29 June 2011

Olinda Oil Field History: The Origins of Olinda, Part 1

Back in the earliest days of this blog, a reference was made to the beginnings of the Olinda oil field (see here) regarding its founding by a W. H. Bailey in 1891. This post offers a correction and a good deal more (interesting?) information about the origins of the community.

Early in 1888, when the Los Angeles region was deep in the throes of a massive land boom known as the "Boom of the Eighties" and real estate speculation was in a frenzy, an advertisement appeared in the Los Angeles Times that was typical in its florid, overheated language praising "The Olinda Ranch" and its "fertile farms" and "beautiful villa sites."

The notice went on to claim that "this land is some of the most fertile in the Santa Ana Valley," which was a little strange because Santa Ana is a good deal south, although the reference could have been to the old Rancho Cajon de Santa Ana, which was historically near the tract. Moreover, it claimed that the property was "highly improved and now producing a great variety of fine fruits, grains, alfalfa, etc."

By improvements, this presumably meant the most important of all, a reliable water supply and the piece went on to claim that there was an "ample supply of water for irrigation and domestic use." Yet, it went on to note that "Hotel and Water Works in course of construction [italics added.]"

In addition, there was mention of "a $50,000 plant to develop the immense deposits of Asphaltum and Oil on the north line of this ranch," a direct reference to the fact that asphaltum was so common in the area that the name of a ranch, "Cañon de la Brea," embracing Brea Canyon, was a reference to the tar that residents in the area during the Spanish and Mexican eras used to coat their house roofs (the tar pits on Rancho La Brea, now part of the La Brea Tar Pits at the George Page Museum, were the source for Los Angeles residences.) It also followed by three years the discovery of oil nearby in what is now Rowland Heights on the north side of the Puente Hills within the portion of Rancho La Puente owned by former sheriff William R. Rowland.

Moreover, the ad stated that "the Anaheim, Olinda & Pomona R.R., now building, gives direct communication with Los Angeles and the sea." This project was evidently projected to go through Brea Canyon to connect the established towns of Anaheim and Pomona.

An advertisement filled with hyperbole and rampant over-enthusiastic observations
about the newly-subdivided Olinda Ranch, Los Angeles Times, 24 January 1888.

The parcel was said to contain a "fine view of sea and mountains and the neighboring towns of Santa Ana, Anaheim, Orange and Long Beach [the latter was hardly neighboring, though]."

Most importantly, however, was the fact that "the finest portion of this ranch" was "surrounding the Rousing Town of Carlton." This townsite, "situated in the midst of the ranch" was said to be "rapidly taking its place as an important town, and is preparing for electric lights, newspaper, bank and business buildings." Not only that, but its unnamed "principal boulevard is to be paved throughout with asphaltum, making a handsome drive through the town and ranch."

Carlton was located at what is now the area east of Rose Drive and north of Imperial Highway. Even today, 123 years later, some of its streets survive, including the east-west thoroughfares of Wabash Avenue, Chestnut Street, Chicago Avenue, Walnut Street, Brooklyn Avenue, Pacific Avenue (though east of Valley View or the old First Street and, therefore, outside the actual Carlton boundary), and Los Angeles Street (while Orange Street is now Marda Avenue and Richfield Avenue is today's Bastanchury Road.) Of the numbered north-south lanes, First is now Valley View Avenue, Fifth is now Prospect, Seventh is today's Rose Drive and Eighth and Ninth seem lost to history. But Second through Fourth and a sliver of Sixth streets are all still around. At the southeast end of the old townsite, there is even a small little lane called Carlton Place. Most of the site is now situated within the City of Yorba Linda, although some of the western portion is in Placentia, where pieces of Brooklyn and Chicago avenues extend west of Rose Drive and flank Golden Avenue, which might be the western extension of Walnut Street.

To top off the hyperboles, the ad claimed that "three-fourths ofthe town of Carlton was sold in 30 days, and prices have advanced 400 per cent. This acreage will rise in the same proportion, though its opening prices were promoted at a mere "$100 per acre upward" in lots of one to twenty acres.

