03 July 2020

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon: A Spate of Recent Serious Crashes on Carbon Canyon Road

Within the last few weeks, there have been several major car crashes on Carbon Canyon Road that have caused full shutdowns of the state highway.  As usual, most of these happen late at night when the road is wide open and some drivers race through the canyon or are otherwise distracted.

One of the oldest of these incidents took place eastbound on the switchbacks just east of Azurite Drive when a car went up the embankment and took out an electrical box (this has happened a few times in recent years.)

Another was when a 20-year old Chino Hills woman heading west through Sleepy Hollow veered over the oncoming lane, hit an embankment and rolled.  She was not evidently wearing a seat belt, as she was ejected and the car landed on her foot.

More recently was a hit-and-run accident very close to that location, but a little further east when a long-time Sleepy Hollow resident was killed in a hit-and-run incident.  A roadside shrine has been set up in the large turnout on the north side of the highway at the east end of the community and there has been no news of any developments concerning the fleeing driver.

Finally, at around 2 a.m. Thursday morning, the power went out in the area when a vehicle crashed into a power pole at a very common site for accidents at the middle of the S-curve eastbound between Carriage Hills Lane and Azurite Drive.  In fact, that pole was just replaced a few weeks or so ago, but smaller bollards were put in front of it and it was obvious to those who know that it wouldn't take long for those insufficient barriers to give way to another driver not making the curve to the left there and taking out the pole.

The accompanying photo was taken yesterday afternoon after crews completed repairs on that pole, but there have been so many incidents, too many to count, involving this section over the years that it won't likely be long before another crash happens there.

These incidents are all on the Chino Hills side, but anyone looking closely can see several places where guardrails and chain link fencing on the Brea side have been crushed by drivers veering off the road, most of these, but not all, taking place east of Olinda Village where the road has more of its twists and turns.  There are a couple of spots, though, on the downhill to the west of the Village where cars have left the roadway and hit rails and other objects.

It has been said that, as traffic has been generally lighter on our roadways during this pandemic, that there has been a significant uptick in speeding.  Whether these latest incidents are of that type or not, can't be known, but there has definitely been a noticeable increase in dangerous driving on Carbon Canyon Road in recent weeks.

There was a sheriff's department vehicle on the westbound side of the road near the entrance to Sleepy Hollow yesterday afternoon, but that's not when the vast majority of speeding and crashes occur and it's not known why the vehicle was parked there.

This blog used to be more active in documenting incidents like this in the hope that more of a police presence and enforcement might take place, but in lieu of that, it has seemed generally pointless.  The recent rash of activity, however, is concerning. 

30 June 2020

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #61: "Tidwell's at Sleepy Hollow, Carbon Canyon," 1933

At the far east end of Sleepy Hollow on the south side of Carbon Canyon Road are some decrepit buildings, last in the news because they were red-tagged by the City of Chino Hills as not meeting basic standards of livable conditions by ordinance.

In the front, right up against the state highway, is one building, while a two-story home is at the very rear of the property.  In between the two are a variety of other structures, all of which were deemed in substandard condition.

The absentee owner and landlord was ordered to make repairs and upgrade the structures before they could be used again as residences and, though there was some initial work, nothing has been done there for quite some time.  Who knows if these buildings will ever be livable again at this rate?

Tonight's post features a real photo postcard with the caption "Tidwell's at Sleepy Hollow.  Carbon Canyon."  This was Tidwell Oaks, owned by David and Velma Tidwell and which included a store and tavern in the front building and the family home at the back, both of which are mentioned above as still standing. 

David, a native of Alabama, and Velma, who hailed from Texas, were in the first census conducted in Sleepy Hollow when they were enumerated there in May 1930.  He was 39, she was 36, and they owned property valued at $3,000.  He appears to have come to California after 1900 and live with his parents near Pomona, where David was a hired hand on local ranches and farms. 

