31 December 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #3871 + A Bonus

This one seems to have occurred since Christmas and is 1/8 to 1/4 mile from the county line on the Brea side on Carbon Canyon Road (SR 142.)

From what can be discerned, the vehicle, heading eastbound, brushed the hillside and then skidded across the westbound lane. No one seems to be have been coming the other direction, fortunately, and it can be assumed that this driver recovered nicely and went along his (most likely) merry way.

As an extra bonus, the poor "snail" utility cover that has been hit at least twice in 2009 near the old La Vida Mineral Springs property in Brea received a nice sendoff to a rough year by being tagged during the same period as the above incident.

Despite this sour post to end the year, the Chronicle would like to extend New Year's wishes for a great 2010 and let's hope that the Canyon has a good one, as well.

30 December 2009

Olinda Village Traffic Signal Work Resumes

After an extended lull, obviously while awaiting the arrival of the poles, lights, signage and other components, the traffic signal project on Carbon Canyon Road in Olinda Village resumed this week.

As has been mentioned before, there will be two sets of signals, the first at Olinda Drive corresponding with the main entrance to Hollydale Mobile Home Estates and another signal at Ruby Drive, the secondary entrance to Hollydale.

The only delays might come from potential rain; otherwise the announced February completion date seems on-track.

Expect to see the signals operational within several weeks and then we'll see what impacts there will be on traffic, especially in morning and afternoon commuting hours.

29 December 2009

Another Part of Historic La Vida Mineral Springs Lost

Now, they may have been killed off by the devastating fire that roared through Carbon Canyon in November 2008 or perhaps property owner Leo Hayashi wanted them gone for some other reason, but it was a shame to see the historic eucalyptus trees (or what remained of them) at the old La Vida Mineral Springs property on the Brea side of the Canyon cut down this morning (see photo) as I was heading to work.

Based on the 1930s era real photo postcards of La Vida that have posted on this site, those trees would appear to have been planted in at least the 1920s and survived some eight decades before their removal today.

This leaves only the remnants of the water tank at the base of the hills as the remaining above-ground feature of the springs.

20 December 2009

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #22

This post features another La Vida Mineral Springs soda bottle. The "Lime 'N Lemon" brand bottle appears to be from the 1930s or 1940s and, while not in great shape, does have enough of the label to be almost completely readable.


Incidentally, the reference to sulfates, or salts of sulphuric acid, refers to the naturally-occurring material in the mineral water used to make the drink.

The last photo shows the stamping of the La Vida Mineral Springs Company name and the Placentia location.

The item is 2009.11.1.1 from the Carbon Canyon Collection.

19 December 2009

Carbon Canyon Night Patrol!

It was strange to see, although it is a Saturday night near a major holiday, but coming home a half-hour ago through the beginning of Carbon Canyon on the Brea side, I saw a Brea PD motorcycle officer pulling over a car at the entrance to Carbon Canyon Regional Park.

I've driven along the road plenty of times at this time of night and have rarely, if ever, seen a police presence on either the Brea or Chino Hills sides of the Canyon, unless there was a response to an accident.

Again, maybe it was that special circumstance mentioned above, but it goes to demonstrate that it is possible to patrol the Canyon at night, when many of our worst incidences of driving behavior occur.

It would be nice to see something like this down towards Sleepy Hollow once in a while!

16 December 2009

Chino Hills State Park Visitor Center Restarted

It appears that the bond monies dedicated towards the building of the new Chino Hills State Park Visitor Center in the Brea portion of Carbon Canyon adjacent to Carbon Canyon Regional Park and which were frozen by order of the governor are now released. Consequently, construction activity is once again in evidence as noted in the photographs here, which were taken yesterday morning.

Very little information has been located about the visitor center, although it may be out there somewhere, as to size, amenities, expected completion dates, and so on. Given the state of the economy, this may be by design.

At any rate, we'll see how this project develops even if the low profile continues.

15 December 2009

Late Fall Views from Carbon Canyon

It's not technically winter yet (another week), but the recent storms brought a nice dusting to the San Gabriel Mountains, so here are some views taken this morning and yesterday morning of Mount San Antonio (aka Baldy) and its neighbors, including Ontario and Cucamonga peaks from the S-curve in Chino Hills.

Monday's views, at the bottom, show the mountains "floating" above some low-hanging clouds and the valley has some leftover fog, though the skies are clear. This morning's shots, however, show a nearly crystal clear view but there are some interesting cloud patterns by contrast.

14 December 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #3732

This one was over the weekend with the vehicle heading eastbound on Carbon Canyon Road down the end of the S-curve just past Old Carbon Canyon Road in Chino Hills and going over the asphalt curb to ambush the speed limit sign. Photos were taken this morning.

