31 October 2012

Sleepy Hollow and the Carbon Canyon Mineral Springs Resort Redux

Back in early April, a post on the 1940 federal census in Sleepy Hollow referred to the existence of a mineral springs resort in the community and it was noted that some maps identified the "Carbon Canyon Mineral Springs" as in the neighborhood.

Then, community resident Ray Byworth stepped forward and offered a ca. 1960 newsletter image that showed the "Hiltscher Mineral Springs" resort, which existed on his property along Carbon Canyon Road, just a short distance east from the San Bernardino/Orange counties line.  Information on Fred Hiltscher, whose family were prominent in Fullerton (Hiltscher Park, for example, being a well-known amenity there, but less savory allusions to Ku Kux Klan sympathies are also linked to some family members.)  Two weeks after the census post, one on the Hiltscher Mineral Springs resort was uploaded thanks to Mr. Byworth's comment.

Now, within the last few weeks, a new aspect to the story has emerged, thanks to some photographs obtained from David Arnold, owner of a 1938 photo album that features remarkable images of the devastating floods that ravaged much of Orange County (and elsewhere in southern California) during that winter.  There were, however, several images taken in Sleepy Hollow and one specifically of the front of what was called the "Carbon Canyon Mineral Springs" and which was previously the Hiltscher Mineral Springs.  That image is below:

The Carbon Canyon Mineral Springs resort, also known as the Hiltscher Mineral Springs, on the south side of Carbon Canyon Road at Sleepy Hollow just east of the San Bernardino/Orange counties line.  This 1938 view was provided courtesy of David Arnold, owner of a photo album that includes several other views that may be of the other side of this facade.  Click on the image (and those below) to see a larger view in a separate window.

Because the 1940 census had information on those employed at the springs, including its manager, Victor Baden, who had lived elsewhere in 1935 (a question asked on this enumeration), but who may have been the manager in 1938 when the photos in the album were taken.

In any case, this set of photographs shows the same building from image provided by Mr. Byworth in the April post, but with the different name for the institution.  In addition, there are other several other photos that show a two-story frame structure but which is not identified as to location.

Here, then is the selection of images:

Notably, the above view was labeled on the photo album as a "Front View," though it appears to be from the rear of the structure, assuming that the slope at the bottom is the bank of Carbon [Canyon] Creek and the other side faced Carbon Canyon Road.

The view above, however, while definitely of the same side, does look different because of the exposure, with lighter tones in the photo than the one further up.

This shot seems as if it was taken around one side and certainly does take in the same side (at left) as that in the image before it, as well as another side of the structure.  Obviously, there are a number of oak trees throughout the property and, in the view above this one, what looks like a sycamore.

This image is likely of another side and really shows how wooded this property was, with only portions of the structure visible through the dense growth, which obviously has been one of the great appeals of Sleepy Hollow and Carbon Canyon generally.
The labeling of the album page next to this photo simply identified this as the "Patio" and there are some chairs, large square concrete pavers, what might be an outdoor barbeque stove built of river rock with a metal surface projecting out to the right and portions of the structure at the right.

Finally, this view is inscribed as the "Recreation Lot," though it is not entirely clear what forms of recreational activity might have gone on here--perhaps horseshoes--though there is a bench behind the oak tree at the right and there are structures off to the left.

Thanks to Mr. Byworth, it is known that this structure is a short distance east of the Carbon Canyon Mineral Springs on the same side of Carbon Canyon Road, but at the east side of the intersection of the highway with Rosemary Lane.

These are very rare photographs showing Sleepy Hollow and its mineral springs resort in the late 1930s and add more to the fascinating history of the community and of Carbon Canyon generally.

28 October 2012

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #9999

This accident has happened within the last couple of days or so and is on the eastbound side of Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142), about 1/3 of a mile maybe west of the Orange/San Bernardino County line.

And, this is the second accident within the last couple of weeks that has caused damage to the new, extensive work done by CalTrans District 12 on the Brea side of the highway, including new paving, striping, and guardrails.

The other incident took place further to the west at the old entrance to the La Vida Mineral Springs resort.

So, there will have to be significant repairs made to this section of guardrail that was brand spanking new and which will have to replaced.

