Carbon Canyon summit blossomed with iris in 1929 when a big picnic celebration was held to observe the opening of Carbon Canyon Road to general traffic between Chino and Brea in Orange County.
Flowers from Morton W. Sanford’s Iris Farm at the summit decorated the tables at the Oasis Country Club at the event in the canyon sponsored by the Chino Chamber of Commerce, which drew upward of 500 people according to the Champion. The Sanford’s home was known as Ranchito Las Flores, and here their daughter was married in January 1934 by the Rev. J.H. Heald of Sleepy Hollow. Rev. Heald conducted Easter Sunday services in front of a cross on a hill, followed by an Easter egg hunt.
Carbon Canyon Road had been built in fits and starts and was a dirt track part of the way until the joint-county paving was completed in 1929. Because it benefited people more on the San Bernardino side, who sought faster access to Orange County, completion of the road had to wait for full participation by Orange County.
(History repeats itself with attempts to get the 71 and 91 freeways tied together.)
It was during this decade that the Puringtons were developing Sleepy Hollow, mentioned here two weeks ago. In 1929 the county, with Water Works 8, took over the privately owned Sleepy Hollow Water and Improvement Company which had incorporated in 1925 to serve almost 100 cabins erected in the past two years.
In 1930 canyon residents were shaken by the news that the Metropolitan Water District and the feds were considering a “Boulder Canyon Dam” to be built at the county line to form a giant lake, submerging Sleepy Hollow and lands to the summit, to provide water to the cities of the metropolitan area. It failed to happen.
Earlier in 1925, the Champion reported that H. S. Hoard had purchased 600 acres at Carbon Canyon Road summit for a large dairy, ice cream factory, nursery, milk sanitorium and subdivision to serve four counties. Apparently that plan evaporated like the Chino Hills International Airport did about 50 years later.
For more than a half century canyon residents were on their own to provide services.
The water district was a political headache for County Supervisor Paul Young in 1963 after its board resigned en masse under pressure from local residents.
Seeking guidance in the selection of a new board which he had to appoint, the supervisor asked the county registrar of voters, Mrs. Eleanor Felton, to conduct a special election, which she had never done before. She agreed and came to Carbon Canyon to hold it on the evening of August 30 at the Sleepy Hollow Fire Hall, which was gaily decorated with red, white and blue bunting for the occasion. A big pot of coffee was brewed, and plenty of chairs provided.
One stipulation was that there be a 51 percent turnout of registered voters. Meaning 48 out of 95.
Two competing factions which differed on water rates and property taxes, the main source of the district’s income, were on hand to vote and observe. After a half hour, only 33 voters had appeared. Arguments ensued over the qualifications of ten candidates and residence of some of the voters.
“I’m going to stick to my legal elections from now on,” Mrs. Felton said wearily.
Supervisor Young, asked who he would appoint after the election failed, said he couldn’t say because he didn’t know yet.
Carbon Canyon was a long way from the only city-rural fire station on Central Avenue in Chino. Around 1948 a 7-man volunteer department was put together, headed by Dave Purington, son of the Sleepy Hollow founders. The only backup was the state department of forestry and the first Chino Station 2 when it was built at Eucalyptus and Pipeline in 1962. Earlier the only unit in the hills had been an “auxiliary fire truck” donated by James Clapp, prominent horse owner of Rolling Ridge ranch. Later the Carbon Canyon volunteer station, which served as a community gathering place before the City of Chino Hills built a two-story replacement after its incorporation, housed a glorified pickup with a small water tank and pump.
Station 4, built by the county, went into service in 1991, finally giving the canyon professional 24-hour protection for fire and medical calls.
Considered scenic, but never officially adopted as such by the state, Carbon Canyon Road for years was a death trap for drunk or careless motorists. Many of the curves have been straightened, but the road still has many problems for a growing number of motorists and residents frustrated with alternative routes across the hills.
The day before Halloween, 1967, Chino had a major scare when a school bus overturned on the S-curve east of the summit, when the brakes failed. The woman driver eased the bus back into an embankment, where it slowly overturned with practically no injuries to the canyon kids inside.
Stories still continue about this idyllic area of rural open land which had hosted a nudist camp, iris farm, a Jewish resort, country clubs, plastic ski slope, state park, disastrous wildfires and Headless Horseman parties at Halloween.
Paul Spitzzeri, back to you.