14 March 2018

Car Hits Bus on Carbon Canyon Road This AM

This morning's accident happened at the summit of the S-curves and just glad that the kids and bus driver were OK.

It's always a concern given driving behavior, road conditions, etc., but the school bus my kids are on just got hit by a driver who spun out on a wet Carbon Canyon Road near the S-curves in Chino Hills. Nobody is hurt, fortunately. There may be some traffic delays for those heading through this AM.

13 March 2018

The Latest at Tres Hermanos Ranch

Recent changes in the administration at the City of Industry and other matters have led to a halt in proceedings regarding a potential solar farm at Tres Hermanos Ranch, just north of Carbon Canyon in Tonner Canyon.

Jason Henry of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune contributed this article on the latest involving the ranch, which is still the subject of litigation initiated by the cities of Chino Hills and Diamond Bar.

As developments occur, check back for more on what happens to the last major undeveloped piece of land in the area.

12 March 2018

Chino Hills Historical Society Talk on Isaac Williams and the Chino Ranch on the 26th

Chino Hills Historical Society Presents:
“A Look Back at Isaac Williams and the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino”
Monday, March 26th

The Chino Hills Historical Society will host a presentation by Chino Hills resident and historian Paul R. Spitzzeri at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, March 26th at the Chino Hills Community Center, 14259 Peyton Drive.  Spitzzeri will share the history of Isaac Williams and the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino. 

According to Spitzzeri, Isaac Williams married one of Antonio María Lugo’s daughters and, in the early 1840s, inherited the Chino Ranch, which he owned until his death in 1856.  This happened during the transformation of the area with the Mexican-American War and the Gold Rush.  Chino was a key location during the war through the Battle of Chino and was a rest stop for migrants during the heyday of gold seeking.

“We welcome Paul back to continue where he left off with his last presentation about Antonio María Lugo and the Early Years of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino,” said Chino Hills Historical Society President Denise Cattern.

Mr. Spitzzeri has lived in Chino Hills for 21 years.  He is the Museum Director at the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum in the City of Industry, where he has worked since 1988. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts degree in history from California State University, Fullerton and has published on local, regional and state history in many journals and anthologies.  His book, The Workman and Temple Families of Southern California, won a 2009 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History.  Since 2008, Paul has maintained the blog www.carboncanyonchronicle.blogspot.com.  He also writes a monthly column about local history for Champion Newspapers.

The Chino Hills Historical Society is a non-profit organization funded through memberships and donations.  For additional information, please call (909) 597-6449 or send an email to chhistory@aol.com

11 March 2018

The Gaines and Brown Families of Carbon Canyon, Part 9: La Vida Mineral Springs Photos

With thanks again to Joyce Harrington for sharing photos and documents related to her ancestors in the Browns and Gaines families, who lived in the Carbon Canyon area for many decades with the former heavily associated with the Olinda oil fields and the latter owning the Flying Cow Ranch where Olinda Village and the Hollydale Mobile Home Estates are located.

The photographs shown here are some great early views of the La Vida Mineral Springs resort, which was located just east of the Gaines family's ranch.  The first shows a group of six females standing next to a pipe descending from the hills on the north side of the property with the one at the far left holding a glass of water filled with the hot mineral water coming out of the pipe.  On the ground in front of the group is an wooden tub that received water.  The sextet stands at the edge of Carbon [Canyon] Creek and some of the chaparral-covered hills are in the background with the view looking east.

View number two shows five different women seated and standing next to a clapboard structure with a tin roof and this was identified as being the bath house at La Vida.  This and the other photos are from around 1910, judging from the clothing and hair styles and this was before the resort was expanded with a fancier bath house (earlier posts on this blog show the 1920s bath house, which stood until a boiler explosion destroyed it in the late 1950s).

Finally, there is the third image shows a couple of women standing near a large eucalyptus tree, which was painted with whitewash at the lower part, perhaps to keep critters from climbing into the tree and doing damage  To the right is what appears to be a simple wooden structure with a canvas roof and lowered sides.  A man is seated at the opening at the end.  The stand of trees appears to be in the same spot where some eucalyptus trees are still located (despite damage from the November 2008 fire) at the widest spot on the resort.  Again, the view here is looking east.

Check back later for more great photos of the Brown and Gaines families, including more of the old Olinda School.

04 March 2018

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #57: Edendale Christian Retreat, Brea, ca. 1963

This entry in the Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact series highlights a color postcard from the early 1960s of the Edendale Christian Retreat, which operated for several years in that decade at the west end of the canyon at its intersection with Soquel Canyon.

