14 December 2010

Blackstone Master Planned Community: Carbon Canyon Adjacent

While not within Carbon Canyon per se, but quite close, the master planned community of Blackstone is on some 800 acres of former oil land, last owned by Nuevo Energy, in what is generally referred to as Tonner Hills, west of Valencia Avenue and north of Lambert Road, is in the first phases of development.  The framing is going up for the first model homes in four neighborhoods being built by Shea and Standard Pacific and work is also underway for ninety-four "garden apartments" targeted for persons who fall under guidelines for affordable housing.

Standard Pacific has two neighborhoods in development.  Sorano (named for a town in Italy's Tuscany province) will have homes in the range of 1,739 to 2,001 square feet, but early information is limited to just that.  No prices, or lot sizes are given.  By contrast, Castillian (with reference to the Spanish region of Castile) has much larger homes, spanning from 4,223 to 4,971 square feet.  Notably, while the description for Sorano noted the abundance of "oaks trees," we learn the Castillian has a proliferation of "walnut trees."  Better still, the community is located only 30 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles (funny, but thirty miles northeast of downtown LA seems to put the unsuspecting homebuyer smack in the middle of the Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains.)

Still, the "master planned village" claims that "hills, valleys, canyons and ancient oaks trees dot the landscape at Sorano at Blackstone. Part of a premier master-planned community in Brea, Sorano pairs rugged, natural beauty with stylish suburban living."  While the carefully-crafted description (well, except for the "oaks trees") note that that there will be "a proposed park with athletic fields" (even though the new Brea sports park is less than a mile south), and the de rigeur pool and spa, as well as "proximity" to Birch Street Promenade, there is no mention that the Olinda Alpha Landfill is just a hop, skip, and a dump (ouch) away.  Castillian, according to Standard Pacific's Google map location finder on its Web site, appears to be on the west side of the 57 Freeway.  Even more interesting, Sorano's Google map indicator shows it to be west of Wildcat Way, the road that leads to Brea-Olinda High School!

For more, preliminary though it is, see here and here.

As for Shea, the builder of the recently-completed "Walden Estates" fronting Lambert below Blackstone and which homes were going for up to about $1 million during the peak of the great ho(u)sing boom of the 2000s, there are two communities that are less geographical in name than those offered by Standard Pacific, but sparkle with references to precious gems (which they, no doubt, will be.)  Amber is the smaller of them with homes measuring from 2,015 to 2,177 square feet.  Jade is in the 2,806 to 3,360 square foot range.   There is also some reference to another community called Cortesa, but the Shea Web site has essentially no information on any of the projects up at the moment.  For more see here and here:

Yet, it is the Bonterra apartment complex, formerly known as Tonner Hills Apartments, is probably the most intriguing of the Blackstone "family" of developments.  The City of Brea refers to its location as "north of Lambert Road at Valencia Avenue in the new Pepper Tree Hills housing tract."  Slated for completion in September 2011, the 94 unit complex will have "rents affordable to extremely-low, very-low and low income households," expected to be from $465 to $1,180 per month.  Maximum eligible incomes for those contemplating renting at Bonterra range from $52,050 for a one-person household to $92,150 for seven-person households.  For more see: Bonterra spec sheet.

There is also an Internet real estate Web site with an interesting article on the Bonterra project, which, as "a critical component of the Blackstone master plan, Jamboree’s workforce housing component is being built as a requirement of Tonner Hills’ Affordable Housing Implementation Agreement with the City of Brea."

The article noted that the groundbreaking ceremony was on 1 December, including city officials and council members.  A concise description of the developement noted: "the new property encompasses seven three-story buildings arranged around central courtyards and are linked by tree-lined pedestrian friendly landscaped walks. It will provide 21 one-bedroom, 34 two-bedroom, and 39 three-bedroom apartments. The Spanish influenced architecture features tuck-under garages for each apartment along with additional surface parking areas for residents and guests. Completion is scheduled for Fall 2011." 

Brea's Community Development Director, Eric Nicoll, observed that, “we are very careful in choosing partners that reflect a high level of sensitivity to community values and Jamboree supports these values. Bonterra will provide new apartment housing for Brea’s workforce, estimated at 7,500 workers within 1.5 miles of the site. The master developers, Shea Homes and Standard Pacific Homes, have shown leadership by seamlessly integrating the Jamboree workforce housing development with other housing choices in the community and we look forward to seeing these new neighborhoods developing soon.”

The project is promoted in the piece as a model of modern development.  For example, Bonterra will "include a 3,500 square-foot community recreation center for use by Jamboree residents as well as landscaped community spaces for outdoor recreation. The building amenities include property management offices and classroom space designed for resident services to be provided by Housing with HEART, Jamboree’s nonprofit resident services group. Additional amenities include community meeting rooms, a computer lab, a swimming pool with patio area, a tot lot, barbecue/picnic areas, and a central laundry facility. Each apartment home will feature ENERGY STAR appliances."  The buildings will also seek a Silver rating in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification standard for energy-conserving construction.

It is further stated that "residents will also have exceptional views of surrounding cityscape and open space including the future Wildcatter Park located across the street from the neighborhood. A central landscaped paseo connects the neighborhood’s residential buildings and community center to the main thoroughfare, Santa Fe Road."

To show how complicated the financing for these projects can be, the article observed:

Financing for development of the new Jamboree community consists of funds from tax exempt bonds, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC) four percent federal tax credits syndicated by Merritt Community Capital Corporation, a $14 million construction loan and a $4 million permanent loan from Bank of America, construction and permanent financing from the City of Brea totaling $1.2 million, and a County of Orange permanent loan of $4 million including $2 million in HOME funds that was funded at start of construction. Financing also consists of Multifamily Housing Program (MHP) funds of $7.7 million from California’s Department of Housing & Community Development (HCD), and American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds of $7.8 million as a bridge loan to guarantee HCD’s permanent loan commitment.

For the full text, click here.  From the City of Brea Web site, click here.  For photos from Orange County Supervisor Bill Campbell's Web site, discussing his staff's attendance at the groundbreaking, click here.  For another recent article, click here.

Putting aside what will almost certainly be big demand for the afforable-housing apartments, there is the question of whether or not there are enough buyers out there with the down payments, equity, income-to-debt ratio, and FICO scores to make building new, generally larger and relatively expensive homes at Blackstone a wise decision in a recessionary economy.  By comparison, Elements (formerly Pine Valley Estates) on the Chino Hills side of the Canyon, has been barely registering sales for a few years running.  Maybe those folks are out there and we won't know until late next year and into 2012, which, SP and Shea are undoutbtedly betting, will see significant improvement in the economy.
The most obvious effect of the Blackstone master planned community on Carbon Canyon will certainly be in traffic in and around the project area, particularly on those morning commuters going west and south bound on Lambert Road and Valencia Avenue and for those traveling afternoons the other way heading toward the Canyon on those roads.  Oh, and one might wonder about fires in the "open space" among the so-called "Tonner Hills" around these tracts, the same areas that burned during the Freeway Complex Fire of November 2008.  Undoubtedly, planners have accounted for every such contingency in the development of Blackstone.

07 December 2010

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #6538 and #6579 1/4

More recent escapades on the state highway through our bucolic canyon, despite striping, guardrails, signs, reflectors and, theoretically, common sense that seek to dictate otherwise.

The debris du jour is along the east downslope of the S-curves on the Chino Hills side (lest the Brea side dominate too much in the way of damage) and some of the detritus managed to skitter down the short slope off the highway.

The 1/4 is but a slight push of a section of guardrail up higher on the S-curve that has been frequently knocked off-kilter.

While there, the opportunity to lighten the mood arose--hence, the nice view towards the peaks of San Antonio (aka Baldy), Ontario, and Cucamonga.

06 December 2010

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #6400

There was another debris-depositing dust-up on Carbon Canyon Road over the weekend, just a few yards from the recent incident west of Olinda Village on the downslope toward Carbon Canyon Regional Park and Olinda Ranch.

In this incident, there didn't appear to be any skid marks, just pieces of fenders, mirrors, light panels and other assorted odds and ends scattered for quite a distance on both sides of the highway.

