Sep 30, 2010, 04:30 PM
EL DORADOVILLE, CA - A FORGOTTEN MINING TOWN
During 1854, gold was discovered at the fork of San Gabriel Canyon above the current city of Azusa, a town named El Doradoville sprung up to become the home to some 2,000 miners.
Gold claims were filed along the east fork of the canyon and during the following 20 years, it is estimated that $12 million in gold was mined and shipped to various mints throughout the United States.
The town of El Doradoville was destroyed by flood waters in 1861 and 1862.
Its been rumored that a large safe full of valuables was washed away and was never recovered.
Today nothing remains except remanents of foundations here and there. Exceptionally hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winters, the area is subject to flash flooding. It remains inhospitable, while the home to a scattering of jack rabbits and rattlers.
The first recorded reference to Azusa was found in the diary of Fr. Juan Crespi, diarist and engineer with Portola Expedition in 1769, then on its way northward from San Diego in search of Monterey Bay.
Having come northward through Brea Canyon, Crespi, while camping in the vicinity of Bassett remarked of the river and the valley to the north, "The valley is three leagues wide and paralleled by a tall mountain range running east and west." This stream and valley he named the San Miguel Archangel after the Patron Saint of the day, as was their custom. However, he also referred to this area as the The Azusa" in his diary.
Here roamed the Shoshonean Indian, locally known as the Gabriena when the area of Azusa was first inhabited by white emigrants and homesteaders. Their community was known as Asuksa-gna. Supposedly Azusa was derived from the Indian name.
An area of land some three miles square was given to Luis Arenas by the Mexican Government as a Mexican land grant in 1841. Arenas built an adobe home on the hill in the eastern part of the City, did farming and stock raising and called his newly acquired possession E1 Susa Rancho. In 1944 Arenas sold his holdings to Henry Dalton, an Englishman who acquired his wealth in buying and shipping goods from Peru to Wilmington Harbor, now Los Angeles Harbor, and San Francisco. Mr. Dalton, after paying $7,000.00 to Arenas for E1 Susa Rancho, changed the name to Azusa Rancho de Dalton.
On the Azusa Rancho, Mr. Dalton planted a vineyard extending northward from the Dalton Hill to the Sierra Madre Mountains. He built a winery, a distillery, a vinegar house, a meat smokehouse and a flour mill, importing the mill stones from France in 1854 and erecting his mill on a ranch ditch which delivered water to the south portion of his property.
During the great flood years of 1861 and 1862, the flour mills along the various canyons from San Bernardino were washed out and most of the people brought their grain to the Asusa Dalton for grinding.
During 1854, gold was discovered in the San Gabriel Canyon and a town named E1 Doradoville was built at the fork of the San Gabriel to take care of some 2,000 miners who had filed on gold claims along the east fork of the canyon. During the next twenty years, it is estimated that $12,000,000.00 in gold was mined and shipped to various mints throughout the United States. The town of E1 Daradoville was destroyed by flood waters in 1861 and 1862.
In 1860 the United States land Office sent an engineer from Washington, D.C. who surveyed the Dalton's Azusa Rancho, taking a mile and one-half from his southern boundary and a mile and one- half from his eastern boundary, making the property taken by the Federal Government subject to homesteading. An influx of people began streaming into the area, filing usually on forty, eighty or one hundred and twenty acre lands for their homesteads. This, Mr. Dalton considered unfair. He had not the money to fight the case through the courts and borrowed money from Jonathon S. Slauson, one of the early Los Angeles bankers. Mr. Dalton had to make several trips to Washington, D.C. The courts decided against him after 24 years of litigation. Consequently, Mr. Dalton turned the Azusa Rancho over to Mr. Slauson who deeded a 55 acre homestead to Mr. Dalton at the head of Azusa Avenue and Sierra Madre Avenue.
