Searching for San Pascual…

January 2, 2014 § 18 Comments


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Over the past few weeks, I’ve been dialoguing via email with a fellow creekfreak about the location of Arroyo San Pascual, which was/is in the Pasadena/San Marino/Alhambra area.  I thought I’d post the maps that explain this location so that everyone can enjoy the info.  For those wishing to cut to the chase – Arroyo San Pascual is the westernmost of the creeks, joining with Mill Creek to create Mission Creek  (aka, I believe, Alhambra Wash) further downstream.  To the east are smaller creeks, including one that once fed the pond (Kewen Lake) that has since been filled for, um, lawn, at Lacy Park in San Marino.  Jane Tsong covered the topic of the arroyos and fascinating geology of this area in depth (here 1, 2) – so I’m going to stick to the maps.

To the left, a federal survey from 1870 which actually gave us some creek names.  (when I have a moment I’ll scan and post the entire survey so you can see the rest)  To the right, a screen shot of the creek layer I created several years back in GIS, which when imported as kmz files in GoogleEarth has a standing flaw of being offset slightly.  The discerning eye can see echoes of the historical streams in the treelines, shadows of terrain, (in)convenient siting of ball fields… correlation of course not being causation.  The arrows are meant to call that out for you, imagine those blue lines shifted slightly to the left.  Happy creekfreaking, if you get inspired to tour to the topography, let us know what you find out!


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§ 18 Responses to Searching for San Pascual…

  • rangerdon says:

    Many thanks for this great information and hard work. It will certainly help with the research for a planned book.

  • weedingwildsuburbia says:

    So great to hear from you, Jessica!!! I plan to take a short bike ride to check this out and will report back.

    • Jessica Hall says:

      Thanks Barbara! Please do tell what you see! My drive-by sense is that there’s still creek-fragments in people’s yards here-and-there.

  • Mike Letteriello says:

    Nice to see you “dipping in” once in a while down under.

    I’ve got a huge backlog of areas I need to explore now. In the meantime, some of my favorite creeks, like San Juan Creek along Ortega Hwy. (in Orange Co.) are bone dry, of course. Would love about two rainy years in a row to replenish these gems, but I’m not optimistic right now!

    (Thankfully, creeks like Tujunga, that comes down from the mountains, are still roarin’ away, otherwise it’d be a little bleak out there.)

    • Jessica Hall says:

      Hi Mike! Thanks! I keep thinking I should start a Humboldt Creekfreak up here…but focused on finding another job right now.

      It’s a historical low on rainfall up behind the Redwood Curtain too. People are very concerned. Last year we had the most amazing salmon runs – breathtaking to this new arrival! No big runs yet w/o the rainfall.

  • Dan Cooper says:

    Hey Jessica – the topography of that drainage is most noticeable at Story Park in Alhambra, which dips surprisingly steeply from the street. Lots of coast live oaks and even sycamores and black walnuts along the alignment, even some vacant lots here and there with native herbs (Lupinus bicolor, Lotus purshianus). Ashbourne Dr. in San Marino has what’s probably the finest oak stand (relict), scattered across yards.

    Interestingly, Google Maps has both this drainage and the one to the east labeled as “Alhambra Wash” as they cross Mission Rd., but yes, they join there at Almansor Park/GC south of Mission.

    If you’re in town, go check out the restoration at Vincent Lugo Park just downstream, in San Gabriel (off New Ave.). They did a pretty good job recreating a rocky stream and installing natives that should thrive ok. Rocket ship slide is gone, but the charming cement monster slides were retained in place (google for photos).

    • Jessica Hall says:

      Thanks Dan, for that great description. Restoration project? Sounds great, will definitely check out when I’m in town next (this post to you from Humboldt).

    • Peggy Maupin says:

      Storey Park is one of 4 remaining Superfund Cleanup sites in the San Gabriel Valley.. It is referred to San Gabriel Valley #3. It was Alhambra airport during WW2 and was Standard Oil Co. Western Air Express in 1929.

