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Hike To LA’s Abandoned Dawn Mine, aka, Attempted Murder by Squirrels

December 5, 2014 in environment, History, LA, Photography

dawnhike01 dawnsquirrel07There are three ways to hike to the abandoned Dawn Mine above Altadena.

The first is closed, the second is overgrown, but the third, in a metaphorical bear sense, is just right.

dawnhike03John W. Robinson, in his book “Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels,” calls it “the most storied gold prospect in the front range.”

But that’s not saying much.

Because no one has made their fortune from gold in the mountains overlooking the San Gabriel Valley, that doesn’t mean that a bunch of people haven’t tried.

The prospectors started to scratch the surface of Millard Canyon in 1895, and one of those prospectors, Bradford Peck, named the area near the top of the canyon after a friend’s daughter, Dawn Ehrenfeld.

It wasn’t until 1902 that the real mining began. Michael T. Ryan, an Australian, began the first tunneling into the cliffs on one side of the tiny stream, creating the tunnel that we can still enter.

2014oct31-dawnhike08 dawnhike06 dawnsquirre10But he came across one problem. How to carry the tons of ore, that needed to be crushed to extract the gold? Hiking the two and a half miles down boulder strewn Millard Canyon was difficult and time consuming. So he forged a trail up the side of the mountain to the Mt. Lowe Railway. Once there he loaded the ore onto the Mt. Lowe train and it headed down, via the funicular, to extract that beautiful gold.

After Mr. Ryan gave up, realizing that he, like the others, was not going to make his fortune, the mine changed hands many times. In the 1950’s the area became derelict, littered with mining equipment and abandoned shacks.

Over the years they became covered with graffiti and run down. Eventually all were removed except an old engine, which still sits as a marker to the mine entrance.

To hike Dawn Mine, drive up the road called Chaney Trail (which is “closed” sunset to sunrise). Chaney Trail tees off West Alta Loma Drive, between Lincoln Ave and Fair Oaks Ave in Altadena.

A section of the trail leading up Millard Canyon to Dawn Mine.Chaney Trail is a small winding road that leads up into the San Gabriels. At the end of this road is a car park — don’t park here, because this is the entrance to the closed section of the trail. Park instead at the highest point of Chaney Trail. It’s where the fire road leads up into the mountains. Parking is a problem, because there are so few spaces. It is usually full on weekends, so if you can, go on a weekday, or pray to the parking fairies.

dawnhike05Hike around the fire road barrier, past the water tank and then make a left after 0.4 of a mile, according to my phone, which obviously knows everything.

The turn is the sign posted for The Sunset Ridge Trail. This trail leads down into Millard Canyon.

Note: There is a fork on this trail, but keep left, down toward the canyon floor. At 1.05 miles from the car park, the path reaches the gently flowing stream at the bottom of the canyon, which was, in this October 2014 drought, really just a trickle. The mine is near the top of Millard Canyon, so head upstream, north, away from civilization.

Note: Downstream from here the trail is closed, which leads to the car park you are not supposed to park in, as the forestry service is attempting to rehabilitate it after the Station fire in 2009.

My first attempt to find Dawn Mine was a failure, because I went the wrongway. Although on the plus side, I did come across a stunningly beautiful three tiered 40-foot waterfall.

Where is went wrong was not making a right turn, although it is probably worth it just to see the waterfalls.bIf you do want to see Dawn Mine make a right 1.25 miles from the parking lot. Or to put it another way, make a right 0.2 miles after reaching the tream; Once making this turn, follow the river another 1.6 miles upstream, or 2.85 miles from the parking lot to the mine itself.Note: Downstream from here the trail is closed, which leads to the car park you are not supposed to park in, as the forestry service is attempting to rehabilitate it after the Station fire in 2009.

My first attempt to find Dawn Mine was a failure, because I went the wrong way. Although on the plus side, I did come across a stunningly beautiful three tired
40-foot waterfall. Where is went wrong was not making a right turn, although it is probably worthnit just to see the waterfalls.

