21 April 2015

New Carbon Canyon Restaurant Opening Soon

A banner has appeared in recent days on eastbound Carbon Canyon Road just before Olinda Village announcing that a new restaurant, Stones Smoke House Barbecue & Grill, is opening soon and that hiring has begun.

The new eatery will occupy the space in the Olinda Village shopping center that was, for several years, the excellent and missed Sol de México and before that was, briefly, an Italian restaurant and then another long-standing Mexican place.

A comment was left on this blog months ago stating that there was something in the works and now this looks to be coming to fruition.

Of course, the restaurant business is notoriously competitive and the shopping center at Olinda Village, dating to the 1960s, is a relic of the time.  An unusual combination of dry cleaners and scrapbooking has opened recently, though it's not clear how well that business is doing.  Otherwise, there is the electrical testing facility and the Carbon Creek Realty business that also operate there.

So, stay tuned for more!

20 April 2015

Stop Madrona Garden Tour Fundraiser This Sunday!

Hills for Everyone, the local organization that has done so much to preserve badly-needed open space in our area, and its litigation partners Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, the California Native Plant Society, and the Sierra Club, filed on 19 March its latest brief in their lawsuit to halt the poorly-conceived Madrona housing project, which would consist of 162 houses on 367 acres on the north side of Carbon Canyon between Olinda Village and Sleepy Hollow.

The hearing is scheduled for July and so Hills for Everyone is holding a fundraiser next Sunday, 25 April from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. that consists of a Garden Tour of houses in Brea that highlight the beauty of residential landscape.  Most of the properties utilize water wise practices, as well.

Early bird registration is $30 per ticket (per car) with same day registration being $40 per ticket (per car.)  Those who buy tickets early will have instructions e-mailed to them, while purchasers on the day of the tour should call (714) 906-3430.  There are two starting locations: one in central Brea and the other at Olinda Village in Carbon Canyon.

Proceeds from the tour go toward the ongoing battle to overturn the City of Brea's lamentable decision to approve Madrona despite planning tools like the Carbon Canyon Specific Plan and Hillside Management Ordinance that were designed to prevent this kind of project.

To buy tickets and get more information, click here.

19 April 2015

Brush Drop Off Day Next Saturday!

Next Saturday, 25 April from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council once again offers a brush drop-off event as part of its Fuel Reduction Program project.

During those five hours, any resident of the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon is welcome to bring their cut brush, which Fire Safe Council will assist in loading into roll-off bins paid for by the City of Chino Hills and provided by Chino Hills (Republic) Disposal.

The location is just north of Chino Valley Fire District station 64 at 16231 Canon Lane at Carbon Canyon Road.

Residents should bring their ID, a copy of a utility bill or a Carbon Canyon Emergency Access pass to verify that they are eligible to take advantage of the program.

With fire department inspections coming starting 15 May, this is the time for local property owners to be cutting their brush, hauling it down to the drop off point, and be ahead of the game when it comes to reducing fuel and keeping our fire risk lower.

For more information about the brush drop-off program and the Fire Safe Council, call (909) 902-5280, ext. 8833 or www.CarbonCanyonFSC.com.

15 April 2015

E.F. Gaines' Flying Cow Ranch

Edward F. Gaines has been discussed on this blog before.  He was a native of Gilroy, who moved with his family to the community of Wilmington next to Los Angeles Harbor.  Evidently, his father ran cattle in Carbon Canyon during the late 19th-century and Edward assisted in this.  After farming for a period in Clearwater and Hynes, communities that are now in the area of Paramount, Gaines, his wife, the former Frances Atwater, and their children moved out to a spread, known as the "Flying Cow Ranch," in the canyon.

A Santa Ana (now Orange County) Register article about a barbeque for the Orange County Riding Club on the E.F. Gaines ranch, 17 November 1927.
Among other endeavors having to do with horse raising, real estate investing and others, Gaines appears to have been among the first, if not the first, people to work with La Vida Mineral Springs from a commercial standpoint.  James Williams, who managed the resort in the 1910s, was from the same area in modern Paramount that Gaines had lived in.  Gaines' nephew Allan Abbott was shown in the 1920 federal census as the manager of La Vida.  By 1924, however, William N. Miller, an Anaheim oilman, assumed control of the resort and ushered in almost a half-century of ownership by his family.

An oral history interview done by Cal State Fullerton personnel included a reference that Gaines' house was where the Hollydale Mobile Home Estates is located.  But, his holdings extended beyond that into what is today's Olinda Village subdivision.

