28 August 2010

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #5142

It's actually been quiet in Carbon Canyon of late when it comes to accidents and observed instances of dangerous driving, which isn't to say that there's been a complete absence.  Still, an incident like that which happened on the way home at about 6 p.m. this evening is a reminder of just how close a serious accident can be (and one that was totally avoidable).

While heading east on Carbon Canyon Road just past Olinda Village and making the turn leading toward the historic La Vida Mineral Springs property, I was tailed closely by a motorcyclist (gasp), who was showing obvious signs of impatience, even as I rolled down that hill from Olinda at 55 mph, ten over the speed limit.  As we reached the bottom of hill, however, a white minivan was going less than the posted 45, so as we made the first turn there, the motorcyclist decided to pass both of us.

Of course, a white full-size pickup truck came around that corner just as the cyclist accelerated, crossed the double-yellow line and blew by both cars.  The problem was that there wasn't really room for him to pull ahead of the minivan, so the driver of the latter abruply swerved over into the shoulder to avoid an accident as the cyclist continued down the road at a high rate of speed.

So, all right, this is hardly news to anyone who drives Carbon Canyon Road on a regular basis--illegal and dangerous passing is something that has happened in this blogger's experience a couple dozen times over the several years of living in the Canyon.

What happens, though, if the cyclist wasn't able to negotiate that pass in time?  He might be badly injured or killed--consequences of a bad decision--but what about the others involved?

This is, naturally, more wasted words, to be sure, but it stands to reason that a little more effort by Brea and Chino Hills city police patrols in the Canyon could probably mitigate some of these potentially deadly situations.  In fact, just a few minutes before this, while driving down Hacienda Boulevard in La Habra Heights, another curvy road in a canyon setting, your humble blogger noted a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department car was parked off the side of the road observing traffic.  And, guess what, everyone drove slower. 

In fact, there have been more than a few occasions when weekend checkpoints have been seen there. Never, however, has such a strange phenomenon been known by yhb to take place on Carbon Canyon Road.  Why?

Maybe the good luck streak of no major accidents will continue, maybe it won't.  Tonight, though, someone played with death and came through by sheer luck.  I just hope I won't have to see a repeat of an accident once discussed on this blog, in which I came across a three-car accident with crushed vehicles pointing in several directions and people lying on the road and frozen in shock in their vehicles, an incident in which I am sure there was a fatality.  It made a lasting impression on this observer, but, evidently, not enough on officialdom to make even token efforts to patrol a road where dangerous driving behavior is a commonplace occurrence.

It is something, evidently, we must learn to accept.

27 August 2010

Carbon Canyon and Rancho Santa Ana del Chino: CBSELC(LTD.) Principals

In the latter half of the 1890s, over 40,000 acres, including much of Carbon Canyon, was owned by the California Beet Sugar Land and Estate Company (Limited), which purchased the ranch after the default of the Chino Ranch Company.  The incorporators of the CBSELC(Ltd.), as revealed in an August 1896 issue of the Los Angeles Times, included British investor John Farquhar Gilmore and his attorney Vincent Neale.  A third man, Henry Francis, may also have been English.  Not too much as been located on these three men, nor on George Wilding, who worked with Gilmore to acquire Chino.  Neale emigrated with his wife Eliza Parkin to California about 1882, settled in San Rafael, and maintained his law practice in San Francisco.

The other four men were San Francisco-based real estate investors.  One was Victor D. Duboce, the son of a French-born optician and his Irish-born wife.  Duboce was born in Illinois in 1858 and was best known in his lifetime for serving as a colonel in the United States Army and its invasion of the Phillipines during the Spanish-American War in 1898-99, leading the infantry division of the 1st California Regiment.  Duboce was a clerk in the San Francisco post office in the 1880s, managed a ferris wheel attraction, and then went to work for the Easton, Eldridge and Company real estate firm which held the management contract for Rancho Santa Ana del Chino.  In 1895 he served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which was the responsible for the general management of the city and county.  He died in August 1900 and an area in the Castro District of San Francisco was named the "Duboce Triangle" in his honor.  There is also a street and park named for him there, as well.

Albert H. Quatman was a young man, only 23 years old, when he became an incorporator with the CBSELC(LTD.)  Quatman was born in April 1873 in California and was raised in Sacramento, where his German-born father John was a tailor.  It seems that, like Duboce, Quatman was an agent with Easton, Eldridge and Company, but he later went into another partnership called Armstrong Quatman Company that bought out a firm called the Sacramento Valley Realty Company.  Quatman relocated to Willows, in the upper Sacramento Valley near Chico and remained there for many years continuing his real estate practice.

The remaining two incorporators were George and Wendell Easton, who were born on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.  Their father, Oliver, went in 1850 to Gold Rush San Francisco and made money by using an abandoned ship as a storage facility for miners keeping their goods in the city while they ventured off to seek their fortunes in gold digging.  The elder Easton also became a federal inspector in the city and ran a store for several years.  When, in 1856, leading citizens took control of the city as a vigilance committee and executed a number of people, Oliver Easton commanded a detachment of mounted vigilantes.  By the 1860s, he invested in silver mines at the new Comstock mines at Virginia City, Nevada and spent most of his time there.  He died in San Francisco in 1881.

George worked primarily in the insurance business in San Francisco but joined his older brother in the Easton, Eldridge and Company firm and worked in both industries.  Wendell, however, who was born in May 1848, became a startling success in the real estate business. 

In his early years, Easton was a bookkeeper, working in this capacity for a real estate firm and then a mining company working at Virginia City from 1867 to 1877.  Eventually, his reputation as a careful manager of the books led him to be employed as a secretary for the boards of fourteen mining companies, but the crash of the silver mining boom in 1875-76 induced him to quit and return to San Francisco.  He then when he ventured into real estate with the firm of Easton and DeForest and then alone as Easton and Company. 

One of Easton's first major projects was, with J.P. Whitney and Allen Covell, the purchase in 1877 of some 7,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley that was known as the Washington Irrigated Colony.  The idea was to develop irrigated farm lands and colonize them with Germans, Swedes and Australians that Easton recruited on visits to those countries.  Easton also built a cheese factory in the locale in what is now Fresno and there is also a small unincorporated community nearby called Easton.

In 1881, Easton joined forces with Joseph Eldridge and formed Easton, Eldridge and Company.  The partnership lasted until the latter's death four years later, but Easton kept the firm name.  A few years later, he formed the Pacific Coast Land Bureau, which became a general real estate agent for the Central Pacific Railroad Company and its subsidiary, the Southern Pacific Railroad.  These were the very powerful entities controlled by the "Big Four," including Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford and Collis P. Huntington.  The Pacific Coast Land Bureau also subdivided La Jolla Park near San Diego in 1887, which was during the enormous land boom that erupted that year and carried over into 1888. 

Buoyed by burgeoning sales, the firm of Easton, Eldridge and Company, which had opened its first office in San Francisco in 1881, expanded to San Diego and Los Angeles.  In the latter city, the firm subdivided the famous Wolfskill Tract, established by early American settler William Wolfskill in 1841 as the first commercial orange grove in California.  On the tract, Easton arranged for the establishment of the Arcade Depot of the Southern Pacific Railroad, which inflated values of the rest of the tract and led to a $1.2 million sale of the entire property.  Easton also was the sales agent for the revived Pomona Land and Water Company, which had started the town of Pomona in 1875, stagnated during a recession, and then resumed with the new land boom in 1887-88.  Perhaps Easton's success in Pomona became known to Richard Gird, who later hired him to manage the sale of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino lands.

