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Friday, February 26, 2010

Roberts Camp

Since we're coming up on the weekend, maybe you're thinking of a hike in Big Santa Anita Canyon. And since I had a very long day and am so tired I can't think, I'm putting up another picture I took there last week.

Bellis and I wondered if these steps were once part of Roberts Camp (1912-1931) because the commemorative sign for the camp was close by. If so, the steps seem to be all that's left. The sign says the Camp was a lodge for hikers and could accommodate as many as 200 people. The lodge finally closed in 1931 because the popularity of hiking declined in the 1920s.

Can anybody think of a reason why?
click to enlarge

22 comments:

lewi14 said...

I love these steps. They are natural. It's always wondrous how the nature captures back it's pilfered area. Great shoot, Petrea.

Petrea said...

Hi Steffen, thank you. I like them, too. It might have been nice to photograph them in shade or at night, to give them a feeling of mystery and fairy tale.

Cafe Pasadena said...

Hmmm, I used to know when I was the Pasadenahiker.
So, I'll just say it was because the popularity of driving rose in the 1920s. Maybe I'll win a fabulous prize if I'm
correct.

J+P said...

Yeah, but you'll have to walk to PDP's offices to claim it. The headquarters are in Pachonga.

JT said...

According to John W Robinson's book, "The San Gabriels," John suggests that business at Robert's camp boomed until 1924, when the epidemic of hoof and mouth disease closed the mountains to hikers. Although the quarantine was lifted within five months, Robert's Camp never regained it former popularity.

Petrea said...

Seriously, JT? I would have guessed Cafe was right. Sounds like a book I need to read.

Margaret said...

It is true that other, more urban, past times replaced hiking -- like driving, as pup said, but also movies, dance halls, etc. But JT seems to have documented history on his side.

Petrea said...

I just added the commemorative sign at the bottom of the post in case anyone wants to see it. It has old photos of the lodge. Just click to enlarge and read it.

Pascal Jim said...

Ah..Happy campers in the Roberts Photo...One can almost smell the fresh mountain air...

Pascal Jim said...

or once called "The Ozone"

Greg Sweet said...

Roberts Camp was once the hub of Big Santa Anita Canyon activity. It was home to a store, dance hall, speakeasy, US Post Office, and LA County library. Those steps absolutely were part of the camp. There were sleeping cabins at the top (grainy photo here) and the main building was right where the plaque is now. In your photo of the plaque is an Oak trunk just beyond. This is the same Oak tree in front of the main building, and if you know where to look, even in the shot, you can see an old, rusty hitching ring that was nailed to the tree and has now grown into it.

The steps are not all that is left of the camp. About 100 yards up the Lower Winter Creek trail you can see the remnants of the tout hatchery. Less than 1/4 mile up Winter Creek was a Roberts-owned mine. The cabin at the bridge (#106) was built by Otto Roberts for his wife, who was not satisfied with the rustic accommodations of the camp.

There are several reasons why the camp failed. The equine disease story is true, but not a major effect on business. Mostly it had to do with quarrels between business partners, and a huge investment in the mine which never paid off.

Others tried to resuscitate the camp after 1931, but interest in nearby camps waned as the Angeles Crest Highway progressed. Most of the camp's buildings were washed away in the Great Flood of 1938.

The store at Roberts

The diner at Roberts

Greg Sweet said...

The reason you see the steps today is because in March of 2006 the cabin owners of Big Santa Anita (and me, too) cleared the site of Roberts Camp as a fire safety zone after the formation of the local FireSafe Council.

Me (looking like the cover of a Led Zeppelin album) and my dog clearing brush

Me and my mule offloading logs

This tells you how much work it was

Clearing the staircase

We knew they were in there somewhere

The material moved - staircase in the distance

pasadenapio said...

After nearly 20 years in Pasadena, I must confess I have never hiked in the area where your wonderful photo was shot. One of these days.

Petrea, are you giving away fabulous prizes now? Cafe seems to think so!

Greg Sweet said...

Oh, yeah. A lot of hunting went on in the old days, too...

Pelts at Roberts Camp

Cafe Pasadena said...

Thankfully, Sweet Greg has returned to offer his expertise of this area.

Actually, I should have asked local hiking guru/author John Robinson about that since a friend & I once hiked with him from Camp Sturtevant to Chantry Flat.

(I rather not visit PDP's Pachonga. Best if I leave it for J+P)

Petrea said...

Ann, if I keep winning at Mystery History I may just have my own cache of prizes to give away! But not yet.

Okay! (Deep breath of ozone) Greg, I'm so glad you showed up with all these photos. (I'm also thrilled that hunting in the San Gabriels is no longer fashionable.) This is great stuff, Greg, thank you so much. Thanks, too and the cabin owners as well, for clearing those steps. They're beautiful.

Ms M said...

The photo of the steps disappearing into the woods could inspire a story.
It's also interesting to learn the history of the steps -- and the rest of the area.

Petrea said...

Write one, Ms. M!

I actually have steps like this in a story I'm working on, so you're not far off. Discovering these and having a photo of them is inspiring to me.

Dina said...

Petrea, so coming across these disappearing stairs was a sign given to you? cool

Greg's story and photos are great.

Petrea said...

I agree about Greg's stuff. A priceless contribution, Greg.

Dina, I don't know if the stairs are a sign, but I made my own copy of the photo and darkened it to look at for inspiration.

Bellis said...

I'm so glad Greg looked in and gave us so much interesting information. Would love to share a hike with him one day.

I've been wanting to comment for days but my iPhone wouldn't let me - either the wv wasn't up to scratch or the ID was wrong. Still here till tomorrow - exciting day today with the tsunami alert and our hotel being right by the ocean. But nothing happened thank goodness.

Petrea said...

I hope you're having beautiful weather, Bellis! I heard the waves were extra big in Hawaii today.