The details of the accident might have included injury to a driver or passengers, but it could be wondered if, because the license plate for the car is still on scene, an investigation that finds the cause to be reckless driving of some kind, that person could be held liable for the costs of repair?

A little further west on the same side of the highway, there is a little more debris and what looks like absorbent sand was laid out to clean up an oil spill--whether this was related to this accident or was separate is not known.

26 October 2012

Carbon Canyon Fire History: The 1929 Olinda Blaze

With hot, dry, windy Santa Ana conditions making their usual Fall appearance and the fire threat elevated in our region and, keeping in mind the interesting work done by the local group Hills for Everyone in documenting in map form the fire history of Carbon Canyon, here is the first in a series of posts mining the Los Angeles Times for articles on major fire events in the Canyon.

The earliest found is from 14 November 1929 and Santa Ana conditions were blamed for brush fires in several San Diego County locations with specific mentioned also made about "Shifting Winds Saved Olinda from Flames."

This short article noted that "Five hundred residents of Olinda today were thankful for the vagaries of a shifting wind which late yesterday stopped a sweeping fire that for several hours had threatened the community with destuction."

Showing just how primitive firefighting was eighty plus years ago, the piece went on to note that "More than 1200 men hastily recruited from the oil fields and surrounding communities had found it impossible to stop the blaze."

The conflagration started, it was reported, "on the Ed Gaines ranch in Carbon Canyon," this being the location of Olinda Village today, and it was noted that this was "a slight distance from La Vida Hot [actually, Mineral] Springs, a resort community."  The fire than roared westward for 4 1/2 miles "and was at the back yard of Olinda, when late in the evening the wind swung squarely about, halting its progress."

The blaze was said to have consumed some 5,000 acres "of watershed," which seems to indicate that it burned along the Carbon [Canyon] Creek and, perhaps the Soquel Canyon Creek, area on its way over towards Olinda.  Eight oil derricks, a small house and a powerhouse were destroyed on the leases of General Petroleum (three derricks and the powerhouse), Shell Oil (two derricks), Fullerton Oil (two derricks), and Chanslor-Canfield-Midway, also called CCMO (one derrick.)

In addition, before the wind shifted, "several hundred pumping wells were directly in the path of the blaze" and "also a number of large storage tanks were threatened for several hours."

It is worth noting that just about 80 years later within days of the 1929 blaze, a similar fortuitous circumstance came along in the Freeway Complex Fire.  In mid-November 2008, that conflagration, which laid waste 30,000 acres, had two major origins--just off the 91 Freeway and then heading north through Chino Hills State Park--and an oil field at Olinda near the Olinda-Alpha Landfill.

Sleepy Hollow residents, evacuated for three long nights as the firestorm threatened the community, returned to experience little damage, although a few homes (notably the Manely Friends stable in the Brea side just east of the old La Vida property) were burned to the west.

It was related that a firefighter from the Highland area near San Bernardino told a Sleepy Hollow denizen that he and his crewmates were on the line facing massive walls of flame and were preparing to spray retardant foam on houses and the retreat from the line because there was no way for them to stop the conflagration.

And, then:  the wind shifted.  It moved in a direction away from the houses and the community and headed elsewhere to the east.  Strange how history repeats itself.

Of course, firefighting planning, logistics, equipment and personnel are all far superior now to what they were even two decades ago, much less eight, but the threat of devastating fire is still there and, if the wind shifts the wrong way, all of the preparation and apparatuses in place may not be enough to stop the destruction of fire.

Folks in 1929 were lucky and quite a few in 2008 were, too.

14 October 2012

Early La Vida Mineral Water Company History Continued

To date, the earliest information found about the bottling and sale of the mineral water found at the La Vida Mineral Springs resort, in the Brea portion of Carbon Canyon, is Summer 1927.  That is when advertisements started to appear in the Los Angeles Times, generally in a section of the paper devoted to health, where books, medicines, diet products, and sanatoria were also promoted.