By 1888, the company had branches in Chicago, New York and London.  Another notable project spearheaded by Easton was the sale of the Coronado Tract on an island off the coast next to San Diego and this was followed by the subdivision and sale of the El Cajon area.  Back in San Francisco, Easton oversaw the opening of the Sunset District, just south of Golden Gate Park at the western edge of the city, in 1889. 

The same year that Easton managed the sale of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino to the CBSELC(Ltd.), he pulled off a similar deal in central California.  Patrick Murphy, a long-standing rancher, agreed to sell some 53,000 acres of land in the ranchos Santa Margarita, Asuncion, and Atascadero for $1.8 million.  As with Chino, the buyers were an English syndicate and plans, naturally, were immediately announced for the construction of a beet sugar factory.  Sugar beets were planted at Santa Margarita and were grown there for many years.

Easton expanded his business interests by the 1890s, including involvement in the California Title and Trust Company; the San Francisco Oil Exchange; the San Diego Flume Company, a water concern for irrigation at El Cajon; the Anglo-California Bank; the Pacific Coast Savings Society; and the Metropolitan Railway, a streetcar line in San Francisco.  Easton also mounted an unsuccessful campaign as a Republican for mayor of San Francisco in 1894.  He, meanwhile, maintained his realty practice and his residence at San Francisco and died there sometime before 1920.

One other figure worth mentioning here, although he was involved in the CBSEFC(Ltd.)'s predecessor, the Chino Ranch Company, is general manager of that latter firm, William H. Holabird.  A native of Shelburne, Vermont, where he was born in 1845, Holabird joined his father, Oscar, in Atchison, Kansas to work in the railroad industry around 1860.  With the outbreak of the Civil War, young Holabird returned to Vermont and enlisted in the Union Army in which he served until after the famed Battle of Gettysburg.  He was then transferred to the Navy and remained with it until the conclusion of the war.  He then was on a voyage of a war vessel that navigated around Cape Horn and to California, where he mustered out of the service at Mare Island near San Francisco.

Holabird settled in Valparaiso, Indiana, southeast of Chicago, where he married and worked as a store clerk and then merchant.  He also spent time as a traveling agent of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, which opened the first direct transcontinental line to Los Angeles in 1885.  The following year, one of his Army comrades, H. L. Story, became part owner of the Coronado Island tract (which, of course, Wendell Easton also had an interest in), and, remembering Holabird, sent for him.  In Fall 1886, Holabird was the auctioneer at the first land sale on the island, during which the plans for the famed Hotel Del Coronado were presented to the public.

Holabird's reputation was made in the real estate business and he had plenty of work in a variety of areas.  For example, in 1891, he was hired to do an appraisal of the renowned Tejon Ranch north of Los Angeles.  In that latter city, he worked as a general agent of the Pacific Land Improvement Company, with one of his projects being the short-lived St. James townsite in what is now Orange (St. James being the English for Santiago and the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana.) 

In 1894, he became general manager of the Chino Ranch Company, holding this position from a Los Angeles office during the short two-year stint of the company.  He then went to other employment, notably with the Los Angeles Railway streetcar company.  While working with that firm, Holabird was asked by company president, Isaias W. Hellman, a financial titan in California, to sketch possible rail routes for the company to such places as Long Beach, San Pedro and Redondo Beach.

Holabird also spent stints in New Mexico and Oregon, living in the latter at Klamath Falls near the California border, where he was involved in real estate and railroad management.  After 1900, he lived in Los Angeles and took on a long-term position as receiver of the California Development Company, which dealt with irrigation projects throughout Southern California.  When he retired from business, he settled in Pasadena, where he ran a fruit orchard before his death in the 1920s.  He was also the author of at least two publications:  one for the National Irrigation Congress in 1905 on the history of Ontario and a work on beet sugar cultivation, undoubtedly tied into his work at Chino.

24 August 2010

Carbon Canyon and Rancho Santa Ana del Chino: California Beet-Sugar Estate and Land Company (Limited)

The short-lived sale in September 1894 of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino by Richard Gird to Chauncey H. Phillips and other investors comprising the Chino Ranch Company came about because Gird greatly overextended himself financially in horse breeding efforts, the founding of the townsite of Chino in 1887, the creation of the Chino Valley Railroad, and the rapid development of the one of the country's largest beet-sugar factories.  This all came with the overexpansion of the famed Boom of the Eighties in 1886-88, followed by the inevitable bust, the national Depression of 1893, and other issues.  Gird attempted in November 1893 to promote a massive sale of Chino ranch lands to raise funds and relieve his burdens, but the aforesaid depression hampered his efforts.  Indeed, the Los Angeles Times, in its 4 November issue, reported that some 1,200 persons who attended the sale were more drawn by the tour of the acclaimed beet sugar factory and "a cheap trip with lunch thrown in" than in buying land.  The paper stated, moreover, that most of the purchasers of the $80,000 of land sold that day were Gird's tenants, renting land for beet raising and looking to become owners instead.

A year later, Gird had no choice but to sell and one of the rumored buyers was the noted sugar baron, Claus Spreckels, whose interests in northern California and in Hawaii were world renowned.  When Phillips, however, acquired the property, the Times, on 15 December 1894, reported that "it is also stated that the sale of the ranch to Mr. Phillips of San Luis Obispo is not a bona fide sale, but merely a paper transaction, for the purpose of facilitating the renewal of a mortgage."  This seemed to say that Gird engineered the deal to try and extend his mortgage and give him more time to clean up the financial morass he was in and reclaim his ranch.

Explaining this accusation, the Times noted that Gird had hired a management firm (Easton, Eldridge and Company) for the ranch on a two-year contract.  A key stipulation, however, was that, if a certain stated amount of ranch land was sold during the two-year period, the mortgage was to be extended for three additional years.  The paper reported that $100,000 more than what was called for in the agreement was sold, thus allowing for the extension.  Of course, Gird was not entirely happy that more land was sold than what was needed, because, if he were able to reclaim the ranch by retiring his debt, he would have had less land, so he tried to annul the contract and even offered a bonus to Easton, Eldridge and Company to agree to the cancellation of the deal.  This the latter agreed to, upon payment of several thousand dollars.

It is also worth noting that the Times proclaimed that "the Chino ranch is a magnificent estate and one of the best in the State to handle under present circumstances [meaning, presumably, the dire economy]."  Yet, the paper went on, "it is difficult to see how Mr. Gird can continue to carry his big mortgage of over $500,000 unless he sells some of the land."

In this context, the failure of the Chino Ranch Company, run by Phillips with investors, cattle barons Walter Vail and Carroll Gates, and real estate developer Abram Pomeroy, by 1896 meant that the Chino Rancho reverted back to Gird, but he was still saddled with a huge debt.  Consequently, Easton, Eldridge and Company went out to find other buyers.  On 16 February 1896, the Times reported that "an option was today placed on file whereby Easton, Eldridge and Company secure an option on 40,000 acres of the Chino ranch for $1,600,000."  This option was also filed in Los Angeles and Orange counties and carried a starting date of 26 September 1895 andan expiration of 26 March 1896.  It was stated that "Easton, Eldridge and Company are negotiating for an English syndicate" as part of this option.

