Tales of a Ghost Town: Mentryville Park

Mentryville Park

An oil drilling town in the Santa Susana Mountains in Los Angeles County, California, USA. It was started in the 1870s around the newly discovered oil reserves in the area. The first oil strike was on September 26, 1876. The town is located at the terminus of Pico Canyon Road, four miles west of the Lyons Avenue exit from I-5 in Santa Clarita.

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After writing about Llano Del Río, I decided to create a blog series dedicated to Ghost Towns in Southern California. I found a list of them on GhostTowns.com, and I decided to continue the adventure in Mentryville Park.

Mentryville is a town named after the superintendent who was in charge of the oil fields, Charles Alexander Mentry. Mentry lived in the town until his death in 1900, and built the expansive thirteen room mansion that remains in the park ’til this day.

The town was eventually abandoned, due to the oil reserves dwindling over time and advancements of the oil industry. By the late1930s, most of Mentryville’s remaining residents had gone.  Many tearing down their houses, board by board and nail by nail, and taking it all with them.

All that is left now is Mentry’s mansion, as well as a school, a barn, and newer prop house that was used for several movies.

I visited the park in the afternoon, a couple of hours before sunset. I loved the eerie, yet peaceful, feel to the park. It has been a hot summer this year, so the hills were covered in golden-brown, dry shrubbery. The sun was setting, just so that the mountains had a beautiful, warm feeling to them. I felt a tad bit of a rush – I’m not sure if it was out of excitement that I was here, in this deserted place, or if it was the lingering restlessness of a once thriving boom-town.

The first thing I spotted as I entered the park was a red farmhouse. It was an old directory called Felton School. Next to it was another storage barn, and an outhouse that matched the big red schoolhouse. High foliage almost covered the old rusted steam relics that were a couple of paces away from the school.

I continued walking up the paved road that, I later learned, was the continuation of Pico Canyon Rd. It lead me to a picnic area called Johnson’s park. There was a sink, and three different kinds of what I think might have been ovens. As I walked deeper into the picnic area, I saw a rusted out oil derrick that was moved from its original location years ago and reconstructed, to preserve it in posterity.

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On my return back to my starting point, I bumped into old Mentry’s mansion. Next to it was the yellow prop house where “The Color Purple”, “Walking Tall Pt. 2”, “The X-Files”, and other motion pictures were filmed. Across from the prop house, I saw a barn, and what looks like it could have been a social hall.

Sun was almost setting, so I decided to end my exploring there. The pleasant feeling of walking through a piece of history stayed with me until I hit the freeway again.

 

Do you have any ghost town stories? Or better yet, have you ever photographed a ghost town before? Comment below! I’d love to hear all about it  – as always, I would love to see what you create. Please leave a comment with the link where I can follow your work.

 

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