A couple of weeks ago the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley (HSCV) took a tour of Dodger Stadium. The enthusiastic guide led us through the locker rooms, out onto the field where we watched a couple of Dodger players practicing, into the Dodger dugout, and up to the press box to see the view Vin Scully had of each game. Many people said it was the best tour they had ever been on. On Monday night the HSCV will hear a talk on the history of alcohol in old LA, called “Imbibing LA: The History of Boozing It Up In Los Angeles.” The talk will be followed up by a wine tasting of “Angelica Wine,” the type of wine that the Spanish Missions produced. Yes, the HSCV has a lot of fun!
The HSCV is one of the most active historical societies in Southern California. Membership in the group gets you first shot at these kinds of events (although they’re open to the public). Here are a few of the past tours they’ve put on: An expedition into the Verdugo Mountains to search out the remnants of a lost mine that flourished in the late 1800s. The CV’s Dirty Laundry Tour, in which we visited many of the infamous locations in the valley, such as the WWII internment camp and several murder sites (chilling!). A guided tour of Mountain Oaks, an abandoned resort in the Verdugos. A Hollywood Forever Cemetery tour and a tour of the abandoned cemetery in Tujunga. A tour of Pasadena’s former grand Vista Del Arroyo Hotel, now serving as the courthouse for the currently infamous Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Several mountain driving tours have been arraigned, including a drive along the track-bed of the Echo Mountain Railway, and a driving excursion on the fire roads in the Verdugo Mountains.
Some of the past presentations they’ve had included several talks on CV’s Native-Americans, local aircraft wrecks, fossil hunting and gold mining in the San Gabriel Mountains, wine-making in La Crescenta, and movies that have been shot locally. They’ve even had talks about our community’s past mistakes such as racism, and assaults on Mother Nature. As well, they put on silent movie nights in the parks, and provided a free bus to the trolley museum in Perris to visit the Glendale and Montrose Railway locomotive and ride ancient trolleys all day.
The HSCV produces a 12-page monthly newsletter mailed to members. The newsletter has local historical photos that you’ve never seen and interesting articles. For instance, this month’s newsletter features an article on pet dogs throughout the history of the Crescenta-Cañada area. Also, the HSCV has helped its members produce the numerous history books and movies that have come out lately.
Over the last 15 years, our community has seen a change in the way it sees itself. More and more, the average resident understands where we as a community came from. I hear it daily on the streets and in the newspapers: “La Crescenta was founded on sanitariums,” “We used to have moonshiners and speakeasys here during Prohibition,” “CV had this huge flood in the ’30s that killed a lot of people.” I think the HSCV had something to do with that awareness. The HSCV has been tirelessly promoting our fascinating history through tours, displays, free events and numerous books. Even this column is an outgrowth of their work.
Besides these societal changes the HSCV has helped to facilitate, the group has just plain fun. It’s a monthly organized outing with people you know, people you share interests with, who many times become lifelong friends.
The HSCV meets every third Monday evening at the Center for Spiritual Living here in La Crescenta. The meetings are free and open to the public. Every month they put on a tour, usually local. (Upcoming – a Deukmejian Park History Hike led by yours truly!) Check out its website for upcoming events or, better yet, join the HSCV, and get its newsletter along with advance event notices. It is at www.cvhistory.org.
The HSCV is creating a better future for Crescenta Valley’s past!