1948- On January 1, 1948 a wildcatter named George Hadley, who had been oil prospecting in the valley for 10 years, made the first oil strike in the Cuyama Valley. Richfield Oil Company soon moved Read more...
1948- On January 1, 1948 a wildcatter named George Hadley, who had been oil prospecting in the valley for 10 years, made the first oil strike in the Cuyama Valley. Richfield Oil Company soon moved in and extracted nearly 300 million barrels of oil in just a few short years. To accommodate an exploding workforce in the early 1950s, the company built the town of New Cuyama, its infrastructure, public buildings, the Cuyama airstrip (L88) and all the industrial structures that are now home to Blue Sky. Richfield Oil Company, later merging with Atlantic Oil Company forming the Atlantic Richfield Oil Company (ARCO), created high-paying jobs, a safe and prosperous community, and developed schools, churches and recreational areas for the employee-residents.
1973- With dwindling production in the area and new discoveries in Alaska,
Atlantic-Richfield Oil Company put the town of New Cuyama and its
associated infrastructure up for sale. Word of an entire town for sale
made it’s way to entrepreneur, Russell O’Quinn of the Foundation for
Airborne Relief (FAR) and Mildred Dotson, a wealthy widow from Tulsa,
Oklahoma. The two worked together to acquire the townsite and adjacent
land. O’Quinn, an aviator, inventor and test pilot, aspired to use the
New Cuyama airstrip and facilities as a base for humanitarian relief and
a non-profit trade school. Though not fully realized, FAR’s primary vision included utilizing converted military aircraft to airlift food and medical supplies to developing countries and global disaster areas. Dotson had loftier goals. Her plans included an 18-hole fly-in golf course, expansion of the Buckhorn Restaurant and Motel, and a 40 to 50 acre lake for amphibious landing and water sports.
1986- In 1986, another visionary, Harry Kislevitz, inventor of the popular
design tool Colorforms® and founder of Future City/Villages
International, sought to develop the site as a “City of Friendship”, an
all-electric village of 5,000 earthen homes. The dwellings were to be designed by Nader Khalili, an Iranian-born
architect who specialized in earthen structures, worked with NASA on
prototypes for lunar homes and received an award from the United Nations
for his work towards the development of low cost, sustainable
structures for human shelter in impoverished and disaster prone
environments. One 400-sq-ft Khalili prototype remains on the property
today. Khalili went on to form the California Institute for Earth Art
and Architecture, Cal-Earth, in Hesperia, CA.
1993- Recognizing the transformative potential of clean, solar power and
the attractiveness of a rural destination, entrepreneur, Mike Nolan,
worked to develop the Solar Skypark and Big Sky Guest Ranch with Santa
Barbara Architect, Barry Berkus. The Sky Park included plans for sixty-five fly-in residences on
one-acre lots powered completely from clean, solar energy. The Big Sky
Guest Ranch was intended to function as a clubhouse for Skypark
residents complete with an equestrian center, a small subsistence farm,
pool and plenty of enriching recreational activities.
2012- At the end of 2011, the Zannon Family Foundation made a long-term
investment in acquiring the New Cuyama Airport property with the vision
of rehabilitating the site to be a low cost resource for programs and
organizations working to advance sustainable living practices and
technologies. Plans began soon after towards developing a framework and
organization to develop the space and coordinate with prospective
programs and institutions. Today, development is on track with
infrastructure and capital improvements ongoing and plans to submit a
package for approval of the facility for conditional use as a non-profit
trade school. In the meantime, the newly formed 501c3 Blue Sky
Sustainable Living Center will identify and outreach to existing
programs, organizations and institutions that will help shape the long
term vision of the site.