As noted in several posts on this blog previously, a major figure in the canyon was Edward F. Gaines, who owned the Flying Cow Ranch for about a half-century from the early 1900s to the mid 1950s.  Gaines, who lived in the Paramount area near Long Beach, built a Craftsman-style ranch house, raised hunting dogs, stored his treasured and authentic 19th century stage coach, among other elements at the Flying Cow over the years.

The family of Syd and Ann Sybrandy, highlighted in the Long Beach Independent Press Telegram, 25 December 1955, as they celebrated their first Christmas in the United States after migrating from South Africa through the Netherlands.  Click on any image to see them enlarged in a separate window.
After his death, the family sold the property and part of it became the Olinda Village subdivision which was created in 1964.  On the south side of the property and on the other side of Carbon Canyon Road, about 100 acres became the Edendale Christian Retreat.

The facility was created by Sytze (Sydney) Sybrandy, born in 1913 in Exmorra, a small dairy town in the northern Netherlands who lived for years in South Africa, where he married Ann Munnik in 1942.  While his family were dairy farmers in both Holland and South Africa, Sybrandy went into civil engineering, receiving a degree in the subject in Cape Town in the latter country.  He worked on bridge and road construction projects, followed by those with apartments and factories, before he formed his own practice in 1948.

Los Angeles Times, 25 August 1960.
In spring 1955, the couple and their three children (two daughters and a son) emigrated by ship to the United States, coming through New York.  They settled in the Artesia/ Cerritos area, where Sybrandy's parents and siblings settled and operated a dairy.  Today there is a Sybrandy Street in Cerritos on the site of the dairy.  Later, brothers of Sybrandy operated dairies in Chino and Ontario, after the diary areas of Artesia/Norwalk/Cerritos were developed, and then on to places like San Jacinto near Hemet.

The first Christmas the Sybrandys, who had three daughters and a son, spent in America was covered in a lengthy article in the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram including a photograph of the family.  The piece noted that, while in South Africa, the yuletide holiday came in the summer, the family had to adjust to a different season even in the Mediterranean climate of greater Los Angeles.

Times, 25 April 1963.
The article also noted that "because native labor is cheap in South Africa, most households have several servants," a "luxury [that] is prohibitive in the United States."  This vague reference was to the use of blacks as household labor in a country with a brutally repressive apartheid regime. Additionally, the piece stated that the family was not particularly religious in South Africa, but were converted by American missionaries and did work among the black population before migrating to the Unites States.

Sybrandy continued with a private civil engineering practice in Garden Grove and also was an architect for the Reformed Church of America, established in 1628 by Dutch colonists at New Amsterdam, better known as New York City.  He designed and contracted to build church structures in Pomona and Diamond Bar, for example.

Times, 21 April 1963.
Having a successful practice in the post-World War II boom years in America, Sybrandy, in 1960, purchased 87 acres of Gaines' Flying Cow Ranch, including the ranch house and other structures.  The family was residing in Buena Park when the acquisition of the ranch was made. 

In August, Sybrandy and his wife formally filed an application for rezoning "for [the] establishment of a non-denominational religious retreat" that was to be used for weekend events and feature "cabins, house trailer accommodations, picnic grounds, artificial lake, chapel and an open-air theater."  It was reported in the Los Angeles Times that the Sybrandys "plan to develop the retreat as a philanthropic project with funds they saved during 20 years that Sybrandy worked as a civil engineer."

Times, 21 April 1963.
With the rezoning approved, the Sybrandys developed Edendale into the retreat and an April 1963 feature in the Times featured the headline "Retreat Begins to Attract Attention."  Described as a 100-acre property, Edendale was said to have been "little more than brushland two years ago" when Syd decided to "do something more worthwhile with my life" and develop the retreat, which "caters mostly to church groups, particularly the youth organizations."  There were also family reunions, picnics and campouts held there, as well, according to the article.

Among the amenities was a 64-person dormitory, with sleeping arrangements of eight to a room; a lodge; a dining room; and a recreational area.  It was also noted that
Natural facilities include the steep walls of the Carbon Canyon which form a natural amphiteater used to present biblical pageants. "Eventually," Sybrandy explains, "we plan to have a trail of scenes from the Bible along the walls of the canyon.  Each will be lighted in turn at night with a taped narration broadcast over our public address system  This is the sort of thing we do for our Easter Sunrise Pageant."
Those Easter events were held for several years and included reenactments of scenes from the Bible concerning the life of Jesus and which featured Sybrandy's children and live animals raised at the site.  Nativity pagrants were also conducted at the retreat.  Churches were said to be very enthusiastic about Edendale, with one Long Beach church member stating "this is one of the best things in the world for these young people" because there was nothing like it for them in an area where "everything is houses and asphalt."

