Orange County, California


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Orange County
1930 to 1945


The U.S. Census puts the population of OC at 118,674. Eddie Martin Airport adds runway lights. Pacific Electric Railway Red Car service to Orange ends. The Willowick Golf Course, the oldest 18-hole public golf course in OC, opens in Santa Ana. Dr. Albert A. Michelson establishes speed of light with mile-long experimental tube on Irvine Ranch. Lido Island dredging and filling is completed. The County signs an agreement with the California State Division of Forestry to cooperatively provide county firefighting services.


Doheny Beach State Park opens. The last Valencia Orange Show is held. The Irvine Lake Dam is completed and Irvine Lake is filled. The Doheny family donates beachfront property on Capistrano Beach to the state for a park in memory of Edward Doheny Jr. The park become Doheny State Park. The Peters Reservoir is built.


Artists exhibit at the first Laguna Beach Festival of Arts. The festival also featured the first "Living Pictures Show" (future Pageant of the Masters), created by artist and vaudevillian Lolita Perine. Knott’s Berry Farm opens. Authorities make the largest contraband whiskey seizure during Prohibition when the vessel Daylight is intercepted south of Newport Beach in South Laguna. The Ortega Highway opens to limited traffic.


The Long Beach Earthquake severely damages downtowns in Santa Ana, Garden Grove and Anaheim and causes the deaths of 12 people. The epicenter is determined to be 31.2 miles off Newport. The weakened OC Courthouse cupola is removed as a precaution. The OC Water District is formed. CCC camps are established in Silverado, San Juan and Trabuco Canyons. San Clemente Park opens. The ancient "Laguna Woman" skull, perhaps 17,000 years old or more and the oldest human remains discovered in North America, is unearthed by amateur archeologist Howard Wilson in a Laguna Beach backyard. Severe winds in Santa Ana topple 185 oil derricks. Methodist Auditorium burns down. Martina de la Rosa dies in Delhi at age 128. She born in Mexico in 1805 and has held the record for the oldest person to have ever resided in OC. The battleship U.S.S. Colorado anchors off Laguna Beach.


Cordelia Knott, using her wedding china, begins serving visitors her home-cooked chicken dinners for 65 cents each. The Ortega Highway between Capistrano and Elsinore is completed. OC voters approve bonds to add to federal funds for development of harbors in OC under the OC Harbor District.


The first "Flight of Snowbirds" is held at Newport Harbor. The Ortega Highway is designated a state highway. Howard Hughes sets a new air speed record of 352.46 mph in his $150,000 mono-wing high tech metal aircraft from a bean field one mile north of Eddie Martin Airport. He is forced to make a belly flop landing because he runs out of gas and can't open his auxiliary tank quickly enough. Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart is there to witness the event. The block-long Rendezvous Ballroom on Balboa at Newport Beach burns down but is quickly rebuilt as an even larger and better facility. The ballroom becomes known as the "Queen of Swing." The Red Car service between Los Angeles and Santa Ana declines to nine daily trips in both directions lasting about 96 minutes per trip (by comparison, see 1911). Raymond Cyrus Hoiles of Ohio acquires the Santa Ana Daily Evening Register newspaper and changes its name to Santa Ana Register (future OC Register). Al Anderson purchases an old boat yard next to the Balboa Island Ferry Landing to construct the original Balboa Fun Zone. Roy Ropp expands Lolita Perine’s concept of the "Living Pictures Show" (future Pageant of the Masters) at the Laguna Festival of the Arts and develops the present performance format. The show is renamed "The Spirit of the Masters." Newport Harbor is dredged.


The Bowers Museum opens in Santa Ana. The first "Fiesta de las Golondrinas" is celebrated, marking the return of the swallows to the Mission San Juan Capistrano. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt opens the new $4 million Newport Harbor by telegraph key from Washington, D.C. The original Balboa Fun Zone opens on Balboa Island. The "Spirit of the Masters" production at the Laguna Festival of the Arts is renamed "Pageant of the Masters." The OC Health Department closes San Juan Hot Springs. Citrus workers strike.


