Posts Tagged With: Los Angeles

An 1866 Map from the Lopez Adobe Collection

It’s in pretty sorry shape overall, but a scrapbook repurposed to hold an atlas from Augustus Mitchell’s collection of maps from 1866 included one of California, a detail of which is reproduced here, is in the Lopez Adobe collection.

The map shows the Los Angeles region at a crucial time.  The Civil War had just ended and the area was poised to undergo its first boom, as migrants came in larger numbers than before.

It was an opportune time because heavy flooding in 1861-62 (El Niño) followed by two years of severe drought (La Niña–ring a bell?) ravaged the cattle industry and drove land prices down.


The boom really took off in 1867, the year after the appearance of the map, and continued until 1875 when it went bust in a big way.  Of course, San Fernando was created at the end of that period as a railroad town along the line of the Southern Pacific being built north from Los Angeles.

Among the interesting features of the map, which was hand-colored in each printed copy, are that the local counties included Santa Barbara (blue), San Bernardino (pink), Los Angeles (yellow) and San Diego (blue).  Ventura, Riverside and Orange counties were off in the future.

Note, too, that the San Gabriel Mountains are referred to here as the San Bernardinos (now the chain east of Cajon Pass; the San Gabriels were often referred to in this era as the Sierra Madre range).

The dotted lines represent the two main roads in the region.  East from Los Angeles through San Gabriel and San Bernardino was the road leading out towards Arizona.  From the rudimentary harbor at San Pedro to Los Angeles was roughly today’s Interstate 110.  Then from Los Angeles north was San Fernando Road leading up to the San Fernando Mission and then up San Fernando (Newhall) Pas and towards Tejon Pass and the Central Valley.

It’s also interesting to see the San Gabriel River terminating at the Los Angeles River.  This is the channel of what is now the Rio Hondo.  In the winter of 1867-68, which featured torrential rainfall, the San Gabriel changed to its present course.

Most of the Channel Islands, the San Juan Capistrano and San Gabriel missions, Elizabeth Lake and Thompson’s stage stop near it, Santa Susana Pass, Point Fermin and Point Dume, Cajon Pass, and two unfamiliar names to most–“Las Yerbas,” meaning the Yorba Ranch near modern Corona, and Las Flores, or where Camp Pendleton is now–are notable locales.

The Lopez Adobe collection has a great many interesting items and this map is one example!

Categories: California History, Lopez Adobe, Los Angeles maps, Mission San Fernando, Newhall Pass, San Fernando History, San Fernando Pass, San Fernando Road | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Excursion to San Fernando, 1876

In its edition of 2 May 1876, the Los Angeles Herald featured a lengthy article on an excursion to San Fernando and points northward as the Southern Pacific railroad line from Los Angeles to the Bay Area was nearing its completion.

The piece began with the interesting report that, “in response to the invitation offered, about three hundred persons, many of them ladies, embarked on the train for San Fernando Sunday morning.”  The trip took place on the last day of April and it must have been a prototypical southern California day because the Herald rhapsodized that, “a more beautiful day nor more balmy air could have been desired” as the train pulled out of the depot in Los Angeles at 9:30 “ushered out by enlivening strains of music.”

The article went on to lionize the organizers of the trip and the Southern Pacific for all of the hospitality extended on the ride into the San Fernando Valley, where “a cool breeze prevailed” and the scene presented “a continuous bouquet, flowers of every variety blooming on either side of the road,” while grain fields were in full view of the train.

After noting that guests were enjoying “music, mirth, and an occasional indulgence in a game of cards and friendly gossip,” the paper observed that those who did not know the valley “were surprised to perceive the fertility of the soil, and the peculiar facilities of the region for agricultural purposes” these being evidenced by “waving fields of wheat and barley as well as fine vegetable gardens.”

The 2 May 1876 edition of the "Los Angeles Herald" covered a 30 April railroad excursion to San Fernando and points north along the Southern Pacific line, which was completed and dedicated on 4 July, the nation's centennial.