In the 31 July issue of that paper, for example, were two small ads.  The first, with the heading, "Regain Your Health—Be Well," and claiming that "La Vida Hot Springs Mineral Water should do it.  For indigestion, gas, stomach, liver and kidney troubles, nervousness, circulation, etc."  A Los Angeles address on South Spring Street, which was then the financial center of the city, was provides, as were phone numbers, for the firm, which was called the La Vida Water Company.

The second ad, just under the Langdon Health Clinic's claim that "we are masters of chronic disease," presumably meaning that they treated not caused such things, for only $25 per month, touted La Vida's water as "Nature's Great Health Remedy," and warned readers "Do Not Compare of Confuse This Mineral Water With Any Other Water in California."

By September, the company, using the slogan "Nature's Wonder Water" seemed ready to expand their content, as the issue of the 11th contained a much larger ad, that was titled "Health, Wealth, and Happiness," noting that "Good Health is of thegreatest value—the greatest asset—the other two objectives are secondary."  The list of maladies treated by the product grew, in addition to the few listed earlier, to "Sick Headache, Diabetes, Bladder Trouble, Neuritis, Bright's Disease, and Rheumatism."

The firm asked readers to "give us the opportunity to prove to you the Health benefits of La Vida Wonder Mineral Water.  We have bona-fide testimonials that it is helping many.  Give it a trial.  It may be just what you have been looking for.  Use a drinking water that comes the nearest to 'Nature's Best'— LA VIDA (The Life)."

The product was available in four one-gallon bottles delivered to the recipient's door for 75 cents and, naturally, "we refund the cost of La Vida Water to our customers if it does not give satisfactory resuts after a fair trial."  Alas, what constituted "fair"?

The reason for the expanded marketing seems to have lied in the fact that this ad mentioned that there was a "New $30,000 La Vida Bath House located in Carbon Canyon, Orange County, 30 miles east of Los Angeles via Whittier Blvd."

Two weeks later, beneath an advertisement interesting "Fig-Co" coffee substitute that promised to help for stomach, liver, kidney, heart and nerve problems, was another ad from La Vida, with a "Free Astounding Offer Special" that was "The Greatest Evidence of Proof Obtainable" about the remarkable curative properties of the water.  That is, "Two one-gallon bottles of La Vida Mineral Water Delivered absolutely FREE" to those who wanted to cure all of the above ailments, plus a few more, including "Auto-Intoxication" and "Gravel Stones."

With a limited time offer for a few weeks, the company "want you to know for yourself the great Health and Live-Giving Benefits of LA VIDA WATER the only natural water of its kind in Southern California."  Why, for those who gave it the opportunity, "Good Health is the Reward that hundreds and hundreds of people have obtained by drinking LA VIDA MINERAL WATER.  You will be amazed at the beneficial results."

By Spring 1929, the company began to refer to its product as "The American Vichy," mimicking the famed mineral waters of the south-central French resort town.  Noting that the company would provide a "Gallon Sample Delivered Free," the ad stated that "La Vida has performed miracles in restoring Health."  Incidentally, the company had moved to a new address at 927 W. 2nd Street, an address likely underneath the 110 Freeway just west of Bunker Hill.

In summer 1930, the company, which had a new name (see below) even with the onset of the Great Depression (which, however, did not fully develop until the massive bank failures of 1932), expanded its operations outside of the Los Angeles area.  The Times, in an 8 June, article noted that "twenty branches of the La Vida Mineral Water Company, from San Diego to Fresno, have been operned within the last few months."  These locations included Alhambra, Fresno, Pomona, San Diego, Fillmore, Redlands, North Hollywood, Glendale, Riverside, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Santa Ana, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Santa Paula, Pasadena, San Bernardino and Ventura.  Within a few weeks, it was expected that locations would open in San Francisco and Oakland, as well.

This movement was made because company officials stated that "Sales in January and February 1930 equaled sales for the entire year of 1929," and then March was better than the previous two months together, April saw a healthy (?) increase, and May almost doubled the performance of the month before, when over 4,000 new customers were obtained.  From our four delivery trucks in December 1929, the company was now operating thirty-four.

