30 November 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

26 November 2010

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #6006 and #6143

Like Justin Bieber, the hits just keep on coming. 

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

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

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

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

16 November 2010

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

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

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

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

The listing link is: 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 November 2010

The Reappearance of Artistic Expression in the Face of Social Injustice

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

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

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

14 November 2010

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #5981

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

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

11 November 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 November 2010

Olinda Oil Field Postcard, ca. 1910s

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

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

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

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

04 November 2010

Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council Update

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