Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mystery History -- Solved


Karin wins out of sheer tenacity: "I figure if I keep saying the same thing week after week, eventually I'll be right. People walking on colorado blvd when Pasadena was known as the Indiana Colony." Close enough, kiddo! Hey, I'm nothing if not fair.

In the photo above, a parade of Indiana Colony residents heads west down Colorado Street in September 1885 to celebrate the coming of the first railroad to these parts.

From the 1917 book “Pasadena, California, Historical and Personal, A Complete History of the Indiana Colony” by John Windell Wood:

...the whistle of the first locomotive to enter the good town echoed in every household and sounded its new note of progress. The citizens hurried with one accord down Colorado Street to view the iron horse, the first to enter, and bid it a merry welcome. Morris W. Reeder, who died in 1917 at Lamanda Park, held the throttle and enjoyed himself sounding the shrill jubilation loud and often, until the most distant and most inattentive must know that something unusual was afoot—as indeed it was.
Here’s an 1885 photo of the train making its way from Los Angeles north to Pasadena along the same route as the present-day Metro Gold Line:


But let’s back up for a moment.

In 1872 a number of families escaped the coldest winter ever experienced in Indiana and settled here.

Getting here wasn’t easy: They had to take a train to San Francisco, then a ship to San Pedro, then ride on wagons inland until they came upon this lovely little spot at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains.

In 1874 they officially named the spot the Indiana Colony.

Two years later the Southern Pacific Railroad left bustling San Francisco and headed down brand new tracks bound for Los Angeles (population 10,000), linking the two cities for the first time.

That didn’t help the Indiana Colony. The only public transportation between here and Los Angeles was a stagecoach that was put into service three times a week. Those who could afford it could pay for private service from the John Allin Livery Company on Raymond just above Colorado Street:


More from the book:

The growing colony was quite satisfied with a stage for a time, it was safe and it was picturesque; but better and quicker service was hoped for. To Stanley P. Jewett, a young engineer, there came the idea of a railroad communication between Los Angeles and the fertile valley of the San Gabriel; tapping its settlements and growing with them—that was the expectation. Jewett lived in the Indiana Colony, where he had come in 1879, and had pondered much over this idea.
Jewett tried to get L.A. bankers to invest in his plan – including James Filmore Crank* who lived on a ranch in these parts called Fair Oaks – but the deal fell apart and the bankers walked away. Except one.

J.F. Crank had a change of heart and brought together other Indiana Colony investors including his brother-in-law, Albert Brigden, who also had a ranch, and this group of local investors raised $450,000 for the ambitious effort.

There were fits and starts throughout the project, from rights of way being only partially secured to contractors going belly up. So Jewett took charge of the entire endeavor.

A public meeting was called by the exercised people, who passed very urgent resolutions voicing the loudly expressed sentiment declaring “the importance of bringing the locomotives to our very doors, etc,,” all of which is somewhat different than some of the expressions now heard, which declare that this road is a menace upon our streets and must be removed!
A committee made up of Indiana Colony leaders who have streets named after them today – including J.P. Woodbury and James Craig – worked with Jewett to maneuver through legal mazes and other complicated matters.

Fast-forward to that long awaited day when the locomotive chugged into town to the waiting throngs! Here are people enjoying some rest and refreshments in what was probably very welcome shade:


Beginning that celebratory day, the train ran on a regular schedule between L.A. and the Indiana Colony.

Tourists, new residents and entrepreneurs began flocking to the area via the LA&SGV Railroad. The next year, in 1886, the town known as the Indiana Colony was incorporated and renamed Pasadena.

And the rest is no mystery!

* J.F. Crank was a nationally famous figure in his day. After purchasing Fair Oaks Ranch from Judge Benjamin Eaton, Crank hired workers to till the soil, then planted the first varietal citrus seeds in the Indiana Colony. The seeds germinated and grew into trees, and he made a fortune off this area's first orange groves. After bringing together the local investors for the railroad line to Pasadena, Crank became president of the Los Angeles & San Gabriel Valley Railroad, the tracks of which went all the way to Duarte before he sold the rights of way to the Santa Fe Railroad for a whole heck of a lot of money. He was also among the investors who created Monrovia.

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library and Pasadena Museum of History.

9 comments:

Jean Spitzer said...

Congratulations to the Altadena Hiker! I didn't even know that before there was Pasadena, there was Indiana Colony.

The stagecoach does sound romantic, and starting the orange groves and backing the railroad, visionary.

altadenahiker said...

Slow and steady wins the race! I was just reading up on the Indiana Colony -- such a fascinating time.

Thanks Ann. Another great piece.

Petrea said...

Karin, you're prescient.

Cafe Observer said...

Congrats, Miss Prescient, aka Sloooow & Steady.

Now, go play your M.O. in the Lotto contest. Strike it while YOUR HOT!

Margaret said...

Yeah, Karin.

Trish said...

funny...my grandmother always told me she and the other people living here were mostly from Michigan...guess she slipped a little...Michigan....Indiana...same difference!

Good job Karin

Michael Coppess said...

Great story Ann. And I really like the old photos.

I couldn't resist adding some info about the Cranks' connection with the east side of Pasadena. Along with all their other distinctions, the Crank family were the first guests at the Sierra Madre Villa Hotel. I've added that story at www.eastofallen.blogspot.com.

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