30 June 2009

Carbon Canyon Businesses: CKC Laboratories

Who knew Olinda Village would be a mecca of electromagnetic compatibility testing?

A few months back, this feature spotlighted an EMC testing lab called Compatible Electronics in Olinda Village. While eating at the excellent (to put in yet another plug [pardon the pun]) Sol de Mexico restaurant in the Village shopping center, I took note of the business that occupies several suites adjacent to the restaurant. I'd seen it many times, but assumed it was a medical laboratory, the kind that analyzes samples for doctors. Instead, I noticed that CKC Laboratories listed itself as an EMC lab like its close neighbor, Compatible Electronics.

The company was founded in 1973 as CK Consultants, Inc, an EMC design consultation specialist. Soon, however, the company, later renamed, began its testing and certification service. After regulatory changes by the FCC concerning EMC certification in the early 1980s, the company opened an early open air testing site (OATS) in Running Springs, a mountain community above San Bernardino near Lake Arrowhead.

Soon after, company headquarters were established in Mariposa, a Gold County town not far from Yosemite National Park, just as the testing lab was relocated from Running Springs to Olinda Village. Rapid expansion led to the opening of five testing centers in northern California, Oregon and Washington with facilities now in California and Washington. Mandatory compliance in Europe in the mid-90s facilitated the company's growth.

As was noted with the earlier discussion about Compatible Electronics, EMC testing labs are desirable in remoter, higher-elevation areas where radio frequency issues are minimized. Testing is done for all kinds of equipment in such areas as medical electronics; wireless devices; broadband that uses power lines; automotive applications; military uses; aviation; and aerospace. The process deals with a myriad of issues including temperature; humidity; shock; vibration; and corrosion.

Specifically, the Olinda Village site is a Safety Test Center for CKC with testing done for information technology; telephone terminal equipment; and test, measurement and laboratory equipment.

While electronics are so much an integrated part of modern life, few of us laypeople understand the importance of product testing for devices that have a huge impact on how we live.

29 June 2009

La Vida Mineral Springs Music History

Throughout La Vida Mineral Springs' seventy-five year history, music played a part in probably much of the operation of the resort. Oral history reminiscences, for example, of residents of the Olinda oil district included some recollection of live music being played there in those earliest days of the 1920s and 1930s.

Whether there were performances by bands in forthcoming decades is uncertain, but in the 1970s there were some periods when live concerts at La Vida were frequent and well-attended. Sometime in the earlier or mid part of the decade, there appears to have been shows by such groups as the Flying Burrito Brothers, a county-rock group that had been led by Gram Parsons, a cult figure of greater notoriety now than in his lifetime, although it was the post-Parsons FBB that evidently played at La Vida.

Then late in the Seventies came a brief but notable burst of live performance at the Springs, when in 1979 and 1980, punk rock was in full swing in the greater Los Angeles area. Bands like X, Circle Jerks, Fear, Black Flag, the Germs, Bad Religion and Minutemen were the more high-profile groups of that time or slightly later and there were a few bands from the OC, notably Social Distorion and TSOL, Agent Orange, and the Adolescents, that approached or reached the upper echelon of punk in those years.

For a short while, La Vida Mineral Springs was the site of several punk concerts featuring some of the better, as well as the lesser, known groups in the genre.

For example, In July 1979, Eddie and the Subtitles, an OC group of some renown (a single and two albums were issued at the time) performed at La Vida supported by Big Wow. The headliner was best known for its song "F*&k You Eddie," a particularly apt punk song title.

In September of the same year, there was a concert headlined by one of the very few Latino punk bands of the era, the Plugz, which released its debut album that year. Later, the group feaured saxophonist Steve Berlin of Los Lobos fame and it also had the distinction of backing Bob Dylan, of all people, on a 1984 performance on David Letterman's show. At this show, support acts included Flyboys and Smart Pills.

In November, there was a performance by The Weirdos, one of the earliest (1976) of the LA-area punk bands, supported by Suburban Lawns (which had a rare female band member as a vocalist, was known for their song "Gidget Goes to Hell", and which soon morphed into a "New Wave" act) and the Idle Rich.

It has also been said that top-shelf groups Fear ("I Love Livin' in the City," "Let's Start a War," "I Don't Care About You," and the immortal "F$@k Christmas") and Black Flag played 1979 shows at La Vida, the latter of which seeming to have included the almost obligatory riot. According to one person who said he was there: "I never so [saw] so many cops in riot gear as that night."