Perhaps someone knows more about this latest event?  There obviously seems to be something about a downhill curve that (going on a limb here) almost certainly involved excessive speed, but as to whether there were injuries beyond the damage to a vehicle or vehicles is not known to this blogger.

After several months of quiet, there have been a series of collisions on the roadway, with a couple of new minor ones noted on the Chino Hills side and maybe from last weekend, as well.

05 December 2010

Historic 1858 and 1862 Maps of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino

In 1851, a decade after the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino was granted to Antonio Maria Lugo and eight years after Lugo's son-in-law, Isaac Williams, secured an addition that expanded the property to some 44,000 acres, Congress passed a land claims act for California.

The question of the legitimacy of Spanish and Mexican-era land grants had been raised with the treaty that ended the Mexican-American War three years previously.  Even though the American envoy, Nicholas Trist, agreed to include a provision that guaranteed these grants, that article was stricken from the ratified treaty at the behest of Congress and President James K. Polk.

When gold was discovered in the Sierra Nevada Mountains just nine days before Mexico ratified the treaty, the dynamics of land ownership changed dramatically.  Instead of some 10,000 non-Indians residing in California, the next several years saw about a quarter of a million emigrants, many of whom tried placer gold mining to little or no success and a great deal of whom thought to acquire land.  Much of the prime holdings, however, were congregated in large ranchos granted under Spanish and Mexican rule.

Congress commissioned two reports to determine the validity of land grants and one came up with the idea that they were largely legitimate while the other thought differently.  Accepting the latter, under the proposition that it was better to open up California land to new settlers, Congress passed the 3 March legislation mandating that holders of existing grants take their documentation and send witnesses to a land commission for a hearing.  After that body's decision, however, there was a right of appeal to federal district and, ultimately, the Supreme Court.  With the land commission approving about 75% of the 800 or so claims, this meant that most appeals were brought to the courts by the United States, which did so automatically, regardless of the merit of the claim.

The costs to land owners could be staggering.  Lawyers had to be hired, surveyors brought in to make maps required by the process, and property holders faced the unsavory prospect of having their claims take, on the average, seventeen years to adjudicate from the commission and courts.  During that enormously long period, the economy went through great turbulence.  In 1851, the Gold Rush was in full flower and owners of ranches stocked with cattle made significant sums feeding the teeming hordes that came to California.  By the end of the decade, though, the decline of gold production was precipitous and ranchers suffered with little demand for their growing inventory of livestock.

In 1861-62, a period of heavy rainfall of biblical proportions unleashed flooding on a massive scale, washing away cattle and crops.  The El Niño phenomenon was followed, though no one knew it then, by the La Niña effect--that is, a two-year drought that decimated an already tottering cattle industry.  For Spanish-speaking Californios who built their society around the cattle ranch, not just their economy, the results were devastating and they still had to contend with the land claims proceedings that were, in most cases, not concluded until later in the decade.

By 1870, then, agriculture was predominant on smaller farms carved out from foreclosed and sold ranchos that were subdivided.  American migrants came again in large numbers from the destruction caused by the Civil War.  Massive economic, political and social change ensued during the land claims process.

Surprisingly, the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino survived intact and would largely remain so until the 1890s.  Isaac Williams, owner of the rancho from the early 1840s, died in 1856 before the worst of the trials and tribulations mentioned above took place.  The property passed to his two daughters, Merced and Francisca, whose interests were managed by their husbands, John Rains and Robert Carlisle.  Disputes between the brothers-in-law led Rains to sell his interest to Carlisle and move to a new home at Rancho Cucamonga.  Rains was mysteriously murdered in 1862 and suspicion rested in many minds upon Carlisle.  The latter, too, met a violent death through a legendary gun battle with the King brothers, Frank and Houston, of El Monte, which took place at a Los Angeles hotel, the Bella Union, which had been once owned by John Rains.

Still, the land claim first filed by Williams and then continued under Carlisle was approved.  As part of the process, surveys were conducted of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino.  Thanks to OAC, or the Online Archive of California, a database of collaborating libraries and archives in California, these documents are available for viewing on the Internet.  Two surveys of the rancho are provided through the database, one from 1858 with 1864 amendments and another from 1862.

The November 1858 drawing is by Los Angeles-based surveyor Henry Hancock, who surveyed a great many land claims parcels.  Hancock, born in 1822 in New Hampshire, was a lawyer as well as a surveyor and came to California during the Gold Rush, but moved to Los Angeles in 1850.  He represented the Rocha family as attorney in their land claims case and, when their legal expenses led them to sell the ranch, it was purchased by Hancock (he also had an interest in the rancho that included much of Beverly Hills, though he lost this to foreclosure to William Workman of Rancho La Puente, a near neighbor of Isaac Williams.)  Hancock was a partner in one of the first attempts to drill for oil in the Los Angeles region because the rancho he obtained from the Rochas had large surface deposits of asphaltum or tar, called in Spanish brea.  Hence the name of his rancho, La Brea (as well as the Rancho Cañon de la Brea in Brea Canyon, which gave the name of the city within which is the western portion of Carbon Canyon!)  Hancock's wife was Ada Haraszthy, whose father Agoston, a Hungarian, was a major viticulturist in winemaker in 1850s and 1860s California.  Their surviving child, G. Allan Hancock, inherited his father's interests at Rancho La Brea and, when oil was produced there in the early 1900s and afterward (around the time of the development of Olinda in this area) became a wealthy man.  Allan Hancock developed the still-exclusive residential neighborhood of Hancock Park on the La Brea rancho, was the discoverer of the La Brea tar pits archaeological site, and was also invested in Santa Maria in northern Santa Barbara County, where Hancock College is named for him and where he died at age 90 in 1965.

Henry Hancock's survey has some notable features, including the siting of the ranch house, though without any specific locating notations.  There is also reference to "High Rolling Hills," meaning the Chino Hills, running northwest to southeast.  Up at the northern side of the rancho there is an interesting notation of a "Clump of Willows in Permanent pool of Water." This would be somewhere in Chino, east of the 71 Freeway and south of the 60, but specifically it is not possible to tell from the map.

At the bottom of the survey is a small portion of the "Overland Stage Road," which had been called the Colorado Road (because it went from Los Angeles to the Colorado River) from at least 1850 and which became known as the Butterfield Stage Road (hence the Butterfield Ranch neighborhood of Chino Hills.)  Later, this was the Pomona-Rincon Road, a name still retained in a road that is in several segments in our area.  Finally, the route of State Route 71 was aligned generally along portions of the old road.  The "Overland Stage Road" route appears again at the top of the map along the border with Rancho San José, at the Chino Hills/Diamond Bar/Pomona boundary area.  What is striking, however, is that the indications of the road from the partial markings at the southern and northern extremes shows that the route went clearly west of the ranch house, once located at what is now Boys Republic.  This seems to lead to the idea that the road went more along what would be closer to Peyton Drive.  Other later maps might give better clues as to the route followed by the old highway, a major transportation route for the broader Los Angeles region.

At the far upper left or northwest corner of the rancho is a notation for "Cañada de la Brea," although this is actually what is now known as Tonner Canyon.  We know this because the entirety of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino falls within San Bernardino County and what is today called Brea Canyon is in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Interestingly, a similarly-named canyon is partially marked out at the southwestern portion of the Chino rancho and is named "Brea Cañon" with two other smaller canyons clearly outlined just to the south.  This is almost certainly Carbon Canyon being the first with Soquel and, probably, Telegraph canyons being the other two.

The link to the 1858 Hancock survey, which was resurveyed in May 1864 by Thomas Sprague, and which is archived at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley is:


In October 1862, Robert Carlisle hired surveyor Frank Lecouvreur to draw up a new map of the Chino Rancho.  Lecouvreur was born in 1829 in Prussia to a French father and Prussian mother.  He, like Hancock, was a Gold Rush migrants, coming to California in 1851.  Settling in Los Angeles in 1855, he was the deputy county clerk for three years and then was hired to be the deputy surveyor for Hancock and likely assisted on the 1858 survey of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino.  Lecouvreur then succeeded Hancock was county surveyor when the latter, an avid supporter of the Union cause during the Civil War, was given a military commission in Los Angeles.  This appears to explain why Lecouvreur conducted the 1862 survey.  After finishing his second term as surveyor, Lecouvreur left from the business and became cashier at the prominent Farmers and Merchants Bank of Los Angeles, where he became a member of the board of directors before retiring because of health problems in 1886.  He lived, however, fifteen more years before dying in Los Angeles in 1901.