Notably, Gaines was considered a prime mover in the creation of Carbon Canyon Road east of Olinda and deep into the canyon, but he also wanted the original location along Carbon [Canyon] Creek and below his home to be the preferred route, even as local and state officials, once the road became a state highway, pushed to have the road moved higher and above the flood-prone creek.  In fact, the road was relocated, dividing Gaines' house from the remainder of his land.

In March 1937, the Santa Ana (now Orange County) Register had an article in its "Places to Go in Orange County" series penned by Marah Adams on Carbon Canyon with much information about Gaines.  For example, the oil well that purportedly exposed the mineral springs that later fed La Vida was built with Gaines observing the proceedings--this would have been at the end of the 1890s or early in the 1900s.  In the fact, the name "C.C. Price" was mentioned for a second drilling on the site--this was actually Charles E. Price of the Carbon Canyon Oil Company, which drilled its wells in 1900 and just afterward.

The article also detailed the efforts of Gaines and W.T. Brown of Fullerton in converting an old cow trail into the first edition of Carbon Canyon Road.  The article did not give a date, but this would have been in 1913-14.

A photo from a Santa Ana Register article, dated 21 May 1937, showing Edward F. Gaines of the Flying Cow Ranch (today's Olinda Village area) and a visitor next to the circa 1870s stagecoach that was a prized possession of Gaines.
Two months later, in May, another Register article dealt with Gaines, this time in connection with a rare old stagecoach that he owned on his ranch, which was said to have been 3,000 acres, though this may have been with an added zero as an error, and to have been owned by Gaines since the late 1890s.  In any case, the reason for the ranch's name was explained as due to "a wild cow that used to roam the hills and which always evaded the skillfully flung ropes of the ranch hands."

The piece also observed that "the ranch house sits cool and pleasant as a lovely hostess, on a hill overlooking a slope of orange trees set on one side of a barranca, the other side overgrown with a tangle of trees and vines."  This location corresponds well to the Hollydale site, with its note of a slope above the "barranca," which is Spanish for a deep gully with steep sides.

Then the article touched upon Gaines' rare example of a surviving stagecoach, many of its brethren having been lost, the rancher stated, to movie companies that thought nothing of taking an old coach and tumbling it over a cliff or hillside for dramatic effect during a film shoot.

Gaines' vehicle, however, was made by Abbott, Downing and Company of Concord, New Hampshire (hence the term "Concord coach") about 1875.  It was said the coach was used by the Bixby family, which owned the Long Beach-area ranchos Los Cerritos and Los Alamitos, as well as stretches of land throughout the region (the Bixby Land Company is still successful today), on its commercial stage line up the state's coast.

Gaines even stated that the coach he owned was used by his father when he migrated from Gilroy to a ranch he purchased in San Gabriel, while young Edward and his mother made the trip by ocean steamer.  There was then a detailed description of the coach and the article was accompanied by a photo (shown above).

At the end of 1939, another piece in the Register covered the fiftieth wedding anniversary of Edward and Frances Gaines.  After a detailed description of decorations in the family home, the cake, family members attending and so on, the article noted that the two met at Clearwater, where Mrs. Gaines' father was a major figure in the subdivision of the property and where Edward lived while his father farmed and ran cattle in Carbon Canyon.

In fact, the article went on to state that, for years after their 1889 marriage, Gaines ran 300-400 head of cattle every year between the Clearwater pastures and Carbon Canyon.  The piece concluded by stating that, "Mr. and Mrs. Gaines never will be forgotten as representatives of the romance of the state," while also observing that Edward's prize stagecoach had burned in a recent fire.

Frances Gaines died in 1947 and Edward followed nine years later in San Diego County.  Within a decade of that, during the 1960s, the Flying Cow Ranch was sold and the Hollydale Mobile Home Estates and church property (now a Hindu facility) were established where the Gaines house once stood.

13 April 2015

An 1856 Visit to Rancho Santa Ana del Chino

In late July 1856, Captain Edward O.C. Ord of the Army's Third U.S. Artillery, arrived in the Los Angeles region to scout potential locations for a fort and portions of his diary were published by the Huntington Library in 1978 as the book, The City of the Angels and the City of the Saints or A Trip to Los Angeles and San Bernardino in 1856.  After a brief visit to the small town of Los Angeles, then embroiled in some tension involving the homicide of a local Mexican-American by a deputy constable over a $50 debt and writ of attachment to satisfy that debt, Ord ventured east.