By August, the La Vida Mineral Water Company was operating main offices in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, with 37 total branches and was sponsoring radio broadcasts on five Los Angeles, two San Francisco, two Oakland and Fresno and Santa Barbara stations that promised "An Incomparable Discovery for those in Ill Health."  Touting that "Many Thousands Benefited," the company averred that "a very large percentage of our new customes are commended by people who have benefited by the use of LA VIDA MINERAL WATER."

An advertisement from the La Vida Mineral Water Company from the 27 May 1931 issue of the Los Angeles Times.  Click on the image to see it in a separate window in a larger view.

The epitome of company advertising in these early years came with a full-page spread in the Times on 27 May 1931 that claimed, as so many others had, that "This May be the Most Important Message You Have Ever Read."  Ratcheting up the rhetoric in ways not approached before, the company breathlessly exclaimed that "literally hundreds of physicians right here in Southern California recommend and prescribe La Vida Mineral Water . . . Chesmists have analyzed La Vida and found in it remarkable properties which make it unique in the United States. . .  World-famous scientists, in Europe and America, have indorsed La Vida . . . No product has been more universally accepted than La Vida.  No product has received higher praise, more impressive indorsements from great authorities.  No product has so reached so quickly the heights of widespread demand." 

And, the coup de grace?  "There is a Power . . . a Force . . . in La Vida Mineral Water that almost defies explanation and description."  The prose built in intensity as "We in the La Vida Mineral Company have been watching the tens of thousands of people who have used La Vida—we have seen experiences so amazing that they are almost unbelievable—people who have suffered for years, now fully recovered and well—people who have bene enabled to discard their crutches and canes—people who can now eat nortmally again and sleep at night.  Think of what that means!"

To allay the skepticism of the doubting Thomases out there, the ad disregarded those who "just think they are ill" or who "are helped by anything the believe in," or who "are just slightly ill" because "they recover whether they do anything or not."  No, the company was talking about the seriously ill "who are worn out and discouraged."  In these cases, "those are the people who have found the amazing secret of La Vida—a secret that cannot be told in words, but that can be found in life."

Of course, the miraculous work of the water was not limited to customers.  La Vida's president "suffered for nine years with serious stomach trouble, and tried everything, without success—then he used La Vida, and stopped the trouble."  The vice-president found similar results, as did the bottling plant manager who "was forced to live on a diet of milk and raisins—for six years he suffered tortures with his stomach.  After three months of La Vida, his trouble was gone."  Arizona's La Vida rep ended "seven years of suffering" by using the water and "the man who directs La Vida distribution in Canada could hardly stand on his feet a year ago, because of rheumatic trouble—and today he is active and strong.

Even with these stunning testimonials, the ad claimed that the company refrained from advertising these anecdotes because "many experiences have never before been told publicly—we have been almost afraid to tell them, because seemed too miraculous to be true."  But, it went on to relate the tale of "a little girl who suffered for years from juvenile arthritis—who had to be carried from her chair to her bed—and who today is running gayly in her garden" and the woman who received injections after eating because of gastrointenstinal pain "who today eats freely without any ill effects."

Under a section titled "La Vida is Unique," it was explained that "La Vida is a natural alkaline mineral water flowing hot from the earth at Carbon Canyon, Orange County, California.  It is the only water of its exact kind in the United States" and comparable to European examples at Vichy, Carslbad (Czech Republic), Baden-Baden (Germany), Sardara (Italy), and Vidago (Portugal.)  It was stated that La Vida "contains a combination of minerals 20 times stronger than can be found in the average spring water."

Sure to spell out that "La Vida is not a cure-all, not a quack remedy, not a nostrum, not a drug," the ad noted that it did not treat ailments, but dealt with systemic issues that led to ailments, based on "the excess acid condition."  It then admonished readers to talk to their doctor and "your physician can tell you if La Vida can help you," just like today's pharmaceutical ads.  Still, the company went on to observe that "your health is too important—too serious—too sacred—for you to neglect this remarkable, tested, proven, method of helping to remove the cause of many troubles."

Under the prototypical heading of "Act Today!," the ad concluded by noting that the price was small, a four-gallon case for $2, for the benefits of using La Vida and implored readers to "go to your telephone right now—don't let another hour pass without making the decision that has mean health and strength to others. . . Make this day a red letter day in your life." 