The piece concluded by offering daily excursions to "fertile Olinda" with trains leaving at 9:30 a.m. and returning at 3:15 p.m. (presumably offering a free lunch in the bargain.) Interested parties were requested to inquire at the Los Angeles office of the company with its agents, Maurice Clark and George W. Parsons.

For a time, this ad and slight variations of it appeared in the Times, but the problem was that the real estate boom was filled with myriad other examples of Olindas and Carltons and the speculation was so rampant that the inevitable bust came by the end of the year.

Still, despite the failure of the real estate market and the collapse of Carlton and the Olinda Ranch subdivision, its owner, W.H. Bailey pressed on. Next, more on him.

28 June 2011

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #7777

Probably from Monday.  Eastbound on the mid-section of the S-curve along Carbon Canyon Road in Chino Hills.  Lots going on over there as of late.

20 June 2011

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #7613

Sometime today.  Looks like someone decided to put it out of its misery (see here for its late April maiming.)

On second thought, this can't really qualify as a decision.

BTW, doesn't that tree trunk (a hi-tech solution to defend the power pole) look like it's holding its "hands" out for protection, or pleading?

15 June 2011

Artistic Expression in the Face of . . . Religious Ecstasy?!

Well, this is interesting. 

Somewhat akin, perhaps, in a strange type of sweetness, to the reintroduced "Falling [in love] Rocks" sign that has reappeared on the westbound side of Carbon Canyon Road in Olinda Village, this earnest expression in spray paint has recently sprung up on a K-rail further west on the same side of the highway in a turnout below the steep hillside.

Has anyone been taken yet?

14 June 2011

Carbon Canyon Land Purchased for Preservation

This news came out a couple of weeks ago, but a little under 300 acres of Carbon Canyon land, south and east of Olinda Village was acquired by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) from Leo Hayashi, former owner of the La Vida Mineral Springs property and is to be preserved as open space.

The acquisition, one of many the agency intends to conduct, was done with funds set aside in the county's Measure M transportation funds as mitigation for projects conducted by OCTA with those monies.  According to this article (click here) from the Orange County Register, the agency paid just below $3 million for the parcel and is working with California State Parks to have the state agency manage the preserved land as part of Chino Hills State Park.  In fact, it has been said that the property may within a couple of years be formally annexed to the state park, although the article stated that it is "unclear" whether the property would be made accessible to the public or be transferred to the state as an addition to the CHSP.

The Orange County Register got a much more professional and well-placed view of the 287-acre site from atop the ridge.  Carbon Canyon Chronicle readers will have to settle for this pedestrian view (power lines and all), taken from Olinda Village on 16 June 2011.

Hayashi, whose trials and tribulations in trying to get his Carbon Canyon domains developed made him something of a cause celebre for pro-development voices, intended at one point to build "up to 300 homes" on the tract, although the City of Brea informed him that he would only be able to construct less than half that number because of the steep terrain.

According to OCTA, which recently announced the purchase of 84 acres near O'Neill Regional Park for $3.2 million (note the significant difference in value), the Carbon Canyon site was desirable because of its high concentration of native plant and animal life.  According to the agency in a 2005 report, the proceeds from Measure M projects available from mitigation for the purchase of land for open space could, over three decades, total as much as $243 million.  An OCTA spokesperson stated to the Register that some $40 million has been approved by the agency for land acquisition in 2011 alone.

This is welcome news for those who appreciate the effort to preserve what little remains of open space in a county that had witnessed nearly unending development since the 1950s.  Acquiring open space for public benefit using mitigation funds derived from public sources is a reasonable and laudable project, given how much of the county has gone to developers over the decades.  Presumably, Mr. Hayashi received "fair market value" or more for his land.

