05 October 2015

Carbon Canyon Road Closure Ended

UPDATE, 10:30 A.M.  Actually, the closure was  because of the obliteration of this pole.   Clearly, someone heading westbound mishandled the curve coming down from Carriage Hills and there may have been some light rain at the time, as well.

Notably, Brea's hotline had information about this incident, but there was nothing found with the Chino Hills emergency notification system, though the wreck happened in the latter.

Additionally, a regular reader sent on advisories given to members of Western Hills Country Club, which is just west of the accident site.

Driving from Chino Hills Parkway to Carbon Canyon Road this morning, there is an electronic message board stating that Carbon Canyon Road is closed, but a check of the Brea emergency hotline a few minutes ago revealed that the road was opened as of about 7:15 a.m.

There was, by the way, a wooden power pole flattened on westbound Carbon Canyon between Carriage Hills and Fairway Drive, but the full road closure was somewhere on the Brea side.

The road, again, is open.

30 September 2015

arUNDOING in Sleepy Hollow

A worker down along Carbon [Canyon] Creek works on removing the dreaded arundo donax.  All photos by Ron Nadeau.
The Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council, contracting with the Santa Ana Watershed Authority, has embarked on another project to remove arundo donax, the highly-flammable and very invasive Asian bamboo that has been very aggressively growing along Carbon [Canyon] Creek in recent years.

Although large sections of arundo were burned to the ground in the Novemebr 2008 Freeway Complex Fire and then treated by SAWA when the opportunity to deal with the roots of the plant, sections that were spared from the fire, mainly on the San Bernardino County portion of the canyon, continued to thrive.

The work site to remove arundo along Carbon [Canyon] Creek is at the west end of Sleepy Hollow, south of Carbon Canyon Road.
So, this latest attack on arundo is centered on the western end of Sleepy Hollow just where the creek goes from the north side of Carbon Canyon Road to the east.  Permission was granted by some property owners to get to the arundo and coordination was made with the City of Chino Hills for a roll-off bin to haul away the removed material.

Thanks to Ron Nadeau, long-time Sleepy Hollow resident and Fire Safe Council stalwart, for organizing this project; to the city for its efforts; to SAWA for coordinating the work; and to the local property owners for their assistance.

A roll-off bin is loaded with removed arundo from the creek.
Mitigating the presence of arundo wherever possible along Carbon [Canyon] Creek helps not only with reducing a major fire risk, but also allows the water flow in the creek to move more smoothly and prevent damage along the route of the watercourse.

29 September 2015

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #18080

A friend of the blog who lives in Olinda Village was with his daughter heading east on Carbon Canyon Road yesterday at a little after 4 p.m. and came across this accident scene.

A westbound driver somehow ended up scraping along the steep slope of the hill coming down Carbon Canyon Road from Olinda Village yesterday afternoon.  Photo by Jacqueline Thompson.
The young man in a silver coupe was moving downhill westward and, somehow, ran up the steep hillside and scaped along it for a spell.

Both fenders were ripped off the vehicle and the back end looked pretty torn up.  In fact, that passenger side of the rear of the car appeared to have been ripped open.  It might be a reasonable assumption that the car was totaled.

As our information noted, when sending the photo, taken by his daughter, along, that was one "hill of a parking job!"


27 September 2015

(Not So) Hidden Oaks Scoping Meeting

Required under the conditions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), scoping meetings are said to be opportunities for public input before an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is prepared for a development project under application with a local jurisdiction.

In this case, the Hidden Oaks housing project, calling for the sale of 107 custom house sites on 537 acres south of Carbon Canyon Road between Sleepy Hollow and Mountain View Estates in the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon, was presented in two sessions last Wednesday afternoon and evening at the McCoy Equestrian Center.

A map showing the 537-acre Hidden Oaks property with the clustering in three principal zones (excepting 5 segregated lots presumably for the project partners), which would require a variance on the existing zoning of one unit per 5-acre lot.  Click on any image to see them in enlarged views in separate windows.
Representatives from the firm contracted by the city (rather than the developer) to draft the EIR, as well as city planning department staff, were on hand to present an overview of the project.  Several of the partners proposing the project were also at the back of the room quietly observing the proceedings.

