15 April 2015

E.F. Gaines' Flying Cow Ranch

Edward F. Gaines has been discussed on this blog before.  He was a native of Gilroy, who moved with his family to the community of Wilmington next to Los Angeles Harbor.  Evidently, his father ran cattle in Carbon Canyon during the late 19th-century and Edward assisted in this.  After farming for a period in Clearwater and Hynes, communities that are now in the area of Paramount, Gaines, his wife, the former Frances Atwater, and their children moved out to a spread, known as the "Flying Cow Ranch," in the canyon.

A Santa Ana (now Orange County) Register article about a barbeque for the Orange County Riding Club on the E.F. Gaines ranch, 17 November 1927.
Among other endeavors having to do with horse raising, real estate investing and others, Gaines appears to have been among the first, if not the first, people to work with La Vida Mineral Springs from a commercial standpoint.  James Williams, who managed the resort in the 1910s, was from the same area in modern Paramount that Gaines had lived in.  Gaines' nephew Allan Abbott was shown in the 1920 federal census as the manager of La Vida.  By 1924, however, William N. Miller, an Anaheim oilman, assumed control of the resort and ushered in almost a half-century of ownership by his family.

An oral history interview done by Cal State Fullerton personnel included a reference that Gaines' house was where the Hollydale Mobile Home Estates is located.  But, his holdings extended beyond that into what is today's Olinda Village subdivision.

Notably, Gaines was considered a prime mover in the creation of Carbon Canyon Road east of Olinda and deep into the canyon, but he also wanted the original location along Carbon [Canyon] Creek and below his home to be the preferred route, even as local and state officials, once the road became a state highway, pushed to have the road moved higher and above the flood-prone creek.  In fact, the road was relocated, dividing Gaines' house from the remainder of his land.

In March 1937, the Santa Ana (now Orange County) Register had an article in its "Places to Go in Orange County" series penned by Marah Adams on Carbon Canyon with much information about Gaines.  For example, the oil well that purportedly exposed the mineral springs that later fed La Vida was built with Gaines observing the proceedings--this would have been at the end of the 1890s or early in the 1900s.  In the fact, the name "C.C. Price" was mentioned for a second drilling on the site--this was actually Charles E. Price of the Carbon Canyon Oil Company, which drilled its wells in 1900 and just afterward.

The article also detailed the efforts of Gaines and W.T. Brown of Fullerton in converting an old cow trail into the first edition of Carbon Canyon Road.  The article did not give a date, but this would have been in 1913-14.

A photo from a Santa Ana Register article, dated 21 May 1937, showing Edward F. Gaines of the Flying Cow Ranch (today's Olinda Village area) and a visitor next to the circa 1870s stagecoach that was a prized possession of Gaines.
Two months later, in May, another Register article dealt with Gaines, this time in connection with a rare old stagecoach that he owned on his ranch, which was said to have been 3,000 acres, though this may have been with an added zero as an error, and to have been owned by Gaines since the late 1890s.  In any case, the reason for the ranch's name was explained as due to "a wild cow that used to roam the hills and which always evaded the skillfully flung ropes of the ranch hands."

The piece also observed that "the ranch house sits cool and pleasant as a lovely hostess, on a hill overlooking a slope of orange trees set on one side of a barranca, the other side overgrown with a tangle of trees and vines."  This location corresponds well to the Hollydale site, with its note of a slope above the "barranca," which is Spanish for a deep gully with steep sides.

Then the article touched upon Gaines' rare example of a surviving stagecoach, many of its brethren having been lost, the rancher stated, to movie companies that thought nothing of taking an old coach and tumbling it over a cliff or hillside for dramatic effect during a film shoot.

Gaines' vehicle, however, was made by Abbott, Downing and Company of Concord, New Hampshire (hence the term "Concord coach") about 1875.  It was said the coach was used by the Bixby family, which owned the Long Beach-area ranchos Los Cerritos and Los Alamitos, as well as stretches of land throughout the region (the Bixby Land Company is still successful today), on its commercial stage line up the state's coast.

Gaines even stated that the coach he owned was used by his father when he migrated from Gilroy to a ranch he purchased in San Gabriel, while young Edward and his mother made the trip by ocean steamer.  There was then a detailed description of the coach and the article was accompanied by a photo (shown above).

At the end of 1939, another piece in the Register covered the fiftieth wedding anniversary of Edward and Frances Gaines.  After a detailed description of decorations in the family home, the cake, family members attending and so on, the article noted that the two met at Clearwater, where Mrs. Gaines' father was a major figure in the subdivision of the property and where Edward lived while his father farmed and ran cattle in Carbon Canyon.

In fact, the article went on to state that, for years after their 1889 marriage, Gaines ran 300-400 head of cattle every year between the Clearwater pastures and Carbon Canyon.  The piece concluded by stating that, "Mr. and Mrs. Gaines never will be forgotten as representatives of the romance of the state," while also observing that Edward's prize stagecoach had burned in a recent fire.

Frances Gaines died in 1947 and Edward followed nine years later in San Diego County.  Within a decade of that, during the 1960s, the Flying Cow Ranch was sold and the Hollydale Mobile Home Estates and church property (now a Hindu facility) were established where the Gaines house once stood.

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