If you do want to see Dawn Mine make a right 1.25 miles from the parking lot. Or to put it another way, make a right 0.2 miles after reaching the stream. Once making this turn, follow the river another 1.6 miles upstream, or 2.85 miles from the parking lot to the mine itself.nAlmost all of this 1.6 miles is hopping over rocks, clambering over boulders, or ducking under fallen trees.

Note: While doing all this hopping, clambering, and ducking, pause for a momentnand enjoy the peaceful miles-away-from-the-city burbling stream, squirrel and bird sounds.

From here on out it is practically impossible to get lost, just follow the stream.nThere are spray-painted arrows along the way, but they are not really necessary; just follow the stream.

Because this is not a well traveled path a number of the stones are loose so be careful of twisting an ankle, but that is not the only danger. When the cliffs were towering on one side of the valley, there was a huge cracking noise 50 feet ahead. A stone the size of my head had fallen from the cliff face and I just saw it bounce and settle with the other stones in the stream bed. Sitting on a tree limb, near where the stone fell, were two squirrels staring at me.

Because I can speak to the animals, here is a translation of what one of them was saying: “Damn it Bob, you pushed it too early, I told you to wait, I get to push it next time, then we get to have hiker for dinner.”

Because of all the clambering the trail seems longer than it is, but keep going, and then eventually there is an abandoned piece of machinery up to your left. It’s an old engine, with a flywheel attached to each side. The entrance to the mine is hidden just the other side of the engine. On hands and knees, the first view into the mine is what everyone expects when looking into a mine, the classic wooden posts holding up a crosspiece. Althoughnlater, thinking about it, I think this is part of a door to keep people out, and just thenjamb is left. But I could be wrong.

Barring entrance to the cave is a small body of water, people had helpfully thrown in pieces of wood and tree branches to create a slippery unstable walking surface. But I was told by another hiker I met that day, when he had visited the mine the
previous year and had decided to not enter as the water was too deep. I don’t know if this was because of the drought, but like those signs at amusement park water rides, You Might Get Wet.

Thirty feet into the tunnel, just past the pond, is a dry area splitting off into two tunnels, with a huge open gallery above. The light grey rock is splattered with yellow, which reflects in the second pond. There are holes drilled for dynamite still visible in the rock.nYou will need a flashlight, as the mine is pitch black even so short a distance inside. I didn’t go any further than this, as mines and underground scare the hell out of me, but just this short distance inside it was cool and peaceful, in a I-might-die-from-a-cave-in, sort of way.

But remember kids, abandoned mines are dangerous, and while I went alone, anfriend knew where I was going, and was waiting for my back-to-civilization text.

Now the facts: Starting elevation: 2000 ft. Ending elevation: 3135 ft. The total time of my hike, from car to car was three and a half hours, with a total of 5.7 miles,
all according to my phone. When hiking up Millard Canyon to Dawn Mine, it feels like sprawling Los Angeles is hundreds of miles away, with the silent trees and the burbling stream and the imposing canyon walls and the murderous chattering squirrels it’s a moment of quiet in a noisy city.

P.S. I mentioned that there were three ways to reach Dawn Mine, and just for balance sake, I will mention the abandoned trail, although I don’t recommend it, unless you like long hikes in the sun and wielding a machete. It is the trail that the Australian forged from the mine up to the Mt. Lowe Railway. Start at the same place, but follow the tarmacked fire road up the ridge of the mountain for three miles. Unlike down in the shaded valley, it is in the harsh sun all the way, but the road is smooth underfoot,neven if it is steep uphill most of the way. After the three miles there is a historical marker pointing out that this was a stop of the Mt. Lowe Railway and passengers used to disembark and hike down to Dawn Mine.

I attempted hiking down the trail, but after 50 feet it was almost completely overgrown and difficult to discern, so I left it for someone else, with an adventurous spirit, and a machete.

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A Little House Christmas opens at Sierra Madre Playhouse

November 29, 2014 in Entertainment, History, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

The Ingalls family as played by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen.  Click to embiggen

The Ingalls family as played by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen. Click to embiggen

Breaking a decades long tradition and following Creative Director Christian Lebano vision of bringing American plays by American authors,  A Little House Christmas opened to applause last night in Sierra Madre.

