October 24, 2012 § 2 Comments
Hello Creekfreaks! I miss writing about LA waterways but am much enjoying the new sights and sounds of Humboldt Bay, and my new job is promising to be very rewarding. Being bay-focused, I’m reading about oysters today, and stumbled across a little anecdote I thought you might appreciate:
Native oysters grew in some of the bays in southern California, but did not form the basis of a commercial industry. Wilcox (1898, p. 647) says: “Native oysters, small in size and of little value, are found in limited quantities at several places in southern California, but are gathered only at Bolsa, Orange County. Some attempt is being made to cultivate the California oysters in the waters between San Pedro and Wilmington, where they have long been known to exist in very limited quantities.” He also stated that production in Orange County in 1895 was 25,740 pounds (probably including shells) valued at $772; at the same time the production in San Francisco Bay was 14,701,500 pounds (shell weight) valued at $538,725 (U.S. Bur. Fish. Rept., 1898, p. 651).
A decade later, in 1906, Pacific Fisherman (October 1906, p. 23) reported the native oysters in the Grand Canal at Venice, Los Angeles County, were to be exploited commercially.
-Fish Bulletin 123, The California Oyster Industry, by Elinore M. Barrett, California Department of Fish & Game, 1963
October 20, 2012 § 5 Comments
In February 2010, Jane Tsong posted these photos on L.A. Creek Freak of flooding in the Yosemite Drive area of Eagle Rock in 1934, with a challenge to readers to find the location of the photographs.
The 1934 New Year’s Day Flood is notorious for causing the death of at least 45 people in Montrose and La Crescenta. It inspired Woody Guthrie to write a song of that title. Several days of very heavy rain caused lethal debris flows in areas of the San Gabriel Mountains that had been burned that fall. The flooding in the Los Angeles basin as a whole was not particularly severe, but the deaths of so many people in the foothills focused people’s attention on the dangers of flooding, and gave added impetus to the comprehensive flood control planning for the entire watershed. In the case of Eagle Rock, where no lives were lost, the 1934 flood increased public pressure to complete the area’s storm drain system, and, in particular, to construct the Yosemite Drive storm drain with Civil Works Administration funds. Soon after these photographs were taken, the natural (or semi-natural) creek documented by these photographs disappeared into a 102″ concrete pipe under Yosemite Drive.
The first photograph of the flood shows F. E. Montee’s house at 4815 Avoca Avenue, on the north side of Yosemite Drive. On January 4th, the Eagle Rock Advertiser reported that the house was “almost completely undermined and the family forced to vacate.” The house survives, in a much altered state, while the path of the creek has been turned into an alley; only the large sycamore growing in the middle of this alley provides a clue to the former presence of the creek. On the upstream side of Avoca, however, the old channelized stream actually survives. Completely overgrown with invasive Tree of Heaven, it probably extends as far as Rockdale elementary school; the sides of the channel are lined with corrugated iron and it measures about five feet wide and three feet deep.
The second and third photographs of the 1934 flood show the creek on either side of the Yosemite Drive bridge, just downstream from Avoca Street and near to the the intersection of Yosemite Drive and Ray Court. The present day jog in the course of Yosemite Drive in this area is a vestige of the need to cross over the creek. The second photograph is looking downstream, with the silhouette of Occidental College’s Fiji Hill clearly discernable in the background; the power poles are running along Yosemite Drive, just as they do today. The third photograph is looking upstream, from the other side of Yosemite Drive, with the now demolished two-story masonry Rockdale elementary school just visible in the background.
The exact location of the bridge remains a little vague, but an older photograph of the area taken from Wildwood Drive clearly shows the course of the creek as it crosses under Yosemite Drive and heads across the land that is now occupied by the Yosemite Manor and other large apartment complexes.
Another useful document for creek freaks is an undated storm drain map, in which the storm drains were expediently drawn over an older topographical map. The palimpsest of the old contour lines clearly describes the path of the creek as it heads towards Oak Grove Drive.