  • Andrew Laverdiere says:

    Hello all. I’m the guilty party that has been writing to Jessica. The story behind my search is somewhat interesting. While researching the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt and all the projects that his administration built that are still around and being used, which I go and photograph for the I got access to a photo album of a former official of the New Deal at the Pasadena Museum of History. 4 photographs show the construction of what the official entitled San Pasqual Storm Drain. One which shows the creek in its original state back in 1935 and the others showing work being done which only lasted a month and a half. Once I started to look on the internet for it though, I ran into a problem because I couldn’t find a single reference beyond one of the articles here on the Creek Freak site, and none of the maps I use like which features the use of topographical maps list it, and in fact incorrectly label San Pascual as the Alhambra wash. Ironically, I found a 1994 AAA map here in the office when I went to explore the area that correctly lists San Pascual. Some of the confusion also came from the info on the New Deal picture which said “Shows a section between Wilson Avenue and Huntington Drive – facing the latter street – before placing woven rip rap.” If you look at google map, Wilson Avenue is flanked by San Pascual wash on the west (and Los Robles) and the former Mill creek (now Alhambra wash) on the east at Granada Ave. I wish I could post the old photos from the Pasadena Museum of History, but they have restrictions on how their stuff is published and require a fee if you do.

    In my original investigation I mistakenly looked at the Alhambra wash area between Wilson and Huntington and thought I had found the location where the old picture had been taken because the tunnel under Huntington Dr matched the shape of the tunnel in the old photo. After returning and looking at the San Pascual Wash from Wilson and Los Robles, I became confused, because the tunnel under Huntington Dr has a slightly different shape. So there is the possibility that the New Deal official might have gotten the name wrong. It doesn’t help that the US Geological Society is screwing up also. So that’s the results so far of my historical investigation. I’ve been taking photos, and I guess I should post them somewhere so you can see what I’ve run across so far.

    • Jessica Hall says:

      Thanks for that description! If you don’t want to post your progress w/pics at your site, we can set you up as a guest blogger so you can post it here under your byline. Let me know! Either way, we’d love to link to what you put together.

  • Andrew Laverdiere says:

    I don’t have a site to post to, beyond uploading the pictures to my tinypic account, and setting up a google map and mark where I took each picture and then link each marker to the picture. I’ve done that for my abandoned railroad maps.

  • Scott Babcock says:

    Thanks for the post Jessica, glad to know there are others interested in the area. I grew up near Mill Creek and have been fascinated by the geo-history ever since. Great map, too!

  • historiandrew says:,-118.136201&spn=0.021533,0.027595&t=h&z=15&vpsrc=6

    OK. I have uploaded my photographs and connected them to a Google map with markers showing where I took the pictures. Some of these involved sneaking onto to peoples property since hedges block the view of the wash from the streets and the sides are rather overgrown. After making this map, I realized that I had actually stuck to the San Pascual wash almost by instinct, so my intention to get pictures from the location of the old photos was almost correct.

  • lynn leatart says:

    do you have an email list?…if so, please put me on the list…

    thank you…

  • cj in pasadena says:

    Way way way late to this party I’m afraid, but I “explored” the upper portion of this concrete trough over 50 years ago now, before I started attending the high school at the north end of the “creek” where it runs beneath the track/field. At the time, the water that was in the channel was warm from the power generation plant that is located at the end of the Pasadena freeway on the west side; the sign at the Glenarm Street entrance said “Broadway Steam Plant”. I’m not sure if it is still in operation or if the water is still released down the channel, but I did peer down at it several years ago when one of the houses whose lots back up on the channel went up for sale. I understand that part of the lot where the high school (and the Pasadena Freeway) was built was where the golf course for the Raymond Hotel was situated. I wonder if the wash/arroyo ran through the golf course or if they forced it underground.

    • Jessica Hall says:

      You’ve got me wanting to pull out some maps, CJ!

      • Walter Lamb says:

        Hi Jessica –

        Knowing your love of waterways and of your advocacy for daylighting waterways that have been confined to culverts, I thought you might be interested in plans at the Ballona Wetlands to put existing tidal sloughs under culverts. I’m hoping that you can weigh in on the issue with policy makers.

        Walter Lamb
        Ballona Wetlands Land Trust

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