13 December 2009

La Vida Mineral Springs History: Destruction of the Hotel

On 4 December 1988, a rapidly-moving fire at the remote La Vida Mineral Springs hotel destroyed the 1930s structure. According to an article by Mark Landsbaum and Jean Davidson in the Los Angeles Times, the blaze caused well over $1 million in damage and sent a half-dozen guests and as many staff, including owner Leo Hayashi and family, living in the structure fleeing with towels, sheets and blankets and forced to leave their clothes and other possessions behind. The cause was not then known, although Hayashi guessed that an appliance motor may have initiated the fire.

With Brea Fire Department Battalion Chief Joel Shennum stating that nearly all of the interior of the structure was involved and that flames shot through the roof, the buildings was uninhabitable. Firefighting for the twelve responding engine companies were not only hampered by the isolation of the site, but by the narrow one-lane access bridge from Carbon Canyon Road and the heavy timber used for supporting the building. In fact, while smaller vehicles could cross the bridge, larger vehicles had to park on the highway and used extension hoses to reach the hotel some 100 yards (a football field length) away.

As to the future of the site, despite Hayashi's comment that "we will try to do the best we can, as quickly as possible," when asked whether he would repair or rebuild the hotel, its demise was assured. Not only was the fire devastating, but there is probably every reason to believe that the recession that began with the 1987 stock market crash and which persisted well into the 1990s put any thought to the redevelopment of the building and the resort generally to rest. The final blow would come thirteen years later, which is a story to be told next month.

10 December 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #3617

This one appears to have happened last night or at least within the last few days and is westbound on Carbon Canyon Road just a short distance (1/4 mile, maybe) down the hill west of Olinda Village. The photos were taken this morning.

09 December 2009

La Vida Mineral Springs History: "Orange Coast" Magazine Feature, 1986

In the January 1986 of the monthly Orange Coast magazine, an article titled "Wellsprings of Health" by John W. Sammon profiled three hot springs in and around the county. These included Glen Ivy Hot Springs between Corona and Lake Elsinore; San Juan Hot Springs, east of San Juan Capistrano and west of Lake Elsinore; and Carbon Canyon's own La Vida Mineral Springs in Brea.

The article mentioned the oft-told story that an oil well drilled on the spot in the 1890s led to the discovery of the springs. That, however, was all the history included in the article, which focused on the operations of the facility, owned by Leo and June Hayashi since about 1973 or 1974. For example, it was noted that there were some 25 to 30,000 gallons of 112-degree water supplied to the resort from the underground springs. As explained by Leo Hayashi, whose native Japan is filled with volcanic hot springs, "every springs has its own characteristics. This particular spring is alkaline and contains calcium, magnesium and sodium bicarbonates." Because of these minerals, Hayashi explained, "it's good for soothing your nerves and to help your muscles relax." Moreover, he added that the water was drinkable and that he and his wife were considering bottling the water in the future, something that was done for years from the 1920s to probably the 1960s, but not mentioned in the article.

The piece did explain that, in the spa area, men and women had their own soaking areas, where sunken tubs were filled with the hot mineral water that was propelled by jacuzzi-style jets. After a half-hour or so of soaking in the tubs, guests were then led to a sauna and then a blanket wrap, at which time cold towels and ice water were provided. A particular specialty was a shiatsu massage targeting pressure points for pain relief and the loosening of tightened muscles. The site also had two swimming pools and a children's wading pool, all filled with the local spring water.

Notably, the spa remained in the 1920s building (described in the article as an Art Deco 1930s structure) but the Hayashis were considering a remodeling. There was also the separately-operated restaurant and 15-room motel (more on those in subsequent posts.)

Despite talk about upgrading the resort, the Hayashis continued to operate La Vida much as it was until disaster struck just a couple of years after this article and the further history of the resort was degradation, closure, and destruction. In 1986, however, it appeared (much as was the case in a 1985 Los Angeles Times article that was the subject of a previous post here) that the resort was a viable business for the Hayashis. Indeed, Leo Hayashi hopefully ticked off some of his clientele, including "young doctors, lawyers and CPAs," instead of the seniors said to have constituted most of their customers back in the 1970s. Moreover, Hayashi stated that "the whole country is more health conscious than it once was," although, if that was true then, it is hardly so now.

Driving by the La Vida site now, it is virtually impossible to imagine what the place once was, with its two-story spa, restaurant, two-story motel, foot bridges, landscaping and grass, picnic area, pools, playground, cottages and other components. Now, all that remains is some of the hardscape (paving, sidewalks, etc.) and the old 1920s water tank on the hill behind where the spa once sat.

Check back for posts covering other events in the later history of La Vida!

08 December 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #3558

This is westbound on Carbon Canyon Road on the S-curve in Chino Hills, just a little distance from where two other CalTrans signs have been dislodged in the last month or so. This flattening happened over the weekend. The photo was taken yesterday when it had been raining. There was no precipitation when this occurred, however.