The 1862 map actually provides less detail in terms of landmarks or notable features than the earlier survey.  At the far southern portion, instead of the Butterfield Stage Road, there is a marking for "Chino Creek," which emptied, as it does now (albeit as a flood control channel), into the Santa Ana River.  It might also be noted that the rancho to the southeast was called El Rincon and there was a village in that area in what is now the Prado Dam area in Riverside County at the conjunction of the 71 and 91 freeways.

The same "Permanent Pool of Water" as well as a nearby section of "Gray Sandstone Rock" demarcated on the earlier survey are also shown, but no indication of the road to the west.  More pronounced than before, however, is the "Cañada de la Brea" along a longer portion of the western boundary of the rancho sloping from northeast to southwest.  As stated above, though, this is Tonner Canyon.

And, as previously, at the extreme southwest corner of the ranch is the markings of a small canyon (though not any to the south, as before) as well as what is identified as "Brea Creek."  There is even a smaller gully coming from the south and emptying into the creek--this could be anywhere within the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon, but likely west of the S-curve where the Carriage Hills subdivision is located and probably quite close to where the Western Hills Oaks community is located.  Indeed, just outside of the rancho boundary and extending north of the creek is a long narrow small canyon, which gives every appearance of being Lion Canyon, the access point for the St. Joseph's Hill of Hope religious compound that is just to the west of the Sleepy Hollow neighborhood of Chino Hills.  This is evident, again, from the fact, that the western boundary of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino is also the dividing line between San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles counties at various points.

Finally, it is notable that the 1862 Lecouvreur map has a lengthy title that includes the notation: "showing the proposed Alteration of the Exterior Boundary line, on the authority of the approved Maps of the 'Rancho Santa Ana del Chino,' 'Rancho Addition to Santa Ana del Chino,' and 'Rancho El Rincon' . . ."  The differences appear, in fact, to be entirely about adjusting the boundary that separated Chino, the 1843 addition to the north and east (the boundaries of which do not appear on the 1858 map), and El Rincon and have nothing to do with the portions that include or are near Carbon Canyon.  Boundary disputes and differences, however, were common because of the inexact determinations of these lines during the land grant periods under Spain and Mexico. 

The link to the 1862 Lecouvreur survey, also deposited at the Bancroft Library, is:


04 December 2010

La Vida Mineral Springs Water Tank's Good Samaritan Returns!

Over at the old water tank at the historic La Vida Mineral Springs property, it looked like a seasonal change of color for the Fall, as the graffiti-marred structure, hit again some months back, was tagged with additional hues of yellow and who knows what else.

The augmented artistic expression on the La Vida
Mineral Springs water tank as of 23 November.

However, it appears that the same Good Samaritan who painted over the "artwork" last year (or was it the year before) came back within the last few days and obliterated the newest markings. 

The handiwork of the mysterious Good Samaritan, who
gave the old tank a nice touchup, as of 1 December.

So, for now, the base is a brownish gray and the tank is again a faded pink--the colors they were for years and years when, before the 2008 Triangle Complex fire burned down the surrounding brush and weeds, they were almost completely obscured from view.

Let's hope the latest treatment remains for awhile.

03 December 2010

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #6217 & #6382

Within the last week or so, another two incidents have occurred in which drivers have strayed away from the usually adequately striped and marked Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142) and caused some notable property damage, including private and public property, as well as the offending vehicle.

The first involved the side-swiping by an eastbound traveler of a pickup truck parked in front of some apartments at the east end of Sleepy Hollow in Chino Hills, the scene of another errant auto that crashed into a rock wall remnant there within the last few weeks.  The photo of the pickup doesn't actually show much of the damage, save some crumpling of the side, but there was a blown tire and many scratches, in addition to the significant dents.

The other took place on the westbound side of the road downhill from Olinda Village on the Brea side of the Canyon.  In this case, the vehicle took a curve too fast, overcompensated, and skidded off the roadway and into the steep hillside.  A reflector or two took hits and several souvenirs of the conveyance in question were left to little the shoulder.  Sprinkled liberally throughout this post are some shots of this latest escapade.

30 November 2010

Rancho Santa Ana del Chino and Carbon Canyon: A Rare Tidbit about Chino's Indian Community

Back on 26 May, there was a post about the native aboriginal peoples (that is, Indians) of what became the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino and, specifically, the village of Pasinog-na, which probably was at or near the site of the Chino Ranch headquarters, now Boys Republic in Chino Hills.

The only source for that village name came from Hugo Reid, a native of Scotland who migrated to California in the ealry 1830s and was married to Victoria, a native woman from what became known as the Gabrieliño tribe of Indians who populated the general Los Angeles Basin and surrouding areas.  Reid was a keen student of the customs, traditions and practices of the Gabrieliño, compiling a body of information that would have been lost if not published.

This happened in a series of twenty-two "letters" penned by Reid and published in the first newspaper of Los Angeles, the Star, which was issued weekly on Saturdays.  Reid's letters started on 21 February 1852 and continued until the summer (they were reprinted in 1868 by the same paper, as well.)  The reaction they had was such that the first federal Indian agent in the region, Reid's friend, Benjamin D. Wilson, relied heavily upon them for his published report on the Indian community, also completed in 1852 (and recently published in paperback form by the Huntington Library, which is on land formerly owned by Wilson.  Incidentally, Reid's ranch is now the site of the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia.)

Of great interest is the fact that the last ten of the letters, which dealt with the controversial question of the treatment of the Indians by the Spanish missionaries and others, disappeared.  Presumably, they were in the hands of Reid's widow, but it was said that they were suppressed because of the negative connotation put upon the Roman Catholic missionaries.  Among this material is a brief mention of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino.

The reference comes in letter seventeen, titled "Conversion."  In it, Reid stated that "the text is related by the old Indians, or as noted by the writer himself," although there were no dates given.  The negativity came out in such statements as "when the priest came to found the mission [San Gabriel], he brought a number of vagabonds, under the name of soldiers, to carry out the proposed plan."  Reid goes on to say that because baptisms and their ritual were not understood by the recipients [Indians], they "can hardly be said to be a conversion."  Indeed, he continued, the Indians "had no more idea that they were worshipping God than an unborn child has of astronomy."  To these "converts," he went on, their "religion, as Catholics, consited in being able to cross themselves, under an impression it was something connected with hard work and still harder blows [that is, corporal punishment]."

Reid also observed that "we are, of course, unable to say that the severe measures adopted emanated from the priest; still there can be no doubt he either winked at the means employed by his agents, or else he was credulity personified!"  Consequently, because Indians could not officially be coerced into conversion, "part of the soldiers of servants proceeded on expeditions after converts."  The narrative then stated:

On one occasion they went as far as the present Rancho del Chino, where they tied and whipped every man, woman and child in the lodge [village], and drove part of them back with them.  On the road they did the same with those of the lodge at San José [present Pomona area].  On arriving home [San Gabriel] the men were instructed to throw their bows and arrows at the feet of the priest, and make due submission.—The infants were then baptized, as were also all children under eight years of age; the former were left with their mothers, but the latter kept apart from all communication with their parents.  The consequence was, first, the women consented to the rite and received it, for the love they bore their offspring; and finally the males gave way for the purpose of enjoying once more the society of wife and family.

Reid went on to state that the Indians did not, originally, revolt or resist due to surprise and astonishment over this treatment and that "a strange lethargy and inaction predominated afterwards.  All they did was to hide themselves as they best could from the oppressor."

As said above, the idea of missionary mistreatment of Indians is a controversial one, made more so by efforts in recent decades to elevate Father Junipero Serra, founder of the early missions, to sainthood.  Indeed, this blogger has just finished an anti-Serra work called The Missions of California: A Legacy of Genocide.  A review is not the intent here, but the Reid reference to Rancho Santa Ana del Chino is either a slander by someone who was born a Protestant in Scotland and may have, therefore, had a preexisting negative opinion of Roman Catholics or a rendering of a statement, as he claimed, "related by the old Indians."