This blogger was at the second meeting and there were probably around 30 residents, along with the aforemnetioned, as the presentations were made, principally by Dave Crook of PCR, the contracted firm writing the EIR.  Among the key components discussed were:

  • The zoning for the property is one unit per five acres.
  • What the applicant proposes, however, is to request a zoning variance to cluster the 107 lots in a few core areas, so that lot sizes actually vary from a minimum of just over 13,000 to a maximum of 35,000 square feet.
  • This was, evidently, done at the behest of city staff, who apply "clustering" to other areas of the city, ostensibly to protect ridgelines and hillsides.
  • 449 of the 537 acres are to be in a "natural state" through seven open space lots.
  • Amenities include public and private trails, a private clubhouse, and a 3.8 acre park along the frontage on Carbon Canyon Road for the gated community.
  • A secondary emergency access road is needed and there are two locations:
    • One would be just a few hundred yards west of the main entrance at Carbon Canyon and Canyon Hills roads, close to where a thick grove of oak trees abuts against Sleepy Hollow.
    • The other would go eastward from the project into the Vellano community--it has been stated that the Vellano HOA is amenable to having direct access from Hidden Oaks (there is currently a secondary access from the Western Hills Oaks community in Carbon Canyon into Vellano).
A detail of the above map showing the projected location of a 3.8 public park along Carbon Canyon Road, though this park would require the partial destruction of a beautiful oak grove.  An alternate emergency access road, just a short distance west of the main entrance, would require further destruction of those oaks.
The EIR would analyze the project's effects on several aspects of the environment from traffic to aesthetics to biological resources to air pollution and others and then determine projected impacts, identify alternatives, and disclose a reduction and avoidance of impacts.

What the presentation did not discuss, tellingly, was that the city may issue Statements of Overriding Considerations (SOCs) that would accept mitigation altenatives from the developer that, theoretically, would "override" those impacts that are considered significant, unavoidable environmental impacts.

The reason this is important is that these mitigations could be applied anywhere in the city, even though the impacts are within Carbon Canyon, and this leads to a question of how we define "mitigation" in that context.

A detail of the above map, showing, in red, a proposed public trail at the eastern end of the project site.
The anticipated schedule is that technical studies and the Draft EIR will be prepared this Winter.  In Spring 2016, the Draft and Final EIRs will be reviewed, written and presented.  In Summer 2016, the Chino Hills Planning Commission and City Council would hold their hearings and make their recommendation (in the case of the former) and decision (for the latter).

The central question, it seems, is whether the request for a zoning variance is subject to the conditions of Measure U, passed by citizens in 1999, requiring a vote of the people of Chino Hills for any change in zoning from the General Plan.

This is related to a number of comments overheard at the meeting about why the applicant should be permitted (even with staff recommendations) to change the current 1 unit per 5 acres to the clustered arrangements.

The principal clustering of dozens of lots at the western end of the project site, a good distance from the main entrance and the more viable of the secondary emergency access roads to Vellano, which would be at the other (eastern) end of the site.
While it is true that the clustering would still present a "1-in-5" of sorts by keeping the total number of custom lots at 107 for 537 acres, that reconfiguration could present a range of problems.  

For example, unlike Oak Tree Downs across the canyon, which has much larger lots for its custom homes, Hidden Oaks would create lots in a few areas that would involve a much greater visible presence in many cases (this ties to the aesthetic component of the EIR), and require a more concentrated grading plan (relating to the air pollution aspects of the report.)

Another issue, separate from the EIR, is that the clustering could make it far more difficult to evacuate residents in the case of a major wildfire, because they would be packed into compressed areas within the development.

A smaller cluster on the project site.
There would also be a more concentrated destruction of the oak and walnut woodland habitat that is increasingly being obliterated by development in Carbon Canyon.  This is a major matter because two previous iterations of this project included the wholesale destruction of oaks and other elements.

