The Death and Burial of Indian Springs
To me, one of the saddest chapters in the history of our valley is the loss of the Indian Springs Resort. That sadness is overlaid with a bit of incredulity, for it seems that when it happened in 1966, no one seemed especially to care. I like to think that couldn’t happen today, but maybe I’m being naïve (development of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course, anyone?).
By 1960, the Indian Springs pool and the oak covered grounds around it had served the valley’s recreational needs for over 30 years. For a generation of kids, the “baby boomers” of the ’40s and ’50s, it had been a paradise, a place to spend an entire summer outdoors swimming, diving and making friends. But by the early ’60s, the pool had reportedly developed a large crack. As well, the proliferation of backyard pools had apparently rendered the public pool redundant in the eyes of the public, even though it still attracted crowds.
At that time the resort was purchased as a developable property by J. Morgan Greene of La Cañada. (My information on the development of the shopping center is sketchy, so I apologize for inaccuracies.) Greene was the president of the U.S. Manufacturing Company of Glendale, a medical supply firm that developed prosthetic devices, so presumably besides his desire to develop land, he also had a strong interest in the medical industry. Greene had initially targeted the Indian Springs property for a new hospital for the valley. Behren’s Hospital in Glendale was interested in making the move to CV. It seems as negotiations progressed, the planned hospital site was moved to a larger lot Greene owned up the hill, leaving the Indian Springs site open for a proposed “fashion center.”
In 1965 the plans all came together for J. Morgan Greene. The planned freeway extension would pass right between his two developments, complete with an on and off ramp. Glendale agreed to annex both sites from then unincorporated county land, which would allow his developments to tie into Glendale sewers. Behren’s Hospital signed on for the upper site, pledging to build a state-of-the-art $5 million hospital complex. (The state and feds agreed to pick up two-thirds of that cost.) This funded the planned shopping center on the resort site.
So, in 1966 Indian Springs Resort closed. The oak trees were cut down, and bulldozers demolished the pool and outbuildings. Again, I see no news articles about anyone protesting the loss of this incredible recreational facility. The L.A. Times even made note of that in one article covering one of the public meetings, stating that “no protests were lodged.” The first site developed was the lower portion, which was graded for a Shopping Bag supermarket (today’s Marshalls). The spring at the eastern end of the canyon, for which Indian Springs was named, was routed into a storm drain to dump into Verdugo Wash. In 1969, construction on the newly named Verdugo Hills Hospital began with removal of much of the hillside. Truckloads of dirt were hauled down Verdugo Boulevard, and dumped in the now bare canyon, until it filled to the same level as Verdugo, raising the ground level about 75 feet. The shopping center we know today as Indian Springs Plaza was built on the fill. A plaque at the entrance to Vons tells viewers what used to lie 75 feet below them.
Thus we lost one of the most loved spots in the Crescenta Valley. Many of the fondest memories of local old-timers were of the time they spent at Indian Springs. This treasured place was lost, apparently, through the inaction of the residents of the valley. As I said at the beginning of this column, I like to think that wouldn’t happen today, and yet we see the Verdugo Hill Golf Course threatened with development for 229 homes. Let’s not let the loss of our important recreational facilities happen again. The local activist group V.O.I.C.E. needs your help to fight this. Go to “gcvoice.org” and click on “how you can help.” Don’t let the newspapers note once again that “no protests were lodged.”