This real photo postcard of "Tidwell's at Sleepy Hollow, Carbon Canyon," has a message dated 18 June 1933, just as Prohibition was coming to an end, which seems to explain why the couple at the center, maybe David and Velma Tidwell, who owned the store and tavern on the property, have beer bottles on their table and why beer crates are stacked up in the right foreground.  Click on the image to see it enlarged in a separate window.
After he and Velma married, the couple lived in Los Angeles near today's Staples Center and he was a conductor for the Los Angeles Railway system of streetcars that ran all over the growing city.  By 1920, the Tidwells were in the Rowland township where La Puente, Rowland Heights and Hacienda Heights are located now, and he was an oil well worker.

In that 1930 census in Sleepy Hollow were three of David's brothers: Henry, Harvy, and Andrew, who ranged in age from 23 to 33.  Henry was a rotary driller for an oil company and the others were general laborers and they may have rented places to live from their older brother.

The image shows a bucolic scene of seven persons seated at tables on a raised patio with an attractive curved low rock wall at the left and a wall of brick around the patio.  An opening in the brick wall in the front includes small pillars on which are potted plants and a few steps leading up to the patio, which was partially built around a sprawling oak tree.  Other trees are in view in the verdant landscape.

Notably, there are several beer crates stacked up at the right, including some marked "Eastside," the name of a popular Los Angeles-made brew from the Los Angeles Brewing Company, established by George Zobelein, who had a partnership with Joseph Maier from the early 1880s to the early 1900s.  The term "Eastside" came from the brewing company's location on the east side of Los Angeles' downtown industrial core right off today's U.S. 101 before it terminates and splits off into Interstates 5 and 10.

The reverse of the postcard with a short message from a woman named Esther who, according to a later ink inscription above, worked at Tidwell's, said to be "near Brea Calif."
There may have been a reason to have included those crates because, on the reverse, there is a message from a woman only identifying herself as "Esther" and who wrote "Hello Mom, Wish I could see you.  Can't this time."  Above that is what looks to be a much later ink inscription, "Where Esther worked near Brea Calif."

Esther's short and dry note is dated "June-18-1933," which was less than six months before the end of Prohibition, the fourteen-year "social experiment" in which most production and consumption of alcoholic beverages was banned.  Yet, in early April, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a repeal of the Volstead Act, the legislation which enacted Prohibition, and this allowed brewers to make up to 3.2% alcohol content brew. 

So, it seems like the photo at Tidwell's was taken to celebrate the availability of near-full strength beer just weeks after the president's repeal.  The folks in the table at the center, who might well be David and Velma Tidwell, have two brown bottles in front of them (the gent at the left, by the way, is holding a guitar, while a small child, a young woman and two young men (maybe two of David's brothers?) are the others in the scene.

This is a very rare early artifact related to Sleepy Hollow, which was established by Cleve Purington and fellow investors just a decade prior, and it gives a sense of the bucolic, rural nature of the community as the Prohibition experiment came to a close.

01 May 2020

History of Tres Hermanos Ranch Webinar This Sunday

The history of Tres Hermanos Ranch, situated north of Carbon Canyon, and now under the management of an authority comprising the City of Industry, which bought the property in 1978, and the cities of Diamond Bar and Chino Hills, is the topic of a webinar hosted by the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum this Sunday, the 3rd at 2 p.m.

The PowerPoint illustrated talk includes the ownership of the area from the Mexican era through the creation of the ranch by three friends who were not related but had shared genealogies in the region's oil history—these being William B. Scott, William R. Rowland and Harry Chandler.

The presentation, which has been given in person in Chino Hills, La Verne, Covina and San Dimas, will last about an hour and is being conducted on the Zoom platform.  To sign up, here is the link.

11 April 2020

Photos of Carbon Canyon Landscapes

As we remain under stay at home orders during this COVID-19 pandemic, it is important, when we can and safely, to get out of the house. 

One important way is to talk walks while maintaining social distancing and, fortunately, with decent rainfall this season and spring underway, Carbon Canyon has plenty of green in its landscape.