After a visit to "Quicomongo," otherwise known as the Rancho Cucamonga (where Ord noted the owner was building an addition to his adobe house, using Indian labor, and that "these sundried bricks called adobes, pronounced dobys, are pretty good for a lazy people, but great encouragers of dirt & fleas"), the captain wrote, "I left the road here to get information from a wealthy ranchero, Col. W., an old acquaintance at "El Chino," a large cattle estate."

It was common in diaries and travelogues to use shorthand for people, like "Col. W.," who was Isaac Williams, owner of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino.  A footnote observed that, "Ord had been there in October 1849" to make a survey.  In fact, Ord, who was later a somewhat prominent figure in the Union Army during the Civil War, is best known locally for the survey of Los Angeles he completed in 1849 that was the first "true" (or professional) survey of that community and which established the pattern for the development of the town in subsequent years.

It turned out that, when Ord arrived at the ranch headquarters, located where Boys Republic operates in Chino Hills, "we found the Col. absent from his house, which like all the other houses, is a flat roofed, one-story adobe near a spring or stream, which after spreading fertility over several acres, dries up." Ord went on to record that, "The Cols. Mayor domo [foreman] gave us a welcome and a hearty meal of beef stewed with young pumpkins, maise &c."

The following day, however. "The Col. arrived from the playa [coastal area at the Pacific Ocean] next day, told me all I wanted to know [about potential fort locations near Cajon Pass, where Mormons had, in 1851, established the town of San Bernardino], and gave me an interesting exhibition of how the Indians of this country are managed."

This view, taken on 24 February from a hilltop location east of Peyton Drive and south of Chino Hills Parkway, looks north towards the briefly snowcapped Mount Baldy and the adjacent Ontario and Cucamonga peaks.  At the far left are trees and farm and pasture land on the Boys Republic property, which is where the Williams Adobe stood as the headquarters of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, which Captain Edward O.C. Ord visited in late July 1856.  Click on the image to see it in an enlarged view in a separate window.
Williams was, in fact, well-known for his intensive use of native American labor at his ranch, as well as for the fact that he fathered several children from a few native women after his own wife, Maria Lugo died several years before.  Ord went on to state that, "he [Williams] having the principal chief of the nearest band as his head cattle driver, some dozen or two as work hands or vaqueros.  This Indian chief waited at the door after sunset with his hat in hand to report the state of the cattle drive to a distance, for, from little rain, the grazing this year is very thin on this estate."

The band referred to may be the local group of Gabrieleño Indians, whose village ancestrally was at or near the location of the ranch's headquarters, or to Pablo Apis of a tribe from the Temecula area, who was a longtime employee of Williams and whose daughters bore some of Williams' children.  As to the drought problem (which we are experiencing all too well these days, though, obviously, under strikingly different circumstances and conditions), the problem in 1856 would pale in comparison to the mega-drought of 1863-64, which all but finished off the cattle industry in the region.

Ord also commented on the California state government's "singular absurdity" on its Indian policies that effectively meant that natives were "held in bondage by the owners of large estates [like Williams], as the slaves are in the south." He then claimed that slaves were of more value as productive in being "saleable chattle [chattel, or property]" whereas local Indians were "only saleable or buyable for debts due," Ord concluded that this meant that ranchers, having no use for Indians after immediate work was done, "ceases to credit him, drives him off, & he [the Indian] may die . . ."

Ord's views, however, were not sympathetic to natives, as he noted that Indian agents "soon discover that such miserable, servile wretches, who can be made to work, have no business to be fed in idleness."  That is, Indians were convinced by Indian agents to go to government reservations so that they didn't need to work for ranchers as "peons," but could receive food, shelter and other amenities, such as they were, as an entitlement [doesn't this sound familiar today?]

After his lengthy digression about Indian policy, Ord wrote, "but to return to the Rancho del Chino and the peonage system, it works very well at least for the cattle owners & vine growers."  Strikingly, Ord observed that "the institution of labor was established as a punishment [his italics[, and as the whites in California are not fond of being punished, the punishment of labor is inflicted on the stupid Indians, and the law of peonage established by northern men in this free(?) state is not likely to be rescinded for a while."  He continued that, "besides, the Indians are better fed on the ranchos than on government reservations & they prefer to stay there."  His final statement was, "so we might as well let the poor wretches have the choice of masters."

With this somewhat ambivalent indictment of nearly everyone from the state and federal governments, to the Indians, and the ranchers, like Williams, Ord moved on to San Bernardino to finish his inspection tour for a fort location that never materialized.  His description of his stay at the Williams Adobe on Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, however, is an interesting addition to the information about the property and its singular owner from 1841 until his death on 13 September 1856, just under two months after he hosted Ord for the second and final time.

