All Over the Map: A United States Geological Survey Map of the Covina Quadrangle, Edition of 1927

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

For map geeks, one of the most notable sources for reference of great utility and historical interest are the quadrangle maps issued by the United States Geological Survey under the auspices of the Department of the Interior. The Homestead has dozens of these maps from the late 19th and early 20th century and they can be fascinating for the detail revealed about places that, for the most part, have changed dramatically, usually due to development.

Such an example is tonight’s featured map from the collection, a recent donation of Fred Reed of Brea, whose mother, an employee of Union Oil Company of California in its downtown office back in the 1930s and 1940s, salvaged the series of which the Homestead was recently gifted a set from Fred.

The selected artifact shows an area mostly comprised of the eastern portion of the massive Rancho La Puente, with a section of the western area of Rancho San José, parts of the Rancho Los Nogales, and a very tiny bit of Rancho Rincon de la Brea. The only settlement of any size is the town of Covina at the upper left, though the hamlet of Walnut is at the lower center. The little squares represent houses and, obviously, outside of Covina, residences were generally sparse in this area.

Otherwise, the teeming populations that are now parts of West Covina, the Charter Oak neighborhood of unincorporated Los Angeles County, a sliver of San Dimas, areas in and around what was then the W.K. Kellogg Ranch and which became Cal Poly Pomona, the village of Spadra (also part of Pomona), Diamond Bar, and more.

With respect to Covina, the community was established in the 1880s by Joseph S. Phillips and others as one of the many railroad towns that sprung up during the famed Boom of the Eighties. The main rail line, identified with “SOUTHERN PACIFIC” just to the east of downtown, was later supplemented by the Pacific Electric Railway streetcar line that followed Badillo Avenue through town and then turned northeastward near a masonic home for children that is still in operation today, but now it is a retirement facility.

Many of the other streets in Covina are notable on the map, including those named for Rancho La Puente’s original owners, John Rowland and William Workman, as well as later investor John E. Hollenbeck, a prominent figure in Los Angeles, including the Boyle Heights neighborhood, founded by Workman’s nephew, William H. and where Hollenbeck’s residence became today’s Hollenbeck Palms senior community.

Los Angels Times, 9 January 1927.

One notable street that no longer exists is Arroyo Avenue, which was about where Interstate 10 runs west to east through the area now, while Service Avenue, discernible at the edge of the map, became today’s Cortez Street. Some existing streets, moreover, were limited in their extent, most notably Grand Avenue, which basically ended near Rowland Avenue, southeast of downtown Covina.

Rowland Avenue, however, continued eastward as Pomona Road, winding through the San José Hills and now known as Covina Hills Road and then continuing towards Pomona along the route now taken by Via Verde. As for Charter Oak, it was situated in what was the Rancho San José Addition. The original San José grant was made in 1837 to Ygnacio Palomares and Ricardo Vejar, the former taking the northern section and the latter the southern portion, but, a few years later, the addition was granted to the two men and Palomares’ brother-in-law, Luis Arenas. Arenas, not long afterward, sold his share to Henry Dalton or the Rancho Azusa, which is at the upper left corner of the map above San Bernardino Road, the boundary line (along with Ramona Boulevard in Baldwin Park) with the La Puente ranch.

Towards the upper right, some of the streets including Cypress, Valley Center, Lone Hill and Covina Boulevard comprise the southwestern parts of San Dimas, once known as Mud Springs. At the southeast corner of Covina and Lone Hill is San Dimas High School and just east of that is where the 57 Freeway wends through the hills and goes along the right edge and then turning towards the left about where the line with 50 at the bottom is on the map. The upper right section also has the dark colored portions showing the passage of Walnut Creek through a wide gorge, this now being a remarkable regional park, and the creek moves west to the left edge of the map after crossing Hollenbeck Street.

As we move south of the San José Hills we see San José Wash and San José Creek, which emerged from the same source in Pomona from waters emerging out of the San Gabriel Mountains, as discussed in a recent post on an 1888 irrigation report. The community of Spadra, established just after the Civil War and comprised mainly of white farmers, some who moved from El Monte and others new arrivals in the area, was named after a place of that name in Arkansas and which was home to William W. Rubottom, a tavern owner at Spadra. Rubottom and F.P.F. Temple built and cut-off road from Los Angeles to San Bernardino that went through Spadra after passing through Rancho La Puente.