A little backstory about the play.  We all know Laura Ingalls Wilder and her stores of growing up in the 1800;s in the big woods or out on the Prarie, It was even a TV show for many years which is how many of us learned of the books.  The play is based on the book and was adapted to stage by James DeVita.  The Little House Heritage House allows little deviation and creative license,  That didn’t stop Directro Emily Chase from working with music curator Lindsey Stand-Polyak and music director Rebecca Lord from getting permission from the trust to incorporate period apporpriate music into the play.  It works. It works really well.  The songs, many of them “new” to this century are a marvelous addition to this simple themed play and adds real depth to the story.  I loved it.

The play takes places in the 1870s on the prairie and spans the course of 1 week with a wicked storm that wreaks havoc on the Ingalls family Christmas.  I won’t give any spoilers on how Christmas was saved, you need to watch the play to see the execution of the play and the heart warming ending.  Suffice it to say, kindness to others previously brought about the happy ending for the Ingalls family.

The Ingalls family as portrayed by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen doesn’t deviate from the books or TV Show.  Added bonus to this is that “Pa Ingalls” in real life can play the fiddle and whips it out at appropriate times in the story to add some real life to  this simple story line. Read the rest of this entry →

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Your Krampus Konnection!

November 19, 2014 in Entertainment, Events, History, Holidays, LA, Seasonal

Greetings, Children...!

Greetings, Children…!

Let your Great Aunt Rusty hook you up for all things Krampus this year!

All Info Right Here!

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We’re a fun bunch of guys….

November 1, 2014 in Blogging (in) LA, Fictional LA, History, LA, LA bloggers, Vintage, Which Side?

Do you wanna jump in the sand box and play with us?

Seriously, the “we” is a bit limited at the moment.  Add in the return of a few old voices and that we have a new owner  that wants to breath some life back into this blog so its gonna be a fun sandbox again..

Requirements are simple. Love Los Angeles. Love to write about what you see/hear/do here in Los Angeles. You don’t have to be spectacular, just be you and have a story to tell here.  Be prepared to commit to semi-frequently posting to blogging.la.

I started here May 2007 for kicks and giggles. I’m among the few that turned it into one adventure after another here in L.A. How? I use my writing here to get press credentials and then apply for press passes on things that interest me. I’m not bashful so I’ve asked to go on ride alongs with local PD, visit concerts and even the L.A Auto Show. You get out of it what you put into it.

The group is always in flux. The common thread is we love L.A and have each others backs. We do fun things too. Series posts on themes like “Songs of L.A” and the Donut Summit. Of course we blog it and share it with everyone else that has a love of Los Angeles.  Remember live blogging at Canter’s Deli?  Thats the sort of events that build a community and readership.

With the return of our former “city captain” Lucinda Michele back at the helm we’ll have direction and start all sorts of new ideas.  If you want to join blogging.la and grow your writing skills and share your love of Los Angeles send me a link to your writing or a sample to me at [email protected] and I’ll make sure it gets seen.  I wish I could tell you how fast decistions will be made, but I can’t but I can promise your efforts won’t fall on deaf ears.

Ho-leeee crap. Hello, Los Angeles, my love.

October 13, 2014 in Art, Blogging (in) LA, Fires, History, LA, LA bloggers, Metroblogging Network, People, The Valley, Vintage

Who’s got two thumbs (and her index fingers, with which she primarily types, like a spazzy T-Rex on a typewriter) and is back in LA?!

This girl.

Along these rhapsodic, elegiac and thrilled welcome-home lines I’m walking, here’s some songs to make you love your city again. Fall outta love? Don’t do what I do and leave.  Or do…it might be what you need to appreciate it.
Rilo Kiley, Let Me Back In: link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXZR0rwhXvs

“From the Eastern seaboard, the landlocked Midwest
The Keys, the Alps, the Black Hills and Budapest
With my heart in a sling, tail between my legs a-swinging
I’m sorry for leaving

But when the palm trees bow their heads
No matter how wrong I’ve been
L.A., you always let me back in

And you can bury me when my body breaks
In the earth that created me, in the Golden State
By my mama and her brother and their mama too…”


And then there’s this one, by the Delta Spirit, for the folks I left behind in the South.     ;)

I mean, this sorta already happened, and that fellow is now happily married, so….everybody come on out! Apparently I’m a great vector for changing your life.    :P

(Yes, this post is enormously personal. Kevin Roderick may have a field day with this one. Or he may not, which will make me feel like a loser. Whateves.)

