28 July 2011

Artistic Expression in the Face of . . . Religious Fervor . . . Contested

The divinely-inspired tagging of a K-rail alongside Carbon Canyon Road westbound down hill from Olinda Village noted here about a month-and-a-half back was given, within the last week or so, a direct challenge by someone whose contrarian certainty was offered with great emphasis.  The letter "A" within a circle is a common symbol for athiests. 

So, this may be a manifestation of the so-called "cultural wars" as expressed via spraypaint.  The hubcap has no relation (unless someone wants to link it with circular reasoning, the circle of life, or the debate between a flat or round earth).

26 July 2011

Carbon Canyon's Newest Religious Facility: Bharat Sevashram Sangha

Last Sunday, 24 July, the former Carbon Canyon Christian Church and Samsung Presbyterian Church property was the site of a dedication for the newest religious group to occupy the site: Bharat Sevashram Sangha, a Hindu organization that was founded in Kolkatta (Calcutta), India in 1917.  The local BSS chapter Web site (see here and here for some pages) identifies its core beliefs or mission as:
  • Service of humanity, irrespective of caste, creed, or national origin
  • Moral & spiritual regeneration
  • Spread of moral, spiritual and physical education
  • Study of Hinduism, Hindu culture & heritage
  • Teaching of yoga and health science subjects
  • Education through moral and spiritual publications
The swami at the ashram is Purnatmanandaji Maharaj, who is also described as Chairman, Director & Principal Coordinator & Chief Official Representative of the Overseas Branches and Chairman of BSSW-California, the local organizational chapter.

The BSS West--California chapter opened in 2004 at a Riverside location, but found that site to be too limited for its needs and the 50-acre Olinda Village site, adjacent to Hollydale Mobile Home Estates was purchased.  The chapter Web site describes the location:

Tranquility, beautiful, scenic and unique—can hardly describe the magnificence of our Brea Bharat Sevashram Temple.  It is here that one seems separated from the rest of the world similar like “Rishikesh” in India.  Apparently this temple location is one of the most beautiful place in Southern California.  Please come, join and take a tour to experience the solitary beauty, exotic landscape, spectacular and beautiful sites.  Natural beauty, mountains and forests makes it one of the most stunning place.

It’s a quiet place with abundant parking available even on the weekends. The neighborhood is welcoming and safe. The Temple is now a place of great divine beauty and peace. It is breathtakingly beautiful. It is a great place for people looking for a powerful escape from everyday demanding life and divulge it’s panoramic beauty.  To summarize in short, our Brea BSSW Ashram is a swell destination.

Rishikesh might be best known, if at all, to most of us as the place where The Beatles spent some months at an ashram back in the late 1960s.

As described in the local India Journal newspaper (see here)  in its coverage of the grand opening:

the monastic order is a socio-religious, philanthropic organization dedicated to the service of humanity, propagating the great human values of fraternity, tolerance and inclusiveness with non-sectarian, non-communal and nonpolitical outlook.  Ever since its inception BSS, with its goals of Universal Emancipation, has been tirelessly working for the upliftment of the downtrodden and the neglected section of society.

As for its programming, the BSS West--California chapter identifies daily offerings as including early morning prayer, yoga and meditation; noontime puja and bhog.  A puja is a ritual offering usually made several times daily to deities, as well as distinguished persons and special guests.  A bhog entails a ritual sacrifice to deities.  Devotional music and scriptural readings and an offering of lamps (arati) are also part of daily rites.  A limited schedule on Fridays through Sundays involves mid-morning yoga and meditation.  Weddings and spiritual lectures and classes will also be held at the temple.

