Monday, December 01, 2008

Irvine Ranch Conservancy: Cañada de los Bueyes

(Continued from 11-30-08) The next stop on our Irvine Ranch Conservancy tour was in Weir Canyon -- once called Cañada de los Bueyes (Canyon of the Oxen). The historical marker (behind Mike Boeck in the photo above,) reads, "Through this canyon in Mexican days, oxen-drawn carretas carried hides to the embarcadero at San Juan Capistrano. Commemorated by El Viaje de Portola, April 16, 1971."
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The embarcadero was called Bahia de Capistrano. In modern terms, it ranged from the Dana Point headlands to Doheny State Beach. This is where trading ships came to trade with Mission San Juan Capistrano. People sometimes hauled cow hides (a.k.a. "California bank notes") and other goods more than 75 miles to do business here. Hides were the heart of Southern California's economy.
This illustration from Terry Stephenson's book, Caminos Viejos, shows a carreta traveling through Orange County - probably at the peak of the hide trade, in the early 1800s. Stephenson once wrote that the name, Los Bueyes, "probably dates back to the first or second generation of the Yorbas."
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Althought it seems rugged and round-about today, Cañada de los Bueyes was considered a quick route to Capistrano for those living in inland areas like the Santa Ana Canyon and Riverside. As historian Phil Brigandi put it, "We look at this today and say, 'THIS is a shortcut?'"
The group photo above shows some of our group near the Canyon's historical marker. Included are (from left to right) Jim Sleeper, Phil Brigandi, Maria Hall-Brown, Mike Bornia and Chris Epting. More photos from our tour (and from other parts of the Irvine Ranch) can be viewed on my Flickr account.
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(To be continued...)

13 comments:

colony rabble said...

I am WAY beyond jealous! The trip itself seems amazing, but I would gnaw my left arm off to spend the day with that gathering of history nerds! Thank you for sharing. I look forward to "continued".....

DregerClock.org said...

Been loving the photos and commentary on your historic trip around orange county! So, does anyone know the origin of the name "Weir Canyon" which replaced "Cañada de los Bueyes"?

walterworld said...

I concur with colony---Getting to spend the day with like minded folks in search of history sounds perfect to me.

Nice of you to bring the story of the Hangman's Tree and the surrounding area to light.

Keep up the great work...I look forward to each post.

Chris Jepsen said...

A weir is a small dam. As Phil points out in his latest book, water development began in that area in the 1870s, so the name change probably came during or after that time.

Gustavo Arellano said...

I've always wondered if the changing of the canyons name also occurred because büey is also a Mexican Spanish slur word...

Chris Jepsen said...

An interesting point. What does that mean, Gustavo?

DregerClock.org said...

I had to look that up too Chris...

Check the Urban Dictionary...
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=buey

ockid said...

The Weir name seems to date from the 1870s, or 80s. Terry Stephenson writes in 1921 that the old timers he talked with who knew the area 40 or 50 years before already knew it by that name. I imagine they just didn't know the older name.

--Phil B.

Gustavo Arellano said...

Chris: Sorry for the delay in my response. "Büey" is a rough equivalent to the American English "ass," in the traditional sense of equating a dumb person to a thick-headed animal. On the scale of Mexican Spanish vulgarities, it's a lesser one--as the Urban Dictionary entry stated it, friends throw it around with ease--but not one that should be used in polite company. I can imagine prudish cartographers of the 1870s changing Cañada de los Bueyes, kind of like what they did with Holy Jim and Ni**er Canyon (as mentioned in Don Meadows OC place names book). The truth may never be known...

Chris Jepsen said...

Glenn, Phil and Gustavo: Thanks for the additional information and theories. If I were a betting man, I'd have to lean toward the "people didn't know the old name and just came up with a new one" theory. It seems the simplest answer.

But I *hope* the "place-name sanitization" theory is true. It's more interesting.

At the very least, I now have a "new" word to mutter under my breath at City Council meetings.

BobKrohn said...

Is there, or will there be, a GPS Lat-Lon for these sites? Kinda like geocacheing. For example the "Hanging Tree" looked to be a not so obvious location.

Chris Jepsen said...

I posted a bunch of these photos to my Flickr account. Open one of the hanging tree photos in the "Irvine Ranch" set at
www.flickr.com/photos/traderchris

Then click on "Map" on the lower left of the page. That will take you to a geoindexed thingamajig.

CJ

BobKrohn said...

I went to the link you gave. Didn't see the "Map" thing.
Did see a menu choice at bottom for KML.
Clicked on that and it started my Google Earth program and worked fine. (I saved to My Places)
However, when I wanted to show a friend the flickr page, the KML menu choice couldn't be found.
Computers, can't live live with them, can't live without them.
But I did save in Google Earth.
Thanks very much for the georefs.
You da man.