It should be added that, by this point, less than a year after there were 37 branches of the company, there were, in late May 1931, a whopping 81.  In an article from the same issue as the amazing ad above, La Vida Mineral Water Company president C. A. Kleinman was quoted as saying that "our advertising campaign has created a demand for our product outside of Los Angeles and immediate expansion is necessary."  He was quoted further as remarking that we now maintain eighty-one Pacific Coast branches, employ 250 men and woman and operate eighty-nine delivery trucks.  Fifty-eight of these branches are in California."

And, by mid-July, the number of branches rocketed to 110 on the Pacific Coast, including Vancouver, B. C., Oregon, and Washington, as well as inland to Denver and Phoenix.  In a 12 July 1931 Times piece, Kleinman reported that the company "has entered on a year of expansion that promises to carry retail sales for 1931 to $750,000, according to plans for further distribution."  The article went on to note that "La Vida mineral water is a product of Carbon Canyon, near Los Angeles, and its properties have made it popular throughout the cpast area."  Moreover, its expansion can be noted in the statement that "from one central office and four trucks in 1929, the business of the company has grown to such an extent that more than 100 trucks now are used to handle the retail distribution."

After Summer 1931, though, material about the La Vida Mineral Water Company becomes scarce.  Likely, it entered into its expansion, as is all too often the case, too rapidly and got overextended.  The worsening national economy, which as noted above, led to the depths of the Great Depression as banks failed by the thousands in the U.S. in 1932, probably also had a role to play.  And, just maybe, the miraculous curative properties of La Vida mineral water weren't quite as advertised!

As to the La Vida Mineral Water Company president, he was an interesting character.  Charleston Adrian Kleinman was born in July 1891 in Toledo, Ohio to a father, Lewis, born in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, and who was a barber, and a mother, Pearl, from Odessa in the Ukraine.  About 1900, his parents migrated from Ohio to Los Angeles and his father died shortly thereafter.  In the 1910 federal census, Charles's mother ran her late husband's barbershop and the 18-year old was listed as a musician.  In fact, he did copyright a song called "Windy" in 1913.  By World War I, however, Kleinman was employed in the beans and rice wholesale business with F. E. Harris.

In February 1919, Kleinman pulled up stakes and went to Wichita Falls, Texas, which was in the midst of a oil boom.  He was briefly in a law firm called Lyons and Kleinman and then operated the Prime Oil Company with partner Mark Kleeden and a 1922 Encyclopedia of Texas had a lengthy entry on Kleinman, who was said to have been "a lawyer who has led the life of Los Angeles, California in civic and political activities for years."  It has been hard to find any information to substantiate that claim, though the entry (which was provided by the subject) offered that Kleinman finished second as a Republican in a campaign for the California State Senate.  He was said to have been a graduate at the law school at U.S.C. in 1915 and practiced law for two years before working as a teller and bookkeeper at two banks.  After his relocation to Wichita Falls, it was stated that he had 39 producing oil wells, 24 under his direct control on 2,000 leased acres with assets of $400,000.

By 1928, though, Kleinman was back in Los Angeles and was listed in the Register of Voters as an attorney through at least the mid-1930s.  His address in 1928 was 927 W. 2nd, the headquarters of the La Vida Mineral Water Company.  In the 1930 census, he resided in an apartment with his wife and was listed, again, as a general practice attorney.  His mother and sister, Rozella Kanter, however, who lived elsewhere, were working as a "Water Co. clerk" and "Water Co. stenographer," presumably for La Vida.

If 1932 was the turning point downward for La Vida, given its florid advertising campaign, perhaps too rapid growth, and then contraction as the nation's economy worsened, then Kleinman probably left the business and moved on.  His later years are sketchy:  he was in Los Angeles until at least the late 1930s and then turned up in Chicago, where he registered for the draft during World War II and resided with a woman whom he married a few years later.  In 1946, however, he was back in Los Angeles and married to another lady, whom he was with only a few years.  In the early fifties, he remarried again and there is no indication in the voter registers as to occupation.  Finally, Kleinman lived until August 1980, when he died in Brooklyn. New York.