The BSS West--California chapter identified the Olinda Village neighborhood as "welcoming and safe," although a recent Hindu temple project in Chino Hills has been involved in some controversy in the decade or so since it was proposed at a location on undeveloped land east of the Chino Valley Freeway (SR-71) between Chino Hills Parkway and Soquel Canyon Parkway.  A good summary of that project's history from the Pluralism Project at Harvard University can be found here and a certain blogger can well recall e-mail and phone correspondence with persons who expressed broadly-stated concerns about non-Western architecture and cultural practices not "fitting in" with the community majority, even though the ethnic, racial and religious diversity of our area has been, as in many places, shifting and evolving (and not always in very predictable ways.)  Nearly a quarter century ago, the establishment of the Tsi Lai Buddhist Temple in Hacienda Heights (see here) generated somewhat similar issues and a certain blogger who began working nearby in 1988 when the temple was finished can vividly remember those contested days, as well.

It will be interesting to see what reactions, if any, will arise with the establishment of the Bharat Sevashram Sangha here in Carbon Canyon.

25 July 2011

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #8022

This spot on Carbon Canyon Road just below Carriage Hills in Chino Hills has proved to be quite a-peeling to drivers who find its curves irresistible, but also, evidently, deceiving.

The latest transgression occurred over the weekend (let's go out on a limb and suggest late evening Friday, Saturday or, maybe, Sunday.)

A vehicle traveling westbound took the curve past Carriage Hills Drive, overcompensated somewhat, and skidded into a low berm and onto the shoulder, taking out another roadside reflector, just a few feet away from a compatriot recently supplanted by an eastbound driver.

22 July 2011

Olinda Oil Field History: Origins of Olinda, Part 3

William Hervey Bailey, who founded the Olinda Ranch Company in the late 1880s, was the third of five sons born to Edward Bailey (1814-1903) and Caroline Hubbard (1814-1894), both natives of Holden, Massachusetts, about forty miles directly west of Boston.  The two were devout Congregationalists who, just a week after their November 1836 marriage, joined a missionary company under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM).  The ABCFM was an organization formed at Williams College in Massachusetts a quarter century before during a period called the Second Great Awakening, a Christian revival movement that swept the United States through camp meetings and other non-traditional means.  New religious groups like the Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists and the Churches of Christ sprung from this religious ferment and intense missionary activity also marked much of the movement.  The ABCFM sent its missionaries to many areas of the world, including India, China, the Middle East, and Africa.

Edward and Caroline Bailey were in the eighth company sent by the ABCFM to what were commonly called the Sandwich Islands, better known as Hawai'i.  They arrived on 9 April 1837 and were promptly assigned to a station at Kohala on the island of Hawai'i, usually referred to as the "Big Island."  Shortly thereafter, they were relocated to Lahaina, Mau'i, where they remained for about two years.  Finally, in 1840, they were assigned to Wailuku on the same island.  For the next decade, the Baileys worked as missionaries and Edward Bailey ran the Wailuku Female Seminary from 1840 until its closure in 1849.  The following year the Baileys severed their ties with the ABCFM and Edward Bailey went into the sugarcane industry and remained connected with it for some thirty-five years, including with the Wailuku Sugar Company from 1862 and then, from 1882, the Planters Labor and Supply Company, which beame the powerful Hawaii Sugar Planters Association.

The Bailey family included Edward, Jr. (1838-1910), Horatio (1839-1899), William (1843-1910), James (1846-1891) and Charles (1850-1924).  The family occupied an early American-style house in Wailuku, that was on the site of the royal compound Kahekili II, the last ruling chief of Mau'i, and which was the home of the Wailuku Female Seminary when Edward and Caroline Bailey took it over in 1842.  After the seminary's closure, the Baileys acquired the house and land, the latter of which became a sugarcane plantation.  Not only did Edward Bailey become a sugarcane grower, but, in his early fifties and without any training or education, he took up painting.  He proved to be so adept as a "Sunday painter" (that is, an amateur) that his art works, consisting of some 100 landscapes of Mau'i, have become famous there and a book showcasing his life, career, and art has recently been published.  Moreover, the family residence, taken over by the C. Brewer Company, one of the famed "Big Five" sugar conglomerates of Hawai'i, became, in the late 1950s, the headquarters of the Mau'i Historical Society and is now the Bailey House Museum.

