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.