Towsley Canyon Road

The “Towsley” in this canyon (named by 1892) and park (named in 1989) is actually a misspelling of 19th century oil driller Darius Tousley (1838-1900). Born in Ohio, Tousley was in Weaverville, CA – some 40 miles west of Redding – by 1859. He then served in the California Infantry in the Civil War from 1861 until 1864. After his discharge, Tousley settled in L.A., took an interest in the oil deposits in these canyons, and founded the San Fernando Petroleum Mining District and/or the Los Angeles Asphaltum & Petroleum Mining District with Henry Clay Wiley and others. (Oil was mostly used for lamps and machine lubrication in that pre-automobile era.) A lifelong bachelor, Tousley spent most of his final two decades in Kern County – possibly living with his little brother Loren (c. 1847-1912) – always hunting for the next claim. Like many Civil War veterans, he was admitted to West L.A.’s “Soldiers’ Home” in 1898, where he died of tuberculosis.