In any case, this is a rare example of a reference to the native aboriginal people of the Chino Rancho and worthy of remembering in the history of the area.

26 November 2010

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #6006 and #6143

Like Justin Bieber, the hits just keep on coming. 

Over last weekend, another defenseless sign on the S-curve on Carbon Canyon Road on the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon just trying to do its humble task of letting drivers know to keep bearing to the right as they head eastbound was mauled by an unappreciative traveler.

This was followed Thanksgiving evening at about 6:45 p.m. by a serious car crash somewhere on the highway that was described in an e-mail alert as:

Carbon Canyon Road (SR-142) has been closed to all traffic at the County line due to a roll-over traffic collision with injuries.  Chino Hills Police report that the closure is expected to last a minimum of one hour.

By a few minutes after 8, the road was reopened, the second time a serious injury accident has occurred within the last couple of weeks.

16 November 2010

Carbon Canyon Horse Ranch For Sale Again . . . Plus a Bonus

The horse ranch, once known as "Manely Friends," that is on several acres on the Brea side of Carbon Canyon just past the former La Vida Mineral Springs site, is evidently up for sale again, as new signs went up recently there.

There had been larger for-sale signs up for several months but were down not long ago.  While looking for more on the listing by Seven Gables Real Estate (nothing found so far, but this is not surprising for a brand-new listing), however, a late July 2010 article from Lou Ponzi of the Orange County Register popped up.

UPDATE: 6 DECEMBER 2010.  The listing from Seven Gables is up.  The 10.2 acre parcel, which has been a horse ranch for over 60 years, is listed for $1.8 million.  While the description benignly states that "the house has been removed," it doesn't mention why--see below.  The property is zoned Hillside Residential, allowing for up to 2 homes per acre with a minimum lot size of 10,000 sq. ft., which seems to suggest that five homes could conceivably be built on the parcel.

The listing link is: 


In it, the paper noted that the owners of the property, Darrell and Kerry Kamm, were suing BreitBurn Energy Partners, owners of over seventy oil wells in the Olinda field, for $12 million.  The Kamms filed suit because a smaller fire that erupted on BreitBurn [there's an ironic name!] property near the Olinda Landfill spread west as far as Brea-Olinda High School and eastward to join the massive Freeway Complex fire which came from the Corona-Yorba Linda area and then led to the destruction of their home, stables and other portions of their ten-acre spread.

Indeed, in early January 2009 preliminary findings released by the Brea Police Department showed that the landfill-area fire was caused by improperly maintained power lines on the BreitBurn property and that an electrical discharge was to blame.  The Orange County Fire Authority seems to have either been part of that initial investigation or concurred in a separate finding.  The Kamm lawsuit, however, alleges that the problem had to do with contact made between two loose conductors on a power pole, which then led to molten metal spilling onto tinder-dry brush, thus sparking the blaze.

Notably, the Register carried a quote from one of the Kamms attorneys, Jason Cohn, who stated that "it's more than just negligence.  They [BreitBurn] knew that fires were highly likely ... if you have power poles and you are in this kind of industry, then you have an obligation to have brush and vegetation cleared." 

It might be pointed out, in a corollary to this, that when the recent lightning strike which hit a tree in a corner of Carbon Canyon Regional Park, which then felled some power lines along the south side of Carbon Canyon Road, the matter was fundamentally the same.  Improper maintenance--in this latter case, someone (county parks, Edison?) did not keep tree limbs and vegetation away from power lines. 

Homeowners in Carbon Canyon, at least on the Chino Hills side, can be cited and forced to pay for costs of removing dangerous brush and vegetation.  Yet, there are property owners, including the absentee owner of the La Vida Mineral Springs property, the county, and BreitBurn, who have not been kept to the same standards and the results are now well-documented.  Inadequate brush clearance fuels fires and helps them spread, doing more damage and costing more money for everyone.

According to the Register, when the Orange County District Attorney's office, though, reviewed the matter, it determined that there would be no criminal charges filed against BreitBurn "because there was insufficient evidence to prove criminal negligence, a DA's spokesperson said."

The Kamm lawsuit, filed 9 June 2010, seeks $2 million to cover losses to the property and another $10 million in punitive damages.  Whether the matter has been moved along further in Orange County Superior Court or not remains to be seen.

15 November 2010

The Reappearance of Artistic Expression in the Face of Social Injustice

Over the weekend, a new crop of graffiti has sprung up on the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon from Sleepy Hollow to Carriage Hills and on both sides of Carbon Canyon Road. 

Here are a couple of examples on signs along the highway.

A service request has been submitted to CalTrans District 8 and, hopefully, the clean-up will happen soon.

14 November 2010

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #5981

There was a multi-vehicle collision last night at 5:40 p.m. about 1/4 mile west of the county line.  Chino Hills Sheriff's deputies closed the road for almost two hours, turning westbound cars back at Canyon Hills Drive and at the county line.  Presumably, Brea police officers did the same for eastbound travelers somewhere west of the accident.

The accompanying photos were taken early this afternoon and seem to show that two vehicles lost a lot of fluids or that there were car fires that required extinguishing.

11 November 2010

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #s 5758 and #5857

Two more little accidents occurred over the last few days in Carbon Canyon. 

Poor La Vida Mineral Springs:  fire, graffiti, arundo, and now errant automobiles continue the devolution of what was once an impressive resort in the middle of Carbon Canyon

The first was a vehicle that was headed eastbound on the Brea side at the old La Vida Mineral Springs and skidded through the westbound lane and plowed down one of the last remaining sections of fence that had been (barely) standing along the roadside.

La Vida may mean "life" in Spanish, but this little detour by a vehicle at the old La Vida Mineral Springs meant death to one of the last remaining sections of standing fence along the west side of the highway

The other at the eastern end of Sleepy Hollow in Chino Hills involved a little blue coupe which went right while the road curved left and ran smack dab into an old stone foundation.  Discretion led a certain photographer to park up the road a piece and sneak in a few snaps.

A heavily damaged front end was the result of this coupe d'etat in which a stone foundation conquered a little blue car at the east end of Sleepy Hollow yesterday morning.

Incidentally, the late October collision that downed a portion of a fence in Sleepy Hollow was explained in a comment by "Homeowner," who may be the unfortunate resident whose lost sections of that wood enclosure a few times in the last six years and who knows how many others since--to the extent that steel bollards were installed in concrete bases to protect the fence.  Alas, this most recent accident proved the bollards to be somewhat deficient, as the driver plowed right through them, pulverized said fence, and wound up careening down into a ravine that runs through the yard from across Carbon Canyon Road and into the creek.

According to "Homeowner":   The woman was eastbound and fell asleep. Her car ended flipped in the ravine in the bottom of the yard. She was transported for observation, but was only shaken up per the deputy.

As it turns out, the Los Angeles Times ran an article several days ago that discussed a new study released by AAA, which stated that 40% of all drivers have reported falling asleep at the wheel at some point during their driving careers.  More concerning:  16.5% (that is, 1 in 6) fatalities are the result of sleepy drivers.

We tend, rightly, to place a lot of emphasis on intoxicated and speeding drivers, but there are, it now appears, a hefty number of incidents of sleep-deprived persons causing serious injury and death.  More than likely, plenty of people driving around at 3:30 a.m. is going to be at some degree of tired and thereby posing a risk to themselves and others.

10 November 2010

Olinda Oil Field Postcard, ca. 1910s

This ca. 1910s postcard is described as "Oil Wells, Olinda, California" and was published by the Sub-Post Card Company of Los Angeles.

Courtesy of the Homestead Museum in City of Industry, here is an early real photo postcard view of the Olinda Oil Field.  In the foreground is a man on a wagon drawn by a four-horse team.  To the left are some structures and a tank that reads "Union Oil Company of Cal."  Union was one of the major oil companies in California and a big player in the Olinda field.  On the hill in the background are part or all of about ten wooden oil well derricks.  At the far right, at the base of the hill, is what appears to be a road.  The first thought is that this is Carbon Canyon Road, but it is difficult to identify the location.  Could this actually be Brea Canyon?

