Thursday, September 1, 2011

Historical Landmark No. 514, Mt. Baldy Road...

Part way up the Mt. Baldy road, between the tunnels and Stoddard Flat, are a couple historical markers. I have always had it on my mind to stop and check them out, but all the times driving up to hike or mountain bike, or riding up on the road bike, I never have taken even a few minutes to stop. They are not really accessible to cars anymore; though clearly you could drive right onto the flat overlook area at one time, that access is now, and has been for at least a number of years, blocked by strategically placed boulders. As for riding up on a bike - well, I prefer not to stop in the middle of an uphill grind. 

overlook area with view up canyon. mt. baldy starting to peak into view in the distance

This morning, something convinced me to stop; maybe it was because I was climbing so well in the cooler temperatures, maybe my interest in all things historical finally got the best of me, I don't know. But, stop I did. Most Californians are familiar with these little historical markers, they are located all up and down the state, many located right on the side of a road or highway, but usually little more than a low stone or concrete monument wall, with a bronze plaque mounted to it, making note of some incident of historical significance which took place at that location, or nearby. 

Clearly this particular historical marker and the overlook at which it is located was given extra thought, it is far more elaborate than most. The entire overlook area is enclosed by the low stone wall seen in the photos, with little, and regularly spaced window cut-outs. The plaque itself is mounted to a massive slab of local granite, sits on a plinth matching the low stone enclosure wall, and set off further from the surroundings by a massive chain. This main monument recognizes the first hydro-electric installation in California, built in 1892 on San Antonio Creek below this spot. A current, small hydro-electric plant can be seen just down canyon, from the overlook. This is interesting to me, because during the research phase for another nearby project I was recently involved with, references were found stating that the earliest hydro-electric plant was actually located on Day Creek, built by the Chaffey brothers to generate electricity for their Etiwanda Colony. Hmm, a little conflict there.

marker no. 514 - Pomona Water Power Plant

nicely designed enclosing wall around the overlook

There is a second little monument here, recognizing the Springhill Forest, a Chaffey College biology project. A quick (very brief) internet search for information on this, found nothing. I do know that Chaffey College professors and students are still quite active with biological studies in the local mountains and canyons, so it is likely the Springhill Forest was some early experimental forest, planted and studied as a joint venture between various agencies as noted on the plaque. Anyway, there are great views both up canyon and down, from this point, so it does make an interesting stop if you are so inclined.

looking down into San Antonio Canyon. no, that's not Mt. Baldy road;
it leads to the little power plant you can just make out if you click to enlarge

another view. that murk gray stuff is regrettably one of the things for which Los Angeles is famous.
yup, smog. its nice when you get up above it though

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