Treasurers of the Valley – Mike Lawler

CV Street Name Origins – Part 8

Last week we were talking about the origins of some of the street names in La Cañada. We are about to head south across Foothill Boulevard, and explore the Flintridge side of the Cañada Valley. But first, Georgia Romo of La Crescenta shares her street origin story that she was reminded of when I wrote about the origin of Wiladonda Drive, just east of Angeles Crest.
Chehalem Road, Milmada Drive, Flanders Road – Georgia writes: “The property from Flanders to Foothill was owned by Milton and Mabel Johnson. It consisted of orange, lemon and grapefruit orchards. The Johnsons brought the lumber for their home from an Indian chief in Oregon. His name was Chehalem. Milmada came from the Johnson names – Milton, Mabel and Elizabeth (Ada). Milton fought in Flanders during World War 1. He died in 1937 or 1938. Mabel managed the orchards. Over time, the orchards were affected by atmospheric changes, such as smog, and the trees began to die. At that time, Mabel decided to subdivide some of the orchards. This was in the early ’50s. My parents bought the lot on the northwest corner of Chehalem and the auxiliary Angeles Crest. Mabel Johnson lived two doors east of us. My sisters were playmates of her grandchildren. My sister keeps in touch with one of them now.
“I took care of the Johnson house and animals when they were on vacation. Many happy times were spent exploring the remaining orchard as we kids traipsed along with Fred, the caretaker, and his dog, a boxer. My mom sold our home 18 years ago. Every once in a while, I drive by the house and remember the days I lived there. I hope this adds to some of your La Cañada history.”
Thanks, Georgia. According to the Internet, Chehalem was the name of one band of the Atfalati Tribe of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Although the Chehalem people are reportedly entirely extinct today, they left their name on Oregon. The Chehalem Mountains, Chehalem Valley, the town of Chehalem, the Chehalem blackberry, along with several schools and businesses and, of course, one tiny block-long street in far-off La Cañada.
Descanso Drive – Named for Manchester Boddy’s El Rancho Descanso (Ranch of Rest), what is today Descanso Gardens. Manchester Boddy was a rags-to-riches newspaper publisher who bought the 165 acres of La Cañada oak forest for his own private home and botanical gardens in 1937. He sold it to the County of Los Angeles in 1953.
Lanterman Lane – Of course, named for the founding Lanterman family.
Cornishon Avenue – Named (but spelled slightly differently) for the cornichon grapes grown in local vineyards.
Chevy Chase Drive – No, not the actor. A Glendale historian reminds us that Chevy Chase refers to a Scottish ballad about a battle between the Scots and the English. “Chevy” from the Cheviot Hills on the Scottish border, and “Chase” referring to a hunting party after game. The Scots brought the name to America, and a developer brought the name to Glendale in the ’20s, renaming Sycamore Canyon’s road Chevy Chase Drive, which was extended into La Cañada.
Beulah Drive – This name always makes me think of matricide! The street is named for Walter and Beulah Overell, who were early investors in Flintridge. In 1947, their daughter Beulah and her boyfriend, anxious to get Beulah’s inheritance, allegedly murdered her parents by blowing up their yacht. In a trial reminiscent of the OJ trial, perhaps even more spectacular, Beulah and her boyfriend were acquitted despite overwhelming evidence of their guilt. The inheritance money had bought some very good lawyers.
Flintridge Avenue, Flintridge Circle, Flintridge Drive, Flintridge Oaks Drive – All named for the 1917 development of Flintridge, in turn named for Senator Frank Flint. Flint was U.S. senator for California just after the turn of the century and a major mover behind the Owens Valley Aqueduct. He successfully developed Flintridge as a wealthy enclave, but was brought down by his involvement in a major oil scandal in the ’20s.
So that’s all I know about street name origins for our area. I hope these make your neighborhood jaunts a little more interesting.

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at