Signal Hill has long been synonymous with oil. Atop this Long Beach prominence a great oil field was discovered in 1921. Alamitos #1, as the discovery well was known, produced 600 barrels a day. Soon Signal Hill was covered with derricks, which produced 250,000 barrels a day. The hill is a quieter place now, though a number of active wells are still pumping black gold. Because Signal is the only hill for miles around, it has long drawn walkers trying to stay in shape or get a view. Signal Hill achieved worldwide recognition for the petroleum and profits produced, but the hill has never been known as a model oil field. Haphazard development and excessive drilling led to an ugly and dangerous environment. Signal Hill—the mountain—has been cleaned up since its heyday, and its slopes now host more houses than oil wells; in fact, subdivisions are now he greatest environmental threat to the hill. There isn’t a single path around the hill; rather, you improvise a route on Signal’s dirt and paved roads.
© 2006 John McKinney/The Trailmaster. All Rights Reserved.