20 November 2012

Carbon Canyon Cattle and Horse Rancher Passes

A neighbor passed along the news today that Bill Friend, who has been running the cattle and horses that so many of us see along the Chino Hills and Brea portions of Carbon Canyon and beyond, including the adjoining Soquel Canyon, died on Sunday.

Friend, who was in his 80s, was often seen with his old pickup truck, stopped at the two major locations where he handled his herds--these being along Carbon Canyon Road east of the Summit Ranch subdivision and further west across from the intersection of the state highway and Canyon Hills Road across from the Circle K market.

His animals grazed widely on city-owned open space, as well as private held land that he leased and they have contributed greatly to the visual sense of the rural heritage of Carbon Canyon. 

It is not too much of a reach to suggest that he was carrying on a tradition that dated back to at least the 1840s when Antonio Maria Lugo acquired the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, which extended westward well into the Canyon and when cattle and horses were the economic lifeblood of the southern California region for several decades afterward. 

Locally, cattle, sheep and horses were part of the environment of what became Chino Hills until very recently as development finally came to the area in the latter half of the 20th century.  Friend's grazing of his herds was a vestige of that tradition.

What will become of the animals remains to be seen.  While the city open space at the east end of the canyon might still be used for such purposes, there is said to be an application to be submitted soon to the City of Chino Hills for a large housing development on the land closer to Sleepy Hollow across from the Circle K.

It is possible that the ranching and grazing era might well be coming to a close with Friend's passing.  If so, it brings another element of change that could lead to a significant altering of Carbon Canyon as we know it.  Hopefully, someone will be interested in carrying on the operation.

Condolences are offered to Mr. Friend's family on their loss.

REVISED 21 November:  More information was made available on an e-mail from a Chino Valley Independent Fire District inspector, who added this link here with a 2011 article from the Chino Hills Champion on Mr. Friend and his family's long history in the Carbon Canyon area.


Lisa Dawn said...

Bill Friend was truly an icon in the Canyon, growing up knowing him, his wife Joanne and sharing many horseback rides and cattle round ups. I was blessed that my dad was his dear friend and best man at his wedding and I had the privilege to be given a grand champion steer by Mr. Friend to raise for my FFA project. He will be sorely missed and I hope many people turn out to remember him and his contribution to life in the canyon

prs said...

Hi Lisa, I didn't know Mr. Friend personally; certainly saw him many times tending to his animals, but he and his family were obviously an important part of the Canyon for many, many years. Thanks for leaving your comment about him and I hope others will, as well.

Joanne Friend Kerr Aikins said...

Bill Friend was my dad, and always my hero. My family came to the hills of Soquel, and Telegraph Canyon in the 1890's. The history of our family is rich, and I hope will not be lost. I would like to announce a Celebration of Life will be held at El Rodeo Riding Club on Saturday Dec. 8th at 2PM. Bring a dish and story to share.
Joanne L. Friend Kerr Aikins

prs said...

Hello Joanne, thanks for the infomation about your father's Celebration of Life. If there is some history and photos you'd like to provide for this blog, I'd be happy to post something. As you said, it'd be a shame to not have that history maintained.

Lisa Dawn said...

Joanne did u tell my dad Joe..he said he would drive in and hopefully id catch a ride so we could come, please let us know if there is any kind of memorial to him such as a scholarship or anything..ur dad was a hero to many, my self and my kids included..b blessed
Lisa Andrews Bennett