Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mystery History -- Solved

No winner this week. Admittedly, this was a hard one.

Continuing the presidential theme, this decorated locomotive is nearly ready to carry President Benjamin Harrison's train to Pasadena on April 23, 1891.

President Harrison was on a 30-day, 9,332-mile round trip from Washington, D.C., to the Pacific coast and back.

Here are some excerpts from an extensive article in the Pasadena Weekly Star dated April 29, 1891:

. . .The presidential train was booked to arrive here at 7 o’clock but it was a quarter to eight before its whistle was heard. . .

. . .When the trained pulled in at the Santa Fe depot, closely followed by Governor Markham’s special, the park and streets about the Hotel Green and the station were packed with people who had patiently waited there for an hour and more. Great cheering greeted the party as they disembarked and walked into the hotel between Company B drawn up one side to receive them and the veterans of the Grand Army on the other, while Steil’s battery of one gun boomed forth in thunderous salutation. . .

. . .Then the south doors were opened, and for an hour the immense throng outside filed through and past the presidential party. The officers and men of Company B, who had been doing difficult guard duty outside, lent their efficient services in keeping the lines in order, and in hastening the passage of the multitude through the corridor. It was a trying ordeal for the president, but he bravely kept his post and shook hands with each man, woman and child as they were presented by Governor Markham, as did also the postmaster-general and the secretary of agriculture. It is estimated that at least 2000 people were thus taken by the hand. It was half-past ten before the reception was over. . .
Here’s what the Hotel Green looked like in the 1890s:

Later in the evening there was a special banquet at the hotel. Another excerpt from the Pasadena Daily Star article:

. . .The company arose as the president entered amidst loud applause and waving of napkins. After a short blessing asked by Rev. J.B. Stewart of San Francisco, the first course was served. The menus are lovely mementos of the occasion. The title page, printed in black on white satin, contains a fine lithographed portrait of the president, with the words “Welcome to Our President” over it. . .The second page, of light blue satin, contains the menu, as follows:
Blue Point Oysters
Cream of Asparagus
Baked Mountain Trout
Cucumbers, New Potatoes, Sliced Tomatoes
Supreme of Chicken, Mushroom Sauce
Roast Spring Lamb, Mint Sauce
Asparagus Tops, Spinach, String Beans
Fillet of Beef, Truffle Sauce
Sweet Bread Patties, Parisian Style
Green Peas
Lobster, Boars Head, Shrimp
Roman Punch
Boned Turkey, Aspee Jelly
Dressed Lettuce, Water Cresses
Assorted Cakes, Macaroons, Cigarette Wafers
Champanue Jelly, Ice Cream, Frozen Pudding
Apples, Oranges, Loquats
Bananas, Strawberries
Zinfandel, Burgundy, Eclipse
Haut Sauterne
Sherry, 15 Years Old
The article goes into great detail about speechifying, what the ladies were wearing, who sat on the various welcoming committees and other fascinating bits that are too lengthy to include on my humble little blog.

Here’s more of the article, at the point where it describes a presidential tour through Pasadena:

…The president’s carriage, which had been beautifully trimmed with acacia by Mrs. Masters and Mrs. B.M. Wotkyns, was drawn by four beautiful horses, two blacks and two grays. . .
Here’s a photo of President Harrison’s carriage during a stop at the Los Angeles House hotel in Pasadena.

The tour through Pasadena must have taken all day: The designated route was Colorado to Marengo, California, El Molino, Walnut, Raymond, back to Colorado, Fair Oaks, Orange Grove, back to California, to Pasadena Avenue, Bellefontaine, back to Orange Grove, Columbia, the Raymond Hotel, back to Columbia, Colorado, "through Mrs. Carr's grounds," back to Colorado, and then back to Raymond and the Hotel Green.

The route was announced well in advance so as many people as possible could line the streets to welcome the president and his party.

...The point of greatest interest was on South Marengo avenue, where an immense crowd had congregated, including about 2000 school children. Handkerchiefs were waved and some cheering indulged in, but the lack of music made the demonstrations of this kind not as noisy as they should have been. Marengo avenue presented a beautiful appearance. Just below the crossing of Kansas street the party passed beneath an imposing arch built of calla lilies and surmounted by pampas plumes. The north front of the apex bore a large portrait of the president, and beneath were the words, in letters made of oranges, “Welcome to our Guests.” Below hung the monogram “B.H.” in pink and white roses. The white lilies had a background of evergreen at some points. . .
Here’s a photo of the Marengo arch:

There was also a lot of lobbying that took place during the president's trip to Pasadena, and it paid off: The following year, by official order, Harrison established the San Gabriel Timberland Reserve, later to be called the Angeles National Forest (which is currently burning). It was the first such reserve in California and the second in the U.S.

. . .Senator Heacock and Mayor P.J. Barber, of Santa Barbara, were here last night as a committee from that city to see that the president didn’t stay too long before leaving with them for their lovely town. . .

Many thanks to Pasadena Public Library (Martha Camacho rocks!), Los Angeles Public Library, Pasadena Museum of History and University of Southern California.


Cafe Pasadena said...

Great, wunderful history, Pasadena Historical Officer!

Margaret said...

No winner? That was a tough one.

pasadenapio said...

It was tough, wasn't it? I'll continue to mix it up a little here and there.

Kevin said...

The heck with Benjamin Harrison. I want to go to that dinner!

altadenahiker said...

Well now I'm a fan of Benjamin Harrison. But I will join Kevin for dinner.

Anonymous said...

AH: they're serving loquats for desert. You'll bring some home to Albert won't you?

Petrea said...

These keep getting better and better, if that's possible.