THE SANTA ANA VALLEY
(Anaheim Gazette, November 14, 1874)
Earlier than usual the closing months of the present year have brought with them the annual influx of tourists, invalids and seekers-after new homes; and though with us, to whom the advent of each season is marked by none of those decided changes, which herald its approach in all less favored climes, the tale of our gradual growth and commercial development has become more than familiar for its many repetitions, still in view of the fact that to the stranger, that is within our gates, the wonders of our “New Italy” are but as the stories of childhood’s “Faerie Land,” we feel assured of pardon for a continued reiteration of this oft-told theme.
Less than a decade of years ago the Santa Ana valley from its Western limit on the San Gabriel river to where its Eastern edges merge into the rolling hills dividing it from the Mission lands of San Juan Capistrano, and from the mountains to the sea, was but an immense plain, covered a few months in every year with a verdure, variegated by wild flowers of every hue, but generally dark and sombre aspect, and affording no indication, except to the closest observer, of the vast agricultural wealth which lay undeveloped in its bosom. And we know of no better method to illustrate the marvelous changes, produced through the toil of unaided labor, than a brief recapitulation of the settlements, which now dot its broad expanse in every direction. First and most matured of all from its priority of birth, is the town of Anaheim, originally a settlement of German colonists, whose design was to create homes for themselves and families, and whose first ambition soared no higher than to achieve an humble competence, wherewith to mollify the asperities of increasing age. How these views were subsequently enlarged, incited thereto by the ample rewards which followed close upon the heels of economy, thrift and perseverance, which was characteristic of each individual member of the settlement, it is needless here to relate. It is sufficient for our purpose to point to the present town of Anaheim, now embracing within its limits over two square miles of territory, already second to no other municipality in Southern California in its agricultural importance, and advancing with giant stride to a deserved pre-eminence as the centre of the wine-district of the Pacific Coast; and all this has been done, it be borne in mind, without the aid of one dollar of outside capital.
Radiating from Anaheim as a centre we find the agricultural settlements of Fairview, Orangethorpe and Cajon, comprising within their limits forty thousand acres of first-class farming lands, one-half of which is now settled upon and in actual cultivation. These lands are all watered from the Santa Ana river, the ditches of the Anaheim Water Company and the North Anaheim Canal Company furnishing the means. Beside the small grain crops, upon which the farmers at present rely to supply their yearly needs, attention is being given to the cultivation of semi-tropical fruit and foreign varieties of vines of every description, and each additional year passes away with an increased area devoted to the propagation of these important adjuncts to the wealth-production of the valley. Outside of these settlements and to the west and south lie the districts of Sycamore Grove, Los Coyotes and Westminster, in no respect dissimilar from the ones already mentioned, except that irrigation is afforded by means of artesian wells. To Westminster must be attributed the credit of first solving the problem of the possibility of obtaining flowing wells in this section; a solution which has proved incalculable in its accruing advantages.
On the east side of the Santa Ana river are the settlements of Orange, Tustin City and Santa Ana, watered by means of the canal of the Semi-Tropic Water Company from the Santa Ana river. Orange, as its name denotes, is a settlement almost exclusively devoted to the cultivation of semi-tropical trees, and, although one of the latest locations in the valley, bids fair at an early date to compare most favorably with any of its rival sisters. Within the limits of the Santa Ana settlement are contained the moist tule lands of “Gospel Swamp,” noted far and wide for its incredible yield of corn, pumpkins, and “sich like.” Here one hundred bushels of corn to the acres is considered as an ordinary average, and grown too without irrigation, the moisture in the soil proving sufficient to bring the most beautiful returns to the labor of the agriculturalist without artificial assistance.
It is beyond the compass of a newspaper article, however, to more than mention each particular settlement, and to allude in general terms to the fact that all excel in climate, soil and general susceptibility to easy and profitable cultivation. Added to this, the extreme cheapness of the most valuable agricultural lands in the whole of California, and the accommodating terms, offered to the purchaser, render this garden spot accessible to the means of the poorest income; whilst the experience of those, who may be classed among the pioneers of the valley, teaches that in no other section of the broad United States can fortunes be so easily and readily acquired with so slight a sacrifice of health and comfort.