Indeed, during April an agreement was reached by which a pair of British investors, George Wilding and John F. Gilmore, traveled to California, looked over the Chino ranch and signed an agreement with Easton, Eldridge and Company to purchase everything but the beet sugar factory, which was under contract to the Oxnard brothers [these also owning a large establishment in Nebraska], for $1.6 million.  The San Francisco Call of 30 March discussed the pending sale, noting that Eldridge had gone to London to negotiate with the British and received a preliminary agreement there.  As expressed then, "the idea of the English purchasers is to subdivide the ranch and form a colony of settlers that will be brought out from England to develop the land."

The 9 April sheet of the Call reported that the agreement was "one of the largest ever made in this State."  A contract of sale on the 7th stipulated that there were 3,000-4,000 head of cattle, the Gird racing horse stables, a dairy, the "home place" at what is now Los Serranos Country Club, the building of the Bank of Chino, the Chino Valley Railroad and the Chino Valley water system.  $160,000, or 10%, was to be paid up front and $550,000 within four months with the balance due in one year.  At the time, the goal was to bring 200 English families to Chino in 1896 and up to 500 by the time all the land was sold.  The Call offered the hopeful note that "the effect of this sale on land values in this State cannot help but be beneficial in the extreme, for it serves to demonstrate that desirable farming lands in this State can be disposed of to advantage to foreign capitalists."  In fact, Easton, Eldridge and Company was said to be working with another British investment group on another major ranch purchase in California.  These influx of foreign investment, said the paper, "will necessarily have a favorable effect on the values of good agricultural lands of all kinds."

Meantime, Richard Gird locked horns with the Chino Ranch Company and Chauncey Phillips, filing on 1 July 1896, a complaint alleging that the CRC was insolvent, to which a judge agreed and appointed a receiver to manage the affairs of the company until it was liquidated.  Gird's complaint claimed that "Phillips has neglected to pay the interest to the San Francisco Savings Union [holder of Gird's mortgage] or meet the payments due to Gird, yet he has collected rentals amounting to $150,000 and has received from sales of land $250,000 in notes."  Gird accused Phillips of misappropriation of these funds and the Times meantime, in its report on the action on 2 July, repeated the assertion that "much speculation followed [after the 1894 purchase] as to who the real purchasers were, as it was generally believed that Phillips was a figurehead."  The paper went on to praise Chino as "probably the most famous ranch in Southern California" with its productive beet industry and purebred cattle and horses befitting "a princely estate."  It also made reference to these economic components feeding "the thrifty little town of Chino."

On 9 August 1896, the Times ran an article on the deal, noting that "articles of incoporation of more than ordinary interest" were filed for a new company to run the Chino ranch, called the California Beet-Sugar Estate and Land Company (Limited) and capitalized for $2.5 million., divded into 100,000 shares at a par value of $25.  The paper joked that "as the unwieldy name would indicate, it is an English affair."  There had, in fact, been quite a few articles in the Times during that period about foreign investment, specifically British, in California real estate.

The incorporators of the CBSELC(Ltd.) were John Farquhar Gilmore (the main negotiator of the deal), Wendell Easton (the other prime negotiator for Gird), Easton's brother George (a partner in Easton, Eldridge and Company), attorney Vincent Neale (who handled the legal affairs of the contract), Henry Francis, V. D. Duboce, and A. H. Quatman.  Specifics of the deal included the fact that, in March, the concern paid $162,000 (ten per cent of the purchase price) and $338,000 were to be forwarded in a few days to satisfy a $600,000 cash "down payment."  Once that money was received, the title deeds were to be forwarded by the Anglo-California Bank [not surprisingly one that had English owners], which held the ranch in escrow.

Significantly, the deal did not come without considerable apprehension.  The Times observed trhat "Gilmore . . . was in much doubt about the advisability of floating bonds upon the property through an English incorporation at the time, owing to the shyness of British capital in touching American investments in such form."  Naturally, this had to do with the ongoing malaise of the depression that began three years before.  The decision was finally made "to localize the project for the present, at least, and afterward to transfer its affairs to an English company, if political and financial conditions in the United States should warrant."

What was meant by "localize" was not, for some strange reason, explained in the article, but the assumption is that the effort to subdivide and sell ranch land would be marketed locally until the conditions were deemed right to expand the effort to British colonists.  A little more detail was provided in the July 1896 issue of the sugar industry journal, The Sugar Beet, which printed a statement from its regular California correspondent, writing under the nom de plume of "Rialto":  "It is the intention of the syndicate to colonize the Chino ranch with Englishmen, and to engage in a general scheme of colonization in different parts of California. Their Western agents in this project will be Easton, Eldridge & Co., who will have full control of the disposition of all colonists after they reach New York." From what the Times reported, however, it would seem that initial attempts to bring English colonists was to be delayed.

Meantime, Easton, Eldridge and Company were given a five-year management contract and there was some good news in that, during the previous year dating to September 1895, $300,000 in property was sold, leading Wendell Easton to proclaim, "this is a tremendous money-making proposition.  In five years we can make out of the property at least $4,000,000.  In eighteen months the syndicate will have gotten its money back and will have left as clear profit a principality."  Continuing on with the greatest confidence, Easton offered "Why, the ranch is earning, under present conditions, $100,000 a year.  The company's debentures [secured notes] will pay 6 per cent, and leave a surplus of 15 per cent per annum."

While actual possession by the CBSELC(Ltd.) and the title deeds were expected to be obtained and delivered to the new owners within a week, this did not happen until November.  It appears that Gird's legal maneuvers against Phillips delayed the process, as the 15 November 1896 issue of the Times referred to the fact that, "the deeds in question were those securing to C. H. Phillips the lands and interests reserved by him out of the Gird property."  In fact, aside from the earlier agreements made with the British syndicate, there had to be complicated separate negotiations with Phillips through his attorney, R.H.F. Variel, in which, on 5 September 1896, the CBSELC(Ltd.) executed a purchase contract with the Chino Ranch Company and issued a first payment of $50,000 to it, at which time actual possession and control of the ranch was finally obtained.  According to the 8 September 1896 edition of the Tombstone Prospector, a paper in the town where Gird made his fortune, "the Chino Ranch Company reserve[s] 1,000 acrfes of land and the townsite of Chino" in the deal. 

Another complication was that Henry Oxnard bought 2,000 acres of the ranch for the sugar beet industry he ran there "and difficulties with Gird."  This latter seemed to have to do with "the division of the cash payments to be made by Gilmore and his successors" as well as the status of the Chino townsite and protracted negotiations between the representatives of Gird and Phillips, which were completed in early November.  The article, which started with the claim that the sale was "the biggest single real estate transaction in the recent history of the State," ended with the statement that "as a result, the Chino Ranch Company has received deeds conveying to it Chino townsite and other land in dispute, and the great deal is closed."

Like its predecessor, the Chino Ranch Company, the CBSELC(Ltd.) advertised in local media, such as the Los Angeles-based journal, The Land of Sunshine, extolling, as the dozens of other real estate ads that appeared in the publication did, the unique virtues of the ranch relative to soil fertility, availability and quality of water, the impossible-to-match climate, and other attributes.

There were, however, problems: in the depressed economic climate of 1893 and afterward and with unemployment high, the labor movement began to gain steam, as did the association of small farmers against conglomerates and individual industralists (the robber barons was the parlance of the day), giving rise to Populism and Progressivism in American politics.  The Times, about as anti-union a paper as was possible for the day, but also pro-small farmer, devoted significant coerage to the problem of the "sugar barons" locally, including those at Chino, led by the Oxnard brothers. 

