Ondas del Lago
The photos in this section were part of a collection of 304
images by Edwin Branch of Long Beach, California, who worked in the oilfields of
western Venezuela in the late 1920's. These photos, plus the bottom photos of
the Lagunillas fire of 1928, were part of a large collection of photographs
acquired at an estate sale and offered up for auction on Ebay in October, 2007.
They were originally purchased by the seller in Van Nuys, CA.
I did bid on this collection, which eventually sold for $556.80, but I dropped
out of the bidding when it rose above $200. While it certainly would have been
wonderful to have obtained the originals of this historical collection for
sharing here, I had to draw the line somewhere, and $200 was the limit that I
The seller did a great job of listing a good quantity of the photos in the
collection and included many scanned images as well as links to their
enlargements on the auction page. Once the bidding got above my $200 limit, I
decided to salvage what I could and decided to at least copy the enlarged
auction image scans, as well as whatever descriptions of the photos that
appeared, so as not to lose them to all of us forever.
So this page is the result of that effort. I thought that it was important to
preserve them and post them here before they disappear forever.
I unfortunately have no further information about Edwin Branch nor of the time
he spent in Venezuela during the interesting early years of the oil industry
there. There's no indication how many years he spent in Venezuela. All of the
photos are from the late 1920's although some of the caricature signatures are
dated as late as 1932. His fascinating collection of photographs alone - as well
as the short descriptions of those images in his own handwriting - will now have
to speak for him instead and tell us his story.
I'm happy to have stumbled across these photos so that they can be preserved
here in a location where their Venezuelan oilfield context can be fully
understood and appreciated. Mr. Branch spent a considerable amount of time
taking all these photos and worked hard to organize them into detailed photo
albums. As the photographs here are 80+ years old, surely all of those shown in
these images are now gone. I can't help but believe that, were he with us today,
he'd be pleased to know that his work lives on. Through these images, Edwin
Branch and all of his friends and acquaintances shown here in these photos - in
the prime of their lives and participating in an adventure of a lifetime - shall
remain, to all of us, “forever young”.
Edwin Branch enroute to Venezuela aboard the U.S.S. Maracaibo
in October, 1926.
Aboard the U.S.S. Maracaibo in Curaçao harbor, October 1926.
Aboard the U.S.S. Maracaibo, in Curaçao, at the port of La
Guaira, and somewhere in the interior of Zulia state.
Baseball game, native wash day, payday at the La Rosa Camp.
“Don Cristino's” ranch somewhere in the state of Zulia.
Ed Branch, George Hunt (VOC), the skipper of the CPC (Creole
Petroleum Corporation) oil tanker, who looks frightfully young, & George Crutz
as a baseball player(VOC).
horty Lathe, Bill Deal, Ed Branch, a shot of the heavy
undergrowth of the “monte” (misspelled as “monti”)
around La Rosa, and “The Famous White Mule of Cabimas” - 1927 & 1928.
Moving a tank at Cabimas, La Rosa work crew, cactus, “Tulsa”,
& Bill Deal.
Wonderful images, with good descriptions, of the Cabimas Camp
in the late 1920's.
Additional Cabimas photos, including one with two very
fashionably-dressed women on the Cabimas pier.
Cabimas, Bill Deal, & Creole Petroleum Co. tankers at La Rosa.
Cabimas & Ambrosia village beyond it.
New Years Day celebrations, 1927.
Horseplay at the Cabimas Bachelor Quarters (“Bull Pen”).
(Top Center) VOC Camp, Lagunillas, 1926, before the discovery
well was brought in; (Top Right)
Identified as “Looking west from company downtown office in Maracaibo”;
(Center Middle) Believed to be the VOC Camp,
Lagunillas - numbered buildings unfortunately not further identified; and
(Bottom Right) Mene Grande Camp, Pump Station # 1.
Two views of the VOC Camp in Lagunillas.
Shots on this page were identified as follows: (Center)“Native
pipe line crew working in the swamp around Shore Lagunillas”;
(Top) “Native crews cleaning up after blowout of well # 110 at Mene
Grande. Well sanded up in 24 hrs.”
This page identified only as “Broadway, village of Lagunillas,
on Lake Maracaibo”, before the fire.