The caption on the card simply reads: "Oil Wells, Olinda, California."  The publisher is given as Sub-Post Card Company of Los Angeles and there is nothing, not even a stamp box or other printing, on the reverse.

If anyone has any idea where this locale is, a comment would be appreciated.

04 November 2010

Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council Update

Last night was the regular monthly meeting of the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council and some interesting items resulted:
  • A Chino Vallley Independent Fire District engineer, Frank Sexton, went over a very comprehensive program at the local level, called the Carbon Canyon Area Defensive Strategy.  This project has mapped out, in several geographic areas, sections of the Chino Hills side of the Canyon, with aerial photography overlaid on maps with streets, businesses and landmarks, fire hydrant locations, reservoir and other water-storage sites, and more.  This is now being revised to dovetail closely with a regional plan called the SOLAR (San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside counties) Multi-County Mutual Threat Zone Guide, which essentially seeks the same outcome: providing local agencies, fire commanders and units, and others with the best available information about the issues and challenges of fighting a fire within the Canyon.
  • It was also noted that many meteorologists are predicting a very dry winter, despite the early storms we had in October.  Naturally, the concern is that more wildfires will break out.
  • The project to remove the arundo donax that plagued Carbon [Canyon] Creek for many years is coming to a crucial juncture.  A contract will soon be let for the time-intensive and rigorous work of removing by hand the dead plant material that was sprayed a long time back and has now been fully treated, contained, and killed.  It is possible that this work could commence by the end of the year, ridding the Canyon of an insidious problem decades in the making.
  • HOWEVER, as pointed out by local residents, there is another significant problem with the Creek.  Namely, general plant growth and buildup has created a separate set of problems.  Fire hazard is one, especially when there are old palm trees with decades of dead frond accumulation.  Anyone who has seen a palm tree catch fire knows that they literally explode, sending dangerous sparks elsewhere.  Another is that the mass of growth leads to water levels rising and expanding.  During the 2004-05 storms, this caused the failure of a large section of Carbon Canyon Road near Oak Tree Estates that led to the closure of the highway for an extended period.  CalTrans District 8 has gone in and stabilized other parts of the road to the extent they can, but the real work that needs to be done is a thorough cleanup of the creek bed and banks, which was done in the past.  The Council will be looking into a partnership with SAWA (Santa Ana Watershed Authority, which is working on the arundo project) to seek the development of a plan to clear out the creek.
  • Finally, the matter of transients in and around Sleepy Hollow seems to have died down to some extent, but it is reported that there are some still in the vicinity.  The Council's concern simply deals with illegal campfires, which was the cause of the 1990 blaze that destroyed fourteen homes in the Canyon, mainly in Sleepy Hollow.  While preparedness and response have improved dramatically, transient-caused fires can still be a significant threat.  To what degree city and police officials are working on this is, however, debatable.
The Council is doing valuable work and encourages residents and others interested in the welfare of the Canyon to come to meetings and be active.  The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 1 December @ 7:00 p.m. in the Sleepy Hollow Community Center. 

30 October 2010

An Old Sleepy Holloween Tradition

For over a quarter century, the Chino Hills community of Sleepy Hollow within Carbon Canyon honored its namesake by hosting an annual Holloween tradition:  the ride of the Headless Horseman through the one-lane streets of the community. 

While most younger people only know of the Headless Horseman through Tim Burton's typically dark and strange film version from 1999, the origins come through a tale by a nearly-forgotten American, who was one of this country's first acclaimed novelists and fiction writers, Washington Irving (1783-1859). 

Irving's book, Tales of the Alhambra (1832), was the inspiration for the San Gabriel Valley town of that name when it was developed in the 1870s.  He was best known, however, for two short stories, "Rip Van Winkle," published in 1819 and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," which was adapted from a German folk tale and first appeared in print in an anthology Irving published under a pseudonym in 1820.

As for the community of Sleepy Hollow, it was subdivided by Cleve Purington in the 1920s as a place for owners to build cabins for weekend getaways and mainly remained as such until well after World War II.  By the mid-1960s, full-time residents comprised the vast majority of those who owned or rented in the community. 

About 1965, the Sleepy Hollow Women's Club began holding a recreation of the ride of the Headless Horseman.  Two decades later, on 26 October 1986, the Los Angeles Times published a lengthy feature article on the tradition, quoting Sue Briney, whose husband and daughter still live in the community, as saying "I started organizing the ride in 1967 . . . Ichabod Crane would come riding through and the kids would yell as soon as they heard the horses.  Then it would be real quiet and they would hear the Headless Horseman coming after him."  The Horseman would then toss a pumpkin onto the street as the children squealed with delight. 

Other elements of the Hallow's Eve festivities would be a costume contest, trick-or-treating by pickup truck through the steep hilly streets and homes spaced far apart, as well as "haunted trails," in which, Mrs. Briney added, "the older children would set up some type of trail through the trees, with fake corpses and other gruesome things.  Then they'd take the little kids and lead them through the trail with flashlights."

This handpainted wooden sign, made in August 2008 by Sharon Anderson
in Tennessee, is used to decorate my home in Sleepy Hollow

When a family that owned the horses used at the event moved away, only one horse could be found and, consequently, Ichabod Crane was dropped from the roster and only the Headless Horseman made his frantic ride through Sleepy Hollow.  From the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, Dee Hallock (now Nadeau), still a resident of the community, organized the event, before passing the planning on to another resident, Tupper Peterson, who was the coordinator up until the date of the article. 

One of those portraying the Headless Horseman, Mike McCormack, was quoted as saying "the first time I did the ride the costume slipped over my eyes so I couldn't see very well.  I was fumbling with the pumpkin because I was having trouble holding on to it and since I couldn't see where I was going.  I almost ran into the back of a van."  Dee Hallock remembered that one Headless Horseman used a candle in the pumpkin, which made the face glow ominously, "but what he didn't anticipate was the smoke from the candle going up in his face so that he had problems breathing."  McCormack solved the problem by using a flare and also inserting a stick in the pumpkin so he could easily hold onto and wave it on his wild ride.

Much of the festivities were held in the old community center that was joined to the volunteer Sleepy Hollow Firehouse, District 4, which sat on the site of the current community center built earlier in the 2000s.  Notably, Sue Briney's daughter, Linda, a long-time resident of the neighborhood, noted that "The Headless Horseman is one of the special things about this community.  I think that's why we kept the tradition going after we grew up."

Unfortunately, the annual event died out.  It has been said that one reason was that a later Headless Horseman had a little too much to drink before setting out on his ride, fell off his horse, and broke his leg, scaring the children in unanticipated ways.  In recent years, the Carbon Canyon Women's Club (the renamed club noted above) hosted Halloween events in the new community center that included games, crafts, a costume contest, and a visit from a fire engine from the local station.  Alas, that tradition has also been discontinued over the last two years.  There are, however, some residents who still are willing to pass out candy to the few smaller children (such as mine) who reside in Sleepy Hollow.

It sure would be great, though, if the chase of Ichabod Crane by the Headless Horseman could be brought back.  As Sleepy Hollow has changed from a quiet isolated rural island in a sea of suburbia that finds its shores increasingly eroded by the relentless march of "progress," it may, however, be too much to ask.

29 October 2010

El Rodeo Stables Update

Back in early May, there was post on this blog noting that horses were gone and facilities appeared to be in the process of dismantling at the El Rodeo Stables across from Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea.  It was wondered if the facility, said to have been operating under various owners at the site since 1927, was going to close.

A recent comment to that post, however, has this to offer:

El Rodeo is temporarily on Vacation. The current lease owner has relocated most of the horses so he can go fishing without worrying about the horses at the ranch. The roof on part of the pipe corrals was lifted off in a mini-tornado and not removed specifically in an attempt to dismantle the corrals. The Riding Club is still in existance and when the current lease ends in December, we will be looking for someone to be the new leaser. I am the current Secretary / Treasurer for the Riding Club (which owns the property). So I am 'in the know'. I can be reached at 714.255.7488. Kelley Hartranft

So, it seems that, come the new year, there will be a new arrangement to keep the stables in operation.  Hopefully, we will have further updates from Kelley Hartranft about developments at El Rodeo.