A series of articles in late 1896, for example, blasted the fact that Senator William A. Peffer, a Populist from Kansas who was sent by Congress to make a report on the sugar beet industry, got so friendly with the operators of the factory at Chino that his son was hired in the laboratory department at a then-impressive $150/month salary.  The 1890s was also a difficult time for the sugar industry, as Congress continued to impose protections on American-produced sugar, such as that at Louisiana and the newly-acquired possession of Hawai'i to offset cheaper prices from places like Cuba.  In fact, tariff issues, related to taxes imposed on commodities imported to the U. S. severely affected small farmers because American-grown products were cheaper than imports.

Finally, the lingering economic slowdown was further exacerbated locally by persistent drought during much of the decade.  In 1896, the year the CBSELC(Ltd.) assumed ownership of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, drought was severe.  While the next year saw decent rainfall and improved agricultural output, 1898 was another poor rain year.  The effects throughout California of the late 1890s drought cycle were devastating and it can only be assumed that the CBSELC(Ltd.) was similarly affected, so that it was hardly a surprise that it failed and a new buyer soon came onto the scene: the Chino Land and Water Company, the subject of the next post.

The above image comes from the magazine, The Land of Sunshine, and its April 1897 issue.

19 August 2010

Artistic Expression (And More) in Carbon Canyon Goes Unchecked

As a relative newcomer, six-and-a-half years a resident in Carbon Canyon, your humble blogger has somewhat limited experience with the long-term knowledge of the presence of graffiti within the Canyon, but new tagging has appeared on CalTrans street signs within Sleepy Hollow and at least two more signs on the Brea side within the last couple of days or so.

In fact, there has been much more of this "artistic expression" within the Canyon in recent months than at any time during the several years noted above (and, probably, ever.)

So, online requests for cleanup will (and should) be made to CalTrans for removal and, at least on the San Bernardino County side, hope for as efficient and prompt a response as usual.

The question, though, is:  can anything be done to try and mitigate, if not prevent, it?  As with the recent surge in homelessness and, probably not coincidentally, theft in Sleepy Hollow, might any more of a policing presence mean something?  Certainly, it is understood that economic realities affect our local constabulary as they do virtually everything else, yet there has to be some potential for some occasional patrols.

Concerning the homelessness, it would be insensitive to not acknowledge at least the possibility that the sorry economy is a potential factor in its increase here, among other causes, and unfair to suggest that homeless people automatically will be threats to a community. 

Still, at least one enterprising person tapped into a power line to provide electricity at his "campsite."  Done poorly, this "use" of the power lines could cause sparks or a surge that could lead to a fire.  Indeed, it has been recalled that the 1990 wildfire, which destroyed some fourteen homes and burned thousands of acres, was started by a homeless man's campfire--it could easily happen again, especially if predictions of a La Niña (that is, dry) winter hold true after this mild summer.

Relative to the thievery, it isn't completely fair to suggest that the perpetrators have to be among the homeless now in the community, but it shouldn't be discounted either, especially given the comment left on this blog back on 12 June. The informant was very specific, which is hardly proof in and of itself, but it is two months later and the criminal activity continues.

A local resident (who has plenty enough to keep busy as it is) has been working with fire and police officials to do something about removing homeless persons who have descended on the community (which provides better camouflage than outside the Canyon) lately.  It has been stated that some of these folks have actually been allowed to move into a house within Sleepy Hollow by its owner, who now lives out of state.  Others have retreated from the banks of Carbon [Canyon] Creek and moved up to the top of the hill at the south end of the community.

On the bright side, the "On the Skids" feature has been absent for quite some time now, because accidents appear to have waned recently (although there is a fender and some broken plastic and other debris at the interesection of Carbon Canyon Road and Valley Springs Road on the CH side of the Canyon--it could, however, have been a simple matter of a car turning into traffic from the latter to the former and getting hit, but maybe not.)

It would be naive to suggest that all of these issues (graffiti, homelessness [except for those who are given places to stay by property owners], maybe even the thievery) can be completely stopped at all times, but it just seems that there hasn't been enough done in a reasonable time frame to seek to address these problems.

Still, maybe there'll be a breakthrough (rather than more break-ins) on one or more of these soon?

17 August 2010

Chino Hills State Park Visitor Center Update

Courtesy of an article by Marianne Napoles in the latest issue of the Chino Hills Champion is a review of the construction of the visitor center for Chino Hills State Park, nearing completion on Carbon Canyon Road in Brea adjacent to the regional park.

The facility has been in the works for many years and is funded by state bond issues and the state parks and recreation department.  Another half a million dollars for improvements to the state highway (utility lines are being located underground and the road widened for safer ingress and egress at the facility site), paid for by the Metropolian Water District when a deal was struck with the parks department to allow the MWD a secondary access road to the Diemer water treatment facility in the hills adjacent to the park.  Some of that money has been placed in an endowment fund, from which the interest will be used for staffing the center.

The center has two components: a 1,000 square foot interpretive and office area and an 800 square foot meeting room, with the latter being slated for use by school groups visiting the park.  A parking area with a 40 vehicle capacity, five restrooms, picnic tables, a trailhead to the park, and landscaping.

By October, it is projected that the entrance, parking area, and restrooms will be available for public use with the day use fee being $8.  Because the interpretive exhibits (including artist's renderings, taxidermied animals, and material on the natural setting of the park [history, anyone?]) are still in the design and production phase and handled by a separate contract, the grand opening for the center will not be until next summer.

The ticket price for the facility is said to be a little under $4 milllion, which might strike some as a needless extravagance given the state's economic morass, which certainly goes back further, in its roots, than the decade-long planning for the center cited in the article.  As a frequent user of the park, your humble blogger has some very mixed feelings.  While any opportunity to provide recreational and educational opportunities in our very diverse and exceptional park system are welcomed, the fact that endowments have to be created to provide for staffing is a notable one that highlights a problem that needs to be addressed.

For example, during the last two budget cycles, threats have been made by the governor that most or all of the state's parks might be shut down or severely curtailed as far as operations.  Even before that, there were troubling signs of financial disconnects:  at Pio Pico State Historic Park in Whittier, to cite just one instance, bond money and other funding sources were used to complete an impressive and striking restoration of an important landmark, but there was little money ever provided for staffing. 
Moreover, there are staffing issues in the park generally that almost certainly need to be addressed.  Misuse of trails, destruction to habitat, maintenance of other existing and new facilities (such as the nice camping area and other infrastructure introduced at the Rolling M Ranch area near the Chino Hills entrance) and other matters are major components to an adequate management of a 14,000-acre resource of immense value to our overcrowded region.

Finally, the reliance upon bond money to pay for needed and desired infrastructure and related programs of all kinds throughout the state has brought a troubling price to pay with respect to the interest (usually about double the principal) owed on these bonds.  Rather than a "pay as you go" approach, our state's voters have adopted a "let our children and granchildren worry about it" methodology that mirrors the massive personal and national debt our country has racked up in its deficit-funded prosperity plan of the last four decades or so.  You don't have to be an ideologue inhabiting the extremes of the political spectrum to see how shortsighted this concept has been.