“I want you to move to California for yourself,
I want you to find whatever your heart needs,
I want you to move to California for yourself, but not for me.

I want you to go out there and find somebody else,
I want him to treat you like I know he should,
I want you to find somebody new for yourself, if not for me.

all of the feelings that I know you never felt,
and all of the simple words you never said,
I want you to keep them like a secret to yourself, they’re not for me.

I want you to wander silent past my outstretched arms,
I want you to hide yourself from all I see,
and though my heart will fight until its dying breath, you’re not for me.”

 

Also…I love the video for this one.

So, yeah. I’m back. We did hot dogs, we did donuts. What do you think should be next?

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2014 Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance recapped

September 21, 2014 in Driving, Events, History, South Bay, Transportation

Last Sunday was the Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance, and I hope I wasn’t the only one here that went to see it. I gave you 2 week warning after all. In my not so humble this car show was the best I’ve ever seen and well worth the cost of admission.

What you got was a tightly curated show, all beautifully and accurately restored autmobiles. The show was spread out over several holes at the Trump National Golf Course in Palos Verdes. Cars were grouped by theme, Woodies, Virgil Exner Design, Innovative Design, Import, Hot Rod etc.,. There was even a special section dedicated to first generation Mustangs that are now celebrating their 50th years in existence. Read the rest of this entry →

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Mustang Madness at the Petersen

May 5, 2014 in Driving, Entertainment, History, LA, News, Transportation, Vintage, Which Side?

1965 Mustang: Reagan Campaign car

I can’t think of a better place in Los Angeles to hold a car show than the Petersen Autmotive Museum. The Petersen is all about the car, and this city is one of Mustang’s most important markets. Historically 20% of the Mustangs made are sold in California…with the lions share here.

This weekends show at the Petersen didn’t disappoint.  First up was a guided tour through the history of the Mustang by Dave Kinney, Publisher and Founder of Hagerty Price Guide, the bible of old car pricing and history for collectors.  His tour through the last 50 years of Mustang was both informative and fun.

We started with this 1965 Mustang Convertible with 16,000 miles on it from Ronald Reagan’s gubernatorial campaign.  This car was chosen over all the others around at the time as it was youthful, different and didn’t raise the bar of snobbery that would have alienated voters of the time.   Read the rest of this entry →

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Menu Mining : best damn Almond Croissant in DTLA

April 4, 2014 in Downtown, Food & Drink, History, LA, Shopping

Almond Croissant at Les Noces du Figaro

This past weekend I had reason to stop in at Les Noces de Figaro in DTLA. The place is a wonderfully restored bit of Los Angeles history. In its first life it served as a cafeteria, the marble and terrazo floors have been restored with care. Its really quite the sight to behold, the current iteration is a very nice 1930’s style French Bistro.

We were actually going in for a meeting up on the mezzanine level meeting and I wanted a little something to tide me over.  On the recommendation of @Ruth666, former blogger here I grabbed the Almond Croissant.  IT was terrific.  The usual butter layers of paper thin melt in your mouth bread with a big honkin’ wad of marizpan in the middle.  As if that weren’t enough, to drive home the point this was all about the nut…it was encrusted in slivered almonds.  Washed it all down with a cup of “Americano”. My gawd was that good.

Based on that one simple perfectly executed croissant I’ll be back to try a dinner there sometime soon.

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The Kept Girl and other bits of Los Angeles

April 2, 2014 in Books, Entertainment, Fictional LA, History, LA, Maps, People, Vintage, Which Side?

