supressed by wartime censorship elsewhere.

In retrospect the original skipper was right. The captain of the Union Oil tanker Montebello did not want to leave Port San Luis. Sixteen days after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor rumors were running wild. Blackout drills were being held up and down the coast and false reports of enemy aircraft were not uncommon. …

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Dec 19

War declared on Japan, World War II week by week

World War II comes to the United States as war is declared on Japan. Telegram-Tribune, December 8, 1941.

December 8 — America, Britain, Canada, Free France, the Netherlands and six other countries declared war on Japan in the wake of coordinated attacks across the Pacific. Japanese attacks were reported in Thailand, British Malaya, Philippine Islands, Hong Kong, Guam, Midway and Wake Islands. The war declaration by Congress made no mention of the European …

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Jun 11

Hints of the future, WWII week by week

May 31, 1941 Telegram-Tribune — Six Drown as Boat Overturns off Morro Bay In retrospect it seems easy to connect dots leading to the Pacific War. When you know what to look for it is easy to filter out the static and assemble a case. At the time however developments from the war in Europe, …

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Aug 15

Making sense of the census, 1890 school outlook

The Tribune June 6, 1890

San Luis Obispo was isolated cow town, connected to the world of commerce via the steam ships at Port Harford by a narrow gauge railway twice a day. A third train departed and connected to points south with the terminus at Los Olivos. The town had a population of about 4,000 and the three major …

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Aug 08

Oilport, before it was Shell Beach part 2

Daily Tribune December 10, 1907

Tales retold several times often wander from the truth, it is always good to get as close to the original source as possible. The now forgotten 1907 community of Oilport is often recalled in stories that use “tidal wave”. When the words Tidal Wave or Tsunami surface in a story it has the potential to …

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Aug 06

Oilport, before it was Shell Beach part-1


This story comes from the Centurama editions of the then Telegram-Tribune published May 14, 1954. Several 8 page special sections were published that month to celebrate the history of the county and the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of San Luis Obispo. Ill-Fated Oilport Refinery Operated for Only Two Weeks One of San Luis Obispo’s …

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Jul 10

Oil on the beach

STEADY TRAFFIC OF OIL TANKERS AT AVILA BEACH AND ESTERO BAY INCREASES THREAT Ship sucks in oil from pier pipeline; one like this dumped some at sea. Michael Raphael/The Tribune ©2010

BP has miles beaches to clean on the Gulf coast, but blown out oil wells are not the only source of oily beach pollution. It used to be that getting tar balls on your feet was part of going to Avila Beach. We were told it was due to natural seeps. Later  revelations revealed leaky …

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Jul 08

Pacific Coast Railroad Bridge, Avila Beach 1966

Avila Beach October 15, 1966. ©2010 The Tribune

Before the current bridge to Port San Luis was built over San Luis Creek travelers used the old single lane Pacific Coast Railroad bridge. This view looks back at Avila Beach and the Union Oil tanks from October 15, 1966. At this time the Harford pier was closed and a new parking lot was under …

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May 28

Texaco Tanker at Estero Bay


For much of the 20th century the Central Coast was a hub for oil transportation. Union Oil, Chevron and Texaco all had facilities that provided the link between tankers and the rich oil fields inland. It used to be a frequent sight to see tankers at Estero Bay north of Morro Bay or at the …

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