This post highlights a quintet of photos taken on two recent rambles among the hills in the canyon, the first pair taken on the 2nd on the Chino Hills side and the other two taken yesterday on the Brea portion.

The views show the beauty of the canyon's rolling hills, small side canyons, and open spaces, even with a growing number of houses built in recent years.

Yesterday's images are particularly noteworthy, including a relative rare occurrence of a full rainbow and a pretty spectacular sunset, especially with the lingering gray storm clouds.

Using the panorama setting on the camera enables the capturing of both the arc of the rainbow, but also the broad view of the sunset and rolling hills, to nice effect.  Click on any photo to see them enlarged in a separate window.

31 March 2020

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #60: "Road to La Vida Mineral Springs," ca. 1930

Almost two months ago, when these gatherings could still be done, a talk was given to the Chino Hills Historical Society on the history of Carbon Canyon Road.  The presentation included the creation of the road in the mid-1910s; its paving on the San Bernardino County side in the late 1920s; followed a few years later by that work done on the Orange County portion; its designation as a state highway in the early Thirties, though not signed as State Route 142 until the mid-Sixties; and more.

Newspaper articles, maps, and photographs were used to illustrate the PowerPoint presentation, including a relatively new find, a real photo postcard of a section of Carbon Canyon Road, titled "Road to La Vida Mineral Springs" dating to before the early 1930s, when the road was paved on the Orange County side.

It looks like a section of the road as it approached the resort, which began operating in the 1910s and, by 1930, was run by an Anaheim resident and former area oil worker and producer, William Newton Miller.  Under Miller's ownership, La Vida expanded to include more cottages, a larger bath house, and a cafe, among other amenities.  His family continued to own and run the facility until the mid-1970s.

The photo shows a bucolic unpaved road gently curving among the narrow canyon setting, lined with trees on one side, and the steep chaparral-covered hillside on the other.  It certainly was a world away from the modern highway of our era.

The card was unused, but there is an ink inscription on the reverse that reads, "Will & I used to drive to this place / many times, some time go / on up through Carbon Canyon enroute / to Pomona California."  This was true for many people heading from the coastal areas to the Inland Empire, which was the paramount reason for establishing Carbon Canyon Road in the first place.

It's a great little photo of our canyon probably some 90 years ago.

So, it's ten minutes before the end of March and it didn't seem right to go the whole month without at least one post on this blog (something that hasn't yet been done in the nearly dozen years since the Chronicle was launched.)  So, even with the surreal circumstances of our COVID-19 era, this little offering is made to remind us that there is something waiting for us at the end of this road, as well.

Please stay safe and stay well.

26 February 2020

Fatal Police Shooting at Carbon Canyon Regional Park

There isn't much information provided, given the incident happened yesterday late afternoon/early evening, but NBC Los Angeles news did air a brief segment about a fatal shooting of a man by Brea police.

Here is the link: https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/olice-shooting-under-investigation-in-brea/2317908/.

15 February 2020

Hidden Oaks Community Meeting Recap

Today's edition of the Champion features a review by Marianne Napoles of a community meeting held on the 6th at Western Hills Country Club with a developer's presentation of the Hidden Oaks housing project, which proposes 53 units on 527 acres south of Carbon Canyon Road, just east of Sleepy Hollow and across from the Circle K convenience store and the Hillcrest community of 76 houses which is just now, after some three years, finally in its last phase.

The discussion, led by consultant Jeff Weber, noted that, when a project was first proposed on the site some thirty years ago, the number of units zoned for the property was just under 250.  This was when a notorious uprooting of a great number of oak trees took place, with many of them boxed and left on the property to die when the developer went belly up.  That travesty was not forgotten as a few audience members well recalled the incident during the presentation.

