Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Bommer Canyon and O.C. History classes

Charles Beal, Senior Land Surveyor for the County of Orange, sent me the photos of Bommer Canyon Cattle Camp that appear in today's post. Bommer Canyon was the Irvine Ranch's cattle headquarters for over half a century. According to historian Phil Brigandi, the name "Bommer Canyon" appeared on maps as early as the 1940s. The City of Irvine purchased Bommer Canyon from the Irvine Company in the early 1980s. They use it as a recreation area for barbecues, picnics, and other events. It is also now a
preservation area for a variety of local plants and wildlife, including numerous endangered species.
Some of the cattle camp structures still stand, helping provide the area with a sense of place.
When he sent the photos, Charles wrote,
"I was at 'Bommer Canyon Cattle Camp' and found a couple of plaques. ...The area is plotted in the Thomas Guide on page 890, D6 & E6. We were at the County’s first continuous running GPS station (24/7) located just outside of the camp that we had to service due to the recent rains. I’m not sure of the area is accessible to the public; it is currently closed due to wet ground by the recent rains. The City is putting in a new park, which is under construction that the road leads to the Bommer Canyon Cattle Ranch. The cattle [camp] can be rented out for parties."
The plaque above reads,

"José Andrés Sepulveda -- Original owner and grantee of the southern portion of Irvine Ranch known as the 'Rancho San Joaquin' was acquired in 1837. This was sold to James Irvine-Flint Bros.-Bixby & Co. in 1864. James Irvine acquired sole interest in 1876. A noted horseman, [Sepulveda] is shown here astride his famous race horse, 'Black Swan.' Dedicated to the people of Orange County by the El Viaje de Portola Riders, March 25, 1977."

The plaque below, shows "The Five Brands of Irvine" and was placed in 1967 by the Platrix Chapter ("Queen of the Cow Counties") of E Clampus Vitus.
Charles also wrote me about the project that took him to Bommer, the "first full time running GPS station."
"The County’s first Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS), known as TRAK, was set in 1994. TRAK is located in Bommer Canyon in the City of Irvine. TRAK is one of 12 CORS sites in this County that receive GPS data 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Orange County Real Time Network [of which TRAK is a part] benefits more than just the land surveyor. It also assists the scientific community by improving estimates of earthquake potential and by analyzing—in near real-time—positional elements from an earthquake."
You can see some of the TRAK equipment peeking above the brush in the photo below. For more information about Orange County’s GPS stations, visit the OC Geomatics website.
Diane Ryan is once again offering her 8-week Orange County History class (Course #088202)through Huntington Beach Adult School. Classes will be held at the Fountain Valley Senior Center, at Bushard and Talbert. The class will be held on Wednesdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m. from Jan. 26 to March 16.
She also offers a class on California Impressionist Painters (Course # 085002) on the same dates and at the same location as her O.C. History class, but from 1:30 to 3:30 pm.
To register for either class (or both) call (714) 901-8106, ext. 4405, or visit For more information about the classes, contact Diane via email. Those whose applications are received 7 days or more before the class begins will receive an early bird discount.


Connie Moreno said...

Hey, this is so cool...I'm actually looking forward to my approaching unemployment status so I can explore some of the stuff I see on your blog!

Chris Jepsen said...

An alert reader just emailed me a question about the "plaque showing the five brands of Irvine." She asks, "Would you know what they mean? I have looked up sites on how to interpret brands, but nothing seems to make sense."

I'm going to reply here, in case someone else was wondering the same thing.

Sometimes brands are just a random shape or symbol that's unique enough to be identified. But sometimes they're initials or a symbol that had meaning to the ranch owners. I'm not sure you can interpret most brands without knowing the context.

Of the five brands depicted on the Clamper plaque, here's what I know...

CAP: Is for Mission San Juan CAPistrano. This was the Mission's brand until 1846.

JI (underlined): James Irvine's initials

Fancy bell shape: Don Bernardo Yorba started using this brand in 1850. Variations on bells were fairly common in brand designs.

"A" shape surmounted by a yoke: Used on the Lomas de Santiago by Teodocio Yorba in the 1840s and '50s.

AS: The obvious thing would be for this to refer to Jose Andres Sepulveda. However, I can't find a reference for this brand at the moment.