09 June 2011

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #7529: Full Closure of Carbon Canyon Road

The Leaning Tower of Sleepy Hollow (Redux)

Sure is quiet here in Carbon Canyon this evening.  Arrived home to find the electric clocks stopped at 6:43.  Turns out a car accident led to the shearing of a power pole on Carbon Canyon Road between the Orange County/San Bernardino County line and the Rosemary Lane/Hillside Drive intersection.  SR-142 is closed to thru traffic.

Couldn't get down to the road, so took this shot of the road blocked off at Canyon Market from on high.

Looks like the repair work to the pole and lines will be conducted by Edison throughout the night and, perhaps, into the morning's commute.  Likely to lose power at points overnight, but at least we'll be counting sheep (or power poles).

Shocking.  Electrifying.  Polarizing.  OK, Annoying.

At least, it'll be a restful night's sleep for those who live along SR-142.

07 June 2011

Olinda Oil Field History: Charles Victor Hall

Charles Victor Hall was an early entrant into oil development at the Olinda field and has briefly been mentioned in earlier posts on this blog, specifically the entry on 30 June 2009.  Recently, however, a descendant, Cliff Hall, communicated with the Chronicle with an offer to provide information on Hall and his life, including his work in oil prospecting at Olinda.  Thanks to Mr. Hall and the material, including the great photos herein, he sent for this post.

Olinda oil field developer Charles Victor Hall (1854-1933).  Courtesy of Cliff Hall.

Charles Victor Hall was born in May 1854 in San Francisco (though several of his census listings state New York) and seems to have come to Los Angeles around 1860 with his mother, Eliza Jane Hall, and sister Mary.  Thanks to the recently-enacted federal legislation, the Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed for settlers to get free 160-acre sections of land, Eliza and daughter Mary applied for and received, by mid-decade, parcels of land southwest of Los Angeles in an area now enclosed within Western Avenue on the west, Normandie Avenue on the east, Washington Boulevard on the north and Adams Boulevard on the south.  By 1868, Eliza's land was recorded as "Adams Street Homestead Tract #2," while Mary's was, after her marriage, known as the "Mary Moore Tract."  In the 1870 census, Eliza Hall was listed as a house keeper, while Mary was a schoolteacher.  Sixteen-year old Charles was merely "at home," but according to an obituary, he had enrolled in the University of California at age 13 and graduated three years later.  Actually, an 1870 university register showed Hall as in the "fifth class" or in a college preparatory program for the 1870-71 academic year and, if he continued with the university program as a "fourth class," or freshman, student the following year, he would have graduated in the class of 1875.
Charles Victor Hall, back right, with wife Josephine Dalton next to him and daughter Rowena at the front center. 
Courtesy of Cliff Hall.

At any rate, Hall, his obituary continued, eventually found work as a deputy Los Angeles City surveyor and he would either have worked for George Hansen or William Moore, who alternated as city surveyors for many years.  His sister, Mary, in fact, married William Moore in 1878.  That was also the year, Charles entered into matrimony with Josephine S. Dalton.  Josephine was from a well-known Los Angeles family.  Her uncle Henry, who left London as a young man for South America, came to the town during the Mexican era and was a merchant and rancher, obtaining a land grant for Rancho Azusa in the eastern San Gabriel Valley.  In the early 1850s, during the Gold Rush, Henry's brother, George, brought his family to Los Angeles from Ohio.  In 1853, Josephine was born to George and his wife Elizabeth (she, in turn, had been previously married and her two sons from that relationship, William and Charles Jenkins, were notable residents of the Los Angeles area for decades.)  George Dalton obtained a tract of land south of town near Central Avenue and Washington Boulevard on which he farmed and raised his family.

Charles Victor Hall and Fullerton Consolidated Oil Company crew members
at an oil rig on the Olinda field.  Courtesy of Cliff Hall.

