26 November 2014

Happy Tanksgiving at La Vida!


That didn't take long and just in time for giving thanks to whoever it was who rushed out and quickly painted over the recent marring by graffiti artists of the old water tank at the historic La Vida Mineral Springs resort.

As noted in the post just two days ago, the defacing of the tank had taken place within the last several days and it is great to see such a quick response.


Kudos to the good samaritan who did this!

24 November 2014

La Vida Mineral Springs Tank Defaced Again


So, once more this water tank and nearby concrete footings from the historic La Vida Mineral Springs resort has been the target of graffiti, after years of obscurity behind a dense fence of plant material before the 2008 Freeway Complex Fire exposed it to the world.

Let's hope the anonymous good samaritan(s) return to apply new coats of paint and give the old relic another respite from defacement.


This latest attack appears to have taken place within the last week or so.

18 November 2014

Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center Open House This Saturday!


This Saturday the 22nd from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be an Open House at the Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center at 4500 Carbon Canyon Road in Brea.

Sponsored by California State Parks, the local environmental advocacy group Hills for Everyone, and the Chino Hills State Park Interpretive Association, the event also received funding from Toyota Motor Company through the National Environmental Education Foundation for the schedule of activities. These include:

  • Information booths for organizations like the sponsors as well as the California Department of Fish and Game, Orange County Parks, the federal department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Brea/Fullerton fire department; 
  • Three 25-minute ranger-led interpretive programs on mountain lions (10:15-10;40), adapatable coyotes (11:15-11:40), and rattlesnakes (12:15-12:40)
  • A ranger-guided mountain bike ride at 10:30; 
  • Three 20-minute walks on the center's interpretive trail at 10:15, 11:15, and 12:15 led by a state parks interpretive scientist;
  • Face-painting throughout the event;
  • Kids' crafts from 10:30-12:30; and
  • A photo booth from 10:30-12:30
The combined Brea and Fullerton fire department will also have a fire engine on display and visitors who love the center and the park can sign-up to be a volunteer.

For more information, please click here for the Hills for Everyone Web site.

13 November 2014

Carbon Canyon History Article Published

An article on the history of Carbon Canyon has just been published in the tenth volume of the journal Orange Countiana, issued by the Orange County Historical Society.

Based on a presentation given to the society earlier this year, the ten-page piece discussed the early history from native Indians through the mid-1800s; the Olinda Ranch; the Olinda oil field; La Vida Mineral Springs; Carbon Canyon Road; fires and floods; and recent residential development.  The article is also illustrated with historic photos.  Because the piece was for the Orange County Historical Society, most of the content concerns that side of the canyon, though there is some brief mentions of the Chino Hills and San Bernardino County side.

The tenth volume of the journal Orange Countiana, just published this week by the Orange County Historical Society, features a ten-page article on Carbon Canyon, focusing mainly on the Orange County portion of the canyon.
Orange Countiana is very ably edited by Phil Brigandi, an authority on the history of the county, and this issue also contains articles on the Gospel Swamp community of today's south Santa Ana; an early winemaker from the county, and a reprint of a chapter of a 1930 book by early OC chronicler Terry Stephenson about the earliest Spanish settlers of the area, including the Yorbas, Peraltas, and Grijalvas.

For information on the journal, copies of which are $24 including shipping and handling, contact the Society at orangecountiana@orangecountyhistory.org or send a check to Orange County Historical Society, P.O. Box 10984, Santa Ana, CA 92711.

10 November 2014

Yet Another Ramble in the Hills Above Carbon Canyon

Here's a pretty view looking northwest from a 15+ acre parcel off Carbon Canyon Road.  Not only can the remnant of the Ski Villa slope and part of Sleepy Hollow be discerned, but over the canyon ridges in the distance are hills far to the west.  Click on this or any other image to see a slide show of all the views from this post, shown in enlarged views.
Last Friday, another jaunt in the Carbon Canyon area took place with a longtime resident who has hiked the canyon for over forty years and knows it as well as anyone.

A nice zoomed-in view looking towards Mt. Baldy, Ontario Peak and Cucamonga Peak in the San Gabriel Range.
Actually, the morning started with a visit to a 15-acre property east of Sleepy Hollow where a short walk to one of the higher elevations on the parcel provided some very nice views of the canyon.

The view down the Ski Villa slope remnant, looking towards the horse and cattle ranch that contained much of the former Camp Kinder Ring buildings and looking towards the southeast.
After that, a trek was made up the remains of the slope from Ski Villa, the bizarre 1960s resort which, for all of a year, gave people the unique and unforgettable experience of skiing down the asphalt and concrete slope that was lined with plastic tiles topped by needles.

