03 February 2018

Oak Tree Downs Trail in Carbon Canyon

One of the many great aspects about living in Chino Hills is that there are many miles of trails, some of which range across the upper elevations of our hills and provide great views and some good exercise.

This view looks from the upper elevations of the Oak Tree Downs Trail and looks southwest towards Sleepy Hollow and the Brea portion of Carbon Canyon.
Earlier today, a fine little ramble off the north end of the canyon was enjoyed on the Oak Tree Downs Trail, which runs between the community of that name and the Elements at Pine Valley up the hills and ends just south of the end of Eucalyptus Avenue.  It is notable that this is the only official city-administered trail in Carbon Canyon.

The trail winds up from its southern trailhead towards the top with portions of Carriage Hills, Western Hills Oaks and Mountain View Estates in Carbon Canyon in view.
It's not a particularly long trail, though there is a decent, if short, elevation gain up from the trailhead to the ridges of the hills.  Because we're having unprecedented record temperatures this winter, it felt like summer and the sun was pretty intense, but it's an easy way to get to spots where views of the canyon, the Inland Empire and the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountain ranges are pretty impressive.

This view to the southeast takes in the summit and Western Hills Mobile Home Park at the left, Carriage Hills at the center and Western Hills Oaks to the right.  Way off in the distance are parts of the San Jacinto (left) and Santa Ana (right) mountain chains.
Even though we've only had just a little over an inch of rain this winter (which raises the likelihood of another return to drought), there is still a bit of green carpeting of grasses on the hills, though if we don't get some decent rainfall soon, it will turn brown quick and be a concern for later in the year with respect to wildfire risk.

To the northeast are housing tracts off Eucalyptus Avenue and in the distance the San Gabriel Mountains with Mount San Antonio (Baldy), Ontario Peak and Cucamonga Peak as standouts.
As the accompanying photos show there are some very nice views from the upper elevations, including areas of the canyon ranging from the summit near the Summit Ranch and Carriage Hills subdivisions and westward towards Sleepy Hollow and the Brea portion of the canyon.

At the left is a portion of a ranch, with a home at the top of the hill at the upper left, that was later largely sold off to create the Oak Tree Downs and Oak Tree Estates communities, with much of the former in this view, which looks northwest.
To the northwest is a remnant of the old ranch that was subdivided into the Oak Tree Downs and Oak Tree Estates communities, while moving to the east looks over those neighborhoods north of Eucalyptus and out towards the mountains.

This is the large transfer site where the above-ground towers and lines of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project moves underground through a portion of Chino Hills before reemerging to above ground along Pipeline Avenue and the 71 Freeway.  This view looks northwest.
Not that it's an attractive view, but the scale and scope of the transfer yard of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) that was the subject of a remarkable decision by the state's Public Utilities Commission requiring that sections of the line be moved underground through a portion of Chino Hills is quite a sight, as well.

Standing at the higher elevations of the route and looking across the canyon, the thought came that it would be nice to see more trails in the area.  This might be easier (but certainly wouldn't be easy) on the south side, especially along the open space that runs from the southwestern corner of Carbon Canyon Road and Chino Hills Parkway and then behind Carriage Hills and the several neighborhoods (including the proposed 107-unit Hidden Oaks, which is to come before the planning commission and city council this year) through to Sleepy Hollow and the county line.  The north side, because of existing development reaching deep beyond the canyon towards the north and the topography, would pose significantly more challenges.

Here was an interesting site of pinecones (the pine trees are all down at lower elevations in surrounding areas) piled against a trail sign near the top of the route.
As this post started off noting, there are many advantages to living in the city and the trail system is one of them.  Today's walk was a reminder of just how unusual this is, as most cities in our area do not have the range and scope of this recreational amenity.

02 February 2018

Carbon Canyon Road Electronic Message Board Up in Brea

Earlier this week, an electronic message board appeared on the westbound side of Carbon Canyon Road just past Santa Fe Avenue in Olinda Village area on the Brea side..

It cheerily starts off with "Welcome to Brea!" and then requests drivers to slow down, posting speeds.

Wednesday when I drove by it for the first time at about Noon, as I passed the sign in the first lane, a handsome blue Audi coupe flew by in lane #2 doing at least 60 to 65 mph.

