Monuments to Oil: Bronze Roughnecks

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May 10, 2019

Critical Commentary

Signal Hill has numerous monuments to the 1921 discovery of a massive oil deposit on what was then mostly farmland, enshrining the profound role of oil extraction in shaping the political and environmental landscape here. Oil companies recruited white laborers,  from the US Midwest at the height of the oil boom, while local African American, Japanese, and Chicanx workers were barred from these lucrative jobs. These bronze statues on Skyline Drive bear the dress of these 1920s "roughnecks," while the faces are likenesses of 20th century oil executives.