Tag Archive: Union Oil

Feb 22

Union Oil pier collapse, the storm of 1983

The Union Oil pier in Avila Beach collapses into the surf Tuesday afternoon after pounding waves undermined its pilings. 
©Ken Chen/Telegram-Tribune

Periodically big storms come in and wreak havoc with piers. For example in 1907 the Oilport pier, in what is now known as Shell Beach was demolished by a fierce storm. The pier at Port San Luis is usually the most sheltered in the region but thirty years ago no place was immune. The winter …

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Mar 26

Don’t frack on me, lessons from Unocal’s Guadalupe pollution settlement

"Unocal to pay $43.8 million for polluting fragile dunes"; Telegram-Tribune front page July 22, 1998.

What could be bad about a process called fracking? Energy companies now wish they had come up with a less dirty sounding name for the process of hydraulic fracturing, using high pressure water, sand and chemicals to crack rocks and release natural gas. I’m all for energy independence but I’m also in favor of responsible …

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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 06

Pearl Harbor Attack, Japan opens war on U.S. World War II week by week

Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor is reported in a full page headline in the Telegram-Tribune on the day of the attack, December 7, 1941.

At 1:05 p.m. the fire siren shrieked in San Luis Obispo calling all 40th Division soldiers back to Camp San Luis Obispo. The early morning attack over Pearl Harbor Hawaii  plunged the West Coast into a frenzy of activity. A second attack was also reported at Manila. The then Telegram-Tribune published a Sunday Extra, likely …

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Jan 15

Beware of riff raff oil

Union Oil ad August 9, 1954 from the Telegram-Tribune

I was mistaken, I thought oil was oil. Wrong. Apparently some petroleum distillates come from a better class of dead dinosaurs. Think about it next time you are at the poolside cabana enjoying a cold beverage, cucumber sandwiches and fingering your humongous fake pearls from Sacks Fifth Avenue of Beverly Hills. Quoting the entirely tastefully …

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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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Apr 09

Avila Beach


May 30, 1968 The summer season was beginning at Avila Beach. Much has changed since 1968. Union Oil tanks are gone, the old rust roofed buildings are gone and the restrooms and sidewalk have been changed. On the other hand, folks still come to the beach for sun and lifeguards scan the horizon for trouble. …

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Feb 15

Shandon murder 1958


Reader Matt Grant asked for information on a murder that took place in Shandon over 50 years ago and provided the date. He asked if the crime was ever solved but unfortunately our files before the digital era are only indexed by date of publication. The murder was front page news for three days in …

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