You may have heard that oil wells are a Southern California thing, and the discovery of gold happened in the foothills of Northern California. Well, in this episode of California’s Gold we learn that just the opposite is true! The fact is that gold was first discovered on a quiet little rancho just north of Los Angeles; and the location of the very first California oil well was on the far north coast, in Humboldt County.
I also love this episode because Huell visits the old powerhouse in Folsom. Since his visit occurred back in the mid 1990s, you can catch some glimpses of how much the local area has changed in the past 20 years. There is no Lake Natoma Crossing sitting downstream from the Rainbow Bridge; the property across Leidesdorff Street from the Powerhouse has yet to be developed; and the grounds of the actual Powerhouse site have certainly undergone some changes since then.
From orange groves to freeways, everybody knows about some of the most important and uniquely Californian firsts our state has produced. In this episode Huell looks at three unexpected California firsts that occurred in ways and places people never imagined: the surprising story behind the “real” discovery of gold in California, the unlikely spot of the first oil drilling in California and finally a galvanizing visit to a location where an overlooked innovation in the history of electricity took place.