Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Newport, trains, O.C. Historical Commission, etc.

Today's photo was taken Aug. 20, 1890, at the Santa Ana River near Newport Beach. James and Robert McFadden (with contractor Joseph Bright on the left) are watching their Santa Ana Rail Road being built. Once completed, the line brought frieght from the landing at Newport Beach into Santa Ana. Today, Hoag Hospital sits on the hill behind the pile driver. (Some background info from Donaldson & Myer's excellent book, Rails Through the Orange Groves, Vol. 1)
There are currently two vacancies on the Orange County Historical Commission: One in the 5th Supervisorial District and another in the 3rd. The new opening in the 5th is to replace Don Tryon of San Juan Capistrano.

Several people have sent me links to this article about preservation and the fate of an old Mid-Century Modern coffee shop in Seattle. Although non-O.C., I present this story to you in the spirit of "learning from others." Besides, you preservationists out there will love the irony.
Today in O.C. History: On Jan. 15, 1859, the Los Angeles Vinyard Society selected a name for their new colony: Anaheim. The name combines "Ana" (from the nearby river), and "Heim," which means "home" in German.


itsnotaplace said...

so... Trying to get my bearings... is that body of water they are looking across the mouth of the Santa Ana river, or the bay at Newport? Or did the Santa ana river empty into what is now Newport harbor back then?

Chris Jepsen said...

Your last guess is correct, sir.

In fact, the Santa Ana River is the reason Newport Bay/Harbor exists at all. That was the mouth at one point.

itsnotaplace said...

That's what I figured... Seemed that the nice non-silted exit that the river takes at its current location was way to "clean"... no river delta. I just never heard that it actually did empty into the harbor. On another note... I saw an old map of the county which showed another fork of the Santa Ana river which used to run along the north side of the city of Anaheim (in addition to its current path between Anaheim and Orange) ... down to where seal beach Naval Station is and empty into "Anaheim Bay". I always wondered why it was called Anaheim bay, being so far from Anaheim, and why Anaheim (home by the Santa Ana River) was named after the river when the current river is so far from the original boundry of the city. I assume that other notherly fork was why.

colony rabble said...

Itsnotaplace: Actually, the river has changed course several times, before being tamed by concrete banks. Essentially all of central Anaheim sits on river bottom, fabulous growing dirt. The grapes loved it (pre-blight) and we rivaled Napa in terms of production. Crying shame we keep paving over such productive land. Depending on the map you are looking at you may also have seen the irrigation ditch that Hansen dug to bring water over the Yorba land to Anaheim, or even the primary irrigation ditch that ran through the northern end of the original Colony to water the crops before pipes.

Anaheim Bay in Seal Beach was earlier referred to as Anaheim Landing, and is where the original Anaheim colonists landed their goods and passengers off the San Francisco steam boats. It was the shortest route from ocean to town, before real roads, etc.

Cynthia Ward
President, Anaheim Historical Society

Chris Jepsen said...

(Note: I just typed an answer when I saw Cynthia post her own reply. That's okay, since my version covers somewhat different territory...)

Yes, at various points in time, the Santa Ana River has wandered all over the place. But it was more or less on its current course in 1857, when Anaheim was founded.
(The last major shift in the river's course was in 1825.)

Anaheim (originally spelled "Annaheim," but quickly changed) may not have been *right* on the river, but it was close enough and could draw its water from the river by means of a ditch. In fact, you may notice that the older part of Anaheim is layed out at an angle, following the ditch, rather than the usual north/south/east/west allignment.

Likewise, Anaheim Bay/Anaheim Landing was a distance away, but was still the closest bay or port for the people of Anaheim. It was a relatively reasonable trip to make with a wagon.

The Santa Ana River was diverted directly out to sea (rather than into Newport Bay) around 1919. In 1920, Bitter Point Dam was erected to hold the river on its new course and to protect West Newport. At the same time, Newport Harbor – now free of continuous silt deposits – began to be developed.

The earthen Bitter Point Dam can’t be seen anymore, but I'm told there's a very slight rise in PCH when you drive over its buried remains.

itsnotaplace said...

Thanks for the great replies Cynthia and Chris!

I just did a google search for "Bitter Point Dam" and found minutes from the City of Newport Beach meeting in 2005 talking about a "SEMENIUK SLOUGH PRELIMINARY ENGINEERING STUDY" where they mention that this structure is a remnant of the old Bitter Point Dam.

Click link above then scroll down to section number 17

I wonder if that is visible from any pubic location?