Just about where the edge of the map says “Claremont” [for the quadrangle map to the east] and, in red, “Pomona 3 MI.” is the Spadra Cemetery, which is just east of the 57 Freeway and south of the red-and-white delineated Pomona Boulevard, which still retains that name from where the number “688” (this is feet above sea level) appears next to the “E” in “Los Nogales.” The rest of Pomona Boulevard all the way through the map to the lower left corner is now Valley Boulevard, but the eastern extension of Valley, which splits from Pomona Boulevard, just about where the latter crossed the Southern Pacific railroad line, did not exist in 1927.

Below this and under the name of Spadra is the only named street other than Pomona Boulevard and this is Collins Street, better known to us as Temple Avenue. While, as noted above, Cal Poly Pomona was later built in this area on the ranch, established in 1925, by cereal magnate Will Keith Kellogg, there is no indication of the ranch here—the Homestead collection has some great early photos of it that will someday make for a great post on this blog.

Los Angeles Times, 27 November 1918.

Westward, toward the center of the map, is the “Protestant Home for Boys” also known as the Pacific Lodge for Wayward Boys, established and managed by the Protestant Welfare Association. The site, known as the Stern Ranch, comprising over 1,300 acres, and within the bounds of the Rancho La Puente, was acquired by the state in late 1918 for the Pacific Colony, a home for boys who were “feeble-minded,” or otherwise referred to as “morons.” One of the main figures in establishing the site was Pomona orchardist and real estate deal Fred J. Smith, who owned the Homestead from 1899, after it was lost by John H. Temple, to 1903.

Given the challenges of adequate appropriations, as well as delays in construction, the first “inmates” were not sent down from the Sonoma state home until March 1921. After less than two years, however, it was decided in early 1923 to abruptly pull the plug on the project and the 30 or so young men were suddenly transferred back to Sonoma. Later, however, another Pacific Colony was set up east of Pomona Boulevard and south of Collins Street, within the bounds of Rancho Los Nogales, and this became the Lanterman State Hospital, which operated for many years and is now in continuing development as the southern campus of Cal Poly Pomona.

The Pacific Lodge, meanwhile, also had a short occupancy, though more than twice as long as its predecessor, and, in 1928, the facility relocated to Woodland Hills in the eastern San Fernando Valley and it is now the Optimist Youth Homes and Family Services center (its history page correctly noted the founding in 1923, but errs in stating that the facility was always in Woodland Hills.) During World War II, the site housed a Naval hospital and, with war’s end, Mount San Antonio College was established there and it is approaching its 80th birthday.

Pomona Bulletin, 19 January 1923.

Moving south along the east edge of the map, we come to the Diamond Bar Ranch. As has been noted here before in posts relating to Tres Hermanos Ranch, Rancho Los Nogales grew from a small land grant in the narrow valley between the San José and Chino hills ranges to a much larger tract thanks to the incorporation of thousands of acres of former public land set aside for pre-American era ranchers, such as those at La Puente and San José, to have extra grazing land.

For years, the ranch was owned by Jane Lynch and Charles M. Wright, but was sold to a Pittsburgh dentist and real estate investor Walter F. Fundenburg, who had ambitions of striking oil on the ranch, though this went unrealized. He sold a portion of Los Nogales to an East Coast tire and rubber company owner, Frederick Lewis, who, in 1918, christened his ranch the Diamond Bar. The ranch was, four decades and more later, developed into what became the City of Diamond Bar.

The entrance is shown going east from Pomona Boulevard and crossing both the Southern Pacific and the Union Pacific (built in the early 1900s as the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad line) rail lines. There are clearly sets of railroad spur lines for the ranch off the Union Pacific mainline, given that Lewis was a major raiser of hogs and other livestock on his domain.

Reference to the new Pacific Colony site, which became Lanterman State Hospital and which is now the south campus of Cal Poly Pomona. Pomona Progress Bulletin, 20 July 1927.