The speed limit is 45, but it is routinely honored in the breech.

Carbon Canyon Road Crash This Afternoon

An accident has taken place on Carbon Canyon Road between Canyon Hills Drive and Canon Lane and both sides of the highway are backed up for quite a distance.

Here is the City of Chino Hills alert:

3:00 pm Fri., Feb. 2–Traffic accident on Carbon Canyon Road at Canon Lane. Both directions of travel being directed through accident scene one direction at a time. Expect delays. Road will return to normal once tow truck arrives to clear the road.

Here is an update as of a couple of minutes ago:

3:55 pm Fri., Feb. 2-Traffic accident has been cleared. Both lanes are open. Emergency vehicles off the roadway but still on scene for approx.15 minutes. 

01 February 2018

Carbon Canyon History Presentation on Monday the 5th

There will be a presentation on the history of Carbon Canyon given this coming Monday the 5th at 6 p.m. at the Placentia Library.

The PowerPoint-illustrated talk will discuss parts of the canyon's history like the Olinda Ranch and oil field; other ranches like the Gaines family's Flying Cow Ranch where Olinda Village is; La Vida Mineral Springs; early communities like Sleepy Hollow; the Camp Kinder Ring facility which morphed into the short-lived Ski Villa resort; and many others.

This well-received talk has been given to the Orange County Historical Society, Chino Hills Historical Society (where 250 people were in attendance) and at Carbon Canyon Regional Park, so, if you're free for about an hour Monday evening, come down to hear some of the history of the Canyon.

The Placentia Public Library is at 411 E. Chapman Avenue at the northeast corner of the intersection with Kraemer Boulevard.

31 January 2018

S-Curve Stands for Stuck Curve

A big rig trying to negotiate the S-curve at the summit on Carbon Canyon Road near Summit Ranch and Carriage Hills on the Chino Hills side of the canyon got stuck and caused the road to be partially
closed for a half hour.

The closure was a half-hour ago, at 8:30, and a message has just come in that the road is now clear at 9:00.

As has been mentioned here before and elsewhere, there are too many large trucks ignoring the many advisory signs warning against vehicles longer than 50 feet negotiating that curve.

Some that do try it wind up swinging into opposing lanes to make the curve, risking accidents.  Others, like this one, get stuck, causing more inconvenience.

There is a traffic study in phase two underway and there has been an occasional police presence in the form of writing tickets for crossing the double yellow centerline.  We'll see what the study and future discussion yield.

25 January 2018

More Smashes on the Carbon Canyon Road Hit Parade

A post earlier this month highlighted a Chino Hills Champion article reporting on a rash of accidents on Carbon Canyon Road in just the first two weeks of the new year.

The trend has continued with another spate of incidents in the last several days.  This includes further damage to signs and other objects on the S-curve on the Chino Hills side, this being one of the most commonly affected areas, along with some of the stretch of highway near the old La Vida Mineral Springs resort site on the Brea portion.

There is, in particular, a sign advising motorists to take the tightest of the several curves between the Carriage Hills and Summit Ranch subdivisions which has been mowed down many times over the years.


It happened again, probably late last Friday night, with the accompanying photo showing not just the remnants of the sign, but also the continued repositioning of the yellow metal bollards that used to be vertical and placed in front of the power pole for its protection.  Not only has one of the bollards been horizontal for many months now, but they keep getting hit and pushed further back around the pole and towards the fence behind it.  At this rate, the pole is going to get more damaged.

The sign, though conspicuously bent and dented, is back up with two small reflectors placed on the post--evidently as a warning of sorts to drivers, who may not otherwise see the 10-foot tall yellow sign as illuminated by their headlights.

A little to the west of that location at the summit curve is the wreckage left from a recent accident in which a vehicle went over the side, plowing down a sign and part of an old barbed wire fence.  This apparently is where the recent DUI incident took place.


On the Brea side, CalTrans District 12 was out this week repairing a chain link fence that was flattened in an accident that took place some months ago.

Meantime, there have been some other crashes that didn't leave that kind of obvious visual evidence, including one yesterday afternoon that involved an overturned car here in Sleepy Hollow.

