The Prospects of the Santa Ana Valley for 1873

(Southern Californian, January 4, 1873)

In 1868 the owners of the Stearns’ ranchos subdivided and offered for sale their lands. At that time attention had just been attracted to this portion of the State, and during 1869 large sales were made to farmers coming from the Northern portion of California and Oregon. At the commencement of 1872 the valley of the Santa Ana had passed through two years of severe drought, and in consequence thereof the purchasers of land were sadly crippled in their resources. Many of them were unable to meet their payments as they matured, and all were compelled to practice the strictest economy in order to keep their heads above water. Previous to this time however, Glassell and Chapman, large land owners on the East side of the Santa Ana river, had constructed a mammoth ditch and thrown into the market several thousand acres lying under the ditch. The towns of Santa Ana and Richland had been founded, settlements had arisen around them and the tide of immigration had steadily, though slowly, poured in. During the more favorable season of 1872, the greater portion of land purchased was placed under cultivation and the crops of grain raised therefrom, although not up to the average yield, have relieved in a great measure the necessities of the farmers. At the present time, the Los Angeles Land Company have made sales of 40,000 acres, leaving unsold about 50,000 acres of irrigable land; Glassell and Chapman and others on the East side of the river have sold 20,000 acres and have remaining about 25,000 acres. All of the land in the hands of farmers, comprising 60,000 acres, will be cultivated during the present year, and with favorable seasons will produce two crops, one of small grain and the other of Indian corn. Estimating the average yield of grain at thirty bushels to the acre and of corn at fifty bushels, there will be raised 500,000 sacks of grain and 3,000,000 bushels of corn. Anaheim has 800 acres old vineyards, and at least 200 acres of young vines, which have been set out in the vicinity [which] will come into bearing during the present year. The estimated yield from each vine is one gallon of wine, making the vintage of 1872 amount to 1,000,000 gallons of wine.

The tract, to which we allude, is but a small portion of the valley, comprising only the settlements bordering upon the Santa Ana river. Los Nietos, through which the San Gabriel River flows, is equally large and at present more densely populated. To the South lie the plains of the San Joaquin and Trabuco and the valley of the San Juan river, containing within their boundaries more than twice the quantity of land comprised in the valleys of the Santa Ana and San Gabriel. There tracts are now awaiting capital, population and rail-roads to make them equally valuable with the other settlements.

On the lands still in the hands of the original owners, there are over 150,000 sheep. Each sheep will shear six pounds of wool, which will make the clip during the year 900,000 pounds of wool, representing at the lowest valuation one hundred thousand dollars.

All the signs of the times combine to prove that 1873 will be a good crop year. Four successive dry years have never been known; the rain, which we have had, has fallen little by little almost every day for two weeks, and has consequently been entirely absorbed by the ground on which it has fallen; no hot, parching winds have arisen after the rains to dry the moist earth; clouds have overcast the sky during the whole of the past week and there is every appearance that the rain has not yet ceased. We know that all things indicate a most prosperous year for the farmer. We believe that his trials and misfortunes are over, and that his labors will reap a most ample harvest. We venture the prophecy that at the close of 1873 we shall be able to record the inhabitants of the valley of the Santa Ana as the most prosperous people in the State of California.