This was just one of many remnants of plastic tiles with projecting "needles" that constituted the skiing surface on the asphalt/concrete slope at Ski Villa.
If that sounds like loads of fun, imagine when people came down to the bottom, which curved to the right while most of the skiiers, unable to find enough traction, didn't.  In any case, there are still shards of these tiles scattered about and quite a few of the nails still embedded in the slope.

This was a two-room structure, including what appeared to be a bathroom in the foreground and probably sleeping quarters at the left of one of the Camp Kinder Ring cottages.
From the top of the slope, the hike headed to the north along what is the Canyon Hills subdivision site.  This 141-acre parcel is to contain 76 residences on about half of the site (the other half is to remain open space--presumably much of it manufactured slopes and so on) in a project approved by the county back in 1987, four years before the incorporation of Chino Hills.  Two years later, the tentative tract map was finalized, but the economy and the real estate market took a dive a few years later, so it wasn't until 1997 that the final map was recorded.

It's fairly easy to make out the name "Miriam" at the left and the "P" from her surname, as well as the date "7-19-46."
One of the archaic aspects of development law is that, even though that was nearly two decades ago, this project is fully entitled, even though conditions (more houses built in the canyon, increasing traffic, greater water use, long-term drought, etc.) have changed.

A pair of rock pilasters with crude cement caps flanking steps leading to a camp structure.  The hand print, name and date noted in other photos is on the left pilaster.
So, Forestar Homes, the current owner, has instigated initial utility work in terms of drainage system installation, but also intends to sell the property soon.  Obviously, there is no way to know when actual construction of the development might get done.  A Tract Home Design Review has not been submitted to the city's Planning Commission, which would be followed by an approval by the city of building construction plans.

Several shards (somewhat artfully arranged for this photo) of Fiesta Ware, a popular product from the 1930s through 1960s, dovetailing with the time Camp Kinder Ring was at the site.
For now, though, there have been some access roads cut through the property, berms built, drains installed and pipes laid, while much of the terrain is relatively undisturbed.  In fact, as was pointed out by the resident, whereas the south side of the canyon has had extensive cattle grazing on leased property, leading to a great deal of denuded landscape, this north side of the canyon has been left fundamentally intact, so there is much more plant material under and around the oak and walnut trees.

The entrance to a well-sited camp building, with one of the brick pilasters flanking the steps into the building toppled over.
Notably, there are also quite a few remains of some of the cabins and other structures that were built on the property when it was Camp Kinder Ring, a youth and, later, all ages, camp run by the Arbeter Ring, a left-leaning Jewish organization that owned the site from 1928 to 1958.  This blog has covered much of the history of the camp, noting that some of the buildings now part of the horse and cattle ranch on the east side of Canyon Hills Road are from the facility, as well as observing that the camp also extended to the west of the road.

A toppled-over chimney at a Camp Kinder Ring cottage site.
This was the first time, however, that this blogger has seen the remnants of camp buildings on the Canyon Hills tract site.  As accompanying photos show, there are several sites with remnants of walls, fireplaces, sidewalks, stairs, entrance posts and the like.  Some of these sites are along ridgelines with beautiful views of the canyon, the San Gabriel Mountains and so forth.

A bit of the rim of a modern piece of china located on one of the Camp Kinder Ring cottage locations.
In one prominent case, there was the remains of a structure that had two small stone pillars at the entrance.  On the concrete cap to the pillar on the right is still a hand print, a name (Miriam was the first name, but the surname [which starts with a "P"] is not fully discernible on the photos) and a date of 19 July 1946 that were imprinted on it.

A portion of one of the large building sites from the Camp Kinder Ring days.
Elsewhere, there was a large site that still had portions of walls made of hollow tile (also known as structural clay tile), a clay building material that was mainly used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but which has not been common for many decades.

A remnant of a wall made of hollow tile (structural clay tile) from one of the Camp Kinder Ring structures--likely built around the 1940s or earlier.
There was even, in a depression beneath one of the building sites, the rusted-out remains of an old vehicle.  Elsewhere, pieces of what looked like Fiesta Ware plates, which were very popular from the 1930s through the 1960s, consistent with the years Camp Kinder Ring was on site, were located, as were fragments of modern china.

Here's an example of a road gouged through the Canyon Hills parcel.
Evidently, documentation of the site, according to the resident guide, regarding its long history as Camp Kinder Ring was not adequately done during the environmental impact report's completion.  Then again, under the county's jurisdiction in the 1980s that standards were, let's just say, different.  Consequently, there was no requirement to recognize the site's history as part of the planning process for Canyon Hills.  It would be nice to think that, with a future buyer, the city might ask that something be done to remember the history of both Camp Kinder Ring, as well as Ski Villa.

An example of a drain and berm installed on a crudely-cut access road on the project site.
For example, the entrance to the gated community could have a plaque or two commemorating the camp and Ski Villa.  This would be a low-cost way to mark the history of the area and would be a minimal gesture.