Parks are essential to the well-being of society--as open space buffers, educational areas, and recreational playgrounds.  Without them, we'd lose a vital part of our being.  Yet, the unwillingness to pay for even the barest of essentials with regard to staffing, facilities, maintenance and other aspects endangers the viability of these valuable components and borrowing with high interest doesn't, in the long run, serve our economic interests.  The talk of privatizing park management (witness how well this goes with toll roads) occasionally rears its head, as well, but like the concept of privatizing Social Security winds up assuming that the program is inherently flawed, rather than the will to manage these properly or, at the very least, with earnest intentions to do so.

So, as much as a fully-opened visitor center in Summer 2011 provides needed services, it also reminds of a fundamental problem in how California deals with infrastructure.  One only need to see how the battle of the withdrawn water bond, which was supposed to be on the ballot this fall, has played out to know that solutions to major problems (and parks hardly ranks high on the priority list) are going to be very difficult in this climate of extreme polarization, politicization, and procrastination.

13 August 2010

Carbon Canyon and Rancho Santa Ana del Chino: Chino Ranch Company

As the Depression of 1893 ushered in years of economic malaise, Richard Gird, who invested so much in developing the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, including the founding of the town of Chino, the development of the sugar beet industry, the local Chino Valley Railroad and other enterprises, was forced to sell his vast holdings in November 1894 for about $1.5 million.

The buyer was Chauncey H. Phillips and a group of associates who formed the Chino Ranch Company the following March.  Phillips and company aggressively marketed and promoted the company's subdivided land, such as in a large advertisement in the July 1895 issue of noted journal The Overland Monthly, founded by famed California poet Bret Harte in 1868. 

The ad observed that the Chino Ranch Company had capital stock of $3 million for the management of just over 41,000 acres of land, half of which was earmarked for beet culture, 10,000 acres of loamy soil for citrus, and another 11,000 acres of "delightfully located Dairy Land, well watered."  Indeed, the dairy industry still maintains (though not for long) a prominent presence in the area today.  Especially promoted, however, were beets and the company trumpeted the fact that, according to the 1893 federal internal revenue report, Chino was close to the northern community of Watsonville, near Monterey, in claiming the title of the largest producer of sugar beets in the United States, in terms of tons harvested and sugar yielded.  In fact, Chino had the best yield in tons per acre and in sugar per ton in the world, crowed the company.  It was noted that there were over 4,000 acres of beets raised there, yielding nearly 50,000 tons of the vegetable and 15,000,000 million pounds of sugar. The Chino Ranch Company maintained offices in Chino and on Broadway and 4th, the heart of the financial district, in downtown Los Angeles.

In October 1895, W. H. Holabird, a Chino Ranch Company manager, announced in the San Francisco Call newspaper that 4,000 acres of Chino was put under irrigation to entice buyers of land for farms and settlement.

As active as the new concern was in trying to promote and develop the ranch, the economy was almost certainly too downtrodden to make the effort sustainable and, within a short time, the Chino Ranch Company defaulted on the terms of sale and the 41,000 acres reverted back to Gird, albeit with he still saddled with the debt that could only be ameliorated by selling the ranch!

Who were the short-term owners of the Chino Ranch Company?  Chauncey H. Phillips was born in July 1837 in Medina County, Ohio, just south of Cleveland.  In his youth, his family moved to Eldorado, Wisconsin, just west of Lake Winnebago and northwest of Milwaukee.  Sometime during the 1850s, young Phillips joined the mass migration to Gold Rush California and lived in Sacramento and in Napa.  At the latter, he studied law, was deputy county clerk, and also appears to have been a comptroller or treasurer there.  While in Napa or afterwards when he moved to San Jose, he married Jane Woods, who was three doors down from him in the 1850 census in Eldorado, Wisconsin.  While in San Jose, Phillips served as a deputy collector for the Internal Revenue Service.

In 1871, Phillips and family relocated to San Luis Obispo, where he became a community leader in real estate and banking.  He was one of a syndicate that opened the first bank in that county, the Bank of San Luis Obispo.  He served as managing cashier and, during a major statewide panic in 1875, was credited for keeping the bank solvent with calmness and deliberation in dealing with anxious depositors. 

Three years later, he left the bank and opened a real estate partnership with P.H. Dallidet, Jr. (whose adobe is a SLO state historical landmark.)  Their first major project was the purchase of over 8,000 acres along the coast to the north, which became the town of Cayucos.  After the arrival in 1886 of the Southern Pacific Railroad line through the area, Phillips formed the West Coast Land Company and created the town of Templeton, near Atascadero, and built his home there.  He also was the developer of the Santa Clara County towns of Morgan Hill and San Martin, between San Jose and Gilroy.

Undoubtedly, the unsuccessful endeavor with Chino and other land deals during the Nineties affected Phillips' financial position significantly.  He settled in San Jose once more and was an orchardist and died sometime after 1900.

Phillips' son, Chauncey, Jr., was a partner in the Chino Ranch Company and was given the title of Vice-President of it and the Chino Valley Railroad at the tender age of 23.  After the failure of the CRC, young Phillips returned to school and was a bank bookkeeper in Tonopah, Nevada and lived later in Redwood, a town in Santa Clara County that became Redwood City (near Palo Alto), working as a farmer and real estate manager.  Chauncey, Jr. died in 1954, at 82.

The secretary and treasurer of the CRC was Carroll W. Gates, who was from New York.  By age 20, however, Gates was living in Redwood, California, the same town Chauncey Phillips, Jr. lived in later and Gates' widowed mother ran a hotel there.  Soon, however, he landed the position of secretary to the powerful Monterey capitalist, David Jacks, who had his hand in just about every major economic endeavor in that historic Spanish and Mexican-era capital of California.

Within a few years, Gates migrated to Los Angeles and was there when the completion of a direct transcontinental railroad line by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe came in 1885, ushering in a frenzied land boom known as the "Boom of the Eighties," peaking in 1886 and 1887.  There, Gates established a real estate firm with Abram Ehle Pomeroy, of whom more subsequently.  Gates and Pomeroy were quite successful for a few years.

By 1889, Gates made the acquaintance of Walter L. Vail, owner of a famous ranch south of Tucson, Arizona Territory, called the Empire, and acquired a half-interest.  Under the Vail and Gates partnership, the Empire Ranch grew to some 1,800 square miles.  The two leased the well-known Warner's Ranch, totaling 47,000 acres, from former California governor and Los Angeles banker, John G. Downey (also founder of his namesake town) and later owned that property.  Not far away, the two men partnered with such kingpins as rail and real estate mogul Henry E. Huntington (whose San Marino Ranch became the renowned Huntington Library, Art Gallery and Botanical Gardens) to dam the San Luis Rey River near Oceanside and create a power plant.

Even though the Chino Ranch endeavor failed, Vail and Gates went on to acquire over 87,000 acres near Temecula, which they termed the Pauba Ranch.  The ranch, later called the Vail, was bought in the 1960s by steel magnate Henry J. Kaiser and his Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, which subdivided Rancho California, along State Highway 79, from it.

Gates also partnered with Los Angeles capitalist Stoddard Jess and owned much land near Corcoran in the San Joaquin Valley, on the east shore of Tulare Lake, which then had water and which was drained dry to irrigate early farming in the area.  He was president of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad, which ran through the rich agricultural region from Betteravia, east of Santa Maria, to Guadalupe, to the west and which was funded by Los Angeles capitalists.  He was also an investor in early Los Angeles automobile manufacturing, including a firm called the White Road Manufacturing Company, organized by a Chino man named Theodore F. White.  In the 1910s, Gates entered the hotel business in Los Angeles, as well.