In 1980, there were performances by local groups The Mechanics and Common Ground, but the pinnacle of the punk performance at La Vida was undoubtedly "Cal Slam Zero," an attempt to play off the huge arena rock festival "Cal Jam" (I in 1974 and II in 1978) held in Ontario.

This 6 September 1980 punk festival extravaganza featured a ton of local bands, including (in order on the flyer): Middle Class; Geza X (better known as a producer of pioneering punk records by Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, the Germs and others) and the Mommymen; Eddie and the Subtitles; Ironlung; Adolescents; Agent Orange; Der Stab; China White; Sexually Frustrated; Dead Skin; Negatives; Social Distortion (way down on the bill, but eventually far better known than them all); Ruins; Assassins; Birth Defects; Rayons; and Dead End Kids.

The marathon went from Noon to about Midnight, all for $3.50 for a discount ticket and $5 at the door and beer and food were available (almost certainly in prodigious and cheap quantity and quality.) According to some, Cal Slam Zero was the OCs last punk festival and it may also have marked the end (or, perhaps, the beginning of the end) or La Vida's short-lived venture in punk rock concert promotion.

Notably, there is a 22 October 1980 edition of the Daily Titan, the California State University, Fullerton school newspaper that featured an article headlined "Students make success of concert promotion company."

Here we learn that students Modell McEntire and Larry Dusatko formed "Sun/Western Productions" in the summer of 1980. Within the few months until the article appeared, the two had promoted 20 concerts and made money on them all at La Vida. The two were quoted about the fact that previous concert promotion at the Springs had been unsuccessful (in fact, an October 1978 issue of the Daily Titan had a La Vida ad that made reference to "Live Bands on the Weekends" but seemed more interested in drawing all possible attention of male Titans to the photo of two comely, buxom coeds with their tight [wet?] T-shirts instead), and their DIY approach, fitting, of course, given the genre of the music, to concert promotion. At the time, Sun/Western was preparing to put on a show at a 1,000-seat venue in Pismo Beach, a huge leap in the size of locale compared to La Vida. Though the two stated that "eventually we want to go national," that obviously didn't happen. But, for a brief time, Sun/Western made its mark on local punk music history with their shows at La Vida Mineral Springs.

These doesn't seem to be any record of punk shows or any other for that matter at the venue after 1980, until the reinvented La Vida Cantina began featuring blues and rockabilly shows there in the 1990s and into the very early 2000s, with regular concerts and occasional festivals. In these later years, La Vida was known far and wide as a biker hangout with the cantina being at the west end of the parking area and the outdoor stage over on the east side. After the death of the restaurant's owner, maybe around 2001, the place closed and was soon after razed.

Now, there is no physical reminder of the resort, but, through oral histories and Internet blogs and thread posts, the memories of music of all different kinds (whether swing, jazz, punk, or blues) resonates still in the minds of those who headed off to Carbon Canyon, in the proverbial "middle of nowhere" for the excitement of live music.

A person who posted some great concert flyers on the Web (see link below) also had the following to say about La Vida and the bands featured in these flyers:

La Vida Hot Springs was a fading health spa located out in the foothills at the edge of Orange County. The bands were usually set up in front of a huge, plate glass window on one side of the bar. This resulted in a tinny, echoing sound that made even the best sound annoying. I can't remember a thing about Smart Pills, except they were from LA. Flyboys were a talented bunch who seemed to appeal to both punks and neo-wavers. Unfortunately, their lead singer died in a car wreck before they could leave an impression. The Plugz were the first latino punk band, they covered pop-songs like "La Bamba" at break neck speed and also wrote a pile of great original material. They later morphed into "Los Cruzados" and their lead singer, Tito now has a band named Tarantula.

11/21/79The Weirdos, Suburban Lawns, The Idle Rich, La Vida Hot Springs, Brea, $4. I can't remember The Idle Rich, maybe I got there late. Suburban Lawns had a goofy looking girl vocalist and a hit song on LA radio "My Janitor", where they deftly alternated the lyrics between "My Janitor" and "My Genitals". They looked like they were destined for big things, but they released a couple of singles and then vanished into thin air. I've always been a big fan of The Weirdos since their early singles "We Got the Neutron Bomb" and "Life of Crime". They put on another great show, in spite of La Vida's infamous plate glass window echo effect.

For a look at those La Vida punk concert posters, click on:

http://weirdotronix.tripod.com/ and search under "Flyers" for Eddie and the Subtitles; Cal Slam Zero, and The Plugz.