William Hervey Bailey (1843-1910), a missionary's son from Wailuku, Maui, who created Olinda Ranch in 1888.  From the 1902 "mug book" (a mug book was a history that contained biographies submitted by those who paid for their inclusion) Men of the Pacific Coast.
William Hervey Bailey, like all of his brothers, attended Punahou School, which also included O'ahu College, in Honolulu, but was there far longer than his siblings, being enrolled from 1853 to 1862.  Presumably, he joined his father and older brother, Edward, in the sugarcane industry.  At the end of 1869, William was married to Anna Hobron, daughter of ship captain Thomas Hobron, best known for being the builder of the first railroad on Mau'i, the Kahului and Wailuku Railroad, a small-gauge line serving sugar plantations sending their product to the port at Kahului.  Hobron was also owner of the Grove Ranch Plantation.  William and Anna had two children born in Wailuku: Minnie born in 1872 and William, Jr., born the following year.

William, with his father and brother, was a shareholder in the Planters Labor and Supply Company, a sugarcane industry association formed in March 1882 that worked to find cheap foreign labor in Hawai'i's plantations.  Among the powerful names involved in the company were Castle, Bishop, Dillingham, and Thurston, all major figures in the development of sugar and in politics.  William served on the firm's labor committee and, in an issue of its Planters' Monthly publication, reported on Japanese migrant laborers that "as irrigators they could not be beaten, and they were steady and honest."  Within a few years, however, of joining the PLSC, William, his parents and some of his brothers decided to move to California, settling in Oakland in October 1885.  William's mother, Caroline, died in Oakland in 1894 and his father migrated south to the Los Angeles area, dying in Alhambra in 1903.

About 1888, a few years after coming to California and during the colossal land boom that engulfed the southern California region, William made his purchase of land in northeastern Orange County that he named the "Olinda Ranch."  Now, as to why he bestowed that name on his new purchase.

In 1535, the Portuguese established one of their earliest colonies in Brazil and called it Olinda.  That city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, became the center of a burgeoning industry in sugarcane.  Consequently, when sugarcane was established on Mau'i, Hawai'i three centuries later, the place name of Olinda was given to an area in the Kula Highlands, at about 4,000 above sea level along the slope of the volcanic mountains that lead to the famous Haleakala National Park.  It has been said that the moniker was given by Samuel Alexander, another missionary scion and founder of the "Big Five" sugar company Alexander and Baldwin, for a home he had in the area.  Notably, after Alexander relocated to Oakland in 1882, he bought land south of Redding for a ranch and built, in 1884, a brick mansion that he called Olinda and the place name survives there today.  There is also an Olinda in Australia, not far from Melbourne.

It seems obvious, then, that William Hervey Bailey chose the name Olinda because of the memories he retained of his more than forty years on Mau'i and may have been following the lead of Samuel Alexander, with whom he grew up as sons of early missionaries on Mau'i. 

Who would have known that Olinda was named for a place in Hawai'i?

20 July 2011

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #7981: The Tortoise and the Harebrained

Puttering along this morning westbound on Carbon Canyon Road at the obnoxious snail's pace of a paltry 50 mph, I had the privilege to be passed, after being closely tailed from near Summit Ranch on, by a black BMW just past Canon Lane, where a left-turn lane for eastbounders granted ample enough room, it seems, for the righteous to roar past doddering fools only barely transgressing the posted speed limit (45 mph, as if it mattered.) 

Did she not heed the sign back at the start of the highway at Chino Hills Parkway that sternly warns "DO NOT PASS"?

Crowning her achievement, as she eased into bucolic lil' ol' Sleepy Hollow behind a line of cars ahead and yet having saved her brutal commute to the OC at least twelve (maybe thirteen) whole seconds, our daring driver deigned to deposit, through the opened passenger's side window, a can of whatever it was that made her dreaded dreary drive somehow bearable. 

