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Around Town: Railway would put town on the right track

February 07, 2013|By Anita S. Brenner

Ever since President Benjamin Harrison skipped La Cañada on his 1891 Pacific rail tour, La Cañada has been disconnected.

Harrison’s route took him to Los Angeles, and from there to San Diego, Santa Ana, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Pasadena, San Fernando, Santa Paula, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Bakersfield, Tulare, Fresno, Merced and to other points north.

It’s hard to imagine that La Cañada was less deserving of a railway system than Merced or San Fernando. La Cañadans grew grapes and other crops. The founding mothers and fathers yearned for a transportation system, for roads and railways. As recently as 1903, “influential citizens” in La Cañada told the Los Angeles Times that construction of a local railway was a high priority.

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“For a long time a railway has been needed in the foothill country six or eight miles northwest of Pasadena,” they told the Times. “To this end, influential citizens have issued a call to a meeting in the town hall…when an improvement association is to be formed.” (“La Canyada wants railroad,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 26, 1903.)

The association was “supposed to take up the cudgel” for a railroad.

Apart from the obvious, that the cudgel, a short thick stick used as a weapon, lacked the light touch needed for the politically charged, allegedly-impartial-yet-corrupt political process that rail-route decisions attracted in 1903, our region’s subsequent history proved that these “influential citizens” lacked the clout to achieve their goal.

Their goal was to connect the Crescenta-Cañada valley with the rest of the world, to unite La Cañada with mainstream Los Angeles and Pasadena using an inexpensive, readily available transportation management system — the railroad track system.

Three years later, in 1906, hope returned with the incorporation of the Los Angeles, La Cañada and Pasadena Railway Company. The Times reported that when the railway company filed its articles of incorporation, rumors began to circulate about the coming railroad line to connect the foothill community with Pasadena and Downtown Los Angeles (“La Canyada road talk excites,” L.A. Times, Nov. 14, 1906).

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