22 June 2009

Olinda Oil Field History: The 1910 Account of William Loftus

In 1921, the Historic Record Company, Los Angeles publishers of "mug books," histories that included mainly biographical essays of people who paid to be included in the work, issued its History of Orange County California by Samuel Armor. A chapter in the work was devoted to "The Oil Industry," as written in 1910 by William Loftus, an oilman whose Graham-Loftus company was one of the main players at Olinda.

His essay opened by stating that, although there was some oil exploration in the county before 1896, it was Edward Doheny who "obtained a lease with an option to purchase the lands now owned and operated by the Petroleum Development Company, which company is now owned by the Santa Fe Railroad Company."

Doheny burst into prominence in 1892, when the oil development he had in Los Angeles with Charles Canfield led to a successful opening of the first field in that city. Doheny also found incredible success in Mexico, specifically at Tampico, creating the company that is now Pemex, a government-controlled firm that has been one of the world's largest.

Loftus went on to write that "Mr. Doheny entered into a contract with the Santa Fe Company to operate the territory in partnership. He moved onto the property in February, 1897, and the first well, which was drilled to a depth of about 700 feet, was completed and put on the pump in a few months. It was started off with a production of about fifty barrels per day." This Santa Fe well #1 is still operating today and is part of the oil museum located in the midst of the Olinda Ranch housing tract.

Loftus noted that Doheny had predicted wells prodcuing some ten to twenty-five barrels per day at that depth. He went on that "up to October, 1898, the Santa Fe and Mr. Doheny had drilled ten wells, all less than 900 feet deep, which was about as deep as could be drilled in this formation with the methods then employed. Their best well produced about 100 barrels per day."

It was Loftus' own firm, the Graham-Loftus Oil Company, that entered the field next and it "commenced operations in this field in October, 1898. They drilled the first well 650 feet deep, and could get no further. The well started off with a production of forty barrels per day."

Problems, however, ensued with well #2, but Loftus attributed to a Frank Garbut the technique of filling the well with water to keep the walls up and preventing cave-ins as the well was dug deeper, in this case to almost 1,500 feet. As Loftus expressed it, the use of water to fill wells is "the greatest of the three chief factors that have made the large production of petroleum oil in California possible," along with steel drilling cable and a double under-reamer, a device that used cutters that expanded with the use of springs to allow casings to move deeper into the well hole. With this technology, the second Graham-Loftus well achieved a production of 700 barrels per day, a high number for the day. Later advances in drilling technology allowed this #2 well to go down over 4,000 feet and, for a few days, to bring in 20,000 barrels per day.

Also in the fall of 1898, the Columbia Oil Company began its work at the Olinda Ranch and through its operations it was learned that "the oil appears to be the same as that in the old Puente wells about five miles northwest [the property of the Puente Oil Company, formed by William R. Rowland, son of an early cattle rancher and farmer and a former Los Angeles County sheriff, and William Lacy on Rowland's portion of Rancho La Puente, in today's Rowland Heights], and it is the opinion of well-informed oil men that the light oil belt is continuous between these two points." As has been noted on previous entries in this blog, the geologic formation in what is called the "strike" has been demonstrated to be the same.

The promoters of the Columbia were Charles V. Hall, George Owens, Martin Barbour and James Lynch and their 58-acre lease soon passed to Hall, who persevered until the first well achieved a depth of 1,500 feet, at which point the crude flowed and thereby "opened up what has proven to be the richest portion of the field." Indeed, Loftus noted that there was a Columbia well that reached 20,000 barrels per day for a few days.

Union Oil Company of California, later Unocal, bought over 1,000 acres of Stearns Ranch Company [Abel Stearns, one of the first Americans to live in Los Angeles when he arrived from Massachusetts in 1828, being the owner of immense portion of central and northern Orange County until financial problems led him to sell his lands just before his death in 1871] land, of which 100 acres constituting the west end of the Olinda field were leased to Columbia and another 200 acres were obtained by the Brea Canon Oil Company. This firm was also partially owned by Doheny and the company found success on this property.

Loftus reckoned that calculated in terms of the "amount of oil sand and the per cent of saturation, which means the amount of oil per acre . . . the Olinda-Fullerton field is considered the best in the state, which means the best in the United States." By 1910, there were about 20.5 million barrels unearthed at the field with a value of $12.5 million dollars, determined by an average price of 65 cents per barrel (that's right, 65 cents compared to today's price of just below $70.)

15 June 2009

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #16

Of the several La Vida Mineral Springs postcards from the early 1930s that have been posted on this blog, this is perhaps the best.