It at least appears that the bottled mineral water from the La Vida resort started off in a modest way by about 1927 and then went into a startling expansion in 1929-31, after which the company's fortunes waned, if not ended, because there are later iterations of the La Vida water.  Hopefully, more information will be turned up that carries the story beyond its brief boom under Kleinman.

05 October 2012

The Great Brea Oil Tank Fire of 1926

Early in this blog, in July 2009, there was a post (see here) featuring a real photo postcard of a burning open oil tank in Brea, but there wasn't any specific information given.

This post is about a very similar view of the same incident, but, thanks to the wonders of the expanding information universe on the Web, much more is known about what was perhaps the greatest disaster that befell the local industry.

A real photo postcard by Dietrich Studio of Santa Ana showing the massive fire at the Stewart oil tank farm of the Union Oil Company of California, one-half mile west of Brea, which broke out on 8 April 1926.  Click on the image to see a larger view in separate window.  Image courtesy of Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, City of Industry.

First, the image.  Simply titled "Brea — Oil Tank Fire" and including a stamp from Santa Ana's Dietrich Studios, the view shows a massive plume of black smoke rising from a large open oil tank surrounded by a simple earthen berm.  What was notable through magnification was white rectangular pieces lying along the bottom of the berm and these placed by men who can be discerned there.  Because the card was postally unused, meaning there was no message written on it, information had to be located elsewhere.

Fortunately, there were a few sources found on the Net that appear to identify the scene, which was a horrific one.  Namely, on the morning of 8 April 1926, a lightning strike hit the oil tank farm of the Union Oil Company.  This was west of town toward La Habra and not in or near Olinda, as shown by the following sources.

In the June 2001 issue of the Brea Historical Society's Historical Happenings newsletter, there was an interview by Society members Brian Saul and Kathy Canon with 95-year old Walt Bergman, who moved to the city in 1916.  One of his most unforgettable memories was this incident, namely that "Walt remembers standing, facing west [italics added for emphasis], at the counter of the family's Bergman Garage at the corner of Birch and Brea Blvd . . .  All of a sudden, he saw a 'whole wall' of flame shooting into the air . . . The fire, he said, lasted a week . . . [and] that because of the flames you could read a newspaper on Brea Blvd. in the middle of the night . . .  Even at 2 a.m., Brea was full of sightseers."  Note Mr. Bergman's recollection of facing west from the intersection of Birch St. and Brea Blvd.

And, on this interesting site (click here) called "Brea: Old and New," there is a cool aerial view of what was called the Stewart tank farm (Lyman Stewart being the longtime president of Union), a 1/2 mile west of downtown Brea.

The 9 April 1926 issue of the Prescott [Arizona] Evening Courier had a lengthy article about what was headlined "Brea Oil Fire is Fought by 3000 Workers, 2,500,000 Gallons Lost in Conflagration."  The paper reported on three burning reservoirs at the tank farm, involving what was actually 2.5 million barrels (not gallons--there are 42 gallons per barrel, so we're talking over 100 million gallons!) of crude.  Still, it was stated that the massive crew fighting the fire "claimed a victory in part, for it was indicated that they would be able to save three other huge reservoirs of oil and a number of surface tanks from the blaze."

The extent of the damage was revealed by the fact that "the most spectacular event in the progress of the blaze came late last night when the third tank was ignited as the other two boiled over.  The tan of over 1,000,000 barrels capacity exploded as it caught fire."  In addition, a small refinery and gasoline and oil distillate tanks were engulfed when the overflowing boiling oil jumped the earthen dikes and hit these sites, which "exploded in spectacular fashion, throwing their blazing contents in all directions for many yards."

Concerning the mysterious rectangular items at the bottom of the photo, the Evening Courier noted that the tank farm was "protected by the stiff breeze and dykes of sheet iron and earth [italics added]."  In other words, the above photo appears to show men laying the sheets of iron for prevention of further exposure of other portions of the farm to spreading flammable material.

Interestingly, it was also observed that "a new method of firefighting was given a trial when 20 artificial wind machines were rushed to the tank farm to keep the draft away from the remainder of the storage."  This novel experiment, however, proved unnecessary, because "the wind that held steady through the night proved more satisfactory, however, than its mechanical aids."

