Before Los Alamitos, before Seal Beach (even before Long Beach), there was Anaheim Landing.
Now it’s swallowed up by the US Naval Weapons Station, but it was the first major European/non-Native American settlement in the Los Alamitos-Seal Beach area. It got its name because of its use by the merchants and residents of the Anaheim colony for the shipping and receiving of goods. Beginning in 1857, lumber and other building materials came in and wine and crops and products went out. And despite treacherous entrance conditions that caused several disasters, regular coastal trade was carried on here for about 15 years.
The area had been used as a harbor before this. Old correspondence tells us that fortifications were set up there during the Mexican American War and the Civil War as well. Maj. Edwin Bell, in a letter to a Mrs. Pyle, recounted how Commodore Stockton, the American Naval commander, installed fortifications at the inlet now known as Anaheim landing in 1847. During the Civil War Bell showed what was left of the earthworks to Camp Drum (Wilmington) commander, ___, who said, since we are in now in a Civil War it might be a good idea to re-fortify the earthen works.
The original landing was established in 1857 on Alamitos Bay. But the bay was too shallow so lighters, smaller, cable-powered boats were used to move cargo from ship to shore. Soon it was determined a pier would make things better, so, after assurances that the cargo steamer, The Senator, would stop to take on and discharge cargo, the Anaheim Lighter Company (Frederick Schneider, president) was formed to construct a pier and wharf, and move goods from the Landing on Alamitos Bay to ships anchored offshore. It was formed with a modest capital of $10,000. (Some sources say $20,000 — Historical Society of Southern California – 1946, p.13. Its primary purpose was to expedite the shipment of grapes, but other cargo was moved as well. This was Orange County’s first seaport. A twelve mile right-of-way was constructed to the “Landing” and two lighters were purchased.
Anaheim landing, the center of the wine trade of Los Angeles, is located on the northern bank of the Santa Ana river, about ten miles south from Wilmington. Here, also, the water is so shallow that vessels are compelled to anchor three miles from the shore, all goods and passengers being landed in lighters or boats. The Anaheim Lighter Company does an extensive business in loading produce and landing supplies for the wine and fruit growers, farmers and stock raisers in the district.The new Anaheim Landing opened for business in October 1864, but the new port was hampered by a depressed economy, followed by a lingering drought and then massive flooding a few years later, which caused silt to wash down and fill Alamitos Bay and make the port unpassable.
Undaunted, its leadership chose a new spot further southeast over Landing Hill in the waters of Anaheim Bay, and sought the approval of the California legislature for the new enterprise. The mainstays of the company were August Langenberger, Frederick W. Kuelp, Hugo Schenck, Julius Schneider. John Fischer, and Theodore Reiser, all members of the original settlement at Anaheim.
In March 1868, the legislature passed an act authorizing the six men “the right to construct and maintain a wharf…on the Bay of Bolsa Chiquita [Bolsa Chica]…thirteen and one half miles from the Town of Anaheim, and one mile and a half from the former landing of the Anaheim Lighter Company.” Specifically, the company was granted “a strip of land five hundred feet in width…and extending into said bay four hundred feet, or until a sufficient depth of water shall be obtained for the accommodation of commerce.” This franchise was granted for a twenty-year period and the men were required to build the facility within two years. Thanks to the deepening of the channel, coasters bound for San Francisco could load here. And most of the business apparently was in the shipment of lumber.
One of their first employees was Max Nebelung, who secured the position of freight clerk for the Company, working there two years, assisting in loading, unloading and checking freight that came and went by steamer. He then went back to clerking, taking a position in the general store of August Langenberger, who was the first storekeeper in Anaheim.
Another early employee was Albert Ball who, after settling in California, worked for the Alamitos Ranch, the Anaheim Lighter Company, and the Southern Pacific as a fireman and engineer. He later settled in Downey.
But apparently, the Anaheimers lacked the capital to develop the project and William Workman was brought in as a partner.