Governor Frank Merriam dedicates Imperial Highway through Yorba Linda. The Seal Beach Fun Zone closes. The amusement center had operated since 1916. A damaging freeze causes considerable crop loss. The $75,000 Casino San Clemente opens.


Pacific Electric Railway Red Car service to Fullerton and Yorba Linda ends. The Maharajah of Indore, reportedly the wealthiest man in the world for the time, completes construction on a 12-room, $50,000 "palace" on Heliotrope in Santa Ana. A flash flood down the Santa Ana River leaves 19 dead, 68,400 acres flooded, and 2,000 homeless. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt visits the disaster area. To celebrate the end of the school year, Radio KEHE disc jockey Al Poska organizes a non-stop week long 24-7 big band dance marathon at the Rendezvous Ballroom on Balboa at Newport Beach. Look Magazine calls the immensely popular Rendezvous Ballroom the "Queen of Swing." OC records its peak acreage under cultivation for oranges: 67,536 acres.


OC experiences an eight-day heat wave exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A severe storm batters the OC coastline, resulting in destroyed piers, numerous drownings and small craft losses. A live NBC radio national broadcast brings fame to the legend of the swallows' return to the Mission San Juan Capistrano. Eddie Martin Airport becomes publicly owned through a land swap between the County and the Irvine Company.


The U.S. Census puts the population of OC at 130,760. Pacific Electric Railway Red Car service ends to Seal Beach. Walter Knott begins building his "Western Ghost Town" attraction to entertain patrons waiting for their chicken dinners.


James Irvine donates land for permanent exhibition grounds and the Irvine Bowl outdoor amphitheater. The first braceros arrive to work in OC. The Prado and Brea dams are built. The first MWD water arrives from the Colorado River. Irvine Lake opens for fishing. Due to the war, OC experiences its first ordered blackout. California National Guard Company L is mobilized for active duty in World War II. Eddie Martin Airport is renamed Orange County Airport, just before the military takes control of the airport for World War II flight training. Civil aviation is seriously restricted within 150 miles of the U.S. coastline. The Irvine Company wins a lawsuit in OC Superior Court against the California Employment Commission that holds that all employees of a large farm enterprise are still considered agricultural labor and thus exempt from the Unemployment Insurance Act.


The U.S. Navy moves its flight training facility from Terminal Island in Los Angeles County to Los Alamitos Naval Air Station. The Santa Ana Army Air Base opens in Costa Mesa to provide basic combat training for soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army Air Forces. The base had no runways, planes or hangers. It ultimately housed as many as 26,000 military personnel. The Irvine Ranch donates 4,000 acres of land to the U.S. Government for military bases. Irvine Park becomes Camp Rathky. Most of the 2,000 people of Japanese ancestry in OC are ordered removed to the Poston War Relocation Center in southwestern Arizona.


El Toro Marine Corps Base opens on Irvine Ranch. The base includes a civilian fire department that is one of the first full-time fire departments with a paid staff in OC. The U.S. Navy establishes on 1,600 acres in Tustin a "Lighter-Than-Air" (blimp) base from which to conduct blimp antisubmarine patrols. Gigantic 170-foot blimp hangers are built to house the blimps. OC has its peak year for citrus production with 45 packinghouses. The number of citrus orchards, however, begins to decline.


The U.S. Navy Seal Beach Ammunition Depot is built. OC businesses enjoy patronage of large numbers of military personnel stationed nearby. The OC Office of the Public Defender is created with a part-time Public Defender.


Santa Ana Army Air Base becomes a transit center for Army Air Force personnel returning from overseas. More than 149,000 military personnel entered training at the base since 1942. The base is temporarily used by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to house previously interned Japanese aliens awaiting transportation to Japan. Karl and Margaret Karcher open their first full service restaurant in Anaheim. The restaurant becomes the first of what would become the Carl’s Jr. chain.



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