Great Value for Santa Fe Springs Landlords
Junípero Serra had started some missions in this area, especially the San Gabriel mission. By 1806, the natives, now called Gabrielanos than Sejats, provided labor for the mission.
Corporal José Manuel Nieto, then 65 year old, petitioned Pedro Fages, the Governor, for a little land. In 1789, Fagas received official permission for the grant. Nieto's was one of the largest at 300,000 acres (1,200 km2) acres, from the Pacific Ocean to the Puente Hills. This became known as the "Rancho La Zanja", to which he moved with his wife Teresa and his son, Juan José. This area soon became a large cattle empire, and later would be the Santa Fe Springs area.
Dr. James E. Fulton came to the area as an agent for the San Gertrudes Land Company in 1871. He found, when drilling a well, a sulfur spring, and developed it by 1874 into a health spa with a small hotel in the area around what today would be Heritage Park. It included a windmill to draw water into the pool for bathers. They had about 400 patients there annually in the beginning Later, in 1886, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway bought some land from Fulton to run the train line from Los Angeles to San Diego, changing the town since now there was rail transportation.
In 1907, the Union Oil Company of California began drilling near the intersection of Norwalk Blvd. and Telegraph Road, locally known as "Four Corners," with the spudding in of the Meyer No. 1 well. That well, and a subsequent one, failed. In 1921 the Union-Bell well blew in as a 2,500-barrel gusher and set off an oil rush by major oil companies and fly-by-night producers. Within a year the Santa Fe Springs oil field was considered one of the richest pools in petroleum history. Santa Fe Springs became a promoters' paradise. Prospective investors were bused into the field, served a free lunch in circus tents, and told stories about the fortunes made in oil. In 1923 the state legislature limited the amount of stock that could be sold in a well.
In the 1920s the field produced as much as 345,000 barrels daily, exceeding production at Signal Hill and Huntington Beach. Production slowed as the decade went on, and by 1928 the Wilshire Oil Company was drilling in deep sand levels. Production levels dropped each year from then on, but by 1938 the field had yielded a total of more than 440,000,000 barrels of oil.