Related to this is how much of the property is considered "disturbed," presumably because of previous destruction by other developers, though this was not discussed or explained at the meeting.  On top of this, there is the matter of significant areas of the project site featuring non-native invasive species, which could be considered a reflection of frequent wildfires (which are increasing in frequency in recent years) and the destructive impact on native species, which are cleared out and opening the way for the invasives.

Additionally, now that there is an oak tree ordinance in effect in the city, there would have to be replanting program requiring a certain number of replacement trees for each one destroyed.  The problem is that you can't really "replace" an old, natural oak by a planted one and, in many cases, the replanted items, whatever they may be, just don't survive.

This satellite view of the project site gives a better idea of the project's placement within the topography.
A clear visual demonstration of what can happen with the "mnaufactured landscape" concept is across the canyon at what is now the Elements project, formerly Pine Valley Estates.  Despite beautiful conceptual renderings of how the slopes above the houses would look with replanting, those areas look like desiccated moonscapes.

Questions and comments from attendees covered the public trails; water supply; sewers; visibility of at least 30 lots from Carbon Canyon Road; the destruction of ridgelines; the emergency access road alternatives; drainages from the property of runoff into Soquel Canyon, into which the property descends; the question of insurance availability because of fire risk and insurance companies being more reluctant to cover canyon homeowners; why the clustering was proposed; and whether a public park is necessary.

This legend for the map shown below identifies plant communities on the site--note the non-native invasives and the identified "disturbed" areas, totaling about 20% of the property.
On this last point, it was noted that the Western Hills Park, a few hundred yards east of the project site at Canon Lane and Carbon Canyon Road, is little-used.  Besides, to create the park, a beautiful, thick grove of natural oaks would have to be destroyed.  When planning director Jo Ann Lombardo asked the attendees whether they liked the idea of a park, almost everyone unequivocally stated they did not think one was needed.

Then, there was traffic, which seemed to be a top issue among many people in the audience, especially how the additional 1,000+ daily car trips would be "mitigated" by the city.  If mitigation consists of a traffic signal at Canyon Hills Road and Carbon Canyon Road and dedicated ingress/egress lanes to and from the project, how will these actually improve conditions, rather than contribute to their further worsening?

After the presentations, a conversation was had by several attendees and principal investor K.V. Kumar and his associates.  Kumar stated, among other things, that the project was designed to provide aesthetic beauty through fine architecture and other elements; that he and several of his partners intended to build and live in the community (and, strangely, not drive that much, cutting down on the projected car trips.)

The plant communities map for the project site, including significant swaths in yellow of areas permeated by non-native invasives and those considered "disturbed."  Much of this presumably involves areas burned by frequent wildfires and subjected to degradation by the butchering of a few thousand oak and other trees by previous developers.
Mr. Kumar clearly has much experience in selling his projects and projects a certain confidence and charm as he talks face-to-face.  Whether what he is saying will be reflected in reality has to be seen.  Meantime, those interested in knowing more about him can click here.  The list of his accomplishments, as stated, is very interesting.

So, there is now a 30-day comment period in effect for anyone to send in their concerns and suggestions before the EIR is drafted.  This timeframe is through 14 October and comments can be directed to Kim Zuppiger of the City of Chino Hills at kzuppiger@chinohills.org.

26 September 2015

Carbon Canyon Regional Park's 40th Anniversary Bash

Booths at the Carbon Canyon Regional Park's 40th Anniversary event today.
Today was a very nice event at the redwood grove deep in a corner of one of our area's great treasures, Carbon Canyon Regional Park, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Set in a clearing among nearly 250 redwood trees planted on space leased to the county from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which built the adjacent Carbon Canyon Dam, the confab featured such organizations as the state Department of Fish and Game, California State Parks and the Chino Hills State Park Interpretive Association, the Olinda Oil Museum, and others.

More displays at today's bash.
Live animal shows were given, there was face painting, and a really creative balloon maker, and hot dogs, hamburgers and chips were served to all guests.

