The Pacific States Refinery was an oil refinery at the foot of Fruitvale Avenue, beginning operation in 1903. The refined oil went to Standard Oil, and they also made "asphaltum" for paving roads. It was badly damaged by a fire in 1913, but continued business for a few years after that.

NB: The company name is shortened to Pac States Refineries in some of the directories.

The first mention of the refinery was in December 1902. J.W. Hastings was president, Horace Orear, vice-president, and the manager was U.L. Davies. 3 They received approval from the county supervisors to build a rail spur across Fruitvale Avenue for their use.

A few months later, the refinery had its first accident. Three men were badly burned after hot asphalt came out of a pipe unexpectedly. 2

1913 Fire

Things were relatively uneventful for some years. In 1906, the company leased land from the Bruguière Land Company (the land had belonged to Peder Sather; one of his daughters married a Bruguière.) 4

Then the morning of December 17, 1913, driver John May filled the fuel tank of a truck. When he turned the starter, the nearby storeroom burst into flames. Although the plant had its own firefighting equipment, the fire quickly spread and the fire department was called. Several tanks exploded, and at different points the nearby Fruitvale Bridge was threatened as was the Southern Pacific power plant across the street. The Alameda Fire Department was called, but was unable to cross the bridge. They remained on scene to protect the ships in the estuary. 5

By the next day, the fire had burned itself out. While there was lots of damage including to the breakwater, firefighters managed to keep a 10,000 gallon tank of benzine from exploding, and the asphalt sheds were undamaged. 6 At this point, William Lange was president; Max Isoard, secretary; Timothy Halloran, superintendent.

Understandably, nearby residents were against rebuilding the refinery. 7 Despite the protests and the losses, Pacific States Refineries didn't just disappear. In February 1914, they applied for some building permits on Stewart Street (it ran along estuary below Glascock, west of Fruitvale Avenue.)

National Petroleum Company

In 1915, the company filed a large lawsuit against the National Petroleum Company. They had turned over management to National to settle a debt.

Then some creditors demanded the sale of the company, saying it had been operating at a profit since August 1, 1914. The Enquirer article mentions that the manager had been thrown out in August and no accounting made.

After that, the company names appears in various lawsuits, but it fades from the newspapers after 1918 except for historical references. (There was a later Pacific States Gasoline in southern California, but it appears unrelated.)

1912 Sanborn excerpt

The site was later the location of the Owens-Illinois Glass Factory.

Links and References

  1. The New Refinery Oakland Enquirer December 16, 1902
  2. Three Men Are Burned Oakland Tribune April 23, 1903
  3. Pacific States Refinery at Fruitvale Oakland Tribune December 23, 1905
  4. Refining Company Leases Building Site Oakland Enquirer April 6, 1906
  5. Big Factory Gutted By Flames Oakland Tribune December 17, 1913 (p2)
  6. Oil Fire Is Burned Out Oakland Tribune December 18, 1913
  7. Estimate Given On Peralta Park Oakland Enquirer January 30, 1914