Finally, Gates was a director of the First National Bank of Los Angeles, which included among its directors, Motley Flint (later developer of much of today's La Cañada-Flintridge), Jess, and two men who figured heavily in a later Chino Ranch period: John S. Cravens and Edward J. Marshall.  Meantime, another bank with which Gates was involved, the Union Trust and Savings Bank in Pasadena, included as a fellow investor/director, George W. Stimson, a former real estate partner of Abram Ehle Pomeroy (you get the idea that rich capitalists operate in common circles!)  Incidentally, Gates' younger brother, Egbert, was also involved with the Chino Ranch Company and the railroad.

As to Walter Vail, he was a native of Nova Scotia, Canada, where he was born in May 1852.  By the age of six, however, his family relocatd to New Jersey, where Vail remained until his early twenties.  With a silver mining boom raging in Virginia City, Nevada, Vail migrated west and worked in a mining company, but the same panic of 1875 mentioned above led him to head to Los Angeles.  There, he had an uncle, Nathan Vail, who made a fortune building the first streetcar rail lines in London and who encouraged his ambitious nephew to try cattle ranching in territorial Arizona.  Hence, the purchase of 160 acres in 1876, followed by the acquiring of another section (160 acres=a section of land) that became the genesis of the Empire Ranch that Carroll Gates bought into more than a decade later.

However, prior to the association with Gates, Vail and his brother, Edward, who was then a partner, were the lucky beneficiaries of a discovery by one of their ranch hands of silver on the ranch.  From 1883 to 1887, some $500,000 of the ore was found until the pocket went dry.  Vail was involved in Arizonal territorial politics, serving in the legislature and the Pima County Board of Supervisors.  In 1896, however, he moved to Los Angeles, where he and Gates enlarged their empire, though one deal the latter declined to join in with Vail was the latter's purchase of Santa Rosa Island, one of the Channel Islands off the coast of California.

Vail was a fabulously wealthy man in the prime of business life when, riding a streetcar in downtown Los Angeles in May 1906, he disembarked for the car right into the path of another car going the opposite direction.  He was crushed between the two and died shortly afterward.  Gates managed the Empire Ranch in his partner's stead until Vail's estate was settled in 1908.

Finally, there is Abram Ehle Pomeroy, born in October 1838 in Athens, Michigan, south of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek (the latter home to General Mills.)  By his teen years, Abram moved with his family to Mishiwaka, Indiana, just outside South Bend, where his father was a furnace man.  The Gold Rush led the Pomeroy family to migrate to California and they arrived early in 1853, settling in San Jose, future home of Chauncey H. Phillips.  Pomeroy entered the University of the Pacific, then at San Jose, now in Stockton, and received two degrees, completing his education in 1864.  He was then appointed deputy county clerk (which Phillips had been in Napa) and then county clerk, serving in these positions for eight years.

Pomeroy's father, Charles, was a moulder, following the same general line he had in Indiana, but soon became a prominent citizen of San Jose, serving on the city council.  A community in southeast San Jose bore the family name and there is a street there today named for them, as well.  By the 1870s, Abram was a merchant with a wife and adopted child, but found San Jose to be too limited.  Like Carroll Gates, Pomeroy ventured south early in 1880s and settled in Los Angeles.  Among his earliest partners in the booming real estate business was, of course, Gates, but, prior to that, he worked in association with George W. Stimson.  Together Pomeroy and Stimson were investors in Pismo Beach, near San Luis Obispo (Phillips' stomping grounds) and developed the railroad town of Puente, not far west of Chino, now the city of La Puente.  As noted above, Stimson, who went on to significance in his own real estate and banking endeavors, became a fellow director with Gates in a Pasadena bank.

Pomeroy's real estate activities included work in Long Beach; Temecula (again, the Gates connection with Vail); San Jacinto, near Hemet, Alhambra; Gardena; Glendale (specifically, the Rancho Providencia, near today's Griffith Park); Burbank and others.  In 1900, Pomeroy, who held much of the Rancho Sausal Redondo along the coast southwest of Los Angeles, sold 1,500 acres at $35 each to Moses Sherman (of Sherman Oaks and West Hollywood fame) and his brother-in-law, Eli Clark.  This led to the founding of the town of Hermosa Beach.

Pomeroy was also, from 1890 to 1899, trustee of the Los Angeles Normal School, a state-chartered teacher training university that occupied the lot that is now the Los Angeles Central Public Library.  The Normal School was the forerunner of University of California, Los Angeles.  He was also Chairman of the Los Angeles City Board of Education frm 1889 to 1892; was a trustee and board secretary of the University of Southern California; a trustee of his alma mater, the University of the Pacific; and was vice president of the State Mutual Building and Loan Association.  Finally, he was a charter member of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.  He died sometime after 1920 having lived on South Hill Street near Bunker Hill and then Adams Street in south Los Angeles for many years.

The two images here are from the Los Angeles-based journal, The Land of Sunshine, which had its offices in the Stimson Building, owned by Abram Pomeroy's real estate partner, George W. Stimson.  The larger of the images is from the October 1895 issue, while the smaller comes from the June 1895 number.

11 August 2010

Another Amazing Graffiti Removal Response

Sometime between Monday morning and Wednesday morning, another spate of graffiti appeared at the S-curve along Carbon Canyon Road in the Chino Hills portion of the canyon.  Two CalTrans directions signs were tagged, as was a message board on private property adjacent to the highway.  The photos here were taken just this morning at around 8:30 a.m. 

Within less than an hour, however, the tagging was gone on all three signs.  It appears that CalTrans got out during that window of time and removed the desperate cries for attention, though the agency would not usually work with private property like the message board. 

At any rate, whoever got out there in short order to take care of the problem deserves thanks. 

09 August 2010

Still More on the Return of Artistic Expression in the Face of Social Injustice

There actually was a recent attempt to paint out the graffiti recently applied to the historic water tank from the old La Vida Mineral Springs resort on the Brea side of Carbon Canyon, north of the highway and east of Olinda Village.  Someone with gray paint managed to blot out the "artistic endeavors" on the cement base, but, within a few days, another fresh batch of tagging appeared there.

As stated before here, it doesn't appear that this eighty-plus year old tank and base had ever been hit with graffiti until the 2008 Freeway Complex fire burned away all of the arundo and weeds that had obscured them from view for many years.  In the almost two years since, the unfortunate remnants have been hit a few times.  In fact, it seems that graffiti has generally been on the rise in the Canyon in the last couple of years compared to preceding periods.

While CalTrans has been efficient in getting out and removing the tagging on state property along Carbon Canyon Road, it is not responsible for graffiti on private property and the La Vida property has long had absentee owners, so it may be a good samaritan who has been repainting the tank and base over the last couple of years.

Let's hope whoever it was who painted over the graffiti last time and, if the same person, who started the job with the base in the last couple of weeks will get out there and give it another go. 

08 August 2010

The Elements of Success?

From the ashes of Pine Valley Estates, the 98-unit executive home tract development on the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon that opened a few years back, rises a would-be phoenix* called Elements by Warmington, which is mounting its grand opening this weekend.  A post on this blog from 5 October 2009 discussed the transition from Meritage to Warmington and the scaled-down plans announced therefrom.

Elements features smaller homes at prices greatly reduced from the late boom period high offered by PVE.  Three model homes, all with four bedrooms and three or three-and-a-half baths (as configured in the standard floor plans, with options for up to six bedrooms and five baths), are attractive enough with some interesting options, such as kitchen prep areas, offices and even, in the larger model, a guest suite with a separate living room, as well as a bedroom and bath.  Square footage runs from under 2,900 to about 3,500 and there is no average lot size given, but they generally appear to be about 8-9,000 square feet or so.