Work was completed, with warehouses and an office up and running by the end of the decade. Steamers anchored offshore and small barges operated from the landing on cables to transport cargo. In addition to wine from Anaheim, lumber from Northern california made its way through Anaheim Landing. Oxen teams hauled harvested crops from Irvine Ranch to Anaheim Landing and returned inland with lumber which went to growing communities like Westminster as well. In addition some other newcomers to the area, the Flint, Bixby Company which in 1866 had bought, with their partner James Irvine, three ranches that would eventually be merged to become the Irvine Ranch, as well as Don Juan Temple’s Rancho Los Cerritos. They turned sheep out to pasture on both these ranches and were soon shipping wool through Anaheim Landing. (Source: The Historical Society of Southern California quarterly, Volume 11′ By Historical Society of
Southern California, Pioneers of Los Angeles County. Data compiled by E. B. Merrltt, City Clerk. Charter revoked by act of Legislature March 7, 1872, on petition of citizens. August Langenberger, Theo. Rimpau and Theo. Reiser appointed Commissioners to settle and adjust matters. Town of Anaheim incorporated December 6, 1876 by Board of Supervisors, and on March 18, 1878, by Act of Legislature. Reorganization as city of 6th class, 1888 with population of 400.)
Mr. Halberstadt acted as superintendent and Max Nebelung, then a young man, as freight clerk. A road, 12 miles in length, was cleared to the Landing. This proved a great boon to the surrounding country as well as to Anaheim. From here were shipped wine, corn, wool and other products. Freight was delivered from the landing bound for Salt Lake City. It was taken by teams and wagon to San Bernardino and by pack mules from there to its destination.
There were usually two Coast steamers a week and occasionally a Panama steamer called. Three lighters each of 80-ton capacity were taken to and from the steamer by cable, one end of which was fastened at the warehouse and the other anchored near where the steamer would stop. Eight or ten men pulled the cable, giving freight and humans an interesting but rather perilous ride.24 A record from 1872 shows that 30 or 40 teams made the trip daily from the Landing, 20 and one day’s report gives 70 teams.
Lumber schooners took months to make the trips from Crescent City. Between 60m and 70 feet wide, up to 350 feet long, able to carry up to 600,000to 1,000,000 board feet of lumber, the open-deck vessels were an inspiring sight in the bay.
The lighters carried the smaller lumber – one to two inches wide — moving it from the ships to the mud flats with the incoming tide. Once the lumber was unloaded the lighters were loaded with goods (mainly wine and brandy from Anaheim) to be returned to the ships on the outgoing tide.
Aboatrd the schooner, the seaman threw the larger pieces of lumber — measuring six-to-eight inches to a foot — into the sea to float ashore. They were collected from the beach and hauled away by teams of horses.
A captain usually owned most of the lumber he brought and he sent his clerk ashore to handle the bargaining for his lumber. Barter was the general method of trade until 1876 when lumber companies were set up at Anaheim Landing.
Still, competition from San Pedro and its leading figure, Phineas Banning, was stiff and, upping the ante, a “New Port” was established in 1870 in today’s Newport Beach by Benjamin Flint (of the Flint, Bixby Co.) , James Irvine, and Robert and James McFadden.
Ships like the Senator regularly cast anchor offshore from Seal Beach and tenders carried cargo to and from the wharves.
Letter from August Langenberger to William Workman, 1870. From the Homestead Museum Collection.
Consequently, it appears that Workman wanted out by selling his stock early in 1870 when August Langenberger wrote him an imploring letter: “If you sell them
now, you will not get over 75% on thier [sic] value.” Langenberger added, “the Lighter Co. is doing a good business now and installments [assessments] are not be feared anymore. I honestly think that in one year from now, we are out of debt, if we have no Banning and Co. to freeze us out.” He asked Workman to “not help our enemy to put a wedge in our body for the sake of this small sum” and concluded by praising his fellow investor: “If it had not been for you and Don Juan Forster [owner of land near San Juan Capistrano] our Lighter Co. would not exist anymore, of which we all live in happy remembrance and therefore hope you will not sell to Banning & Co.”
Workman was, in fact, using Anaheim Landing for shipment of products raised from his ranch and built a road from Rancho La Puente through the Puente Hills, roughly along today’s Hacienda Boulevard. He imported goods shipped via the landing, as demonstrated by two 1870 letters. One from late March, from the clerk of Bachman and Company, informed Workman that “I send you surface lumber, as you ordered. We have no Posts at present not bolts. No Pickets have arrived for you.” A week later, Benjamin Dreyfus, Langenberger’s business partner and another Landing investor and president of the United Anaheim Wine Growers’ Association, wrote Workman that “I have send [sic] part of the lumber you ordered…now discharging at the Landing.” Fence pickets were to follow shortly. This fencing is presumed to be for the newly remodeled Workman House, completed later that year.