Why, if she were to be caught by our local constabulary, that would render a punishment of a $1000 fine--the sign, very near the aforementioned one, says so!

Duly, in fact doubly, impressed by her dual dismissal of ordinances as we came to a stop in Brea, I rolled down my window and called out to my antagonist, "Thank you for taking my life into your hands and for littering my neighborhood!" 

Her curt reply:  "No problem.  Maybe you should drive faster!"  Touche!

Incidentally, in the early evening last Friday, with our younger son in tow, my wife was passed by a pickup truck as she drove westbound and made the first curve into Sleepy Hollow (not the fairly long straightaway leading to it, but in the curve.)

In both cases, oncoming vehicles were but a couple of seconds away.  But for circumstances being otherwise, this would have been a very different, and not so glib, a post.

Next, back to history.

13 July 2011

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #7845

This seemed to have occurred over the last weekend.

A slight miscalculation in taking the curve eastbound on Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142) just before the Carriage Hills tract entrance in Chino Hills.

Casualties were merely three reflectors and some scrapes on the power pole.

11 July 2011

Olinda Oil Field History: Origins of Olinda, Part 2

Actually, this post represents a mild, but notable, diversion from Part One.  When William Hervey Bailey bought the land that he named Olinda Ranch during the great land boom of the late 1880s, he hired a real estate and mining speculator to work with him.  This was George Whitwell Parsons, who remained an agent and secretary of the Olinda Ranch Company through the 1890s.

Parsons was born in Washington, D. C. in August 1850.  He was the only son among four children of Virginia Whitwell, a native of Richmond, Virginia, and Samuel Miller Parsons, who hailed from Wiscasset, Maine.  His mother came from a well-to-do family and she went to Mrs. English's Boarding School at Washington, where she was a classmate of Jessie Benton, daughter of powerful Missouri senator, Thomas Hart Benton, and wife of the famed and controversial explorer and politician, John C. Frémont.  Samuel Parsons, an graduate of the first class at Yale University's law school in 1843, began his practice in Brooklyn, New York (which was an independent city until the 1890s) but met his wife at Washington, where the couple started their family before relocating back to Brooklyn. 

George was educated in public schools in Brooklyn and then attended a seminary at Blairsville, Pennsylvania before going back home to study accounting and bookkeeping at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute.  He was working as a clerk at brokerage and import companies while studying law at his father's practice (an apprenticeship known as "reading" with a law firm) on Wall Street, the financial center of New York and the United States.  George, however, soon tired of the law and migrated in 1874 to Miami, Florida, where he sold salvage lumber.

He then headed westward, landing in Los Angeles in August 1876, just after the town of about 15,000 was shaken by financial disaster and heading into a long period of population decline and business depression.  Almost exactly a month after his arrival, the Southern Pacific Railroad line from San Francisco to Los Angeles was completed and, in 1885, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad (which had a huge stake in Olinda later on) built its line directly to the nascent city from the east.

Parsons, though, came at a bad time to Los Angeles and quickly headed north to San Francisco where he spent three years working as a bank clerk for the National Gold Bank and Trust Company. Always on the lookout for new opportunities, Parsons found one in a new mining town in the Territory of Arizona called Tombstone, where he migrated with the gloriously-named Milton Clapp.  Readers of the Chronicle may recall that Richard Gird, owner of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino and founder of the town of Chino, was one of the prime movers in the development of Tombstone.  As it turned out, it was 1880 when Gird sold out of his mining interests at Tombstone and bought the Chino ranch and Parsons was heading the other direction, arriving in the boom town in mid-February.