Model 1 with four bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths at 2,897 square feet starts at about $702,000.   The second one has a 4/3 layout at 3,025 sf and is listed at about $736,000.  The third offering is also 4/3.5 and is at 3,302 sf for $805,000.

As noted in the October entry, Warmington purchased the remaining 56 of the 98 lots comprising the late, lamented (!) PVE enterprise.  Obviously, the company assumes that the smaller homes and more affordability (?) of the new Elements offering will attract buyers.  And, that may all very well be true.  However . . .

Outside of those in the banking and financial services sector and, perhaps, a few select professions and a small array of anomalies out there, the economy has hardly made "progress" for some 98% of us Americans since last fall.  Excepting those who have made money with the rise in the stock market accompanying the hoarding of cash by financial instituitions, many of which received taxpayer money in the form of TARP and other stimulus programs that they then were permitted to hoard and those enjoying the residual effects therefrom, there are no real signs of improvement.

Unemployment is still 9.5% nationally and around 11-12% in California (excepting those not looking for jobs, but who don't have them--which really means that somewhere around 20-25% of Americans are actually unemployed.)  This will grow with the end of temporary census jobs and other manifestations of attrition and most economists see no change in employment for a year or two at the earliest.

Sure, mortgage rates are at historical lows, but who is eligible to receive them?  Well, there are those who were lucky (or canny) enough to amass equity in the insanity of the last boom and can sell their existing home in this feeble housing market or those extremely rare first-time buyers who can put down a couple hundred thou and be able to take on a mortgage of a half-mil or those looking to refinance who have the magical combination of factors that allow them to do so.

So, there may be 56 families out there who fall in one or more (well, two) of these categories who will buy an Elements home, but it will sure be interesting to see how long the process of selling these residences will take.  Even if, Elements were to sell out in relatively short order, it would, by no means, be representative of the housing market as it exists in the last half of 2010.

Because, we're now at least thirty years into an era in which depressed, stagnant, or insufficiently increased wages were the reality for most Americans, while housing prices (along with much else, adjusted for inflation) rose higher than wages.  Ergo, the only way most home "buyers" could "afford" a house to fulfill the "American Dream" in an economy that relies for consumer spending for 70% of its existence was to take on ridiculous levels of debt.  And, the skyrocketing effect of personal debt seems to correspond in synchronicity with our national debt precisely as the income gap has risen to its highest (read: not good) levels since the 1920s.

As for Carbon Canyon, the distressed economy at the very least means a delay in the continuing effort to dismantle its unique rural feel in favor of the creeping suburban sprawl that will, someday, presumably bring us the approved Canyon Hills and Stonefield (another 100 or so homes) projects, the spectre of a revived Canyon Crest project (yikes, 267 of 'em!) in Brea, future proposed enhancements to the lacking residential stock of the Canyon (that is, courtesy of our cities' statements of overriding consideration to bypass that pesky California Envrionmental Quality Act, not enough executive housing), the imminent glory of Circle K, and who knows how many other wonders of modern American life. 

These, indeed, are the actual Elements of the future of Carbon Canyon.

*given the fact that Phoenix, AZ is perhaps the epitome of the latest boom/bust model that has throughly decimated a grossly overbuilt and overinflated housing market (and, in this case, was truly built on sand), this word choice may not have been the best example.

07 August 2010

Carbon Canyon and Rancho Santa Ana del Chino: Richard Gird

When Francisca Williams decided to sell Rancho del Chino, the new owner was Richard Gird, whose remarkable life spanned from 29 March 1836 to 30 May 1910.  Gird was born in Litchfield, New York, the son of John Gird and Laura King.  His paternal grandfather, Henry Gird, was from Wexford, at the southeastern coastline of Ireland and migrated to New York.  In addition to running a newspaper there, Henry Gird was also a colonel in the British army.  Richard's father, John, was born in Trenton, New Jersey and migrated from New York City to Herkimer County with his mother, Mary Smith, in 1812.  They took over a property of Mary Smith's family called "Cedar Lake Farm."  Richard's mother was the daugher of Sylvanus King of Massachusetts, who claimed lineage from the Mayflower and whose line also included the first governor of the state of Maine.

John Gird, a farmer who self-reported an estate of an impressive $11,000 in 1850, and Laura King had at least nine children, most of whom came to California in the Gold Rush years.  The eldest, Henry S. Gird, seems to have been the first to migrate and was, by early 1851, residing at Greenwood Valley in El Dorado County, just a few miles north of where gold was first discovered by James Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma.  The following year, seventeen-year old Richard, took a steamer from New York to California (and suffered the seemingly-obligatory bout of malaria during his overland crossing at the isthmus of Panama) and joined his elder brother in El Dorado County.  Not long afterwards, however, the two men realized that there was more certainty in making a living by their traditional family vocation of farming.  Consequently, they moved west to Sonoma County along the Russian River.

By 1860, the Gird Ranch was established by Henry in the Alexander Valley, northwest of Healdsburg.  Richard, meantime, was farming with his younger brother, Levi in Geyserville, south of where Henry resided.  Two sisters, Mary and Ellen, had also moved to the Geyserville area.  For a brief time, Richard made the long trek to Chile, where in 1858 he was engaged in mining and railroad work, supervising construction of projects led by the colorful Henry (Harry) Meiggs. 

Meiggs, a shipbuilder and lumber man from New York, had made a small fortune selling lumber in Gold Rush San Francisco, but investments in North Beach real estate put him in debt.  As a city alderman, whose brother was elected comptroller, Meiggs had access to signed but unissued city warrants and forged some to use as collateral for loans.  When the charade was unmasked, Meiggs, who had lumber interests in Mendocino not far from where the Girds lived, fled for Chile, where he reinvented himself as a railroad baron in that country and in Peru.  Meiggs built hundreds of miles of track in difficult terrain, encouraged massive government borrowing to pay for the expensive lines, paid off most of his personal debts in San Francisco (even getting the California legislature to pass in 1874 a bill, vetoed by the governor, prohibiting prosecution of his indictment for embezzlement), and died in Peru in 1877.

In any case, Richard Gird's stay in south America was brief and he returned for a short time to New York, before migrating back to California and, specifically, Geyserville by the end of the decade.  Soon, however, he was off again to find his fortune and moved to the Arizona Territory in 1862 or 1863, where mining speculation was heavy.  The first territorial census, taken in 1864, showed a 28 year old Gird living in Olive City, which had all of 19 residents in the La Paz Mining District and is now a ghost town along the Colorado River across from Blythe, California.  Working as a surveyor, Gird self-reported his estate at a mere $40, although he achieved some renown by being hired by the territorial government to make the first professional map of Arizona, which he completed in 1864.  Gird then moved to San Francisco and established himself as a manufacturer of mining equipment, such as machinery and engines, working with his brohter-in-law, Horace Martin, a former schoolteacher.  He remained there until 1872 when he returned again to Arizona.