In the Miami [Florida] News of 10 April, progress on dealing with the conflagration was reported as the fire "seems to have been isolated, thus preventing it from increasing the destruction."  Burning oil from the three affected reservoirs  were heading toward a fourth, containing three-quarters of a million barrels of crude, but "with dykes erected around the fourth reservoir and around a nearby pump station, those fighting the fire expressed a belief that the fire would not spread further."

In reporting on the destruction wreaked by the tragedy, the News observed that "the Brea fire . . . caused, if it spreads no further, a loss of about $3,000,000.  Three reservoirs, a small oil refinery, 70 acres of walnut and orange trees, three expensive ranch homes, and several houses on tank farm property were consumed by the flames."

The Milwaukee Sentinel, also of 10 April reported that "three miles of galvanized iron barricades diverted the blazing oil into a pool where it will burn itself out without endangering the town."

Locally, at least one journalistic enterprise found a way, somehow, to make light (pardon the pun) from the disaster.  The Jaysee Torch, the student newspaper of the "Fullerton District Junior College," now Fullerton Junior College, had an editorial titled "Optimism."  In this piece, it was stated that

Last week the famous Brea oil fire burned up two million dollars worth of gummy asphalt.  It is an ill wind that blows no one any good.  In this case it was the flaming youth who profited from the disastrous conflagration.  Sheiks from all the colleges south of San Luis Obispo stepped the beloved to the hillsides adjoining the blaze and proceeded to enter upon the gentle art of caressing.  'Twas indeed a rare sight to behold, when all was illuminated by a sudden burst of flame, the hillsides adorned for miles about with the world's largest collection of petting parties.  The flame ascended neavenward through billows of black smoke like a pale moonbeam shimmering through the rafters of a deceased horse [house?!]; and while the earth was sprinkled with the star duest of romance — he slipped a kiss to her waiting lips.

          Blessings on thee, Union Oil,
          With thy tanks of blazing oil.

Regardless of the quality of the prose (and the poesy), it might help to know that "sheiks" were the hip young dudes of the day and that the "gentle art of caressing" and "petting parties" involved sheiks and shebas (these being the female paramours) going to at least second base in a flivver (car) parked on "Lovers' Lane."  In this case, the orange glow of flame seemed to be a metaphor for the heated passions of the young collegiates enjoying the relaxing social mores of the Jazz Age during the Roaring Twenties.  Wasn't that the "bee's knees" or the "cat's meow"?

Notably, a similar event occurred on a Union tank farm in San Luis Obispo on the morning of the 7th, the day before the Brea event, but the damage there was double, about $7,000,000, of the latter and involved about 8 million barrels of crude.  The insurance payout of some $9,000,000 was the single largest in California since the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of twenty years before.

Of interest, as well, is the fact that more than eighty years later, there are still environmental risks involved.  In San Luis Obispo's tank farm at the southern edge of town, oil was still bubbling to the surface in hot weather and Chevron, owner of the site, was proposing a cleanup preliminary to development of light industrial parks in the vicinity of the tank farm.  Chevron was actually using large nets, propane-powered noise guns and reflective tape (as used in vineyards) to scare away birds and other wildlife from the seepage of the old oil.

The real photo postcard above was obtained courtesy of the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, City of Industry.

03 October 2012

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #9832

Well, that didn't take long.

Just a few weeks after CalTrans District 12 supervised the extreme (well, not that extreme) makeover of the Orange County side of Carbon Canyon Road from the San Bernardino County line to Olinda Ranch, including new asphalt, striping (including ridged centerlines), emergency turnouts, reflectors and guardrails (with reflectors on the ends, even), a staggering (well, not that staggering) thing happened.

Looks like a westbound driver, undeterred by said striping, reflectors, and guardrails, expressed his (or hers, but probably his) contempt for the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on this months-long project and took out a portion of guardrail and other paraphernalia just west of the old La Vida Mineral Springs hotel entrance.

Accompanying photos snapped this morning show the results. 

Guess it's time for more taxpayer money to be spent on replacing said recently replaced guardrail and etc.