Times, 19 December 1963.
With hayrides, campfires, volleyball, hiking, sing-alongs, and pillow fights, as well as the barnyard with animals given Biblical names, there was plenty to do.  Sybrandy was quoted as saying "It's a tough job . . . but this is something that's really worthwhile—something that gives you a warm feeling . . . I'd rather have that good feeling than all the money in the world."

Edendale, however, struggled to keep the momentum going over the long haul.  Perhaps a major issue was that the increasing development in north Orange County made the trip out to Carbon Canyon seem like less of a retreat, compared to camps in the local mountains, for example.  While youth and adults events continued to be held out there until at least 1968, the decision was made to sell the property.  Sybrandy and his family lived in Brea for a time before he moved to San Diego County, where he died in 1998 at age 85.

Times, 7 June 1964.
By summer 1970, Hollydale Mobile Home Estates was developed and opened on much of the Edendale site, though the western portion of the property remained for religious uses, housing Christian churches (including a Korean one in recent years) and, for the last several years, a Hindu temple.

The postcard is taken from the steep hillsides across Carbon Canyon Road to the north of Edendale.  The state highway, which was designated in 1933 but not signed and which was renumbered State Route 142, with signs, in 1964, is barely visible at the lower left corner.  A tree lined driveway led to the complex. with the steep two-gabled white roof of the Gaines ranch house is just right of center.

Times, 23 March 1967.
A large swimming pool with a L-shaped structure adjacent and a host of other buildings dot the landscape.  In the background are the rolling hills at the junction of Carbon Canyon, which is to the left, and Soquel Canyon at the center.  It would be another twenty years or so before Chino Hills State Park was established where the main group of hills are behind the retreat.

On the reverse of the postally unused card, produced by Amescolor, an Escondido company that produced postcards for the nearby La Vida Mineral Springs (which is likely where Sybrandy heard about the company), is a short description with the address and phone number of Edendale and reading "Close to population areas of Los Anglees and Orange Counties. Ideal for retreats, banquets, group meeting, hayrides, swim parties, etc."

A color postcard of the Edendale Christian Retreat taken from across Carbon Canyon Road, ca. 1963.
While it didn't last particularly long, the Edendale Christian Retreat is still an interesting part of the broader history of Carbon Canyon and this postcard is a rare document of the facility.

19 February 2018

Carbon Canyon Crier, January 1965

Among items recently loaned by a neighbor here in Sleepy Hollow are some issues of a community newsletter called the Carbon Canyon Crier.  This post includes scans of the January 1965 issue and it's a fascinating look back over a half-century ago and what was going on in the Canyon.

The issue was the first of the third volume, meaning that the publication began two years before that, in January 1963 by Sleepy Hollow residents Harry and Nita Shedrick.  Three other local residents contributed to the newsletter, including Dorothea Wilson, Rick Harrison and Hazel Corcoran.

Click on any image to see all of them enlarged in a separate window.
The front page had two main features, including the recognition of Sleepy Hollow resident Vern Wundrow as realtor of the year in La Habra.  Wundrow, a three-year resident of the area, was active in Canyon activities, including the water district, town hall [a community council of sorts], and other committees.

The other main article concerned the foreclosure sale on 3 December 1964 at Ontario City Hall of a 225-acre property, described as "east of the summit" and formerly the ranch of Adolph Dittrich.  The owner who lost the property was a company called Equestrian Ranchos, which bought the ranch from Dittrich and his wife Anna in 1963 for $500,000.  It appears, by the firm's name, that the intention for buying the ranch was to develop it as an equestrian tract.  This property may well be what was later developed as Summit Ranch.

Earl W. Lumley, a resident of Tustin and secretary of the company, stated that the biggest obstacle for the firm was getting a commitment for water from the Southwest Chino Mutual Water Company.  He was quoted as saying that he saw opportunity in Carbon Canyon and hoped to buy land there later.

It is worth pointing out that, after the development of Sleepy Hollow in 1923 and Mountain View Park (Canon Lane south of Carbon Canyon Road) a couple of years later, development to Carbon Canyon did not occur until Olinda Village was opened on the Brea side in 1964.  But, with the sale of the Shelly Stoody ranch west of the summit to investors who opened Western Hills Country Club at that time and the impending tract across the road at Western Hills Oaks, there was a lot of movement for Canyon development in the mid-1960s.

A little history of past owners was provided in the article, going back to when the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino was largely intact and extended all the way in the Canyon to about where the Circle K convenience store is located between Sleepy Hollow and Mountain View Park.  Before Dittich, the ranch was owned for twenty years (1930-1951) by Archibald Strong.

Sadly, Lumley not only did not invest in other real estate in the canyon, but his financial situation must have worsened considerably.  The independent contractor committed suicide in August 1968, a sad end which sometimes comes to people who take risks in large-scale speculative real estate.

