27 December 2008

Remnants of the La Vida Mineral Springs Resort

Mid-November's Triangle Complex fire not only charred most of the Brea side of Carbon Canyon, but it also revealed much of the remnants of the historic La Vida Mineral Springs resort, which opened in 1924 and closed in the early 1990s.

The complex consisted at various points in its history of individual mineral bath units, a larger bathhouse, cozy cottages, a motel, a restaurant (or two), playgrounds, swimming pools, and other elements.

I had tried to explore the property on Labor Day, about four months ago, but it was so overrun with weeds, shrubs, bushes and trees that it was hard to get anywhere. In the aftermath of last month's fires, however, I was able to walk much of the property.

Included in this post are some of the images (as always, double-click on any image to see a magnified view) I took on 26 November 2008 (descriptions from top to bottom):

1. This was a surprise as I thought this might be a hot spot from the fire that was burning on the hillside, not unlike one I discovered a couple days later in Soquel Canyon. When I got closer, though, I realized that this was a steam vent from the hot mineral water below the surface, the same water used by the resort for almost 70 years and certainly by native Americans for thousands of years!

2. In the same hillside, a short distance from the steam vent, was a dripping pipe, which could have been to gather rain water from higher up the hill for use in the resort.

3. This is a view of the surviving water tanks at the west end of the property. The larger tank still has the faded logo with the words "La Vida" on the side.

4. Here is a shot on Carbon [Canyon] Creek running through the parcel.

5. This is a concrete footing for what might have been one of the old cottages on the grounds. Check earlier posts on this blog for a circa 1930s real photo postcard showing these cottages in this location.

6. The footing in photo 5 is to the right of the red-tinted sidewalk. The walkway and the scorched eucalyptus trees are in some of the old postcards posted on this blog. Note how the sidewalk almost directly corresponds with the dip in the hills in the background.

7. Toward the east end of the property the creek turns from the hillside (at left) and bends closer to Carbon Canyon Road (to the right). In the distance you can see the piling for the old footbridge which crossed the creek and led to the flat area at the upper left, where the motel and swimming pool, also seen in postcards from earlier posts, once stood.

8. More footings, but right up against the hillside, so the purpose is not clear.

9. This is the red-tinted sidewalk seen in view 6, but leading eastward toward the location of the footbridge.

10. Here is another, but partially-buried, footing for a building--again, just adjacent to the sidewalk and the creek/hillside, corresponding to the structures in the historic postcards.

11. This shot shows debris in and around the creek as it winds through the La Vida property.

12. A view from the far west end of the parcel showing the sidewalk and eucalyptus trees. Carbon Canyon Road is at the far right.

13. A fairly large concrete pad for a building that once stood on the property.

14. Another view, from further east, of the old water tanks.


Dolly said...

Very glad to see someone still cares. While driving through the canyon on Christmas Eve; first time since the fires; I stopped there. Already there are signs of nature’s rebirth. I use to go to the hot springs in the 1960's
1970's and early 80’s. It was a shame to see it close. La Vidas was a fun place to go especially during the summer. Their outdoor concerts could be a lot of fun; the Food was not so bad either. The hotel use to have these big cage like swings that you would stand up in. the goal was to swing back and fourth until you flip over. Just remember to hold on tight!

Paul said...

Hi Dolly, thanks for visiting and for your comment. When I first went through the canyon in 1985 or so, the place was still active and, as you said, it was sad to see it gradually diminish until the restaurant/bar closed. The property has been up for sale for a long while now. Whatever happens to it, I hope the city of Brea will consider a historic designation for the property. Thanks again and please check back from time to time.

Danielle said...

Wow..thank you for all the incredible information. I will bookmark this site and be back often. We live in the Canyon and had NO idea of its' history. Thank you!

Paul said...

Hello Danielle, glad you discovered the site and that you'll be back to check it out. Thanks!

Arlie said...

Hi Dolly,
Ah yes I remember it well. In the 50's, 60's, and 70's La Vida Mineral Springs was part of my stomping ground. I can't believe someone remembers those cage swings! They were a lot of fun and you really got a workout. My then boyfriend, from an Olinda family, was a lifeguard there.

Terry Roach said...

Dolly, Those cages were called the swing gym. My Grandparents owned the La Vida Hot Springs and purchased them in the early 70's. My brother and I would get in those daily. They were so much fun.

Mel Barauskas said...

Some of my fondest childhood memories are rooted at La Vida. What a wondeful place to visit on a hot summer Saturday afternoon in the late 60's, early 70's. My dad and uncle would always fill an old fashioned 2 gallon thermos with vodka and graprefruit juice, then disappear to the parking lot for a half hour. Mom, aunt and cousins stayed inside and enjoyed the cold pool, hot pool and kiddie pool. We rode the "Swing Gym" everytime we visited, it was .75¢ for about 10 minutes. The snack bar next to the larger cold pool served up tasty treats. We stayed in the hotel one Saturday night when dad was too tipsy to drive, and the diner served the best shakes in town. I have some pics of the pools I'll dig out and send you. I wish La Vida would come back, exactly s it was before, in all its glory. Thanks for the memories!

prs said...

Hi Mel, thanks for the recollections, very cool stuff. Any photos you have would be greatly appreciated and would be a great post. Look forward to hearing back from you.