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Madera’s short-lived oil boom

For The Madera Tribune

This oil derrick put dollar signs in the eyes of scores of Maderans as well as the three brothers who owned the land on which it sat. Sadly, the 1930s operation turned out to be a big waste of time and money for the local folks.


The Farnesi family had just gone to bed in the living quarters behind their a combination restaurant/gas station on old highway 99 when they heard a rap on the door. It was one of three brothers who owned quite a bit of land in the Sharon district. The excited Madera rancher insisted that Farnesi get out of bed and sell him some gasoline; there was something big brewing out on his ranch.

Skeeko, as the elder Farnesi was called, complied with the request on the promise that the rancher would come back the next morning and explain what was going on. The man was as good as his word, and the next morning he was back with the full story. There was oil on his land!

Apparently some “oil men” from the west side of Fresno County had paid the Madera brothers a visit and informed them that in all probability a healthy deposit of black gold lay just a few hundred feet from the surface of their property. The Madera ranchers were all ears and of course quickly came up with the $200 that it would take to make an exploratory drill.


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