For the next several years, Gird seems to have done well, working in assaying (weighing gold), superintending mining mills and furnaces, and surveying, principally at the Signal Mining and Milling Company.  Finally, in 1878, he found himself prospecting in an unproven mining area and made the acquaintenance of two brothers, Al and Ed Schieffelin.  Together, the three discovered a fabulous lode of silver ore and ushered in the creation of the famed Tombstone mining district.  Running the Tombstone Mining and Milling Company with East Coast funds obtained by former Arizona governor Anson Safford, Gird became fabulously wealthy in short order, designing and building the first mill and turning out the first bullion.  In the new boom town of Tombstone, Gird was the first postmaster and mayor, though he had nothing to do with the more infamous violence associated with the town and its notorious "Boot Hill" cemetery.  In 1880, Gird ran as a Republican for the territorial Assembly but lost.  Early that year, he married Maine native Nellie McCarthy.  While the two were together thirty years, there were no children. 

Indeed, by 1881, Gird had sold out his Tombstone mining interests for $800,000 and, as he later explained it, went to southern California to emulate the success of his landholding cousin, Henry H. Gird.  The latter, born in New York, but raised in Louisiana and Illinois, came to California in the Gold Rush period and then owned the Rancho La Cienega, west of Los Angeles, where he lived from about 1860 to the mid-1870s.  Henry H. Gird, in 1876, bought a ranch near Fallbrook and Bonsall in northern San Diego County and became well-known there.

After Richard Gird bought the 37,000-acre Chino rancho, to which he later added 9,000 acres, he and his wife moved into the Joseph Bridger residence (an adobe that later formed part of the clubhouse of Los Serranos Country Club, founded in 1925 in present Chino Hills and, for a time, known as the Pomona Valley Country Club.)  Initially, Gird focused on ranching and farming, fencing a large portion of the rancho, and raising eight hundred horses and eight thousand head of cattle.  He also became known for his farming acumen, serving on the state Board of Agriculture, writing articles and essays about his farming interests, and experimented with many crops.

Richard Gird's purchase of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino came at an opportune time, much like his relocation to Arizona in 1872.  That is, within five years of buying the ranch, Gird found himself with tens of thousands of acres of prime land rising obscenely in value during the renowned "Boom the Eighties."  The completion of a direct transcontinental railroad line to Los Angeles in 1885 led to a spectacular speculation in real estate during the following few years.  In the midst of this boom, in 1887, Gird subdivided 640 acres of the ranch land and created the townsite of Chino.  He was assisted in this work by his sister Ellen's husband, Horace Martin, his former San Francisco mining equipment company partner who later practiced civil engineering in Chicago for many years.

He also developed the Chino Valley Railroad (a narrow gauge line connected at Ontario to the Southern Pacific's transcontinental line), established a sugar beet farm and plant (initially working on 2,500 acres with the Oxnard brothers, Henry, Robert and Benjamin, who also worked at Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach and later founded the Ventura County town of that name), founded the Chino Valley Champion newspaper (which has been continously published since 1887), lobbied successfully for a 30-acre branch of the agricultural experiment station operated from 1891 by the University of California (this was later moved to Riverside and formed the basis for today's UC Riverside), and engaged in many other endeavors on the ranch.  He also was a banker, county leader in the Republican Party, and authored articles on Tombstone for Out West magazine in 1907 and on sugar beet raising in the Land of Sunshine magazine in 1894 and the pamphlet Resources of California, produced for the Chicago World's Fair the previous year.

The Boom of the Eighties flamed out by 1889 and, in the early 1890s, the national economy declined, leading to the Depression of 1893, while southern California was also hit by severe drought.  Gird, overextended financially by his ambitious portfolio of projects as well as enormous sums of money spent on prize horses, took out a $525,000 loan with the San Francisco Savings Union, which received a trust deed to the Chino Rancho.  In October 1894, Gird launched an ambitious sales drive to sell ranch land to raise capital to redeem the mortgage, but the depressed economy was such that only $75,000 was raised. 

The following month, Gird reached an agreement to sell 41,000 acres of the ranch for $1.5 million, payable over a period of time.  There'll be more on this the next post, but a venture launched by the new buyer, which was called the Chino Rancho Company, failed by the end of 1895 and the Chino property reverted back to Gird (and the savings union) as called for in the terms of sale.
Then, a new buyer for the ranch was found in April 1896, a British syndicate, which formed the Chino Beet Sugar Estate and Land Company and which agreed to buy that land for $1.6 million.  More on this later, as well, but the English venture also collapsed and, once again, the Chino Rancho reverted back to Gird (and the savings union.)

By this time, Chino residents were so resentful of Gird that they went to the school he founded and had his name effaced from the cornerstone!

Finally, a better solution came, in the form of the Chino Land and Water Company and its majority stockholder who paid off Gird's mortgage.   Once more, a later post will delve into the details, but this was a more substantial and long-lasting arrangement and involved some very prominent persons from San Francisco and Los Angeles and a few whose names remain connected to Chino today.  As part of this process, Gird's remaining physical assets on the ranch were liquidated by the Chino Estate Company, which ended business as soon as this work was completed. 

After finally extricating himself from Chino and despite only partially satisfactory efforts to rebuild his fortune through mining speculation in Mexico, Gird seems to have lived quietly at a home on West Eighteenth Street in Los Angeles, where he lived with his wife and younger brother, William. 

There is an interesting sidelight to Gird's later years.  His older brother, Henry, with whom Richard lived when he first came to California during the Gold Rush, remained as a farmer in the Alexander Valley for over a half-century, dying there in 1907.  Because there was no will, the estate was put into probate and a judgment was made that the $21,000 estate (hardly a large sum of money, but still of some substance) be left to two siblings, William and Nellie Bennett.  Richard Gird, his brother William and a sister (either Mary or Ellen) then mounted a challenge to the decision.  The reason, as the case went to the California Supreme Court, had to do with the legitimacy of out-of-wedlock children. 

In the mid-1860s, three persons moved to the Gird Ranch at Alexander Valley, a man named Fletcher, his wife Lucinda, and a young girl named Alice (said to be part Indian).  Fletcher worked for Henry Gird for a time and then left, never to be seen again.  Lucinda and Alice stayed on, listed as housekeeper and servant in census listings.  Alice married Owen Bennett by 1880, but Owen soon left, though there was never a divorce.  In the 1900 census, the household consisted of 72-year old Henry Gird, the 56-year old Lucinda Fletcher, "servant" Alice Bennett, 36, and two children William Bennett, 15, and Nellie Bennett, 5.  The problem was, as the court case explained, was that the Bennetts separated at least four years before the birth of the first child.  Moreover, Alice Bennett testified in court that she and Henry Gird (who were at least thirty years apart in age) bore these two children, even though they were given the Bennett surname. 

Richard Gird and his siblings sought to show, through character assassination of Alice Barnett and some testimony and written evidence that indicated inconsistencies in her story, that the Bennett children were not Henry Gird's and that the probate should be reopened.  The state Supreme Court decided otherwise and ruled for the Bennetts (who may have lost a large portion of that $21,000 to lawyer's fees!)

Another note: the Gird's Cedar Lake Farm in New York remained in family hands until 1891, although the family maintained some property in the area until 1933.  Today, Cedar Lake Farm is part of a golf course and country club.  On the grounds of the club is the Gird family cemetery, in which are buried Richard's parents (his mother died in 1862 at age 55, and his father in 1889 at 84), four of his siblings, and grandparents and great-grandparents.

Richard Gird, meantime, died in Spring 1910 at age 74 and was buried at Rosedale Cemetery, not far from his home and with his wife.  The photo of Gird is from Edwin Rhodes' The Break of Day in Chino, published by Rhodes in 1951.