Columnist Paul Spitzzeri has been writing about the wealth E. J. Marshall attracted to save Chino when Richard Gird’s dream ranch was foreclosed on. After that Chino struggled to replace the economic base provided by the sugar industry. The huge sugar factory operated by the American Beet Sugar Company was closed in 1917. Sugar beet growing still filled our land; the crops were being shipped to Oxnard and other processing places. Walnut growing was helping to fill the gap, along with other tree and field crops. A cannery was started to process fruit and tomatoes.
Proposals for using beet fields south of town included a state prison hospital for mental cases (where have we heard this before?) and a large brewery and beer distribution center. A Los Angeles entrepreneur proposed a huge dairy cooperative that could handle up to 25,000 cows. Target site for all this were the beet fields south of the city between Central and Euclid avenues, mostly owned by the A.B.S. Co. Ranch, successor to some of the Gird land a hundred years ago.
There have been a number of dreams for Chino Valley that never materialized, starting with Mr. Gird’s rail system planned to radiate south and southwest, making Chino an industrial hub. Almost a century later, the Chino Hills International Airport proposed by an Orange County group stimulated land speculation in Carbon Canyon during the early 1970s. One that did stick was Kenyon Scudder’s promotion of prison reform that turned into the California Institution for Men around 1940, putting to rest a 1934 idea for the dairy cooperative in the same area. The cooperative was proposed by a Los Angeles man who was seeking support from the federal government under Farm Credit Administration funding during the Depression. The cooperative would be made up of dairymen who would individually own their cows. This would bring relief to the many small farmers being frozen out by current marketing practices.
The A.B.S. Co. Ranch was rumored (not verified) for the major distribution site of a brewery. And the president of the chamber of commerce revealed that a federal resettlement project was being considered for farmers on relief or in public works projects. The state mental hospital land purchase went to Arlington in West Riverside instead. Finally, the state, with local support, acquired the land for a new medium security prison.
While the economy was having its ups and downs, another factor influenced local growth—the automobile. During the second decade of the 20th Century, motor vehicles were changing life across the country, including residents of the four-year-old city of Chino who were emerging from the horse and buggy days. In addition, “modern” plumbing and electricity were making things easier.
The Champion reported that shortly after 1900 oil roads became quite the thing and Chino was proud of the fact that Theodore White of this community, county supervisor for the Fourth District who had been a county road supervisor, was the first man to successfully use oil for road building. Until then sand roads were a real problem, according to the editor. One year, hundreds of dollars had been spent hauling in sunflowers and placing them one foot deep and twelve feet wide from Edison Avenue north to the Ontario city limits.
New traffic patterns created by automobiles caused the city council to authorize “Turn to the Right” signs, small steel ones with a heavy base to withstand damage, at the intersections of D Street with Sixth and Seventh in the heart of downtown, because several accidents had happened at those corners.
It was also agreed that while the ground was soft (this being December) that a grader should be used to “crown up” some of the roads.
One of the city trustees (name for council members) brought up the need for an electric wiring and plumbing ordinance, so a copy of Pomona’s was passed around for consideration.
Improvements were being made in ways to keep food fresh. For domestic use ice would do the job and the business flourished. Ice picks were used on 25-pound blocks delivered regularly to ice boxes in the homes according to signs posted in the window. As boys, my friends and I scrambled into the back of the ice delivery truck to grab shards to suck on.
L.A. and G.E. Galbreath, owners of Chino Express and Transfer, added two new refrigerated trucks in 1934 to run perishable goods from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Each Chevrolet semi-trailer had 10-ton capacity. The round trip required 24 hours.
With the development of motor vehicles (was thar oil to be found in them thar hills?) the November 29, 1889 Champion reported:
Boring for oil is being arranged for in several localities nearby. The Chino hills, which are a continuation of the Puente district hills, will probably be pierced soon. The Fullerton Star of last week states that Brea canyon, which leads up from the south to the summit of the Chino hills, is soon to be scene of active oil boring.
The Puente Oil Company supplied the fuel for the sugar factory and some landowners in the hills and flatlands of Chino engaged in oil prospecting.