Orange County Historical Commission member Pamela Harrell and former Olinda resident Jack Smith spoke about the Olinda Museum and the oil community in which Smith lived.  In fact, his family in 1943 bought a home built by the Armstrong family, for whom a grove of trees at the northeast corner of the park was named.

The folks at the Olinda Oil Museum, including former Olinda resident Jack Smith and Orange County Historical Commission member Pamela Harrell, at their booth, with two of their displays at the left.

Situated at the corner of Carbon Canyon Road and Traverse Street, which went a short distance to the south in what is now the park grounds, the home was where Smith lived while he was the last student to graduate from the Olinda School and up until he finished high school.  He is a walking memory book of an oil town that has long been dismantled.

The live animal demonstration was really interesting and kept kids and adults engrossed while the presenters talked about a variety of snakes and reptiles.

A presentation  of snakes and reptiles drew the attention of many attendees at today's festivities.
This blogger also gave a 15-minute presentation about Carbon Canyon history, giving a highlight reel of sorts about everything from the formation of the canyon by receding glaciers to the founding of Olinda Ranch by William H. Bailey, to the establishment of La Vida Mineral Springs, to the gradual addition of housing developments and on up to current issues.

A table provided by Orange County Parks featured collected items (all of which have been included in this blog over the last seven years), such as some two dozen postcards of La Vida and other canyon sights, mineral water soda bottles from the La Vida Bottling Company, maps of the Olinda oil field and a AAA "strip map" of a drive through Carbon Canyon; and more.

This blogger's display of historic real photo postcards, La Vida mineral water bottles, maps of Olinda and Carbon Canyon Road, and other items were available for visitors to enjoy.
Even though housing developments have surrounded much of the redwood grove, the walk out from the main portion of the park and time spent strolling through the grove still give a feel of being "away from it all."

One of the two recently-installed display boards noted that a local bank, back in 1970, was giving away redwood seedlings to new customers, which has to be one of the strangest promotions imaginable, in light of the usual calendar, pen-and-pencil set, paperweight, and so on that were handed out.

Other than their smaller size and lighter color, these trees look like they could be from the northwestern reaches of California, where redwoods are natives.
The leftover seedlings were donated to the county, which planted them at the park site.  A total of 241 trees survived and, though they don't get as tall or as green as those in the native northern California groves, they've done pretty well in our arid environment, with the tallest tree topping out at 92 feet.

The park has many amenities, included a goodly number of tennis courts, lots of shelters for family picnics (there were at least two family reunions going on today), excellent playgrounds, and a nice lake.

Completed just within the last three weeks, this path fence provides for a nice addition to the beautiful redwood grove at the southeast corner of the park.
But, the redwood grove, hidden away as it is, has to be the park's most interesting and surprising feature.  It's been years since the last visit there and more regular jaunts out there are definitely in the offing.

Thanks to park superintendent Maureen Beckman and all the rangers, volunteers and others who put on this event.  It was a lot of fun and who knows who'll be around for the 50th anniversary?

The approach to and from the grove includes a crossing at what is called "Coyote Pass" through the now-parched bed of Carbon [Canyon] Creek.  The view here is back towards Carbon Canyon.

23 September 2015

The Kenney Stables of Carbon Canyon, Part 3

Here is the third and final part of the story of the Kenney Stables, located on what is now Carbon Canyon Regional Park, which celebrates its 40th anniversary at a special event this Saturday.  Thanks to Matthew Kenney for the text and photos used on this post.

By 1971 we were moving along nicely with construction. We had successfully built a rodeo arena, graded for the three riding arenas, and ran a 3" main waterline to feed the complex. The water line was no small task as we had to bore under the highway to hook onto the main water line which was on the opposite side of the road. 

It was accomplished with a home brew horizontal drilling rig my Dad built. The county engineers said it would never work but Dad talked them into issuing the permit anyway. The main line got hooked up in about a week. We had done a septic tank for the initial complex and moved in a single wide mobile home for our base of operations. The main steel framing for the 50 stall barn was up and bolted together. In early 1971 we sold the house in Fullerton and moved into the canyon that summer.

The Aeromotor steel windmill brought from the Hellman Ranch at Seal Beach to the Kenney stables in Carbon Canyon, September 1972.  Photo courtesy of Matthew Kenney.  Click on any image to see them enlarged in a separate window.
In mid 1972 we obtained what would have been the centerpiece for the main entrance which is the main park entrance today. It was an Aeromotor steel windmill. I think it came from the Hellman  ranch in Seal Beach which was being demolished at the time. 

[Editor's note:  Isaias W. Hellman (1842-1920) came to Los Angeles in the 1850s and established a popular store, in which he conducted an informal banking business.  In 1868, he opened the second bank in the city with ranchers William Workman and F.P.F. Temple and called Hellman, Temple and Company and then dissolved that to form Farmers and Merchants.  By the 1890s he was a powerful figure in Los Angeles and expanded his banking empire to San Francisco. Hellman, one of the wealthiest persons in western America, also owned Rancho Cucamonga and, in 1881, bought Rancho Los Alamitos with the Bixby family--this is where the windmill was from.]

Nice size windmill, but how to get it to the canyon? For every problem there is a solution. One of the neighbors up the canyon had a big giant four-wheel drive truck with a lumber rack on it. We loaded the windmill on the truck in one piece, strapped it down and hung some flags on it. It was a little bit (a lot!) over the oversize limit. I can't imagine what people thought as we motored it down the road all the way to the canyon. 

The easy part was putting it up. A small crane and several sets of hands and it was bolted in place. As I looked at all the pictures of this process I wondered why I was not in any of them.........then it occurred to me that it was because I was the one taking the pictures!

The installation of the windmill at the Kenney stables, Carbon Canyon, September 1972.
By late 1972 it all started to unravel. We had formed a corporation with a "friend". He convinced us that doing so would make it easier and cheaper to obtain the insurance and funding that would be needed to operate. He also promised laborers to help with some of the grunt work since he ran a small company that provided migrant labor for some of the area citrus growers. He took care of forming the corporation with him being the controlling partner. He said he could secure more funding for us, as cash money was our weak spot. We believed him and went ahead with the deal. As we learned later (too late!) he had no intention of making good on his promises. This was strike one.

In 1972 our lease came up for renewal for the basin. The parcel where the actual stable sat was a separate property that was owned by CWOD [formerly the Chanslor-Canfield Midway Oil Company--editor]. That was the access land to the basin. That was a different lease negotiated with the county and CWOD. The deal was that when the county and the Corps of Engineers decided to go ahead with the regional park plan, our equestrian complex would be included providing we were operational. The county would buy the property and would act as our landlord.

We put our bid in for the basin lease and were very surprised to find out someone had bid a much higher amount. It seems our operation had caught the attention of some greedy folks from the valley that had a small horse operation in one of the flood control basins there. They figured they would take over the lease and push us out. We could have fought it and taken it to court and won but they had one thing we didn't........money. 

Much to their surprise we had them fenced out of the stable property in record breaking time. They were too stupid to know that it was two properties. They were very upset when they had to file for an easement with the county to access their newly acquired land! They then also found out they couldn't build anything on the Corps of Engineers land. Not a happy day for them to find out they wasted their money. 

The barn on the Kenney stables looking east, Carbon Canyon, June 1972.  The hill at the right behind the trees is where the park is separated from the tract homes on the Yorba Linda side.  In the distance are the hills in and around Soquel Canyon.
They then resorted to more and more desperate means to push us out. They complained to the county regularly. They would harass us by cutting fence and running livestock in our property that we had to constantly round up. It then turned violent with open threats to our family, the end result being a man almost getting himself killed in a planned assault that took place at our trailer one afternoon. The Sheriff's report of that incident made its way to the county planners. They did not want to be mixed up in any kind of land feud, so they accelerated the timetable for the park development. There was strike two.

In 1969 California experienced some torrential rains in the early part of the year. The end result was the basin filled with a great deal of water and debris from the canyon above. It did it's job. Enough silt washed in to completely bury the bottom basin cross fence, about 6 feet at the tallest post. You could only see the top 3 inches, if you could find them at all. When the water dried up we had to clean up the debris. Logs, tires, entire trees, you name it. It took almost 7 months of work to get it done. That was a major setback in the way of time spent on building the stable, but we forged ahead. The county and the Corps of Engineers later used that as an excuse to kick us out.

In early 1974 we received a letter from the county about their intent to buy the stable property so that the Corps of Engineers could start grading for the regional park. This was a full three years ahead of schedule—it seemed like they changed their mind about us over night. They wanted us out. The county stated the reason was because we were not operational yet, when, in fact, we were maybe five months away from renting the first ten stalls that were finished save for the plumbing. 

Then the Corps of Engineers canceled any lease to be held on the basin on the basis that it was not "cleaned of flood debris" in a proper and timely way nor were the fences being maintained. We were paid pennies on the dollar by the county for the improvements to the property. We were set to battle it out in court but our business partner put a stop to that. We found out the hard way that he was not only greedy but had no spine as well. Since he had controlling interest in the corporation he was able to dissolve it and walk away with the lion's share of our money without making good on a single one of his promises. Strike three, you're out!

The single-wide mobile home that was the residence of the Kenney family at the stables in Carbon Canyon, June 1972.
Carbon Canyon has a long list of failed business ventures attached to it—ours was one of many. It didn't have to be that way—there was plenty of the horse business to go around for everyone. All it took was the greed of a few people to wipe over ten years worth of work away. In the end, none of them really gained anything. 

Carbon Canyon is so built up now I don't know if we would have survived even if we had been successful in finishing the equestrian complex. This story should, however, serve as a cautionary tale to anyone planning to start a business on that scale. Simply put, be careful!

The thing that made me the most sad about the whole deal was not having 24/7 access to the canyon anymore. In the short time we lived there it was like Adventureland USA. History could be dug right up out of the dirt sometimes without even a shovel. You can bet there are many more stories of the things my brother Khris and I did in the hills of the canyon. There were many more good things that happened than bad in our short stay. 

But, then, life goes on, we all got over it and never looked back.

There's just a small side note on a recent event related to Iron Eyes Cody. Someone told me that the guys on the "American Pickers" TV show had bought some Iron Eyes Cody memorabilia on one of their recent programs. I don't watch much television so I looked it up on a video-streaming service, as I wanted to see what they bought. One of the things they got was Iron Eyes personal teepee. I sent them a brief history of it as it wound up being donated to the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire, Iowa. They didn't know what it looked like set up or its age, so I sent them some of the pictures I sent along with the story. It's the teepee in the picture of the whole family in the canyon in 1968 [shown in the last post].            

In 1975, Carbon Canyon Regional Park opened to the public.  This Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the 40th-anniversary celebration will be held at the 124-acre facility, located at 4442 Carbon Canyon Road in Brea.  Activities include guided hikes of the park's redwood grove, live animals, presentations on canyon history and the Olinda Oil Museum, and, for the first 100 participants, lunch.

For more information, call (714) 973-3160 or email carboncanyon@ocparks.com                    

22 September 2015

The Kenney Stables of Carbon Canyon, Part 2

As the 40th anniversary celebration of Carbon Canyon Regional Park approaches this weekend, here is the second part of Matthew Kenney's recollections of his family's stable on leased land behind Carbon Canyon Dam.  Matthew's title for the first story is:

Please pass the dynamite; One stick or two?
What goes up, must come down

A rodeo arena needs to be about 150' x 250' to be regulation size that would host most events. The perfect place for it was at the far west end of what is now Carbon Canyon Regional Park. The only small problem was that there was a small grove of eucalyptus trees in the way. One of the engineers that my Dad worked with fancied himself a lumberjack and loved to cut down trees.......I think he liked the big crash when the hit the ground! 

We got most of the trees felled and dug out the stumps with a backhoe. All except the last one, it was truly a giant-sized tree. That one took about a week to get cut up once it came down, what a crash it made! Now to the stump. We tried with the backhoe, but it didn't come loose. We tried digging and cutting roots, but there were too many. It was decided that more drastic means had to be employed...........dynamite.

