Drilling for oil took place on Edom Hill in 1954.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY PALM SPRINGS HISTORICAL SOCIETY
In a much different environmental climate, a Texas oil company had their eyes on the oil that they believed might be on one side of the San Andreas Fault, which extends across the Coachella Valley from Palm Springs to the Salton Sea.
The Fowler Drilling Company erected an oil drilling rig on the top of Edom Hill in spring of 1954. Edom Hill, located north of Interstate 10 off Varner Road neat Thousand Palms, was miles away from any oil producing fields.
The site of the well development was privately owned, and surrounded by Agua Caliente Tribal land leased by the Texas company, according to a Desert Sun article in March 1954.
The road that had to be built to get to the top of Edom Hill was three miles long and was estimated to cost $50,000. Hundreds of thousands of yards of sand had to be moved to clear the site and then an oil-based substance was mixed with sand and crushed rock like a glue that dried and provided the path to bring in the Fullview drilling rig.
However, the project was shut down on June 3, 1954.
Harry Oliver, the unofficial mayor of Thousand Palms and the publisher of the quarterly Desert Rat Scrapbook, responded to the shut down, “It has long been admitted that all our earthquakes center here—that the caterpillars and the crickets come from here—that the wind and the singing sands are ours—but today we have a new boast—WE GOT NO OIL.”
There is a multitude of ways to learn more about Palm Springs, which turned 83 in 2021. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring the city’s history.
The Palm Springs Historical Society will share a story whose time and place correspond with today.
For more information, visit their location at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive.