According to information found in Santa Cruz (Morning/Evening/Weekly) Sentinel, 1869 to 1956, and written about on the SantaCruzTrains.com website, “oil had been known to be on the property since Mexican times and in the mid-1860s the first test wells were drilled in the hills over the Pajaro River. By the early 1870s, a number of wells on Sargent’s Ranch were producing black gold, making the property quite valuable to its owners. In 1906, harder asphaltic oil (tar for commercial uses) was found in the soil and become a staple export for many years with over 780,000 barrels of assorted types of oil shipped out of the station making it the most profitable oil field in the Bay Area.”
In 1974, a lease was signed between the three owners, James W. Rea, Jr., Bee Rea Choate and Robin Anderson, and Gulf Oil. The original lease covered the entire property and over a period of time gave Gulf Oil the right to drill for presence of oil. Over the next thirteen years, Gulf Oil searched for production and ultimately gave back all but 320 acres in November, 1987.
A second lease was done at that time on the 320 acres that Gulf Oil/Chevron U.S.A. Inc. determined viable for oil production. This lease required a royalty payment of 1/6 of all oil revenues be paid to the owner of the mineral interests.
Between 1983 and 1988, all three Sargent Ranch owners died. One owner, with a 25% ownership interest, bequeathed their portion of the Sargent Ranch property to Shriners Hospital.
In 1988, the estates for the other two owners entered into an agreement to sell their portion of Sargent Ranch to CSY Sargent Ranch. Shiners Hospital joined in the sale by selling their interests, except they retained the mineral interest.
Since that time, the owners of Sargent Ranch have received a 12.5% royalty interest while Shiners Hospital has received the remaining 4.167%.
Information about each of the wells at Sargent Ranch can be found on the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources Well Finder page: http://maps.conservation.ca.gov/doggr/#close