C. Bob Kenney and Iron Eyes Cody with an unidentified child, Kenney Stables, Carbon Canyon, 1968.  All photos courtesy of Matthew Kenney.  Click on one to see them in enlarged views in a separate window.
In the 1960's blasting supplies could be obtained at most hardware stores if you filled out the right paperwork and had an agricultural permit, which we did. Rather than buy one stick which would have done the job, two sticks were purchased along with 10' of medium-burn fuse and a couple of blasting caps. The extra stick was to make sure the job got done. 

So, we drilled the hole in the stump, crimped the fuse on the caps and put the caps in the dynamite which were then lowered into the bore hole in the stump. Using 5' of fuse allowed for plenty of time to get out of the way. My Dad lit the fuse and made his way to the pickup which was parked about 200' away. We all crouched behind the truck waiting........and then BOOM! It felt like we bounced about an inch off the ground. We all stood up and looked over where the stump should be, it was gone. 

But, then we had to duck for cover because it rained toothpick-sized pieces of wood for what seemed like an eternity. We had just experienced a simple law of physics..........what goes up, must come down.

The Rodeo Arena

After some grading was done, the rodeo arena was built.  Carbon Canyon had more than it's share of characters in the 1960s and 1970s. As we progressed on the project, more and more canyon residents stopped in to see what we were up to. When the rodeo arena went up, so did our rate of daily visitors.... except for law enforcement. 

Those living in the canyon today must understand that you are in a kind of law enforcement dead zone being on the outlying borders of two counties. It was even worse in the 1960s/70s. You couldn't let anything sit out more than a day without it disappearing. Theft and other petty crime were pretty high.

Iron Eyes Cody with Indian tepees near Kenney Stables, Carbon Canyon, 1968.
And then there were all the traffic accidents. Arrival time for any law enforcement was at least an hour. Once we moved in and started living there, things took an interesting twist. We knew some of the sheriffs deputies from both counties and a few of the CHP officers from dealings at our stable business in Fullerton. 

All it took was an offer of a place to take a coffee break to the Sheriff's deputies.  We started seeing them more often in a month than then we ever did in the previous seven years. Word got around to all the "cop shops". Then the CHP officers would show up regularly. They were always greeted with a friendly cup of coffee and sometimes even lunch. Traffic accidents, petty theft and other crime went to an all time low in our area. 

Iron Eyes Cody and family, Carbon Canyon, 1968.
Soon some of the locals from Sleepy Hollow and a little beyond became regulars. They stopped to chat if they saw the main gate open (this is where the main gate for the park is today). Often times Dad would talk them into helping with the work! A little hospitality went a long way. Even today that simple idea could work if a local from the canyon stepped up to the plate.

Lindey Litton, a Real-Life Wild West Cowboy

We met a real diverse slice of people in the canyon, but none were more interesting than some of the area's cowboys and ranchers. We had a conflict with someone who I would say is the closest thing I've ever seen to a real-life Wild West cowboy by the name of Lindey Litton. 

I remember him more than any other simply because he had such a right-in-your-face manner. We met him in the back property that butts up next to Yorba Linda. He was cutting our fence to let his cattle in to graze. This had been going on for some while and we finally caught him in the act. My Dad yelled at him to stop; he was about 60 feet away. 

Bob Kenney and Iron Eyes Cody swap hats, Carbon Canyon, 1970.
Lindey pulled this hand-cannon out of his gun belt and said "make me". My dad swung the shotgun he was holding up and said "this shotgun has a slug in it with his your name on it, make your play" to Lindey. My Dad said he had no intention of letting anyone pull a gun on him and his sons. Lindey then apologized for pulling his gun saying he never drew his gun when kids were around. After we fixed the fence together my Dad invited him to the trailer for lunch!  It was there they found out they had a lot in common in the way of where they had been on the rodeo circuit in their youth. 

Lindey had a bad habit of pulling his gun on people, something that never changed. It was part of his "Wild West" persona. One day, he was in the trailer swapping stories with my Dad and two sheriff's department cars rolled up. I guess they had received a complaint of a man brandishing a firearm earlier in the day and knew it was Lindey from past encounters with him. 

The deputies knew where to find him, he was having a coffee break! They got on the PA and said "Lindey Litton, come out with your hands up!". He gave his gun to my Dad and complied. My Dad gave the gun to the deputy, while Lindy was put in cuffs and loaded into one of the sheriff's cars, which then left. The other deputy stayed and had lunch with us. Lindey was back a couple days later, and said it was a misunderstanding. Canyon life could be interesting. Even though Lindey had his personality flaws, he sure could "cowboy" when he wanted to. 

Iron Eyes Cody's Indian Pow-Wows

Around about 1968 before we moved there, a group decided to have a benefit Indian Pow-Wow on a neighboring property to the east where the redwood trees stand today. The weekend of the Pow-Wow was a total disaster because of some unexpected Santa Ana winds..........it blew all the teepees down and made a real mess. 

We helped with some of the cleanup and found out one of the leaders of the group putting on the Pow-Wow was Iron Eyes Cody. My Dad knew him from many years earlier and offered him a spot to hold the Pow-Wow for free in our newly created rodeo arena.

Bob Kenney in Iron Eyes Cody's Indian costume near a tepee, Carbon Canyon, 1968.
We had the best Pow-Wows there for three years running. All I have to prove it is some pictures of the events, doesn't seem like any of the papers picked up on it at the time. I've also recreated the sign(s) we put up to advertise the Pow-Wow that first year as they just don't exist anymore. How could I remember what they looked like? It's because I made them. I was always a very good artist from an early  age so I always got those type of tasks heaped on me.......but that's a completely other story for another day. 

We used to get Christmas cards from the Codys every year, but lost contact with them in the late 1970s after my Dad passed away. I was sorry to hear of Iron Eyes passing in 1999, but he did make it to the ripe old age of 95!

Matthew Kenney's reproduction signs for the Indian Pow Wows.
Someone told me that the stars of the TV show "American Pickers" had bought some Iron Eyes Cody memorabilia on one of their recent episodes.  I don't watch much television, so I looked it up on a video-streaming service, as I wanted to see what they bought.  One of the things they got was Iron Eyes' personal tepee.  I sent them a brief history of it, as it wound up being donated to the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire, Iowa.  They didn't know what it looked like set up or its age, so I sent them some of the pictures included above, including the one with the Cody family.

Editorial note:  This is a sensitive topic, given the issue of native Indian identity, but it should be noted that "Iron Eyes Cody" was actually Espera Oscar de Corti, the son of Sicilian immigrants and born in Louisiana in 1904 (Cody claimed he was born in Oklahoma and was of Cree and Cherokee descent).  After his parents divorced, Corti moved with his brothers to join their father in Texas and then the trio came to California.  All three worked in the film industry and changed their surname to Cody.

"Iron Eyes" began his movie career in the late 1920s and appeared in something like 200 films, as well as working in television from the early 1950s.  He is most famous to people of a certain age for his appearance in a 1971 commercial for the anti-litter campaign, " Keep America Beautiful."  The commercial showed Cody in his costume shedding a tear as trash lands at his feet from someone tossing it out the window of a car.  His performance was a powerful stimulant to the environmental movement then gaining momentum in America.

Cody married archaeologist and ethnologist Bertha Parker, an Indian through her mother from the Abenaki and Seneca tribes of New York, who was long associated with the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles as an assistant to Mark R. Harrington, who was married to Bertha's aunt. The Codys adopted two sons, said to have Indian blood from Dakota and Maricopa (southern Arizona) tribes.  The photo above shows the family together.

Bertha Parker Cody died in 1978 and Iron Eyes Cody paseed away in early 1999 at the age of 94.  It is said that Iron Eyes did much to benefit native Americans, though others have expressed disappointment at his "passing" as an Indian.

For more, click here for film historian Angela Aleiss's 1996 expose on Cody's Sicilian heritage in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.