While much of what became Diamond Bar is, at the lower right, large swaths of the ranch, we can follow the rail lines and Pomona Boulevard to the southwest toward the bottom of the map and see where that arterial roadway intersected with the Anaheim Road. This is known to us now as Brea Canyon Road and, as it leaves the map near the bottom center, where it says “FULLERTON 11 MI.” this is also where the 57 Freeway makes it way into Orange County now.

A bit to the west is Walnut, including the Walnut Station depot on the Union Pacific line and the town to the northwest where Pomona Boulevard intersects with Lemon Avenue. Even though “Los Nogales” translates as “walnuts,” the little burg was actually just inside Rancho La Puente, while the depot was just inside the southwest corner of Rancho Los Nogales.

In any case, Lemon Avenue intersected then, as now, with Currier Road, where the number “527” is discerned, and that thoroughfare, just as it does today, moved east with a curve and then a straight eastbound direction to the Anaheim Road, where “546” is shown. On the east side of the latter street is today’s City of Industry Metrolink Station and much of the lower right section of the map is part of the City of Industry’s eastern section.

The red-ink markings to the lower right of the Protestant Home for Boys might have referred to an oil well site, developed or not, given that the map came from the Union Oil Company of California.

Returning to the Walnut Station, its site is now an industrial strip across from Walnut Elementary School on Lycoming Street, which pathway moves east to, at the number “559” the intersection with Anaheim Road and then further east to the base of the hills where the City of Industry is completing a large industrial park where the 60 and 57 freeways meet now. At the bottom of the map, under Walnut Station and the Union Pacific line is a bit of East Walnut Drive North, which now parallels the 60 Freeway, though that path falls out of the map’s bottom border.

The little stub of the Rancho Rincon de la Brea is just the far northwester section of a tract which included much of Brea Canyon. The rancho was briefly owned by William Workman and F.P.F. Temple, who likely were intrigued by the potential of its brea, or tar, deposits, the lower section of the canyon yielding large oil deposits by the early 20th century. On the bottom edge of the map, a street runs south from Pomona Boulevard and this is today’s Fairway Drive (Camino de Tedoro, a residential street goes north from Valley now).

Moving further along the edge to the west along the boulevard and the Southern Pacific line, we get to today’s Nogales Street, which extended north for a stretch, perhaps to about where Nogales High School sits on the west side of that thoroughfare today. By the time we get to the bottom left corner of the map, we are very close to where Fullerton Road terminates at Valley Boulevard today, while west of Nogales and north of Pomona/Valley is an unincorporated area of the county known as South San José Hills.

With respect to the large swaths of the wide open San José Hills, most of this is today’s City of Walnut, though as we move up the left edge of the map and get to Cameron Avenue from Hollenbeck Street east to Barranca Street, we are in the South Hills area of West Covina. Cameron extended, though whether this was private or public is the question, and wended through the hills, coming out just west of the Pacific Colony (Protestant Boys Home), close to where Grand Avenue was later pushed south and east. Notably, the California Avenue east of Barranca is now Cortez Avenue, mentioned above. It curved north into Oregon Avenue, which is now part of Grand Avenue, and that turned west into Virginia Avenue, which still exists from Grand to just west of Barranca.

Concerning Grand Avenue, it looks very much like the road moving southeast from near the home where “695” is down to Pomona Boulevard, at 607, is now Grand Avenue, which now crosses that regional highway and moves eastward into Diamond Bar, through Tres Hermanos Ranch, and into Chino Hills and Chino, where it becomes Edison Avenue. The dotted roadway extending west to Lemon Avenue from “607” to “561” is La Puente Road, which now goes further west and ends at Nogales Street.

Hopefully, not too much confusion was caused in trying to navigate this remarkable map clockwise from Covina at the top left to Spadra at the center right to Walnut at the bottom center and back again. Details of the map are provided so that readers can follow along—again, provided the descriptions are decent enough!

As noted at the beginning, the Museum has dozens of these U.S.G.S. quadrangle maps, so we’ll look to share more of them in future installments of the “All Over the Map” series.

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