Rialto Historical Society Reveres Mountains

April 13, 2009

img_3072_edited-11If mountains are our most “historic” resource, perhaps that’s why historic societies understand the intent of our book, Call of the Mountains. Yet before each presentation, I never know what to expect, for each setting is different. Last weekend, we gave our program to the Rialto Historical Society, which meets in the basement of the 1907 Christian Church building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Only after setting up our slide-show equipment, did I notice my surroundings – tables set for our elegant lunch in a museum-like ambiance. Before eating, however, society president Jean Randall showed us their real museum, transformed from the former Sunday-school building into an artistic, turn-of-the-century home.

Historic Mountain Photo

Historic Mountain Photo

I could have spent hours looking at the tasteful displays including an early 20th century doctor’s office, a citrus exhibit, framed maps tracing Rialto’s growth, and my favorite room with clothes from past eras. (The bathing suits looked heavy enough to drown in.) Farley liked the photo displays. One picture showed the old road to Lytle Creek, source of water for Rialto’s orange groves situated below the mountains. Indeed, many of the day’s guests recalled mountain stories from their heritages.¬† Hanging in the curved staircase, a Charles McLaughlin photo shows the Mill Creek cabin of Rev. Harold Bell Wright, who wrote novels with mountain settings and who dedicated the church. Beforehand, I’d read some of historian John Anthony Adams’ books, including one about the church’s ghosts. On this occasion, however, they avoided the scene – ¬†perhaps climbing their own mountains.


Stepping Back in Time at Sturtevant’s Camp

April 2, 2009
Sturtevant's Camp, Angeles Nat. Forest

Sturtevant's Camp, Angeles Nat. Forest

A surprising glimpse of yesteryear is usually welcome, at least when you’ve been hiking for several hours. That’s how we came upon Sturtevant’s Camp last weekend. We’d seen pictures of this Great Hiking Era resort camp, and people had sometimes mentioned it after our Call of the Mountains presentations showing Sturtevant Falls. But we hadn’t seen the camp until our friends Judy and Art asked us to join them on a 10-mile circle hike, climbing from Chantry Flat over Mt. Zion saddle into the upper Big Santa Anita Canyon. Wanting to stop there and snack before hiking on down, we turned off the trail – serendipitously into Sturtevant’s Camp, where we sat down by a croquet court. Above us, a group of children frolicked near a volleyball court. That’s when Forest Service Volunteer/Camp Manager Chris Kasten approached us, pointing out the 1903 hand-hewn log cabin that once housed patrolling rangers. He also showed us the 1898 dining pavilion built of native materials, still used today. In their kitchen, propane gas fuels two refrigerators and a big range stove. The camp’s electricity comes from a micro-hydro generator using water flow from the nearby stream. Without any roads, a mule-pack team hauls up supplies once a week, and a hand-crank telephone system connects the camp to the pack station below. We couldn’t stay, of course, in this oasis under big cone spruce, maples and canyon live oaks. But amenities like showers and flush toilets convinced us to note the Website: Sturtevant@calpaccamps.org for making group and individual reservations

1903 Ranger's Cabin

1903 Ranger's Cabin