The photographer stood in the middle of Carbon Canyon Road (hardly a good idea at any hour now) and captured an interesting scene to the east.

First, there is the plain stenciled "WELCOME" sign nailed to a eucalyptus tree, perhaps one of those still standing, albeit charred from the last fall's fires. Further to the left are a few of the small, rustic cabins lining Carbon [Canyon] Creek and there are even a couple of cars parket out front. Behind the second car in the distance is a small portion of the picnic area that is seen in greater detail in one of the cards profiled in this blog sometime ago.

Off to the right against the hillside are a couple of signs with one having a left-facing arrow to direct visitors to the office for the resort. There is also the resort's mailbox along the road on that southern side, as well. Of note, too, is the much greater number of trees on both sides of Carbon Canyon Road than are present now.

Unlike the other cards from this era shared on this blog, this one has a message, though it doesn't actually say anything about the resort, except on the bottom margin beneath the photo. There it says "We leave our car right beside this tree, Aunt L."

The writer postmarked the card from Encinitas in San Diego County and her date in the message and on the postmark are both from 2 July 1932, so she obviously bought the card while staying at La Vida and then wrote the message when she got home.

Incidentally, the recipient, a niece of the writer, lived in a little place called St. Johnsbury, Vermont, now a town of 7,500 in the central part of the state. The caption at the bottom of the photo reads: "La Vida Mineral Springs - Carbon Canyon, Calif" and the number 9 is at the right (though one of the other cars featured on this blog from the same series was given that same number.)

This great card is 2009.6.1.1 of the Carbon Canyon Collection. As always, clicking on the image will get you a zoomed-in view so you can get a little more of the detail.

CalTrans Graffiti Response

Once again, CalTrans District 8 came through quickly and efficiently on the recent tagging of about a dozen signs on the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142). The incident only happened five days ago and the signs have already been cleaned. So, thanks to the folks at District 8 and let's hope that taggers will see that their handiwork will not remain long, at least on the San Bernardino County side of the Canyon and they can express themselves somewhere else.

12 June 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #s 2011 & 2012

These are minor incidents compared to the last few incidents from this series, but they've happened within the last couple of weeks and they're part of the documentation that may or may not mean anything.

So, the lower photo is of the same guardrail along eastbound Carbon Canyon Road at the S-curve on the Chino Hills side of the Canyon that was replaced within the last year and hit at this very same spot about two months ago (a spot that had to be rebuilt, as well.) Looks like the car just hit the rail and smashed the support, but nothing near as bad as the previous incident.

The upper photo is of another incident of a car crossing lanes and bouncing off either the guardrail or the asphalt curb underneath while trying to take the curve too fast on the westbound side of the highway before the climb to Olinda Village.

Again, these appear to be one-car incidents with little indication of major damage, but are yet two more examples of reckless driving that have occurred in frequency in recent months.

For what it's worth.

11 June 2009

Yet More Artistic Expression in the Face of Social Injustice

The above photographs, taken at about 9 a.m. this morning, depict the last wave of graffiti to hit Carbon Canyon. The tagging happened last night and was sprayed onto signs running west from the approach to Feldspar Drive just before Summit Ranch all the way to Sleepy Hollow on the Chino Hills side, where the onslaught ended.

Because the tagging did not extend into Brea and because the moniker "142K" was most prominent on almost all of the signs, it seems very plausible that this is a local, perhaps even Canyon resident, tagger only interested in marking territory on the Chino Hills portion of the highway.

All of the signs hit were CalTrans property and the maintenance department of District 8, which is responsible for the San Bernardino County side of Highway 142, was notified and a call also placed with the Chino Hills graffiti hotline for notification purposes. One sign was on private property and the tagging was already painted over by 6:30 p.m.

The City of Chino Hills Web site has a page dedicated to graffiti issues, noting that there has been an increase, that the city is piloting a camera program to try and catch taggers, and so on. It's not clear whether there is the infrastructure to install cameras on Carbon Canyon Road and it appears that the tagging has been happening at night, probably quite late, so it may not be effective anyway on the dimly-lit highway.

Given that there has been no change in patrolling the Canyon, even with increasing incidents of traffic collisions and near-collisions (over the last several years, much less the uptick over recent weeks and months), it does not seem likely that there would any change in the Sheriff's Department presence for graffiti, either.

As this blog has quite clearly shown, however, there has been a noticeable change over the last few months with respect to graffiti, though nothing would be better than to be proven wrong.