31 March 2015

Two Early Photos of La Vida Mineral Springs

Courtesy of University of California, Irvine's Special Collections come these two great early photos of La Vida Mineral Springs, taken by Edward W. Cochems (1875-1949), an amateur photographer based in Santa Ana from about 1919 until his death:

This first view is titled "Bath House, La Vida Springs" and shows a simple, rustic wooden structure with a lattice-work fence just steps off Carbon Canyon Road.  To the east are a couple of cars, dating the photo to the late 1920s or perhaps the early 1930s, while the stand of eucalyptus trees in the background, where the picnic facilities were, still have a survivor or two today.  The location appears to be just where Carbon Creek crosses the highway from its north to south sides.

The second is denoted as "Sulphur Springs / La Vida Cal," and depicts a pipe angled from the top left and depositing a stream of mineral water from what appears to be the hillside above Carbon Creek onto a pile of rocks accessed by a rough wood footbridge.  The precise location may be difficult to pinpoint in today's topography, given that conditions have likely changed a great deal in terms of what is left of the hillside, what course the creek follows and so on.  The date is almost certainly the same as the one above.

The Edward Cochems Colllection at UCI comprises some 1,100 glass plate negatives and about 100 prints with about 40% of the collection available online.  For more on this remarkable collection, please click here and here.

Click on either image to see them in new windows in enlarged views.

21 March 2015

Carbon Canyon Water-wise Garden

Today being the first day of Spring and seeing that our continuing severe drought, now in its fourth year, raises essential questions about California's water supply and use, it seemed an appropriate time to discuss one of the hidden treasures of Carbon Canyon: a water-wise garden just off Carbon Canyon Road at Canon Lane.

Situated on a narrow stretch of land between the state highway, Fire Station 64, and the Western Hills Country Club, the garden's entrance is off Canon Lane and decomposed granite foot paths wind and wend their way for about one-eighth of a mile to the east.

Alongside the paths are dozens of grasses, bushes, and shrubs that are drought-tolerant.  Many of these make for great hedges and screens or as ground cover and are flowering and are just starting to burst into flower as Spring debuts.  Among the varieties found in the garden are blue fescue grass, wild lilac, prickly pear cactus, lavender, rosemary, oleander, myrtle, and white rockrose.

Several types of trees provide abundant shade and have interesting textures and colors to bring variety to the landscape.  Among those in the garden are peppers, sycamores and coast live oaks.

Sure, there are some cacti, but even some of these have flowers and others, like the prickly pear, can be used as food, but the vast majority of the plant life in the garden provide a variety of color, texture and sizing to provide diversity for any landscape environment.

Besides, it's going to be a necessity, provided our drought conditions persist for long period, as many climatologists are predicting, for people in our region to rethink their landscapes.

Thirsty lawns, pools and hot tubs and other water-guzzling elements will have to be replaced by those more sensitive to our semi-arid desert conditions and the drought.

More than a century of assumptions about what is considered "normal" rainfall (those standards being established in the late 19th-century when rainfall was above what we now know to be long-term historic patterns), delusions that exported water could provide us a permanent and abundant supply, and behavior that encouraged waste, such as planting alfalfa, nuts and other water-intensive crops (many of which are exported anyway), we have to come to terms that our sense of "normal" is, in fact, "abnormal."

The problem, as with any large-scale transformation, is that it takes significant time and resources (monetary and human) to implement systemic change.  And, this is in the best of scenarios when there is consensus about the existence of the problem and what to do about it.

In the case of water in a state as big, diverse and populous as California, we've been very slow to make the needed adjustments to changing conditions.

This was taken by my younger son .

Time, however, is not on our side at this point.  We have one or, perhaps, two years of reliable supply left for most of the state and some places have already run out of enough water to sustain activities, including the beautiful Central Coast town of Cambria.  Santa Barbara is readying to reactive a desalination plant that was built and never used--but its cost and inefficiency are of concern.

While 80% of the state's water use is in agriculture (again, much of it for high-water use crops) and residential conservation is not the most pressing need, there is still much people can do to reduce their water use, 70% of which goes to landscaping.

The Carbon Canyon water-wise garden offers an impressive array of plants that, for the most part, are easy to find and can go a long way to reduce water use.  As we lurch towards more severe rationing during a drought that could well extend into decades, the need to save water becomes more pressing.