28 October 2010

Sleepy Hollow House Fire

This comment was made on the post from two nights ago concerning the ongoing "On the Skids" feature:

Do you by chance know why the fire trucks were out here on Rosemary and Carbon Canyon last night?

The reason is that there was a house fire in the old apartment structure on Rosemary Lane just off Carbon Canyon Road and at the intersection with Hay Drive.  The fire erupted in a unit downstairs and, when the fire department arrived at around 5 p.m. or a little afterward, heavy white smoke was pouring out of windows, the door and, on the roof, at vent pipes and fans.  Once the fire department hooked up the hoses, it took a few minutes to douse the flames.

One occupant was transported to the hospital with burns on the arm and it appears that there was significant damage to the unit as furnishings and other contents were taken out of the structure and then quickly removed from the premises, presumably damaged or destroyed beyond salvaging.  The fire department was out until dark mopping up and conducting the usual investigations that take place with any fire.

Fortunately, the injury is said to be relatively minor and the fire did not seem to have spread to the other units in the building or jump to the oak trees and other vegetation nearby, especially as warmer weather and Santa Ana winds have entered the region in the last couple of days.

26 October 2010

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #5451, #5526, #5678 and #5792

All the hand wringing and gnashing of teeth in this blog about dangerous driving behavior on Carbon Canyon Road seemed to be belied by the almost complete lack of problems in recent months.  Sure, there was debris noted in mid-August at Western Hills Oaks (Valley Springs Drive and SR 142--see first two photos above), followed by a fender bender a month later at Olinda Village not long ago (below photo), but nothing particularly noteworthy besides for a very long time.

Sometime over the weekend, however, there was a spectacular collision that, unfortunately, led to a neighbor losing a significant portion of fence fronting the highway for the third time in six years.  As before, an eastbound vehicle crossed lanes and pulverized a large portion of the enclosure.  The photos below were taken this afternoon.

Having been away from the accident, no knowledge of the particulars is known, but it sure was a doozy.  Might we also suppose that rain was to blame?

Update on 26 October:  A commenter to this post stated that the accident occurred about 3:30 a.m. on Monday.  In my reply, I was surprised at this, because I was home then and heard nothing, even though I'm a light sleeper generally and the accident was about 100 feet or so from my bedroom window.

Update on 28 October:  Actually, there was another fairly significant accident on Monday, 18 October, somewhere in the vicinity of Carbon Canyon Road between Azurite Drive at Summit Ranch and Old Carbon Canyon Road near Carriage Hills.  This blogger was heading eastbound at 8:30 a.m. and was diverted into Summit Ranch to a detour back to the highway.  An alert sent by the City of Chino Hills noted that the closure occurred maybe a half-hour prior to that and it is understood that it lasted about an hour and a half.

17 October 2010

Seeing is Beelieving

Back in July, it was noted in this blog that an apiary, or bee-keeping operation, had sprung up at the site of the old La Vida Mineral Springs in the Brea portion of Carbon Canyon.  Stacks of pallets and wooden boxes were noted there, although, within a couple of months, most of these disappeared.

It turns out that the apiary is located in a more remote location up on a ridge above the canyon and that, perhaps, the La Vida site was merely a staging area.  While taking a little hike in the hills this wet and cool morning, your humble blogger came upon two separate areas where the bees are being raised.  Assuming that the keepers would prefer that the location not be broadcasted, this entry will stop at this point.

Curiously, a little poking around after the last entry revealed a historical precedent for Carbon Canyon as a bee-keeping haven.  The October 1915 issue of the industry journal, The Western Honey Bee, contained an advertisement taken out by N. Matthews of Fullerton:

WANTED—Every bee-keeper in California to call at my apiary in Carbon canyon and see the New Idea brood frames in actual use; only one out of 20 have any brace comb in them; one set that has been on the hives 3 years remain clean as a whistle.

Newton Matthews was born in Indiana in January 1843, the son of North Carolina-born farmer, John Matthews and his Ohio-bred wife, Barbara.  By 1850, the family was in Bear Creek township, Hancock County, Illinois, in the western part of the state near Carthage.  Newton remained with his family there until he relocated in the 1860s to Boulder, Colorado Territory, where he and an older brother were retail grocers.  By 1880, he was married with three children and farmed at St. Vrain, northeast of Boulder within Weld County.  Matthews, probably widowed, remarried in the early 1880s, had five more children and continued to reside in Colorado.  Notably, in 1910, he was listed in that year's census as a "bee keeper with two apiaries," in Boulder. 
Shortly afterward, however, Matthews struck out for California and was living on Walnut Street adjacent to the railroad tracks (now an industrial area) west of Harbor Boulevard in Fullerton with his namesake son when, in 1913, he secured a patent for an artificial box beehive that aimed to keep the queen bee out of the inner chambers and thereby better facilitate the development of honeycombs.  Thus, when he invited readers of The Western Honey Bee in 1915 to investigate the "New Idea" brood frames, this was likely his own invention.  Four years later, he advertised in another industry journal, The Honey Producers Cooperator, that he was selling one hundred bee colonies at $10 apiece, including the hives and good equipment.  If this was indicating that he was getting out of the business, the 1920 census the following year showed that Newton Mathews, age 76, was living on Walnut Avenue in Fullerton with his namesake son and family and gave his occupation as "apiarist."  Presumably, the bee-keeper died sometime during the ensuing decade.
Incidentally, the word apiary derives from the genus name for the bee, apis.  A "brood frame" or "brood box" is the wooden enclosure in which hives are developed.  The western honey bee, apis mellifera, is one of two types (the other being the "eastern") which are domesticated in man-made hives in brood boxes.
Bee-keeping of domesticated bees apparently stems from ancient Egypt about 2400 B.C., though detailed inscriptions concerning honey extraction seem to come from about 650 B.C. there.  Mud and baked clay jar hives were used in ancient times and bees were forced out by smoke so that honeycombs could be crushed to extract the honey.  Later in Europe, baskets of tightly coiled grasses or straw (skeps) were created.  There have also been traditions of raising bees in the hollows of trees and in some cases sticks were placed to allow the bees to build their combs on them.  Later, wooden boxes without any internal structure were created.  By 1860, however, the Langstroth method of boxes with removable frames allowing for sufficient space for healthy hives was created and remains the standard for about three-quarters of all artifical hives.  This seems to be what is being used in the local apiary, as these are rectangular boxes sitting on pallets.
It would be interesting to know more about the nature of the operations of the apiary here in Carbon Canyon, but, again, the remoteness and privacy of the site is likely so keepers won't have to deal with curious interlopers (such as moi) and be able to keep their operation going unmolested.

12 October 2010

Carbon Canyon Road Work Bulletin

From the City of Chino Hills Web site:

Starting Tuesday, October 12th through Friday, October 15th, City crews will be making some repairs to the sewer lines on Carbon Canyon Road at Feldspar Drive. Construction will occur between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm to avoid peak commuter traffic. Traffic delays and intermittent lane closures with flag crews may occur throughout the week.

Plan ahead for possible delays.

03 October 2010

Carbon Canyon and Rancho Santa Ana del Chino: Chino Land and Water Company, Version 1.0, Take 2

In the 11 September posting about the first edition of the Chino Land and Water Company, it was noted that the main investor in the company, which obtained the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino in 1900, was Phoebe Apperson Hearst, widow of mining magnate, land baron, and U. S. Senator George Hearst and mother of publishing giant (and purported inspiration for "Citizen Kane") William Randolph Hearst.  Mrs. Hearst did, however, have other investors in the project.

The 8 November 1900 issue of the Los Angeles Times had a short article observing that articles of incorporation for the Chino Land and Water Company were recently filed in San Francisco and transmitted to San Bernardino County.  Listed as directors were Richard A. Clark; Henry A. Whitley; Samuel M. Samter; George A. Rankin; Arthur F. Allen; J. B. Reinstein; Jesse W. Lilienthal; I. J. Wiel; and C. S. Benedict.  All but the first two were from San Francisco with Clark a resident of Alameda, next to Oakland and Whitley living in Berkeley.