Regardless of Workman’s involvement as a major investor at Anaheim Landing, the port was doomed to a short life because of the coming of the Southern Pacific Railroad in January 1875, which soon took over most of the shipping business. By the 1880s, the landing closed as a wharf but continued as a destination for inland residents seeking a coastal respite along what became known as Anaheim Bay.
Things did not get better for Workman. In the late 1860s he started a bank, the second in Los Angeles, with his son in law F.E.P. Temple, but it went bankrupt. Through Temple’s generosity and his confidence in the people, he lost everything he and Mr. Workman had. Mr. Workman committed suicide. Ironically, their banking competitor survived the rush and would go on to own the very land Workman had once invested in.
In 1874, the last pre-railroad year, Anaheim Landing handles 6000 tons of local exports, mostly wine and grain. Another 5000 tons of products are imported, consisting of 3000 tons of merchandise and one million board feet of lumber.
Anaheim Landing was one of many Southern California seaports striving to become the primary port. Others were Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, San Pedro, Alamitos Bay, and Newport Beach.
In February 1875, the Southern Pacific completes a railroad line to Anaheim. It would be continued to Santa Ana by 1877.
The SP charges 2.50 a ton to ship products to the port at Wilmington, compared to $3.50 a ton it costs to ship it by wagon to Anaheim Landing. Although Westminster farmers still prefer the closeness and convenience of Anaheim Landing, the port begins its decline as a significant commercial seaport.
Still, even as late as 1879, Westminster area farms were still shipping around 2,000 tons of produce out of Anaheim Landing, and passengers were arriving in SoCal via the port as late as 1889. (1 – In 18
89, Franklin McCarric started the journey south to Southern California with his two surviving children, Lola and Claudia. Going south he would have intersected and probably traveled part of the old Oregon Trail toward the Oregon Coast, taking along oxen and horses, selling them when he reached Coos Bay, Oregon. From this point they took passage on a Coos Bay Steamer to Anaheim Landing, Seal Beach, California, where they traveled inland to meet up with the already established Koontz family in Fulton Wells, California.)
During the hot summers, families started making their way to cooler beach climes and began pitching tents, and by the mid 1870s, the local papers were regularly
reporting this family or that was vacationing at Anaheim Landing.
Among those who visited the beach was famed actress Helen Modjeska. In 1910 she wrote of her visit there in Memories and impressions of Helena Modjeska: an autobiography, p266.
he talk with these two strangers inspired us with the desire of taking a few days’ vacation from farming toil and housekeeping drudgery, and visiting some neighboring places. Every one agreed to the change, and we commenced our excursions by going to Anaheim Landing. All the colony went on this trip, even Anusia and the children, the weaker sex and the babies in a buggy, and all the men, including Rudolphe, on horseback. We must have presented a curious picture, for when we passed through the town, there was not one person in the streets that did not stop to take a look at our convoy. We met many interesting figures of Spaniards and cow-boys, among others the “Sefiora Coyote,” driving her half-starved horse. This unkind nickname was given to the old lady by Indians working in her vineyard. She had come originally from northern Europe years ago, and was
one of the first settlers of the place. She enjoyed a reputation of extreme economy, and hated nothing so much as to waste anything. It happened once that a coyote was killed and brought to her. She did not thank the fellow who killed it, only scolded; but when he was gone, she skinned the animal and cooked the meat for the dinner of the Indian workmen. A little boy saw her doing this abomination and betrayed her. Hence the name of “Senora Coyote.”
Halfway to Anaheim Landing we saw for the first time a fantastic, beautiful, but deceiving picture, — a mirage.
When we arrived at the Landing, Sienkiewicz showed us the interesting spots, his favorite walks, and the shanty where he had lived for some time and where he wrote his stories.1
I listened and looked at everything, but I grew quite sad when I turned my eyes to the ocean. The blue waters of the great Pacific reminded me of our first sea-voyage when we left our country. The recollections of the happy past, spent among beloved people, — Cracow, with its churches and
monuments, the kind friends waiting for our return, the stage, and the dear public I left behind, — all came back to my mind, and I felt a great acute pang of homesickness. I stepped away from the rest of the company, threw myself on the sand, and sobbed and sobbed, mingling my moans with those of the ocean, until, exhausted, I had not one drop of tears left in my eyes. A sort of torpor took the place of despair, and the world became a vast emptiness, sad and without any charm.