The 2 May 1876 edition of the “Los Angeles Herald” covered a 30 April railroad excursion to San Fernando and points north along the Southern Pacific line, which was completed and dedicated on 4 July, the nation’s centennial.

The piece continued by praising the climate and predicting, “the day is not far off when this territory will be populated by a community of thifty farmers.”  To that end, the village of San Fernando, then just about two years old, was hailed as “an agricultural settlement which bids fair to increase its development before long,” especially with its access to the Southern Pacific line.

When the train pulled into the San Fernando station, “ex-Senator Charles Maclay met the excursionists at the landing . . . and gave to many enquirers all the information possible in regard to the present and future prospects of the region.”  Moreover, continued the piece, “he is sanguine in his opinions, and a glance will convince one that his notions are not visionary.”

Caught up in its own excitement, the paper concluded, “here nature speaks for itself, and when the railroad opens the door to development, we shall have a result that will exceed the fondest expectations of even the most sanguine, unless we are most emphatically mistaken.”

After leaving San Fernando, the trip continued north to where the Newhall tunnel was being completed as the line was coming to its conclusion.  While the 4 July 1876 celebration of the completion of the line complemented the nation’s centennial, the economic downturn that started the previous year continued on for nearly a decade more.  Not until the transcontinental link by the Santa Fe line directly to Los Angeles was brought about in 1885 did a new boom erupt and usher San Fernando and the Los Angeles region generally into a new growth spurt.

Then, San Fernando moved beyond a struggling village into an established and generally growing and thriving town.

Categories: Lopez Adobe | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Find of the Week: “I Gave to Save the Lopez Adobe”

"I Gave to Save the Lopez Adobe"What: Yellow Button
Found by: Daryl Maxwell
Where: Lopez Adobe archives

Found among piles of old photos, stacks and stacks of papers, and more stacks of books than your average library, our archivist, Daryl Maxwell, unearthed this little yellow piece of history. However, this button has nothing to do with the time the Lopez Adobe was a functioning home. Instead, it came out of a time when the house had long since been out of use, but when its future was still very much in the air.

Beginning in the 1950s and continuing for several decades thereafter, Southern California underwent a wave of renovation that was geared at promoting everything that was “new” and letting anything that fell under the umbrella of “old” getting left by the wayside, or worse, getting targeted for demolition.

Without proper care or renovation, many of the area’s historic homes and buildings lapsed into disrepair and were deemed by some to be past the point of saving. Whole neighborhoods that once flourished were eventually wiped out. The once exclusive and picturesque area of L.A. known as Bunker Hill is one such area. It used to be the site of some of the city’s most affluent residents, and boasted grand Victorian homes and hotels. However, by the 1960s, many of the homes were dilapidated and the city maintained that the neighborhood had become a haven for transients and “derelicts.”

*click below to see Bunker Hill in 1898 and again in 1960*

USC Digital ArchivePhoto via Richard SchavePhoto via Richard Schave

This is the environment that surrounded the Lopez Adobe after Kate Lopez Millen passed away. Although the city of San Fernando initially announced plans to purchase the Lopez Adobe in 1970, it would take over a year to raise the funds to do so. During that time, the home’s owners placed a deadline, maintaining that the property would be leveled for commercial development if the $70,000 price tag could not be paid. As mentioned in our previous post, it would take a great community effort and a grant from the National Register of Historic Places to come up with the funds to save the Lopez Adobe.

So…back to the pin. What makes this pin of any interest to us? The fact that it stands as a reminder of just how uncertain the future is for many historic properties, and how the commitment and dedication of the community can make a difference in determining whether a piece of history remains preserved or gets left by the wayside.

Although we haven’t yet been able to determine whether the pin came from the initial fundraising efforts in 1970-71 or one of the subsequent community outreach initiatives, it is nevertheless a piece of the adobe’s history and one we felt should be shared.

Categories: California History, Find of the Week, Lopez Adobe, Lopez History, San Fernando History | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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