04 June 2017

The Gaines and Brown Families of Carbon Canyon, Part 5: Olinda School, 1910s

Because it was located in a district that had extraordinary tax revenues from a booming oil field, Olinda School may have been the best-funded elementary through junior high school in the region.

For the Gaines and Brown families, whose descendant Joyce Harrington has shared many of the family photos, this meant a quality education outside of the established cities in northern Orange County like Fullerton and Anaheim.

When it came to going to high school, Olinda students would make the long bus ride to Fullerton Union High School, which gave a good education, just not with the tax revenues of Olinda!

It seemed particularly appropriate at this point, as our schools have completed their year and students are headed for their summer vacations, including some who have graduated, to post a couple of the images provided by Joyce of the Olinda School.

The facility was located near the banks of Carbon [Canyon] Creek after it flowed out of Carbon Canyon, past the confluence with Soquel Canyon and its creek and headed into what is now Carbon Canyon Regional Park.

The Olinda School, located in what is now the eastern end of Carbon Canyon Regional Park, from a circa 1910s photograph provided courtesy of Joyce Harrington.
Those familiar with the old park entrance, near which is a state historic landmark plaque for the Olinda community, will recognize in one of the photos the steep hill behind the school, which is above the park's eastern edge and where housing tracts in Yorba Linda overlook the park just to the west of today's Diemer water treatment plant operated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

At the left of the image, behind a small tree is the covered projecting entrance of the school, situated under a bell tower with arched openings.  Again, this is pretty fancy school for such a rural area.

The other photo shows the graduating 8th grade class of 1917, exactly a century ago, posed on the front steps of the Olinda School.  As with almost all school photos, it is fun to see the varied dress and expressions of the students, some with broad smiles and others are serious, while a few students look away from the camera.  At the bottom left is the mark of Hartsook, a major photography studio with offices in Los Angeles and Oakland.

The 8th grade graduating class of 1917 at the Olinda School.  Courtesy of Joyce Harrington.
The Olinda School operated well after the post-World War II period, even as the residential population of the oil fields diminished significantly from the late 1920s onward, with the rise of the automobile allowing oil field workers to live further from their job site.  When the Carbon Canyon Dam project was completed in the late 1950s, the school was razed.

The name of Olinda School, however, was revived when the Olinda Village subdivision was built further east where the Gaines' Flying Cow Ranch was located.  Olinda Elementary School opened in the mid-1960s and operated until recent years, when new housing at Olinda Ranch and projecting subdivisions in the shuttered oil fields north of Lambert and west of Valencia prompted the move of the school to its current location on Birch Street.

Thanks to photos like the ones provided by Joyce, we can document the existence and usage of the original Olinda School.

6 comments:

canyon lover said...

Great stuff, as always. Thank you for posting!

prs said...

Hi Canyon Lover, thanks for the comment and there're lots more of these photos to come, so stay tuned!

Anonymous said...

I, and two others, graduated from Olinda in 1959. Our class was the second to last. About 30 students in all 8 grades, and 2 teachers. I only attended 7th and 8th grade there because we moved to Rose Drive (now Blake Road in front of the dam) in 1957. Those were good years.

Francis Blake

prs said...

Hi Francis, thanks for the comment and information on when the school closed. There are more photos from the school that will be posted, so check back from time to time.

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that the original Olinda School (or at least a portion of it) was relocated and is now serving as the Brea Senior Center.

samia hussain said...

nice post