In a footnote she adds: “Altogether Anaheim Landing was a desolate place, and at the present time it is even more so.” Their friend, the novelist Henryk Sie
nkiewicz did not agree. Before Modjeska came to Californa, he often went to the Landing to compose his works, and wrote back to her enthusiastically of the place. Of their first meeting in Anaheim, Modjeska writes:
On our arrival at Anaheim (a small town in Southern California, inhabited mostly by German colonists and Spaniards), all our party came to the statio
n to welcome us. Sienkiewicz, who had just returned from Anaheim Landing, also came with the others. He looked sunburned, strong, and healthy. “You must have taken a good rest,” said my husband, “you look so strong.” “Swimming in the ocean, and the sea air have done that,” answered the novelist, “for I have not been altogether lazy; I wrote two more ‘Charcoal Sketches,’ which I am going to read to you before sending them to the publisher.”
Other memoirs give us a very clear picture of the area. Nannie Price who settled in Garden Grove recalled, in an article called “Reminiscences of Pioneer Days” for the Garden Grove News, recalled: “Mr. Price hauled the lumber for our house from Anaheim Landing, which was the shipping point for all this country. There was only one settler between here and Anaheim, it being all sheep pasture. In a short time we could see little shacks going up here and there, ”
With the coming of the new Sugar Factory to Los Alamitos in 1896, and the million dollar investment by the Clark Brothers, Stanton saw big things for all the surrounding lands. Especially such a popular resort area as Anaheim Landing. He proposed and Hellman assented to the subdivision of the Landing, but Hellman insisted it would have to wait for the leases to expire. As if this was not frustrating enough for Stanton, they also had a big problem with squatters.
Stanton proposed harsh treatment for “these Anaheimers” who “only understand the use of force.” But Hellman’s nature was to avoid making bad situations worse, and he listened to the advice of his attorney, Jackson A. Graves (of Graves & O’Melveny, the forerunner of today’s LA powerhouse firm O’Melveny & Meyers) who thought pursuing legal action might end up causing confusion with the survey of land which was divide after the death of John W. Bixby.
It’s just as well that Hellman chose to wait because the sugar factory boom never quite happened the way they thought. After a good first year, three years of drought and an economic malaise worked against the boom Stanton had expected.
Stanton wasn’t deterred. In 1901, Justice of he Peace John C. or5d moved his house from Los Alamitos to what is now Seal Beach. He soon establishes the J.C. Ord Company with Phillip A. Stanton and Isaac Lothian as principal stockholders. One of Ord’s first actions was to buy a “sand pit” property on the eastern edge of Anaheim Landing. (How much advance notice did Stanton have for the deal. It would seem to be all part of Hellman’s plan to better montetize his real estate assets.)
Los Angeles herald. (Los Angeles [Calif.]) 1900-1911, October 28, 1905
Land Case on Trial
Further testimony was heard yesterday before the board of United States land commissioners In the three-cornered suit between J. C. Ord of Bay City, the Anaheim Landing Mining and development company and the Alamitos Land and Water company. Only testlimony for the mining company has thus far been introduced, but this was finished last night, and when the trial Is continued on November 6 the Alamitos Land and Water company will have the opportunity of introducing evidence.
Los Angeles herald. (Los Angeles [Calif.]) 1900-1911, November 7, 1905
SLOWLY TAKE TESTIMONY
Several Witnesses Give Evidence in Bolsa Bay Land Spit Case
Several witnesses for the Anaheim Landing, Mining and Development were heard yesterday before A. W. Kinney, receiver, and A. J. Cruickshank, register, of the United States Land office.
The case has been dragging along for three weeks and only about half of the testimony has as yet been heard. The suit is a three-cornered affair concerning a spit of land, fifty-three acres in extent, situated at Bolsa Bay.
It is claimed by the Anaheim Landing, Mining and Development under the mining law and declares that it has done the necessary amount of work to hold the land. They say that the spit is rich In gold values and that the sand will assay $200 to the ton.