Phoebe Apperson was born in 1842 on a farm along the Meramec River in Franklin County, southwest of St. Louis, Missouri.  Her father, Randolph W. Apperson, a native of Virginia, migrated west to Missouri in 1829 and, in 1840, married Drucilla Whitmire.  The couple had three children with Phoebe being the eldest.  When George Hearst married her in 1862, the couple resided in Steelville, a nearby community, and their only child, William Randolph, was born the following year.  Very soon after the youngster was born, however, George Hearst took his family to California and, during a terrible drought, was able to pick up the substantial Rancho San Simeon for a rock-bottom price.  From there, Hearst had mining interests at Lead, South Dakota, the Anaconda Mine in Billings, Montana; and California mines, as well.

Clark and Whitley had direct personal connections to the company because they were cousins of Phoebe Hearst.  Clark, a native, like Mrs. Hearst, of Franklin County, Missouri, was the son of James R. Clark and Phoebe Whitmire, sister to the Drucilla Whitmire who was Mrs. Hearst's mother.  In 1900, Clark lived in Alameda with his wife and son and worked as a cashier and bookkeeper.  In subsequent censuses, however, he worked for his cousin directly, serving as a "private estate manager" in 1920 and manager of the Hearst Estate Company a decade later.  Clark moved to Berkeley and his home, now part of the University of California campus and used as student housing, is a landmark designed by Julia Morgan, whose fame rests with her designs of campus structures, but mainly with the world-renowned Hearst Castle, completed in the 1920s by William Randolph Hearst, and now a state park.

Whitley's mother was Mary Whitmire, sister of Phoebe and Drucilla Whitmire noted above.  His father was William Whitley, a Missouri native who moved his family to Lead, South Dakota, where he seems to have gone into mining with (or for) George Hearst.  In fact, Lead's public library was endowed by and remains named for Phoebe Apperson Hearst.   The Whitleys then migrated west and, in 1900, lived in Berkeley, just a few blocks from the Clarks, where William retained mining interests and his son, Henry, was a manager for a land company, perhaps the Hearst Estate.  Henry later moved into San Francisco and got into the contracting business and specialized in building bridges and grading for railroads.  In the 1920s, he was an oil producer.

Samuel M. Samter was among the several Jewish attorneys in the Chino Land and Water Company syndicate.  He was born in August 1876 in St. Louis to Marks Samter and August Fischer, who were Prussian immigrants, but the family relocated when he was very young to Memphis, Tennessee.  Marks Samter, who had lived in New York City after coming from Europe, was a dry goods merchant in Memphis as was a brother, Louis.  In the 1890s, the Samter brothers moved their families to San Francisco, with Louis going into the sales of neckwear, while Marks moved into the cigar business.  Samuel, however, entered the Hastings law school at the University of California, and later was a law partner of J. B. Reinstein, thus explaining his presence as an investor in the Chino project.  Samter never married and continued residing with his parents in San Francisco through at least the 1920s.

George A. Rankin, who seems to have had managerial involvement in the Chino Land and Water Company aside from an investment stake, was born in 1856 in Keosauqua, Iowa, a town in the southeastern part of the state, where his Ohio-born father, Thomas, was a merchant.  George, from a family of four children, left Iowa for the West in the late 1870s and lived for a time in Reno, near the booming silver mines of that portion of Nevada and was an attorney in that city.  By 1887, he was in San Francisco practicing law and was married to Alfaretta Bogle of Missouri, the couple having two children.  When the Hearst group acquired the Chino rancho, it was Rankin and Reinstein who acted as representatives in the acquisition of the property.  In fact, in August 1900, the two men organized an oil drilling project for the comapny "in the first cañon of the Chino hills east of Soquel."  Where this canyon was is not immediately clear, but it might have been Bane Canyon in what is now Chino Hills State Park.  Presumably, the well never produced anything, as oil production in this area was unsuccessful in total.  Rankin, who also served as circuit court judge in San Francisco, appears to have died not long after the Chino ranch purchase, as his wife was listed as a widow in the 1910 census in San Francisco.

Arthur F. Allen was one of the few natives of California in the CLWC.  His Massachusetts-born grandfather, Isaac S. Allen and grandmother, Alice Patten, migrated to San Francisco in the Gold Rush years, settling in the boom town in 1855 with their family, including son Isaac Patten Allen.  The younger Isaac Allen, Arthur's father, was a druggist, but developed an interest in banking and joined the state's largest, the Bank of California, in 1871, remaining with that institution until the late 1880s.  After a stint as a bicycle manufacturer, Isaac P. Allen  returned to finance, forming the Russo-Chinese Bank of San Francisco (1902), followed by the Canton Bank of San Francisco (1907) and the Bank of Canton in Hong Kong (1911.)  He was also president of the Prudential Loan Society in San Francisco.  Arthur, born in March 1870, went to Hastings Law School at UC Berkeley, as did Samter and Reinstein, and graduated in 1891.  He was practicing law in San Francisco in 1900 and remained in the profession for some time, but lived for many years in Manila, Phillipines, which were then an American possession.  By 1930, however, Allen was back in the United States and was living in Alameda, running a novelties manufacturing business.

Jacob B. Reinstein was most likely the major force in the CLWC acquisition of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino and was a protege of Phoebe Hearst.  His parents were immigrants of Posen in what was then Prussia, now part of Poland, and which area was the source of many migrations of Jews to America after the political turmoil of 1848 and the news of the Gold Rush reached the region.  Father Oscar came to America in 1850 and to California shortly afterward, settling in Visalia where he was a merchant.  With his wife Hannah, Oscar had several children, the eldest being Jacob, born in 1854.  Evidently believing he'd made enough money in Visalia to retire and move to the big city, Oscar relocated the family to San Francisco, but soon went back to the mercantile industry.  Jacob was among the first 12 students (called "The Twelve Apostles") to graduate from the University of California in 1873 and took his degree in the law. 

Through this connection, he became associated with Phoebe Hearst, a major figure with the university, and specifically through "The Phoebe A. Hearst Architectural Plan," in which she endowed a large program of buildings on the campus.  Reinstein was elected to the Board of Regents of the university and also was so prominent that he was appointed to the "Committee of Fifty," which oversaw the planning of the rebuilding of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire that destroyed most of the great city.  Reinstein had several law partners, including his brother-in-law, Milton Eisner (married to Reinstein's sister, Lena), Samuel Samter (another Chino investor), and Albert Rosenshine.  Reinstein, a confirmed bachelor, lived with his parents and then widowed mother until his death in 1911.

Jesse W. Lilienthal was from Haverstraw, New York, along the west bank of the Hudson River north of New York City and was born in August 1855.  His father Max was a rabbi (though listed in the 1860 census as a "Jewish Preacher"!) and his Bavarian-born parents, including mother Bertha, relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio when Jesse was a very small child.  The family remained there for about twenty years and Jesse graduated from Cincinnati High School and then got a law degree from the University of Cincinnati.  Although he was admitted to the state bar in Ohio and worked briefly with a Cincinnati firm, the Lilienthals returned to New York, and Jesse entered Harvard Law School for further study between 1874 and 1876.  At the famed institution, his classmates included future Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis, the first Jew on the high court.  Unfortunately for Lilienthal, the strain of his studies led to a nervous breakdown before he could complete his final exams and he never received his juris doctorate degree.  Instead, he roamed throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Europe to recover and "find himself."  After several years, he returned to New York, gained admittance to the bar in 1880 and entered the practice of law, though he also had an interesting foray into Mexico in 1890 representing that country's dictator, Porfirio Diaz, in seeking private loans for his government.  In 1887, he married and the couple had one son, Jessie, Jr. 

Due to wife Lillie's poor health, the family moved to San Francisco in 1893.  In addition to his law practice, Lilienthal was president of United Railroads, the major streetcar company (formerly the Market Street Railroad Company) in the city and was a director of California Pacific Title Insurance Company. He also was involved in community groups and was president of the San Francisco-area Boy Scouts of America council, chair of the city's Municipal Relief Commission concerning unemployment, member of the Probation Commission of the juvenile court system, president of the San Francisco Bar Association, and president of the San Francisco Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis.  Just seconds after concluding a speech at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco on 7 June 1919, Lilienthal collapsed and died of a massive heart attack.