A fine view looking southwest towards Sleepy Hollow past the chapparal on a largely undisturbed portion of the Canyon Hills site.
The development of the Canyon Hills site means the razing of the ski slope, the destruction of huge numbers of oak and walnut trees and other plant life, as well as the removal of wood rat nests, which would affect the owls that prey on them, and the obliteration of the many remnants of Camp Kinder Ring buildings that dot the site.

A nice view to the southwest of the Canyon Hills site.  Just above the ridge-line is a little speck--this was a hawk soaring in the sky.
It may yet be several years before construction would start on the 76 homes planned there, though. If An economic downturn may come along (and, obviously, one is coming sooner or later) and constrict the housing market and forestall new development.  This could also happen due to the long-term drought we're experiencing--if it continues and leads to shortages and rationing.

One of dozens of wood rats' nests observed over the course of the hike.
Meantime, there is still a functional oak and walnut woodland complex, many remnants of Camp Kinder Ring buildings, fantastic views, the ugly ski slope scar, and the feeling that, if those 76 houses are built, another large chunk of Carbon Canyon will be gone and the area's transformation from a unique rural oasis amongst the relentless march of suburbia that much closer to realization.

A zoomed-in view at the far west edge of the project site showing the FEMA-grant generated fire break just over the fence and, in the distance, associated structures for the St. Joseph's Hill of Hope religious complex.
Moreover, just across Carbon Canyon Road is the 537-acre Hidden Oaks Country Club property, which proposed 107 units on the ridgelines between Carbon and Soquel canyons.  Somehow, the future residents there, as well as those in Canyon Hills and the Oak Tree Downs and Oak Tree Estates communities are supposed to drive down to Carbon Canyon Road, a two-lane state highway that cannot be widened and make their way to wherever they are going.  Including to the west, where the City of Brea has this past summer approved the 162-unit Madrona subdivision.

An expansive Camp Kinder Ring structure with multiple levels and a good many pieces of hollow tile used here.  This structure was basically at the top of the site.
And, somehow, they're going to have to find the water that will be used in large homes on large lots that will use far more water per average in the rest of the area.

What appear to be shards of porcelain from a bathroom at one of the Camp Kinder Ring cottages.
And, somehow, fire fighting and prevention will have to take into account the increased number of homes in fire-prone areas, subject to high winds which feed the encroachment of the flames, as well as to deal with more people to evacuate.

More footings for a Camp Kinder Ring structure with the hills to the southeast of Carbon Canyon in the distance.
And, the list goes on . . .

A path leading to the Canyon Hills site as framed by a beautifully-gnarled oak tree.

07 November 2014

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #16748

This photo taken several days after the accident shows a long skid mark leading to a drain where the car came to rest at an angle that prevented it from being driven away.  This is about halfway between Sleepy Hollow and Olinda on westbound Carbon Canyon Road in Brea.
Heading home a few moments ago from the Brea side in Carbon Canyon and passed a westbound vehicle that had partially left Carbon Canyon Road and was somewhat upended, with the driver's side elevated and wheels off the ground.

Another car was there with emergency lights flashing, but it didn't appear there would be any way to dislodge the distressed car with a tow truck.

Brea police dispatch was called to respond and hopefully all will go well in clearing up the incident.

05 November 2014

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #s 16341, 16447 & 16568

This one apparently take place over the weekend just west of the summit of the S-curve next to the Carriage Hills subdivision along Carbon Canyon Road in Chino Hills.


The vehicle was heading westbound and clearly took the curve too quickly, overcompensated, crossed the opposing lane, skidded (tire markings are visible just above the shade and on the white line in the above image) into a drain and then up on the grass along the side of the highway, narrowly missing (or slightly grazing) a power pole before winding up on the roadway.

What's curious is that the photos clearly show a single path gouged into the grass, so it may be that this involved a motorcycle, albeit with wide tires or else the rider was trying to keep control and widened the gouge in maneuvering through.


In any case, it was a close call with that pole as the trajectory indicates.

An earlier incident (and one that would be hard to photograph because of the narrowness of the roadway) took place to the east and downhill from the summit, just before the second to the last curve.  A vehicle heading eastbound left the roadway, climbed up the short dirt embankment and took out a reflector post (or maybe two).  This probably happened more on the order of a couple of weeks back.


Meantime, it is apparent that one of the metal bollards designed to protect a power pole at the sharpest curve in this area, midway between the accidents noted here, has been hit again and the pole has been pushed back as far as it can so that it actually touches the pole.

This seems to indicate that the next time someone makes contact there (and it's likely happened several times since the last major joust with the unfortunate, inoffensive pole), the bollard will no longer be able to be an adequate sentry and some significant damage will ensue.