Other reported news in the Crier included a project to install new, updated telephone cables along Carbon Canyon Road.  Carried out by a conractor for Pacific Telephone Company, the work extended "from Placentia to the end of the district boundary just below the summit."  The $125,000 project was designed to extend service for up to 2,000 customers.  Again, this was a direct reflection of the influx of development mentioned above.  To this day, everyone living west of the summit maintains a 714 area code and the prefixes that are aligned with those in Placentia and Yorba Linda as part of that district.

There was also coverage of a fire that broke out at the top of the Mountain View Park tract in mid-December.  Because the area was under the operation of a volunteer fire department, a nearby resident drove down to the fire department quarters at the Sleepy Hollow Community Building, pulled an alarm and got the fire truck over to the scene.  He was joined by other volunteers and residents and the fire put out before it spread.  It turned out the blaze was started by a typical cause: kids playing with matches.

A "Women's Only" column by Hazel Corcoran and Nita Shedrick covered everything from the stresses of the holiday season to better household organization to New Year's Resolutions promoting better "peace of mind."  A little joke at the end reminded women that the difference between a dress and a gown (remember most women didn't wear slacks or pants regularly yet!) was $50.

An update was provided about improvements at the Canyon Hills Swim and Saddle Club, located where the Workmen's Circle Camp Kinder Ring operated from 1928 to 1958, followed by social clubs including the Canyon Hills one.  The article noted there was a new paved driveway from Carbon Canyon Road (this is basically the current Canyon Hills Road), new roads and trails through the property, and new management for activities.  These included a new equestrian manager, a new lessee for club grounds, and a new operator of the restaurant, lounge and bar.  A New Year's Eve party, horse show, western/country music performances and other activities were mentioned.

Within a year, however, the Club closed and the property was turned into the strange and short-lived Ski Villa, which included an outdoor, all-weather ski slope made of plastic bristle tiles.  Although featured in a 1966 issue of Sports Illustrated, Ski Villa soon ceased operation and a variety of clubs and other uses ensued until the property became a horse ranch.  Some of it was then subdivided and sold and the current Hillcrest development is on the west side of the property.

Reference was also made to the recent elections, including the news that Republican presidential candidate Arizona senator Barry Goldwater garnered 66 votes to President Lyndon Johnson's 62 among Canyon voters.  As for the local justice court, the Canyon was the only district to turn thumbs-down to incumbent Henry Ferncase.  The Crier claimed it was because "Canyonites are planning to avoid traffic citations for the next 6 years" in electing Ben Burrell to the bench.  There was also a humorous poem said to be from a "disenchanted Democrat" that sounded like it was more from a Goldwater supporter!

A lengthy feature discussed Eleanor Felton, the county's registrar of voters; a "Freedom Forum" reprint on the fate of five signers of the Declaration of Independence was included; minutes of the local Town Hall and water companies were provided; and other local bits of local news were provided.  Among the issues raised at the Town Hall meeting, held 24 November, was about the assigning of house numbers in the Canyon, when previously people's mail came to them with the simple designation of a rural route number.  This is another example of the coming of further development and changing times!

Also was discussed was a recurring problem of a recurring problem of parking, including the abandonment of vehicles and "people parking on property other than their own."  With the narrow streets of Sleepy Hollow and Mountain View Park, this issue has hardly changed much in 53 years!

There was a very lengthy discussion of a proposed Community Services District, a concept designed to bring improvements as well as consolidation of water services, this latter being a critical issue in the often water-scarce Canyon.  Other conversation was held about individuals opting out of the district and its tax and consulting with the county attorney, local supervisor and those in Adelanto in the high desert who'd recently enacted their own district.

In the Mountain View Park Water District minutes was reference to the plans for updating local water supply through the Metropolitan Water District's massive project of bringing in Colorado River water through Tonner Canyon and Carbon Canyon to the Diemer treatment plant, which opened in 1963 on the hills near today's Carbon Canyon Regional Park.

There was a bit of news about the theft of signs that sported the phrase "Welcome to Sleepy Hollow" and had a Carbon Canyon logo on them.  One, on the east edge of Sleepy Hollow was taken about Labor Day and the other, on the west end by the county line, was seized in mid-November.  A $25 reward was offered for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of the thieves.  An image of the sign was also provided.

Finally, the last page of the twelve-page newsletter constituted "The Sheriff's Blotter," including all the calls logged in by the West End station of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department during the month of November.  A cartoon and another bit of humor about eyewitnesses are also on the page.

There are other issues of the Carbon Canyon Crier that will be shared, so look for those in future posts!

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.