Irving J. Wiel was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1872, the eldest child of Louis and Henrietta, natives of Prussia.  Louis was a boot and shoe merchant who moved his family to San Francisco at the very end of the 1870s.  Irving went on to get his law degree, presumably at Hastings at the University of California and married, but his business took him to New York City, where he practiced in Manhattan and where his only child was born.  By 1920, however, Wiel was back in San Francisco, working as a lawyer, and living in a suite at the posh Fairmont Hotel with his wife and son.   Wiel and spouse Elsie were still living at the hotel a decade later.

Finally, there was Courtland S. Benedict, who was not an attorney and was the oldest of all of the CLWC investors.  A native of New York, Benedict was born in 1835, but the earliest information found on him was that he lived in San Francisco during the Civil War years.  In 1870, he was shown in the census as a "finishing store" business owner (meaning, men's clothing) and was married to Sophia Judson.  Subsequent censuses showed Benedict as a "merchant tailor" and "clothing merchant," and he was a director of the San Francisco National Bank (along with railroad and real estate titan Henry E. Huntington), but it seems that his investment in the Chino ranch was due to his wife's connections. 

Sophia Judson Benedict was the niece of Egbert Judson, a Gold Rush emigrant of 1850 whose extensive mining work and knowledge of chemistry led him into the explosives industry.  In 1867, Judson was licensed to market and sell the new safety "powder", or dynamite, created by Albert Nobel (ironically, benefactor of the Nobel Peace Prize, given how much his contribution to the explosives industry has served the whims of war.)  Even Nobel's "safe" formula needed further refinement, so Judson, through his San Francisco-based Giant Powder Works, patented, in the mid-1870s, his own "Judson Powder," which only used 5% nitroglycerine mixed with potassium nitrate, sulful, anthracite coal and asphaltum to make a spectacularly explosive dynamite that was less dangerous than earlier forms.  Egbert Judson, also creator of the San Francisco Chemical Works, developed his dynamite formula for mining work, blasting away hillsides to find silver and other precious metals, in such places as the Union Lode at Cerro Gordo in Inyo County in eastern California, Bodie (now a state park ghost town), and Tombstone (the very mining area developed first by former Chino ranch owner Richard Gird.)  Judson, a bachelor who had ownership interests in Yerba Buena Island, sold his Giant Powder Works (later acquired by the chemical giant Du Pont) and formed Judson Dynamite and Powder Company. 

In July 1892, the Giant and Judson enterprises were in what was then called West Berkeley (now Emeryville) when an accident led to a catastrophic series of at least seven explosions involving a staggering 300 tons of explosive material.  Most of the workers at the compound were Chinese and the death toll was never fully established.  Dozens of houses in the town were obliterated and buildings were damaged several miles away in Oakland and San Francisco.  By the end of the year, Egbert Judson was dead at age 80 and his estate, valued at well over $1,000,000, went to his four nieces and nephews, including Courtland Benedict's wife, Sophia.  The terms of the will, however, stipulated that the estate had to be managed as it was at Judson's death for ten years and from which the heirs could draw a specified annual income.  After a decade, the estate was allowed to be dismantled, just in time for the investment at Chino in 1904-05. 

It appears, however, that Sophia Judson Benedict, who died about that time, left her inheritance to her only child with Benedict, Egbert.  The young man, who was a bank clerk, also led a dissolute life, according to his father, and died an alcolholic about 1910.  Courtland Benedict challenged the will, which left the estate to his son's widow, but lost.  Still, he had a wife thirty-five years younger whom he married in 1906, so there was, perhaps, some consolation!  Benedict, still working as a clothing merchant, died sometime in the 1910s.

The Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, including a significant portion of Carbon Canyon, may have passed quickly through many hands from 1893 to 1905, but there were some fascinating and interesting characters who were investors in the several companies who had fleeting ownership of one of the more renowned ranches in southern California.

02 October 2010

Lightning Strike Downs Power Lines in Carbon Canyon (With 3-4 October Updates)!

Thunderstorms with lightning strikes hit our region from time to time, but yesterday's events were stronger than most.  The blistering hot weather (the all-time record high literally caused the National Weather Service's thermometer in Los Angeles to break at 113 degrees) on Monday gave way to cooler, but more humid, conditions the remainder of the week.  Consequently, Friday saw some showers, loud bursts of thunder, and a series of lightning strikes.

Friday afternoon at the eastern edge of Carbon Canyon Regional Park adjacent to the new Chino Hills State Park visitor center and the new access road to the Metropolitan Water District's Diemer water treatment plant, lightning hit power lines causing two poles to collapse, pulling down the equipment and lines.  Carbon Canyon Road was shut down in the early stages of the "rush hour" [on a Friday, no less] causing significant commuter headaches, while crews raced to clean up the damage and restore power on a temporary basis until full repairs can be completed.

The photos shown here were taken late this afternoon and convey a good idea of what happened.  Fortunately, there was either enough precipitation during the storm to moisten parched open areas or the lightning just didn't reach the places were fuel content and dry conditions were present to start wildfires.  Of course, snapped power lines or surges can cause sparks that set off brush, as occurred not long ago in the eastern part of Carbon Canyon in Chino Hills.

Weather forecasts call for cooler and drier conditions starting tomorrow.  Sometime soon, however, the Santa Anas will come a-blowing in hot, dry weather, so we'll see what Mother Nature has in store for us during the remainder of Fall!

3 October UPDATE!  A couple of hours ago, friend of the blog Canyon Native left this comment, "I was told by police officers on traffic control duty there (as well as a report in the OC Register) that a traffic accident caused the power lines to topple.

This, too, was my understanding initially, but when I scoured the internet for news reports (thinking this was the likeliest place for reliable info), here's what I found Friday from "MyFoxLA.com," the site for Fox News 11:

Fullerton - Thunderstorms caused power outages today for thousands of Southern California Edison customers throughout northern Orange County, and prompted the closure of Fullerton Community College.

"We have reports of thousands of customers experiencing outages due to lightning," said Steve Conroy of Southern California Edison. He said an estimated 4,000 customers lost power at least briefly during the fast-moving squall.

Outages were reported in Fullerton, Brea, Westminster, Garden Grove, Stanton, Villa Park and Yorba, Conroy said.

Power lines hit by lightning were down at Carbon Canyon Park in Brea, he said."

Also yesterday, from the OC Register's "OC Science" feature:

The lightning strikes caused flickering lights and power outages in other cities, too, including Garden Grove, Yorba Linda, Westminster and Brea, a Southern California Edison spokeswoman said, while power lines were down after being hit by lightning in Carbon Canyon Park in Brea.
Other news outlets (the LA Times, NBC news, and others) have reported from the same information. 
Here's what is on the Edison web site as of very early this AM:
City : BREA Zip Code : 92821

Start Date & Time : Sunday, October 03, 2010 2:07 AM

Issue : There is currently a widespread power outage in this area.

Trees have come in contact with our equipment causing power lines to go down.

Status : Our first response team has completed initial repairs; additional repair crews have been notified and will be responding.

Repairs may be delayed due to additional personnel being needed.

Monday, 4 October:  Here is another source of information from the City of Chino Hills emergency e-mail notification system, sent out on Friday mid-afternoon:

Carbon Canyon is closed starting at the Brea City limits due to a major non-fatal accident on Carbon Canyon Road.  Extensive damage to electric power lines occurred resulting in a road closure.  Carbon Canyon Road is closed from Lambert Road/Valencia Avenue to Carbon Canyon/Olinda Drive.  Edison repair workers will be on site throughout the night to restore power. The road closure is necessary to expedite repairs and for public safety.  Please plan to use alternate routes and allow for extra travel time. Carbon Canyon is expected to reopen by sunrise on Saturday, October 2, 2010.

Assuming "accident" is defined broadly, it appears the cause was a lightning strike on a tree, from which a part hit the power lines, causing the toppling of poles and equipment.  In fact, the photos at the very top and below may show where the problem occurred at the edge of the regional park.