Gospel Swamp – Santa Ana and Orange – The Crops – Newport Harbor

(Anaheim Gazette, April 17, 1875)

We have for a long time been aware that the country around Anaheim was fast filling up with settlers, but not until a few days ago, when, in company with a few congenial souls, we made a tour of observation, did we realize the vast influx of population which have come among us. Our companions, pioneers of Anaheim colony, who thought themselves conversant with the changes that had taken place, were utterly astonished at the numberless habitations which had sprung up within the past few months. The region known as Gospel Swamp, or, as it desires to be called, Fountain Valley, especially surprised them in the number of well-tilled farms and tastily-built houses, which are met with at every turn. To the tourist, unacquainted with the country, a drive through this region can scarcely be looked upon as a pastime. While traveling gaily over a well-beaten road, you suddenly find further progress stopped by a freshly-plowed field, which it would be impossible to cross, even if the brawny farmer in the distance, leaning meditatively on a shot-gun, was not sufficient to deter you from making the attempt. No difficulty is experienced in finding another road, which probably ends as abruptly, and the traveler must secure the aid of a native to assist him out of his dilemma. It is often said that all roads lead to somewhere, but a few hours of practical experience in Gospel Swamp will lead the traveler to a different conclusion.


We passed through the villages of Santa Ana and Orange, and found that they, too, were basking in the sunshine of prosperity. We saw at least twenty houses in process of erection, and from their appearance we should judge that the majority were intended for business purposes. The large storehouse in Orange, which is being built under the supervision of D.W. C. Dimmock, will probably be finished during the coming week. In Santa Ana we noticed the two-story building, about 40 x 70 feet, which, when completed, will be used for a town hall.


The growing grain seen during our drive appeared in the main to be doing well, although the devastating effect of the “Norther” of last week was plainly visible. The advocates of deep plowing vs. scratching would find a first-class argument in the appearance of some of the fields which came under our observation. The grain on one farm, which had been well-plowed, looked fresh and green, and gave promise of a large yield, while the farm immediately adjoining,, with soil equally as rich, but which had only been “scratched,” was covered with grain but a few inches high, and looking yellow and wilted.


The drive from Santa Ana to Newport is a most pleasant one, over good, hard roads, and through a country fair to look upon – a country where the thirsty traveler may alight at every mile and slake his thirst from the crystal water bubbling up from the numerous artesian wells which abound in this section. The harbor of Newport, which is destined to become the outlet for all the products of the country which we have mentioned, is situated about eight miles south of Santa Ana, and about sixteen miles south of Anaheim. The immediate approaches to the harbor bring vividly to mind the surroundings of Old San Pedro. The beach on which is situated the lumber yard, warehouse and wharf of Mr. James McFadden, is distant from the bar about two miles, and the inlet extends two miles still further inland. The average width of the inlet is about two hundred feet and the depth of water, at the end of the present wharf, is about ten feet. The wharf, however, will shortly be lengthened, so as to bring it to where the water is twenty feet in depth. At the lowest tides, there are three feet of water on the bar, and at high tide, between seven and eight feet. We are thus brief in our descriptions, because the U.S. Coast Survey party are now making soundings, and we have been promised a detailed report of their examinations, which will be more complete and satisfactory than any investigation which we were able to make. We predict that Newport will soon be a noted pleasure resort. The fine inlet gives a scope of five or six miles in which to indulge in a sail; and what could be more pleasurable than strolling on the magnificent beach, gathering up the brilliantly variegated shells which are there strewed. It only requires the power of a St. Patrick to render the bliss complete. If that gentleman had, in addition to banishing the snakes from the Emerald Isle, been considerate enough to have cleared Newport harbor of sharks and stingarees, then the cleanly inclined would have risen up and called him blessed. We cannot close these brief notes without remarking that our party was entertained with characteristic hospitality by the Wilson Brothers. May the net proceeds of their labors soon be sufficient to warrant them in abandoning the precarious calling of fishermen.

[In 1875 was inside the bay, at Castaways Bluff (where Dover comes down to meet the Coast Highway). The McFaddens did not build their wharf on the ocean until 1888. --P.B.]