. J, C. Ord of Bolsa Bay says that script has been Issued to him by the United States government for the land and that he wishes to gain possession of the land as soon as possible, as he wishes to plant cabbages, for which he says the land Is admirably adapted.
The Alamltos Land company say that the land belongs to them for the reason that they own the land that surrounds it, and it was washed in by the action of the sea.
Testimony in the case will be taken all this week.
By the 1920s Anaheim Landing had been upstaged by Seal Beach although inland residents still rented out summer cottages. And local youths like Japanese – American Aiko Tanamachi Endo continued to fish off the wharves there, recalling this incident from early 1942.
Naturally, we didn’t prepare the land again to plant vegetables; we just tried to finish up and harvest what was there. We had time on our hands until we actually had to evacuate. My brother took one of the Kaneko boys fishing at Anaheim Landing below the bridge. Some mother that was driving past saw that they were Orientals, and they reported the boys to the police, saying that they might be trying to blow up the bridge. I remember my brother coming home that day, laughing, and saying that the chief of police came over to check up on them. The chief saw Tom and said, “Oh, it’s you, Tom. Somebody said that there was a couple of Japanese trying to blow up the bridge, so I had to check it out.” (laughter) That was the only incident that I can recall.
Endo’s father had already been taken away and was staying at a camp in Tujunga. A few days after the above incident, Endo and his family were shipped to Parker, Arizona.
Anaheim Landing proved to be popular as a tourist destination and a residential district as part of Bay City, later renamed Seal Beach.
In 1935, Anaheim Landing’s site was declared California Registered Landmark 219 (though its plaque at the corner of Seal Beach Boulevard and Electric Avenue contains inaccurate information). Nine years later, during World War II, the federal government took over the site to use as a naval weapons station, as it remains today.
1864 – Anaheim vintners originally hauled their wine to Wilmington for shipment to San Francisco. This being rather expensive they searched the coastline for a suitable harbor and chose Alamitos Bay. As the water was too shallow to permit the entry of an oceangoing into the Bay it was decided to erect a pier near the south side of the entrance and bring cargo ashore by lighters. After being assured the coastal steamer Senator would stop to take on and discharge cargo, the colonists formed the Anaheim Lighter Company in 1864 with a modest capital of $10,000. Two rectangular scows were built to serve as lighters to play between ship and shore. A warehouse was built near the pier and the new establishment was called Anaheim Landing. Source: Leo J. Friis, Orange County Through Four Centuries, p.54..
A footnote cites “A short written account of memories of Henry Kroger, an original Anaheim colonist, published after his death in the Anniversary Edition of the Anaheim Gazette, Dec. 6, 1945, titled “Early History of Anaheim as Related by a Colonist,” is an important source of information on Anaheim Landing. See also the recollections of James D. Ott, once eagent of the Anaheim Lighter Company, which appeared in the Santa Ana Register March 20, 1920, in an item entitled “Flirted With Death on Treacherous Anaheim Bay Bar Four Years, ‘71-’75.”
Anaheim Landing becomes the area’s primary local seaport. The Anaheim Lighter Company was organized in 1864 to undertake the building and operation of a harbor on the sea coast 12 miles from Anaheim and just east of the Los Alamitos Bay outlet. A pier was constructed and four small boats called lighters were built. These craft were hauled back and forth to seagoing ships which were anchored in the deep water off shore.
For a decade this improvised harbor was the means by which the exports of the area were carried to the markets of the world. Large consignments of corn, barley and wool were shipped out. Smaller quantities of wheat, beans, bacon, butter, dried fruit and eggs, not to mention the somewhat unique products of castor beans and mustard seed, were also exported. Lumber, machinery and manufactured articles for home use were the chief imported items.
Although rthis means of transportation was a great improvement over that which had existed previously, the twelve-mile haul by horse and wagon left something to be desired. The old Anaheim Landing Road was laid out across country directly from the one location to the other. It was difficult to maintain under the conditions of heavy traffic which existed but since it did provide the most convenient and shortest transportation facilities it was much used in those early days. Garden Grove, only a a dozen miles to the northeast, found it to be a very practical arrangement. Many of the new settlers, as they came south from San Francisco to find their new homes, disembarked there. The lumber for their houses and barns was hauled from this tiny harbor. (Source: Leroy Doig, Village of Garden Grove, p. 16