Because we’ve been doing some research for its 150th anniversary, we’ve been on a bit of an Anaheim Landing kick lately. Orange County’s first port was officially founded in 1864 although fishermen and even the US Army had used the area before that, but not apparently on a permanent, lasting basis.
As one might guess from its name, the Landing had its roots in the young town of Anaheim, which was started in 1857-59 by 50 Germans who migrated south from San Francisco, and by 1862 had become the wine capital of California. That year, it was already producing 162,000 gallons of fermented fruit — not only your expected red and white wines, but Angelica, Sherry, Muscatel, Champagne, Grape Brandy, and port.
Most was consumed locally, but a great deal was good enough to be shipped to San Francisco and New York. But first the Anaheim growers had to find a port for their port (and other wines and beverages). At the time their only option was Wilmington — which meant hauling their heavy wagons across three sometimes quite wide streams and rivers — Coyote Creek, Los Cerritos Creek and the San Gabriel River which at that time merged with the Los Angeles River and emptied its water on the west side of modern Long Beach.
Obviously the solution was to find a port before you have to cross a stream, so the wine-men built a wharf on Alamitos Bay near the present site of Island Village, just southwest of Leisure World. As the Anaheim Lighter Company, it was doing good business but the rains and floods of 1867 not only changed the course of the San Gabriel River and sent a ton of silt into the bay, making new mudflats which blocked ocean access for the ships at the wharf. So the Lighter Company moved a mile and half south and built a new wharf on Anaheim Bay — right where Electric Avenue runs into Seal Beach Boulevard.
For the next seven to eight years Anaheim Landing did a thriving business. It was a regular stop for the 5-6 coastal steamers (like the Senator, Commodore, Pacific and Orizaba, to name a few) that plied the coastal ports from San Francisco to San Diego as well as schooners importing tons of lumber on the schooners from the Eureka area, and exporting over twenty area products, especially corn, rye, barley and wool from the San Joaquin and Cerritos ranchos run by the Bixby families. (The San Joaquin is now known as the Irvine Ranch.)
Anyway, the second Landing received official certification from this act passed by the California legislature:
An Act authorizing Frederick W. Knelp, Hugo Schenck, John Foster, William Workman, Theodore Riser, A. Langenberger, their associates and assigns, to construct and maintain a wharf in Los Angeles County.
[Approved March 24, 1868.]
The People of the State of California, represented in Senate and Assembly, (10 enact as follows:
SECTION 1. Frederick W. Kuelp, Hugo Schenk, John Foster, William Workman, Theodore Riser, A. Langenberger, their associates and assigns, shall have the right to construct and maintain a wharf in the County of Los Angeles on the Bay of Bolso Chiquita, on the tide and overflowed lands of the State, 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.
Sec. 2. For the purpose of said wharf there is hereby granted to the parties named in section one, their associates and assigns, “to use and occupy a strip of land five hundred feet in Width, commencing at high water mark and extending into said bay four hundred feet, or until a sufficient depth of water shall be obtained for the accommodation of commerce; provided, the free navigation of the bay shall not be obstructed; and the franchise herein granted shall continue for the term of twenty years.
Sec 3. The said Frederick W. Kuelp, Hugo Schenk, John Foster, William Workman, Theodore Riser, A. Langenberger, their associates and assigns, shall build and erect said wharf Within two years from the passage of this Act, and shall thereafter keep the same in good repair, and enlarge it as the business and commerce of the county may require; and they shall hallowed to collect such dockage and wharfage thereon as the Board of Supervisors of said county may allow.
8:0. . his Act shall take effect from and after its passage.