The tract map of the town of Carlton, identified at the upper left as being in "Olinda Ranch."  This 1888 map is provided courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

Parsons was a notable resident of that famous community for about seven years.  For example, as the rough-and-tumble Tombstone grappled with disorder and violence, Parsons was a member of the Committee of Vigilance's administrative wing, the "Council of Ten", seeking to root out lawbreakers in town.  He was a close friend of the famed Wyatt Earp and other major characters in the community.  In 1885, he helped form the library, one of the "civilizing" influences in the town and served as librarian.  More importantly, Parsons kept a diary, which he had started upon his mother's death in 1869, and continued it all through his years in Tombstone, up until mid-January 1887, when, news of the Los Angeles real estate boom reaching his ears, he packed up and headed back to the coast.  As to his diary, it has been one of the most important sources of information about Tombstone, including the Earp brothers, the O.K. Corral incident, and other historic events.

When Parsons reestablished himself at Los Angeles, he moved into the Argyle Hotel and hung his shingle at 41 South Fort Street in a real estate business with partner Maurice Clark.  Soon afterward, the two were hired by William H. Bailey to work on the Olinda Ranch subdivision, including the town of Carlton, which began its operations in early 1888.  Within a year, however, the great "Boom of the Eighties" had gone bust, though Parsons continued in real estate, as well as mining, and also retained his involvement with Olinda Ranch.  In fact, in 1894, when Bailey announced the shuttering of the Los Angeles sales office and the relocation of all company operations to the San Francisco main office, Parsons was company secretary.

Parsons was also an Arizona commissioner of deeds and notary public, but became well-known in Los Angeles as a charter member of the city's Chamber of Commerce, which re-formed in 1888, and was Chairman of the Mines and Mining Committee.  Due largely to his efforts, the Chamber was successful in 1894 in securing a State of California survey of Los Angeles-area oil lands, two years after Edward Doheny and Charles Canfield brought in the first successful oil well within the city.  Doheny went on, in 1896-97, to drill the first oil well at Olinda.

Parsons, whose active involvement at Olinda seems to have ended by 1900, continued to live and work in Los Angeles, dealing in real estate and mining.  He was reunited with Wyatt Earp, when the Tombstone marshal migrated to Los Angeles and when the lawman died in 1929, Parsons was one of the pallbearers.  Unmarried, Parsons died in January 1933, leaving a modest $25,000 estate, and was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights.  A set of scrapbooks covering the years 1893-1920 kept by Parsons was donated to the special collections section of the library at U.C.L.A.

08 July 2011

Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142) Remains Closed

A 6 am update from the City of Chino Hills and a recorded update from last night from the City of Brea both indicate that Carbon Canyon Road remains closed between Olinda Village and Santa Fe Road in Olinda Ranch, as final containment and mop-up on the fire north of Olinda Ranch continues.

As before, the 714-990-7732 hot line, City of Brea Web site (click here), and the City of Chino Hills Web site (click here) have update information.

UPDATE (9:15 A.M.):  According to the City of Chino Hills notification system, Carbon Canyon
Road will remain closed between Olinda Village and Olinda Ranch until 6 p.m. tonight.

07 July 2011

Carbon Canyon Fire North of Olinda Ranch

A view of the fire north of Carbon Canyon near Olinda Ranch taken from Sleepy Hollow at 4:45 p.m., 7 July.
At around 10:30 this morning, a grass fire broke out in the vicinity of Olinda Ranch in Brea and has caused a closure of Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142) at Valencia Avenue on the Orange County side and in Sleepy Hollow on the Chino Hills side. 

One report from the Orange County Register quoted someone in the area as saying the fire started along the highway and spread northward into the hills.  The paper also stated that, while firefighters initially thought they had the fire under control somewhat quickly, the blaze reignited and headed north and east toward Olinda Village. 

This view was taken from a ridge on the north side of Carbon Canyon Road looking northwest from the Orange/San Bernardino County line.  Courtesy of Jim Powderly, Chino Valley Fire District.

New Brea fire chief Wolfgang Knabe has been quoted as saying that there is a contingency to evacuate residents there, if needed, but that, in any case, he expected crews to be there through the night.  Fixed-wing aircraft, moreover, have been deployed to drop material on the fire.