Kim Cooper, author of The Kept Girl, click to embiggen

If you know me, by now you know  I’m a total fan of Raymond Chandler. Angeleno and author Kim Cooper has a wonderful book that stars him and and is set in 1929 Los Angeles. Its told in the tone of his books which makes it a very easy and entertaining read.  Its centered around the Great Eleven cult that was active in Los Angeles that year.  Its been historically researched and based on several characters that may or may not have met in real life.  For the sake of this piece of fiction they all crossed paths and their tale unfolds in “The Kept Girl“.

Kim Cooper and Richard Schave also run the Esotouric Tours.  These social historians research a topic or person then put together lively bus tours on that theme around historic Los Angeles.

This past Sunday was the monthly Sunday Salon presented by the Los Angeles Visionaries Association.  Kim Cooper was there to talk about her book.  Also present was the graphic illustrator Paul Rogers who did the cover art for The Kept Girl. Read the rest of this entry →

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In and around L.A and sunny SoCal how we’ve changed the last 50 years

February 26, 2014 in Entertainment, Filmmaking/Filmmakers, History, LA, Movies

The filmIt’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World was probably the last big budget screwball comedy featuring the best of the best comedians from the era.   Flash forward 50 years later and some things have changed, others haven’t but George Ann Muller and Peter Scarbo hunted down the locations and reshot them today for scene by scene comparisons.  Its not all L.A but it sure is a lot of SoCal much of which we call our playground now.

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A drive through Bunker Hill in the 1940’s

February 16, 2014 in Downtown, Filmmaking/Filmmakers, History, Vintage

There is no sound so don’t fret.  Just enjoy the scenery.  Los Angeles in the 1940’s in and around Bunker Hill.

As Easy As 2, 1, 3…

February 8, 2014 in East Side, History, LA, Maps, News, Rants, West Side

I’ve mulled over the news from earlier this week of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council declaring the community it serves as NOT a part of The Eastside.

I’d’ve thought I’d be all HELLYEAH! right outta the gate, given my past protestations (that’ve mellowed somewhat in my old age) against those over-insulated 135,938 natives and the 1.6-million transplants who live in the Westside and drink deeply of the koolaid that leaves them to believe with varying degrees of commitment that their vastly superior end of the city begins and ends on the ocean-side of…uh, you name it: Speedway Alley, Lincoln, Bundy, the 405, La Cienega, or La Brea, making the other end THEIR eastside for the simple reason that all that riff raff resides east of them. How proprietary.

But instead I surprised myself at being sort of meh at the strictly symbolic and mostly meaningless action. There certainly was a part of me that was satisfied and tried to rah rah at the decision — especially when I read subsequent news stories that took the idiotic angle that Silver Lake had voted to “secede.” As if it had gone all South Carolina on some sort of Greater Eastside union. How con-veeeeeen-ient!

But ultimately it was just a big shoulder shrug. Because I’ve figured out that it’s a waste of time. We live in a city that has built itself by marginalizing its past, so how can I expect so many of its citizens not do the same? In a city that itself has a history of discarding its history as it sprawled so ever nebulously outward from its core, convincing those residents adamantly ignorant of our city’s socio-geographic foundations to look at a different perspective is about as easy as convincing those entitled aggressive motorists they don’t have a right to run me and my bike off the road.

Ultimately what’s important to me now is not changing anyone’s mind but knowing what I know and respecting what so many others couldn’t care less about: that I reside (somewhere in that orange dot I added to that pictured map fragment above) on the land that ultimately became known as Silver Lake which stands in the northWEST corner of the boundaries of the original 16 Spanish Leagues centered upon the plaza where in 1781 — when the main thing going on in the Westside was waves crashing — was established El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula and incorporated as the City of Los Angeles in 1850.

To me, that’s as easy as 2, 1, 3.

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Happy Anniversary Northridge…did we learn anything?

January 17, 2014 in Earthquakes, History, LA, Which Side?

20 years ago my young family and I were in Valley Village some 6 or 7 miles from the epicenter of the Northridge Quake.  It was probably the most frigthening moment of my life, far worse than any tornado we rode out as a kid back in the midwest. When the ground stopped shaking, there wasn’t a piece of anything we owned in its original place, complete and total mess with tons of breakage. My building had a lot of damage, others on my street literally collapsed.  I vowed that morning to be better prepared for the next one.

