Golden Gate Oil Company

The Los Angeles City oilfield at the turn of the century. Photograph courtesy of the California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento.

There have been many Golden Gate Oil companies. None survived long in the risky business of drilling expensive “wildcat” exploration wells even in proven oilfields.

A Golden Gate Oil Company founded in 1921 by John Flynn, Robert Tarrants and others was capitalized at $250,000. It would spend several years drilling wells in the booming Los Angeles oilfields.

There was also a 1902 Golden Gate Oil and Refining Company incorporated in South Dakota that quickly disappeared from the records. Another Golden Gate Oil Company incorporated in San Francisco in 1900, capitalized at $500,000, but also apparently became defunct.

Yet another Golden Gate Oil operated in Oklahoma’s Healdton oilfield in 1916 and drilled three wells, each producing 25 barrels a day. It also drilled at least one dry hole before exiting the state’s financial records.

(Discovered in 1913, the Healdton oilfield was known as a “poor man’s field,” because of its shallow depth and consequent low cost of drilling operations. The area attracted small companies with limited financial backing to compete with major oil companies. Among independents who succeeded at Healdton were Wirt Franklin, Lloyd Noble and Robert Hefner. Erle Halliburton perfected his method of oil well cementing in the field. Visit the Healdton Oil Museum.)

The 1921 Golden Gate Oil Company founded by Flynn and Tarrants brought in three producers in the Los Angeles oilfield between 1922 and 1923.

Although California Department of Conservation records offer maps where these wells were drilled in the Los Angeles area, they do not include the fate of the company. Learn about the city’s petroleum exploration and production history in Discovering Los Angeles Oilfields.

These “golden gate” oil companies failed, as have many in an industry that depends upon discovering commercial quantities of oil before running out of money in the high-risk gamble of exploration. Today their stocks retain only collectible value which can be found on eBay, Scripophily, and other sites.

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The stories of other attempts to join petroleum exploration booms (and avoid busts) can be found in an updated series of research at Is my Old Oil Stock worth Anything?
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