The Champion article reported on the continuing study being conducted on the state highway, as well as discussions between Chino Hills and Brea and with the California Highway Patrol.  Ultimately, while more signage, different or enhanced striping, reflectors, and other elements will be suggested, there is only one way to mitigate speeding, large trucks swinging into opposing lanes or chewing up the shoulder, chemically impaired driving and other forms of wayward navigation of Carbon Canyon Road.  That would be somewhat consistent patrolling.

20 January 2018

The Gaines and Brown Families of Carbon Canyon, Part 8: Olinda Oil Field Photos, 1909

Here are another pair of interesting photos, courtesy of Joyce Harrington, showing members of her family, Argus, Maggie and Earl Brown, at the Olinda oil field in 1909.

Argus, a native of Missouri who also lived in Iowa during his younger years, and Maggie (nee McLeish), also from Missouri but who spent some of her early years in Ohio, married in Worth County, in the northwestern corner of Missouri on the Iowa border, in 1886.  They remained there (the county today only has about 2,000 people) until after 1900 when they relocated to California and came to Orange County.

Maggie and Argus Brown at the Olinda oil field, ca. 1909.  This and the other photo are courtesy of Brown descendant, Joyce Harrington.  Click on any image to see them in enlarged views in a separate window.
Their daughter Nora, born with her twin brother Ora in January 1898, recorded some of her memories of Olinda many years later and recalled that her family moved there in September 1907 and noted that her father built many of wooden derricks for the oil wells on several leases in the field.

At the time these photos were taken, in 1909 and thereabouts, he was working as a carpenter, the profession listed for him in the 1910 census.  However, Nora noted that he later worked as a pumper on the Santa Fe lease, where the Olinda Ranch subdivision is today.  Her recollections will be the subject of a post in the future, so check back for that.

Earl Brown, son of Argus and Maggie, at the right, who worked as a tool dresser with drillers Charles Nevin, left, and Charles Dale, right, on well #58, probably at the Santa Fe lease (today's Olinda Ranch subdivision), 25 August 1909.
Meantime, these images provide a notable look at oil well sites at Olinda over a century ago, especially as we are seeing the last of these remnants of once thriving industry gradually being removed and replaced with the usual trappings of suburbia in the form of houses, shopping centers, parks and schools.

The first photo show Maggie and Argus Brown standing in front of a rough wood structure that might have been a shop for carpentry, ironworking and other vital components of oil field work.  At the lower right are about a dozen pipes and other material.  A very simple ladder is behind Maggie.  The overall appearance is a reminder that wells came and went and associated buildings were not, clearly, designed to last.

The Brown family, at the bottom, as enumerated in the 1910 federal census at Olinda.
The second image is a great one of a trio of young men at a rig and is also notable because someone actually took the time to write information about it.  So, we know the view was taken by a Mr. Griffy and it was done on 25 August 1909 at oil well #58, perhaps at the Santa Fe lease though this was not stated.

Captioned "3 of a Kind," the photo shows Earl Brown, son of Argus and Maggie, at the right with his name conveniently written where he stood.  He was then about 19 years old and his occupation in the census showed him as a tool dresser, who worked to keep drill bits sharp and engaged in other tasks to make sure the material used on the rig were functioning property.  The dresser worked closely with the drillers, which is why the caption was written as it was.  At the left is Charles Nevin and in the center Charles Dale, both drillers in the census.

Charles Nevin and his family listed in the census.
Nevin and Dale were older, more experienced oil field workers.  The former was 32 and from Pennsylvania, where America's oil industry started in 1859.  He, his wife Frances, also from Pennsylvania, and their son and two daughters (ages 8 months to 8 years), were among the many families that rented company-owned houses on the lease.  Dale was a 28 year old native of Illinois, and his Kansas-born wife Lulu and their three sons (ranging from 9 months to 5 years) lived on Santa Fe Avenue on the lease of that name.

Charles Dale (his family were on the next sheet) from the census.
Working on the rig was noisy, dirty and physically demanding work and the "3 of a Kind" photo definitely reflects the blue collar labor that kept the oil industry humming during the boom years of the first few decades of the 20th century at Olinda, one of the earliest major fields in greater Los Angeles.