Near Arcadia in Los Angeles County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Adams Pack Station
History Lives Here
A Brief History
The barn and two-room bunkhouse/store that were still being utilized at Adams’ Pack Station in 2011 were built 75 years earlier by the original owner of what has become the last remaining pack station in southern California.
It was late in 1936 that J.P. Steele of Sierra Madre obtained a special use permit for a pack station, outfitter store and parking lot at the end of a new road paved to Chantry Flat in 1935. Steele owned First Water Camp in the streambed directly below Chantry in the Angeles National Forest.
For three-quarters of a century, the station’s donkeys and mules would be the lifeline for supplies to three active resorts and about 200 cabins accessible only on foot in Big Santa Anita Canyon.
A little more than a year after Steele’s permit was approved, a flood washed away 68 cabins in March 1938, sparking the Steele family to abandon the station.
Half-Century of Adams Family Ownership
A young man named Frank Adams, who sometimes helped out at Santa Anita Park race track, bought the pack station in the fall of 1938. A few months later Frank hired his brother Bill and sister Katie to run the station. The business was expanded the following spring of 1939 with the addition of two donkeys and a lead horse, and Bill soon purchased the growing business
Four years later Bill took a night shift at a rubber plant to help out with the World War II effort and caught his right hand in the rollers of an extruder, which flattened and stretched his hand. Bill was forced to sell the station for $500 but continued to work there part-time and later repurchased the station in the fall of 1949 for $1,500.
Bill and his wife Lila packed supplies, delivered mail, brought out garbage, sold ice cream and soda, greeted visitors and generally took care of the canyon for 35 years.
In 1984, the Adams sold the station to Bill’s nephew Dennis Lonergan and his wife, Jody, who ran the station for 15 years. Bouts with nature and the economy forced the Lonergans to sell the station and move to the city in 1999.
Taking Station into the 21st Century
Kim Kelley bought the station in 2000 and endured five years of ownership during a particularly challenging period of natural disasters and the closure of the road for nearly two years before being forced to sell.
Cabin owner Deb Burgess and her mother Sue Burgess bought the station in April 2006 and restored the Adams name to signify a return to the Adams’ business model with the help of day-to-day general manager Richard Conforti and other volunteers.
Under their stewardship the pack station launched a web site to create a social network
Despite a continuing series of economic and natural disaster challenges and more road closures, all of which constantly threaten ongoing operations, by 2011 the station was maintaining its original mission of providing supplies for Sturtevant Camp and the 81 cabins that remained in the canyon as Adams’ Pack Station celebrated its 75th anniversary.
Top photos: Pack trains with mattresses and lumber, shown in lower photo being led by station owner Dennis Lonergan, circa early 1990s (courtesy Jody Lonergan)
Longtime owner Bill Adams delivering load at Fern Lodge in front of sleeping cottages, circa late 1940s (courtesy Glen Owens)
Center photos: Station owners Bill & Lila Adams at station BBQ, circa 2001 (courtesy Mary Douglass)
Left to right, longtime pack station owner Bill Adams with Jim Heasley and subsequent owners, Adams nephew Dennis Lonergan and wife Jody in 2000 (courtesy Jeff Lapides)
Bottom photo: Richard Conforti and Pack Station co-owner Deb Burgess (middle) accept donations from Arcadia Historical Society’s Carol Libby to help save Adams’
Erected 2011 by Arcadia Historical Society. (Marker Number 7.)
Location. 34° 11.704′ N, 118° 1.377′ W. Marker is near Arcadia, California, in Los Angeles County. Marker is on Chantry Flat Road 5 miles north of U.S. 210. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Arcadia CA 91006, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Mount Wilson Trail (approx. 2.3 miles away); World’s Largest Blossoming Plant (approx. 2.6 miles away); Michelson Pier on Mount Wilson (approx. 2.8 miles away); Benjamin Davis Wilson (approx. 3 miles away); Harvard’s Mount Wilson Station (approx. 3 miles away); Pacific Electric Railway (approx. 3.7 miles away); Queen Anne Cottage (approx. 4.1 miles away); Santa Anita During World War II (approx. 4.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Arcadia.
More about this marker. Located at the end of Chantry Flat Road. A National Forest Adventure Pass is required to park in most areas, available at the nearby REI store, $5 per day or $30 per year, and available at the Adams Pack Station General Store, open Fri-Sun 7-5.
Also see . . .
1. Adams Pack Station. (Submitted on August 22, 2018.)
2. Arcadia Historical Society Markers. (Submitted on August 22, 2018.)
Categories. • Animals • Industry & Commerce • Parks & Recreational Areas •
Credits. This page was last revised on August 24, 2018. This page originally submitted on August 21, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. This page has been viewed 50 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 21, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.