After Hall married Josephine, he tried his hand in Oakland as an insurance agent.  The couple's first child, Frank, was born in the Bay Area in 1880 and was followed by three other siblings, a boy and two girls, though only Frank and the youngest, Rowena, survived infancy.  By the time a great land and population boom exploded in the Los Angeles region in the latter part of the Eighties, Hall was back in the south and working in real estate.  In fact, his major project was the subdivision of his father-in-law's tract (George Dalton died in 1892.)  He also inherited some of his mother's homestead, creating the "C.V. Hall Tract" in what is now the West Adams neighborhood.  In the late 1940s, the area in and around the Hall Tract was a flashpoint for the important court cases that struck down restrictive covenants that kept blacks and other minorities out of white neighborhoods.  Also of note is that two of the streets in this area are Dalton and Halldale, both of which run in segments down deep into south Los Angeles, with Halldale finally terminating below Sepulveda Boulevard in the Harbor Gateway area.  There is also a Halldale Elementary School in Torrance.  Hobart Boulevard, on which Mary Hall Moore later resided, was named for Hobart Stewart, a nephew of Eliza Hall who was killed by a trolley in Michigan.

The caption reads "Fullerton Consolidated Oil Co. No. 14 / May 16, 1905."
Courtesy of Cliff Hall.

Perhaps his real estate dealings gave him the finances to embark on a career in the oil business, as that industry was launched in the city of Los Angeles with the 1892 discovery of a successful well by Edward Doheny and Charles Canfield in an area just north and west of downtown.  In fact, while Doheny went on to initiate work at Olinda a few years later, Hall tried his hand in the business.  According to Samuel Armor's 1921 Orange County history, Hall, "whose experience consisted of a few shallow wells" in Los Angeles, was "not supposed to know a bad thing when he saw it," which seems to be an off-hand way of suggesting that Hall was inexperienced when he and three partners, George Owens, Martin Barbour and James Lynch, leased, in 1898, 58 acres at Olinda Ranch and started drilling.

The Fullerton Consolidated Oil Company property at Olinda.
Courtesy of Cliff Hall.

Hall's three partners, however, sold their interests to him in short order and he went it alone.  The first well came in successfully in 1899 and even brought in a staggering 20,000 barrels a day for a few days.  A second producer was not long in following and, by 1905, there were at least fourteen wells there.  This launched the Fullerton Consolidated Oil Company, a major player in Olinda for a decade, and which was capitalized at $300,000.  Meanwhile, Hall expanded his oil holdings to include other companies operating in several California fields and he aggressively advertised in such publications as the prominent magazine, Land of Sunshine.

Hall and his family resided at a house on the George Dalton Tract on Central Avenue and 20th Street and lived there for many years.  In the early 1910s, however, Hall and his wife were embroiled in a bitter divorce that was heavily publicized in the local papers, after which the oil operator emerged in a marriage with Maria Suetans, a native of Belgium who arrived in the United States in 1912 and who was forty years Hall's junior.  According to Hall's obituary, he retired from the oil business in 1915 and, indeed, in the following two censuses he was listed as not having an occupation.

By the 1920s, Hall and his second wife were living in the Westlake Park (now MacArthur Park) neighborhood and he had retired from business.  The 1930 census listed the two as residing in a home valued at $100,000, a princely sum for the era.  His obituary, though, indicated that, from 1920, he considered a ranch at Buena, a community between the present cities of Vista and San Marcos, near San Diego, his home (this ranch was later subdivided as suburbanzation spread from the city into "North County.")  In July 1933, the 79-year old Hall died at his ranch and was said to have made and lost millions in his real estate and oil careers.

06 June 2011

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #7461

Well, that didn't take long.

It's only been a couple of weeks since it was reinstated and here it is, that modest directional sign at the summit of the S-curve on Carbon Canyon Road in Chino Hills, unceremoniously pummeled and pulverized.

The driver, as in the previous incident, was proceeding east bound . . . well, sort of . . . and crossed the westbound lane to smash the sign to smithereens (smithereens--where does that word come from?)

The impact sent the sign and part of the post careening into the dust and the spot is strewn with pieces of plastic and fiberglass.  Again.

The incident occurred over the weekend and the photo was taken this afternoon.  Ho hum.