“I spent years traveling around the world searching for the best place to live. I looked for beauty and climate advantages in every country on the globe. And when I returned I found it right here where I had started from – in the Crescenta-Cañada Valley.”
~ Seymour Thomas, local artist, 1890s
The cooler temperatures of last weekend shifted to warmer ones as the new week began. This has been a prevailing pattern this summer. Weather fluctuations occur, but most will agree to the “beauty and climate advantages” of our area.
The Tongva Indians were able to live and flourish here for thousands of years completely sustained by the native flora and fauna. By 1784, Don Jose Maria Verdugo was granted by the Spanish government all 36,000 acres of the valley. The native peoples were removed from their home and sent to missions. The Verdugos raised cattle, sheep and horses on this land, but refused to live there themselves. Their reason being the land was basically “uninhabitable.” How was it possible that two cultures had such opposing experiences living in the same area?
The climate was the same, but the people had changed. While the Tongva were skilled hunters and gatherers, the Spaniards were hopelessly lost in their new environment. This was to be the case for most of the new peoples who moved into the foothills. The “how to” manual was not left behind, but was removed with the area’s “first residents.”
In 1821, the new Mexican Republic expelled the Spaniards, allowing a wave of immigrants to arrive including Mexicans, Europeans, Chinese and Americans from the east. There were miners, Afro-Americans, Civil War veterans, farmers and ranchers, railroad workers, religious groups and healthseekers. Without a doubt, like the those who came before, they were drawn by the mild climate and weather, not to the exclusion of a better life.
By the 1880s, 12 families had settled in the Crescenta-Cañada Valley. Within a few years crops were established, adding to the already existing livestock industry, to help feed the rapidly growing population.
Native plants were cleared to make room for the new ones introduced by the immigrants. With the rich soil, natural water sources and the abundant sunshine, the valley and foothills were soon covered with groves of fruit (including the beginning of the citrus industry) and olive trees, alfalfa and barley fields, grape vineyards and family vegetable gardens. Daily fresh vegetables arrived by wagon, grown by Chinese farmers in the Verdugo Woodlands. And to conclude, chicken ranching and beekeeping (in the early years) added to the agricultural community. But most historians will agree that tourists and healthseekers were the main economic base in the Crescenta Valley.
Back to the weather of today – hot. High clouds over the weekend may bring a slight cooling, but more humidity. By Monday a slow cooling trend is predicted. But until then, expect daytime highs reaching 100. The nights will not dip much below 70.
Ideal conditions for “a little night music” compliments of our local crickets!
Sue Kilpatrick is a Crescenta
Valley resident and Official Skywarn Spotter for the National Weather Service. Reach her at