A Field Guide to Oil in Santa Barbara

How to Explore the Field Guide

A Field Guide to Oil in Santa Barbara is a multimedia narrative map that contains items created by the graduate students of the Fall 2018 Mellon Sawyer Seminar at the University of California, Santa Barbara, over the course of their quarter-long site-based research on the history of oil in Santa Barbara County.

The Field Guide is designed to be explored through a number of routes. One way to browse the material collected here is to follow the path laid out on the map on the main page, which will take the virtual traveler from the Carpinteria Tar Pits up the 101 to Refugio State Beach, with stops along the way at Summerland, the Santa Barbara Harbor, and Coal Oil Point. Along this path, you will find observational and historical descriptions and contemporary images of each site. 

Another way to navigate this material is by using the visualization tool, which you can access by hovering over the compass icon at the top left of any page. Yet another way to venture through the Field Guide is by using the search function. Click the magnifying glass at the top of any page to do keyword searches, creating your own path.

By offering a map-based tour, various visualization tools, and keyword search routes, Scalar provides the viewer with a range of options for engagement. For your first visit, we would encourage you to follow the path laid out on the map. Imagine yourself as a participant in a guided tour of each site, driving up Highway 101 and looking out at the ocean, imagining all of the forms of life that have and continue to move through a place that has been so powerfully shaped by oil. 

We invite you to conceive of Santa Barbara County as one local node in a globalized network of energy production, distribution, and consumption. Understanding one region’s co-constitutive history with oil production provides a foothold in the larger slippery global system of oil extraction, refinement, transportation, and use.

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