Current developer K.V. Kumar and associates had a preliminary community meeting at the McCoy Equestrian Center in September 2015 and the link here is from a Chronicle post that goes into great detail about the project as it was proposed then.  Among the elements at the time was that the number of units was 107 and they were spread out through a significant part of the site, including on some prominent higher points.

Since then, however, there has been a significant reduction in units, about half, and they have been even more clustered on about 60 acres (comprising just over 10% of the total acreage) toward the northeastern portion of the property, leaving the higher elevations of the site in open space.  Much of this was to address concerns about visibility of those locales from Chino Hills State Park.

The "Vesting Tentative Tract Map" for Hidden Oaks, which is slated for 53 large homes on average lot zizes of a half-acre, south of Carbon Canyon Road (see top left) at Canyon Hills Road.  The clustering at the northeast corner is a significant change from the 107 units more spread out on the site as proposed several years ago and a massive reduction from the nearly 250 units proposed in a project some thirty-years ago.  Click on the image to see it enlarged in a separate window.
Notably, there was a great deal of effort put into having an emergency access road built to the southeast from the tract, exiting through the Vellano community and several routes were explored.  The most likely and least invasive, however, was not possible because the landowner refused to sell an easement.  So, now, and with the approval of the fire district, the secondary road is one first proposed in 2015 and which exits the northwest part of the tract and onto Carbon Canyon Road.  An issue here is that this is just a few hundred yards west of the main entrance at Canyon Hills Road and, if there was a large-scale evacuation of the canyon, it would put everyone in Hidden Oaks on the state highway with everyone else.

It was stated that new state standards for fuel modification zones are to be applied and some 450 trees, mostly oaks, are to be removed and the 2-1 ratio for replanting in compliance with a city oak tree ordinance.  The units will have sewers and there will be a tie-in to the lift station built across Carbon Canyon Road for the Hillcrest subdivision, which takes the material out of the canyon to the northeast and into the Chino Hills system.

There were plenty of questions and comments from the audience, much of which had to do with the question of tree removal and replacement and how residents will be notified of future meetings, specifically those before the city's Planning Commission and City Council.  There were a couple of outliers, one comment being that it would be better to spread out the units even on the more visible and prominent ridge lines because the current configuration would be too visible within the canyon.  Another commenter suggested public access to trails leading through Hidden Oaks to Soquel Canyon, where a parking lot could be placed for easy connection to the state park—slyly, he added that he happened to own the property where he proposed the parking area be situated.

Generally, though, there didn't seem to be that much opposition to the project in totality and this may be a reflection of the fact that the number of units is drastically lower than the original zoning and that the clustering kept houses in lower elevations, preserving much more open space.  Napoles quoted city council member Ray Marquez, a canyon resident, as being surprised that opposition was somewhat muted.  Council member Peter Rogers, who also lives in Carbon Canyon, was pleased at the attendance and reminded that there will be plenty of opportunity for residents to share views with city staff as the project moves forward.

A detail of the map showing the clustered area, a clubhouse and tennis courts at the upper left and the intersection of Carbon Canyon Road and Canyon Hills Road at that corner.  Click on the image to see it enlarged in a separate window.
It will be later in the year before studies are completed and the matter gets scheduled with the Planning Commission.  Weber, when asked, stated that it would not likely be until 2022 when ground is broken.  It is worth restating that Hillcrest, which looks to be similar in terms of square footage if not lot sizes (Weber said the general average for Hidden Oaks is a half-acre), has sold slowly, perhaps because of the price range as well as concerns about traffic in the canyon.

When traffic was discussed, it was noted that the significant increase in volume in recent years has largely been due to massive growth in the Inland Empire, a trend that will only accelerate.  One persistent audience member kept asking council member Rogers when enough is enough with respect to development in the canyon and, unfortunately, there is no good answer, partially because, even if the canyon was closed off completely for more building, traffic will still increase dramatically because of the tens of thousands of units projected just for south Ontario and Chino alone, much less elsewhere.

So, stay tuned as Hidden Oaks becomes a lot less concealed to the public in its progression.