Fortunately, while temperature are in the upper 90s, there is humidity and low winds, which aid in the effort to combat the flames.
As for the road closure, this means that, while residents of Sleepy Hollow east can access their homes, those living in Olinda Village, Hollydale Mobile Home Estates and, perhaps, Olinda Ranch or parts of it, will not be able to reach their houses at this point.

Here is a dramatic view of a fixed-wing aircraft dumping Foscheck, a fire-fighting chemical, on the blaze.  Courtesy of George Ullrich of Olinda Village.

Click here for a NBC-LA web article and here for an Orange County Register Web page.

We'll see if more news is available as the afternoon progresses.

Meantime, for info on the Orange County side, call: 714-990-7732.

UPDATE (7:30 P.M.):  The City of Chino Hills sent an update an hour ago that Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142) is expected to be closed overnight and that updates will be provided as early as 5:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.  Evidently, this applies to through traffic in both directions.  Travelers east have been stopped at Valencia Avenue, while those going west can go through as far as Olinda Village before being halted.

Another view of aircraft responding to the fire and within Chino Hills State Park, as pointed out by Hills for Everyone Executive Director Claire Schlotterbeck, who provided this photograph.

Meantime, the fire has evidently scorched over 400 acres, including portions of the rarely-visited sections of Chino Hills State Park that are north of Carbon Canyon Road, and had been moving northeast into Los Angeles County.  The blaze is said to be more than 75% contained.  Notably, the fire was said to have been under control late morning/early afternoon, but then jumped fire lines and leapt out of control after 2 p.m., at which time the acreage burned had only been about 25.  Eventually, 250 firefighters, three helicopters and two aircraft were on scene and responding.  By 7 p.m. the force was down to half the fire personnel and one helicopter.  Expected winds did not materialize, which certainly has helped the effort.  In fact, fire officials hope to contain (not necessarily fully extinguish) the fire by late tonight or early tomorrow morning.  Fortunately, no damage or injuries have been reported and there have been no evacuations.

Here is an updated Orange County Register article link.

Thanks to everyone who has shared information and photographs of this fire as the event has developed over the day. 

If anything, the aftermath of the disaster of November 2008 has led to improved communication and, hopefully, response to fires within the Canyon and highlights the importance of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan and Carbon Creek Egress Corridor Fuel Reduction Project [a.k.a., the cleanup of Carbon Creek of overgrown and fire-prone plant materials that also are diverting the creek and threatening the stability of Carbon Canyon Road]. 

Both of these projects have been developed by the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council, which had its monthly meeting last night to discuss the status of these ongoing efforts to improve fire safety in Carbon Canyon.

02 July 2011

Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council Banner Is Up!

Thanks to some dedicated members of the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council and the generosity of a Chino sign and banner company, a series of new banners will be seasonally displayed during the year to warn residents and passers-through of the fire danger that is essentially ever-present within the Canyon.

The first banner was put up by a Council member within the last few days, with a timely warning about fireworks and dirtbikes being a very real cause of fire within the area during hot, dry and windy summer days.

There are existing signs from the City of Chino Hills concerning the banning of fireworks throughout the city, but these are generally up for a couple of weeks before the Fourth of July holiday and then down soon after that day.

These banners, posted at the east entrance to the Canyon along westbound Carbon Canyon Road near Chino Hills Parkway and (soon to be) at the west end of the Chino Hills portion near the county border are enclosed within custom wood frames below the long-standing wooden signs warning of fire danger that have been up for many years.

Banners and signs have their place and, hopefully, these will have some impact.  Concerned citizens in Canyon neighborhoods can also be of assistance.  Ultimately, though, some enforcement has to take place, an issue that continues to occur with driving behavior on the road, despite all the directional and warning signs CalTrans has (and continues to add) on the highway.

Kudos to those Fire Safe Council members who put a lot of time and effort to get this project to fruition!