One of the best-known parts of Carbon Canyon’s history is La Vida Mineral Springs, a resort that operated for decades between the 1910s and 1980s on the Brea side of the canyon just east of Olinda Village. Almost completely unknown is the shorter-lived Carbon Canyon, or Hiltscher, Mineral Springs, which was just steps east of the county line, south of Carbon Canyon Road and west of Rosemary Lane in what became Chino Hills. The resort only existed for about a decade or so between the mid-1930s through the mid-to-late 1940s, but it is still an interesting if fleeting part of our local history.
A spring along Carbon Creek in Sleepy Hollow, which was founded in 1932, provided the source for the hot mineral water for the resort which was opened by the brothers Joseph and Frederick Hiltscher. The siblings were sons of August Hiltscher, an Austrian manufacturer of fine linen tablecloths with markets in the United States, and Frederike Bockisch. In the late 1880s, as greater Los Angeles underwent its first large-scale development boom, the family settled on 20 acres in what is now west Fullerton and planted a vineyard, followed by a walnut grove and, finally, an orange orchard. Fred Hiltscher spent years in mining endeavors in Arizona and New Mexico before settling in the Sleepy Hollow area, where his brother owned surrounding ranch land.
The earliest date found for the operation of the resort, styled the Carbon Canyon Mineral Springs is when the café there was listed for sale or trade in 1935. Two years later, an ad in the Pomona Progress Bulletin noted that “Hot Sulphur Baths and Swedish Massages” were offered at the resort. A short article in the Los Angeles Times in summer 1938 mentioned “hydrotherapeutic facilities” along with cottages, cabins and sleeping rooms for overnight guests. Further references in that paper from that period referred to the place as “Hiltscher Springs,” suggesting the brothers still owned and managed it.
By early 1939 Victor Baden, his wife Katherine and sister Hilda Barth took over what was then referred to only as Carbon Canyon Mineral Springs. The Badens lived for years in Orange and Garden Grove, where Victor repaired and sold cars and worked for a fruit growing company. Ms. Barth was the resident manager. During their ownership, the former café owner at La Vida, Archie Rosenbaum, ran the restaurant at the Carbon Canyon springs, but with the Great Depression still lingering, it was likely difficult to make a living from the operation.
After a couple of years the springs were again sold when Victor Baden decided to open a health club in Santa Ana. The new operators were Lulu Scott, officially the owner, and her daughter, newly minted chiropractor and manager Ethel Pardee, long-time residents of San Pedro. The two purchased the stock in the enterprise in May 1941 and then remodeled the compound with plans to add eight new cabins. An early ad promoted a diet service, colonics, radionics, and chiropractic adjustments in addition to the baths, massage, dining room and lodgings.
Entry of the United States in World War II followed within months. Another ad from 1942 encouraged visitors to save gas and rubber, which were under rationing, by making the short trip to Carbon Canyon for a restful and healthful retreat. Not only was there home cooking and a nice open fireplace in the lobby, but “many walks, trails and horseback riding” were available.
It is likely the restrictions of the Second World War on top of the success of the neighboring hot springs that made an already risky proposition untenable. By the end of the Forties, the Carbon Canyon Mineral Springs were closed. Today, a residence occupies the property and cement casings for tubs used for bathing remain on the grounds as remnants of part of the long-ago history of Carbon Canyon.