Now I have ample food and water in EQ kits in the house and garage. We have EQ kits in all the cars.  I know its redundant, but if one falls down there a chance we can still get to the other.  I learned the hard way in NR to have cash on hand as the debit and credit card machines are down for days. Big things are quake strapped, little things that we want to keep are down with quake hold.  I also keep a flashlight in every room with redundant  battery supplies.  My cars rarely go below half a tank, as well gas stations are out of order for days as well. I participate in the annual Shake Out preparedness drill.  When the next big one strikes I’ll probably be as scared as I was in NR, but I will be prepared better for the aftermath. Read the rest of this entry →

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2013 L.A. Auto Show – winners and losers

November 22, 2013 in Downtown, Driving, Entertainment, Events, History, LA, News, Seasonal, Shopping

Entire Honda Accord Line named “Green Car of the Year”

The rain may have slowed down the award show start yesterday, but the end result was a lot of folks at Honda’s Torrance headquarters must have been elated.  Celebratory even.  In a crowded field of worthy competitors Honda’s Accord line, not just a single model, but the entire line of 4cyl, V6, hybrid and plug-in hybrid Accords with their “Earth Dreams” technology won Green Car of the Year. Quite an accomplishment and hats off to the folks in the South Bay for bringing the award home.

The 2013 LA Auto Show is without a doubt the best I’ve seen since I started covering it in 2007 for blogging.la  There were some 50 World Premiere’s at this years show of some really stunning cars.  BMW chose us as the auto show to introduce us to their new “i” program, that will in time be as recognized and as important as the “M” series is to them.  For a pic of my winners and losers for this years show you need to make the jump. Read the rest of this entry →

Sixty-Five More Los Angeles Placenames In Search Of Their Origins

November 14, 2013 in East Side, History, Hollywood, LA, Long Beach, San Gabriel Valley, SoCal, South Bay, The Valley, West Side

Inspired by Militant Angeleno’s awesome “88 Suburbs In Search Of Their Names” post from last week and equipped with the indispensable “1500 California Place Names” by William Bright, I decided to crack the latter open and see if I couldn’t add to the former’s impressive list of suburbs ‘n stuff. Turns out I could. Some are almost too obvious or well known to mention (Century City? Duh) and some are about as obscure as it gets (Lamanda Park?), but I mention them anyway — and there are a few that are pretty cool (check out the the 220-year-old typo that is Point Dume and the darkness that lurks behind the meaning of “Verdugo”).

So without further to-do, here’s my 65 supplemental places (64 in Los Angeles County and a 471-year-old one just up PCH in Ventura County). Enjoy!

Angeles National Forest: So named in 1908 because the larger part of the forest is within Los Angeles County.

Antelope Valley: Named not for a true antelope, but for the pronghorn (pictured) — the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere — which was once abundant in the state.

Ballona Creek: From the Ballona land grant of 1839; probably a misspelling of Bayona, the name of a town in Spain.

Bel-Air: Named for its developer, Alphonso Bell, in 1923, on the model of French bel air, meaning “fresh air.”

Bouquet Canyon: A misinterpretation of Spanish El Buque, “the ship,” the nickname of a French sailor who settled there.

Brentwood: Named after Brentwood in Essex, England, the ancestral home landowner John Marsh.

Cahuenga Pass: From the Gabrielino village name kawé’nga, probably meaning “at the mountain.”

Canoga Park: Named in the 1890s after Canoga, New York, which was originally a Cayuga (Iroquoian) village.

Castaic: From Ventureño Chumas kashtiq, “the eye, the face”.

Centinela Creek: From the Spanish word for “sentry, sentinel.”

Century City: Named for 20th Century Fox film studios, on the site of which it was built, starting in 1961.

Chatsworth: Named in 1887 after the estate of the Duke of Devonshire in England.

Chilao: Formerly Chileo or Chilleo, a nickname of the herder Jose Gonzales, famous for killing a grizzly bear near here with only a hunting knife. Chil- what? Yeah, me too. It’s primarily a campground area waaay up in the Angeles National Forest.
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