The most remarkable thing revealed by these photographs is the proximity of the houses to the creek. The potential destructive force of the creek seems to have been entirely underestimated. A portion of Oak Grove Drive (where the High School now stands) was actually built along the line of the creek, with predictable consequences! It is sad to think that with only a little planning, in terms of prudent setbacks from the watercourse and preservation of floodplain width, the creek could have been preserved in an almost natural state for the whole length of the valley. Large parcels of land along the creek, including three school properties and the Yosemite Recreation Center, were still largely open space in the 1930s. It is a story of missed opportunity—in fact, a version of the history of the whole watershed, in miniature.
October 4, 2012 § 2 Comments
As the heat of summer slowly (hopefully) begins to wind down, so too has the second season of the pioneering L.A. River kayak and canoe excursions. The final group dropped into the River this past Sunday, an undoubtedly leisurely paddle between willows and sycamores, shopping carts and plastic bags. The 2012 installment hosted approximately 2,000 participants, an impressive increase from 2011, when the count for the pilot program was 260. The number of outfits operating on the River has also doubled and now includes Paddle the L.A. River (organized by L.A. Conservation Corps, MRCA, The River Project, FoLAR and Urban Semillas) and L.A. River Expeditions (organized by George Wolfe and the San Joaquin River Stewardship Program). I had the pleasure of paddling with both groups as a guest educator (thanks to Melanie Winter and George Wolfe for getting me out there!), a journey every Angeleno within reach of a buoyant non-motorized vessel should be able to experience at least once. « Read the rest of this entry »
September 16, 2012 § 2 Comments
I had the bittersweet pleasure of attending yesterday’s memorial service for Rey Dominguez, a community leader in Elysian Valley, whom I knew from our work together to restore and revitalize the Los Angeles River through his community. If readers want more information, there’s a full Reymundo Dominguez obituary at Echo Park Patch. I just want to record a few of my recollections of my interactions with Rey, who was someone I had and still have a great deal of respect and admiration for.
I met Rey and his wife Ceci around 1999 (or 2000) when plans were underway for Marsh Street Park. There was some conflict between neighbors and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. Elysian Valley residents were interested in creating a skate park at the site; the MRCA invested in their mission of creating natural parks. « Read the rest of this entry »
September 15, 2012 § 13 Comments
There are some changes afoot at L.A. Creek Freak.
Two of us, Jessica Hall and Joe Linton, started this forum in mid-2008. We knew we had a lot to say about creeks and streams and how they figure into Los Angeles’ past, present, and future. We wanted to reach new audiences, bring new folks down to the LA River and other rivers and streams. Challenge you to think bigger about the flood control system and storm water management. Create a place where people could discuss local waters.
We wrote a lot, we learned a lot from folks who found us via the blog. As time progressed, two more contributors, Jane Tsong and Joshua Link, came on board to write additional posts.
Creek Freak is a labor of love. We’re all volunteers. Sometimes we’ve scooped the local media on big river stories, and sometimes we’ve gotten busy with other work and neglected our readership. Overall, we’re up to 561 posts, more than 500 subscribers, nearly 2500 comments, and nearly 500,000 visits.
We have a couple of announcements that mean Creek Freak’s future may meander a bit. « Read the rest of this entry »
September 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
Damon Nagami posted the video above at NRDC Switchboard. It’s an excellent, enthusiastic video review of just how fun the latest round of L.A. River kayaking tours are. It’s been great to see lots of photos and positive reviews on Facebook (some of which we’ve shared at the L.A. Creek Freak Facebook group page.) Angelenos are enjoying their river. « Read the rest of this entry »
September 12, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This Friday, September 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm author/activist Cleo Woelfle-Erskine gives a public talk on his new book Creating Rain Gardens. The talk takes place at L.A. Eco-Village, 117 Bimini Place, LA 90004. There’s a requested admission of $5 to $10, but no one turned away for lack of funds. Reservations recommended, contact eco-village: crsp [at] igc.org or 213/738-1254.