In 1874, Henry Dalton and Captain J. R. Gordon imported from Italy fifteen stands of Italian honey bees, considered the first honey bees imported into the United States. This developed into a large industry in the production of honey throughout the United States.
In 1868, the Azusa Valley had grown considerably and schooling for the children was getting to be a problem. A meeting was called on Dalton Hill and a citizens' committee was formed to take the necessary steps to provide a Provisional School for the community. The following excerpts from Henry Dalton's diary should be of interest:
"Monday, May 11, 1868: In the afternoon the people met at Williamson's to determine about the erection of the Provincial School and it was determined to meet on Friday with wagons, tools, etc. to haul logs and brush necessary and on Saturday to raise the brush school house." "Friday, May 15: My man Burns was hauling brush for the school house. After a long debate it was decided to build the school house between the Dalton Hill and Williamson's (which would now be located on the east side of the old squatter's ditch and 3rd Street)."
"Wednesday, May 20: The schoolhouse was finished. Beckman and others prepared the stools, desks, etc, and prepared to hire a teacher."
Thursday, June 11: Went with Williamson to take a census of the children along the mountains as far as San Dimas. (A distance of eight miles). A School Board was appointed by the committee, consisting of Oliver Justice, President; Dutcher, Secretary; and Williamson."
This first school built of logs and brush was the first public school built in the Upper San Gabriel Valley, then called Azusa Valley. In 1891 the first Union High School, named Citrus, was built at the southwest corner of Citrus near Broadway.
During 1887, Mr. Slauson laid out the town of Azusa, and it is a matter of information that when the date was set for the sale of lots, people stayed up all night and some of them paid as much as $500.00 for front places inline for first purchase of lots. When the streets were being graded, there were unearthed many Indian mortars which proved that Indians did inhabit this area in the early days before the white man.
On December 29,1898, the City was incorporated as a city of the 6th class. The population in 1890 was 800; in 1899 it was 865.
There is ample and abundant proof of Indian activity in the Azusa (San Gabriel) Valley. It can be presumed that many a ranchero existed for both short and long periods of time. Many artifacts and other implements have been found in varied places.
Near the mouth of the San Gabriel Canyon, southerly from the Duarte Ditch, near where it crosses the wash, are to be found stones in a long rambling line which, no doubt, had some important significance to the Indians. These stones are still fairly well established as placed at some remote period by a race long since gone.
At the Forks there is an old burial ground. Seven bodies were uncovered a number of years ago. Each body had a cairn of stone placed over the abdomen, at the top of which was a stone mortar.
In the West Fork of the San Gabriel Canyon near Camp Rincon are to be found several huge rocks, the largest weighing some 75 or 80 tons. These are covered with Indian markings yet quite distinct, though no doubt having weathered the storms of several generations. Another of these was to be found in the East Fork above Camp Bonita though it has been moved to make way for the road. Many of these markings have been noted several hundred feet above the canyon bottom in the vicinity of Rattlesnake Gulch. Pine Flats also gave evidence of their activity in the early days. In the vicinity of Iron Fork, mortars were found in large rocks which goes to show that the Indian activities were somewhat varied. That the canyon was used as a bypass to the desert there is no doubt, and the mute evidence found, it must have been of more than passing interest to while away their abundance of unoccupied time or as a retreat from an enemy. Whether right or wrong in the latter assumption, there is ample evidence of their activities.
This history has been taken from the files of the last Azusa City Historian, Mr. Comelius Smith.
Oct 07, 2010, 12:23 AM
Come out from under your bed today...... DO SOMETHING!
Re: EL DORADOVILLE, CA - A FORGOTTEN MINING TOWN
My first gold prospecting adventure was up the San Gabriel River in 1982. My son and I camped at Allison Gulch. A memorable weekend. Heaton Flat, Swan Rock, The Narrows. A flood of memories! Tnx for the narrative. TTC
Be the kind of Marine that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil yells, "Run, run! He's up!"
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