21 September 2010

Carbon Canyon and Rancho Santa Ana del Chino: Jared S. Torrance

A fellow investor in Edwin Jessop Marshall's purchase in 1905 of the Chino Land and Water Company was long-time business associate Jared Sidney Torrance.  Torrance was born in August 1852 in Gowanda, New York, south of Buffalo.  His father, Cyrenus, was an attorney there and in nearby Collins.  Torrance was a lumber dealer in his hometown, but, during the great Boom of the Eighties, which took place in 1886-88 in southern California, Torrance migrated west and settled in Pasadena.  He worked, naturally, in the burgeoning real estate business, and, although the boom went bust by 1890, Torrance seemed to have been a success in the industry and quickly turned his attentions to other financial endeavors, becoming the classic capitalist.

Over the succeeding years he became involved in a wide array of business enterprises.  In 1897, he took over the ambitious but overextended Mount Lowe Railway, a famous funicular railway that climbed the San Gabriel Mountains above Altadena and took tourists on a thrilling ride that included steep inclines and carefully-engineered horseshoe turns.  Hotels, restaurants, view points, footpaths and bridges to waterfalls and other delights were included in the vision of its founder, Thaddeus Lowe.  Financially, however, the project was too much for Lowe and Torrance took over the project.  He made some improvements and then sold the franchise.  After 1902, the Pacific Electric Railway, owned by Henry E. Huntington, took over Mount Lowe and made it a major tourist destination, fulfilling Lowe's vision.

Torrance was an investor, director and/or officer with such projects as the Ventura Water, Light and Power Company (1901); Union Oil Company (along with Edwin Earl of the Chino Land and Water Company); the Union Annex Oil Company (1903); Home Telephone Company of San Francisco (1905); Fontana Land and Water Company (with E. J. Marshall of Chino, 1910); the Barlow Sanitarium, which still operates at Elysian Park near Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles; and the Montana Farming Corporation (1918), which included banker (and son of the famed financier) J. P. Morgan, Jr. as an investor in Indian reservation farm lands in Montana and Wyoming.  As mentioned in the last post on Marshall, it was Torrance who induced Marshall to buy the Santa Barbara County ranches that included Jesus Maria, long held by Marshall and his family.

Torrance, in 1910, formed a syndicate that, included John S. Cravens (also involved at Chino), W. J. Barlow (founder of the aforementioned sanitarium), and others, and created the Dominguez Land Company.  The Rancho San Pedro had been owned by the Dominguez family for decades, but, after 1900, was in the process of being divided amongst the daughters of the family, who were known by their married surnames of Carson and Del Amo.  Torrance and his fellow investors acquired about 2800 acres from one of the heirs and a little over 700 from the other for about $1.2 million and set about creating a planned industrial city unique to its time.  Torrance was the prime mover in the project and brought in famed urban planner Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., whose namesake father had designed New York's Central Park in addition to many other notable landscape features.  Olmsted, in turn, brought in Lloyd Wright, son of noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright, to design landscape elements and Irving J. Gill, a well-known residential architect, to design commercial and civic buildings.  Torrance pushed to have the new town called Dominguez in honor of the original ranch-owning family, but the post office already had a Dominguez station nearby.  After other considerations, including the mundane "Industrial, California," other stakeholders pushed, despite its founder's objections, to name the place Torrance.  In 1912, the community began development and it was incorporated in 1921.

Jared Torrance never lived in Torrance and, instead, lived in Pasadena and then South Pasadena, where his imposing Tudor-style mansion still stands.  He married late in life, had no children and died in 1921, remembered mainly for the founding of his namesake city, but should also be locally recalled as one of the many prominent persons involved in the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino.

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