The tanker 'LA PLACENTIA'


In the hey-day of the oil industry in the early twenties, there were over nine hundred producing oil wells, feeding tax money into the coffers of the county. This was probably an important factor as the local citizens promoted city hood for the area.
In 1921 Placentia received a unique honor. With so much business from the Kraemer and Chapman gushers, Union Oil Company expanded and started a line of ocean-going tankers. Three of them were named, La Montebello, La Brea and La Placentia. The La Placentia was the largest ship of her type ever built in Southern California. Built by the Southwest Shipbuilding Company, she was 457 ft. long with a cargo of over 80,000 barrels. She had quadruple 3000 horsepower engines and a speed of 12 knots. On March 15, a large crowd gathered for the launching. Nearly all of the Placentia people contributed to the purchase of a silver tea service for the captain's cabin.

This information was gleaned from material sent to me from the Union Oil Museum in Santa Paula. When the Placentia Historical Committee was being organized we brainstormed to find artifacts which might be appropriate for the historical committee to gather to add to the few items that were on hand at the time for a museum. I recalled seeing the model of La Placentia at the Los Angeles County Museum of Science and Industry in the mid fifties. I contacted the Union Oil Museum and was told that the model La Placentia was no longer in existence because the it did not survive the move.
Now as time passed and interest in memorabilia has heightened, Pat Irot and I took a trip to the Santa Paula Museum. Our mission was to locate the tea set. Maybe the Museum would like to loan it to our city if it was available. The trip for that purpose was in vain. The curator there never heard of La Placentia.

Much later, as I was perusing Virginia Carpenter's book, I found new information. On March 15,1921 a large crowd gathered for the launching of La Placentia. Mrs. E. W. Clark wife of the Union Oil General manager christened the ship at 8:26 a.m. but the gift was changed. Maybe a silver tea set was inappropriate for a tanker. Tom McFadden made the presentation speech and gave A. V. Andrews for the Union Oil Company an order for a new Edison Phonograph to be delivered to the ship. La Placentia was taken over by the Maritime service and continued hauling oil all through WWII. She was scrapped in 1945. (Marie Schmidt 2/11/2000)

 
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