Whether there is enough interest or will to try and do anything about it is very much an open question. One thing is for sure: whatever natural beauty, threatened though it is, there is left in Carbon Canyon, it is marred and scarred by those who are responsible for the defacement shown in this and other posts. Add the skid marks, destroyed and damaged signs, dented utility boxes, broken glass, crumpled guardrails, and scorched plant life that have occurred over the last half-year or so and it's lost a considerable part of its charm.

03 June 2009

Olinda Oil Field History: 1920s Gasoline Plant Explosion!

These four photographs capture a common and highly dangerous event at oil fields throughout history: fires and explosions at wells, refineries and other structures. In this case, the incident happened at the Olinda oil field sometime in the 1920s, judging from the cars, the clothing, the wooden oil derricks and the "Velox" paper by Kodak on which the images were printed.

What the photos show is a tin structure with the eastern portion heavily damaged by an explosion and dark smoke from the accompanying fire rising from the building. The only inscriptions, written in ink, on the reverse identify the location as "Hall's Hill" and the event as a "gasoline plant explosion."

There is no date, no company identified, and no specific name of the field, though it is clearly Olinda. This can be discerned from the hills off to the north and east, the fact that the Santa Ana Mountains can be seen way off in the distance on one image, and that there is mention on one image of the "Santa Fe" water tank and shed. This was the Santa Fe lease on what is now the Olinda Ranch subidivision (an access of which is Santa Fe Road.)

Given this, it is clear the location of the explosion and of "Hall's Hill" is to the west, perhaps to the west of today's Valencia Avenue, then called Olinda Boulevard. It is possible that this is somewhere north of the present location of Olinda Nursery, northwest of Valencia Avenue and Lambert Road and about where the Columbia Oil Company had its lease.

If anyone has a clearer idea of the location of this site and knows anything about "Hall's Hill," I would appreciate knowing about it. As always, clicking on an image will give a zoomed view with good clarity.

These photos are provided courtesy of the Homestead Museum, City of Industry.

02 June 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #1929

Driven to distraction squared! Over the weekend, there was another accident in Carbon Canyon on our beloved State Highway 142. This time, the incident occurred on the westbound side of the road in the Brea portion of the Canyon right after the old entrance to the La Vida hotel. And, this time, the distracted driver, no doubt forced off the road by a careless coyote or the radiant brilliance of a spring moon or the ghosts of La Vida Mineral Springs (or, perhaps, a little lead in the shoe or the perfidious effects of fermented grain), took a personal and close-up tour of Carbon [Canyon] Creek.

What more can be said? The car left the roadway, mowed down one of those innocent, innocuous mileage marker signs, bent back the edge of a new guardrail installed after last November's Freeway Complex Fire, and boogied on down creekside. Just another weekend on Carbon Canyon Road!

Photos were taken this morning and, as an added bonus for all of you dedicated followers of motor vehicle mayhem in Carbon Canyon, note the faux rock-covered electrical box across the street. That was the ending point for entry #1732 from 20 May in our "On the Skids" series. As an extra added bonus, doesn't it look like a smiling snail with its two eyes and wide grin?

So, after noticing the unusually frequent array of accidents and near-misses, it has finally come down to one inescapable conclusion, other than officialdom's benign neglect and the carelessness of a small portion of the motoring public: it's the road's fault! It's just too difficult to negotiate the curve there, because we've now had two accidents there in the last several weeks. Curses upon the dangerous highway!

01 June 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #1841

Actually, on this accident, which occurred last Friday night, there was almost no skidding (no kidding!) involved. This driver, heading eastbound on Carbon Canyon Road (and maybe, just maybe, even speeding!) simply went off the side of road at the Carriage Hills Lane intersection, caromed off a power pole (which came out with some gouges and gashes but its dignity intact), ended back up on the road for a few feet, and veered off again, chewing up some meticulously maintained grass in the process before coming to rest in a planter.

As is so often the case in these enlightened days, the driver left some items to be remembered by a la the "freeway fender frenzy" that we see far too much of on our lightly-patrolled highways, in the form of pieces of the front fender, a front license plate, pieces of headlight casing and other sundry items, all strewn about with a strikingly artistic effect on the emerald green turf.

The attached photographs were taken about 8:00 this morning and, by the time I came through again on the way home a little after 3:30, the landscaping company, presumably, for the Carriage Hills Homeowners' Association had largely smoothed everything over, removed the debris and very nearly made it appear as if nothing had ever happened there, except for faint markings on the lawn and the aforementioned residue on the power pole.

Now, on to the next crash and the resounding official silence and inactivity that inevitably will follow!