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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Arcadia in Los Angeles County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Arcadia County Park

History Lives Here

 
 
Arcadia County Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Baker, September 17, 2019
1. Arcadia County Park Marker
Inscription.  The City of Arcadia was founded by Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin from part of his large landholdings (Santa Anita Rancho) in the San Gabriel Valley. Baldwin was responsible for incorporating Arcadia as a City and became Arcadia’s first mayor.

When Ascot Racetrack in Los Angeles closed, Baldwin wasted no time in constructing his own track in Arcadia. The new track was built in record time on more than 150 acres of his ranch land near his home. The San Francisco Call quoted Baldwin as saying, “This is the greatest thing I have ever done. I am satisfied.” The track opened for business in December 1907. Unfortunately, the State banned horse racing in 1909 and the track was forced to close. Baldwin died of pneumonia that same year. The track’s grandstand burned in 1912.

In 1918 Baldwin’s daughter, Anita, sold the old racetrack to Los Angeles County, which, in turn, deeded it to the War Department. Work quickly began on converting the old track into the U. S. Army Balloon Training School which was called Ross Field.

Lt. Cleo J. Ross of the 8th Balloon Company was the only death in the Balloon
Arcadia County Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Baker, September 17, 2019
2. Arcadia County Park Marker
Corps due to aerial activity. When his balloon burst into flames after being attacked by a Fokker D.VII, Lt. Ross made sure that his observer, Lt. Herbert Hudnut, got over the side safely before he jumped. Burning fragments of the balloon fell on his parachute, sending Lt. Ross to his death from several thousand feet.

At Ross Field, hangars were completed, stables converted into barracks, and other buildings constructed for the 3,500 soldiers at the school. The balloon school trained men to map and photograph enemy positions as well as direct artillery fire during World War I.

After the war the Army gradually vacated Ross Field and the War Department returned the land to Los Angeles County, with the proviso the land be used for recreational purposes. In 1936, groundbreaking for the Arcadia County Park began. The park was officially dedicated on July 4, 1938.

Top photos:
Lucky Baldwin’s Santa Anita Racetrack, c. 1907. One of Elias J. Baldwin’s greatest ambitions was to build a horse racetrack. He sold 151 acres of his Santa Anita Rancho to the Los Angeles Racing Association and the track’s construction began in 1907. The design was almost identical to the then-closed Ascot Racetrack in Los Angeles, and was located on the site of today’s Santa Anita Golf Course. The track opened in 1907. Arcadia’s current Santa Anita Park racetrack
Marker Detail image. Click for full size.
courtesy Arcadia Public Library, circa 1918
3. Marker Detail
Aerial view of Ross Balloon School.
(on the north side of Huntington Drive) was opened in 1934.

Bottom photo, left:
Aerial view of Ross Balloon School, c. 1918. You can see the remains of Arcadia’s original Santa Anita racetrack to the right of the two large balloon hangars. The wash in the lower left runs just west of the present Arcadia High School. Pacific Electric tracks run on the left side of the photograph.

Bottom photo, right:
Ross Field Balloon School trainees preparing to launch one of their eight balloons, c. 1918. Each of the hydrogen-filled balloons had its own crew, observers and equipment. These were captive balloons attached by a cable to heavy military vehicles known as Cunningham trucks.

All photographs courtesy of Arcadia Public Library, Arcadia, CA
 
Erected 2008 by Arcadia Historical Society. (Marker Number 3.)
 
Location. 34° 8.388′ N, 118° 1.9′ W. Marker is in Arcadia, California, in Los Angeles County. Marker is at the intersection of Santa Anita Avenue and Huntington Drive, on the right when traveling south on Santa Anita Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 405 S Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia CA 91006, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Seabiscuit (approx. ¾ mile away); Santa Anita During World War II
Across the Street image. Click for full size.
By Craig Baker, September 17, 2019
4. Across the Street
Original windmill restaurant of Van de Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakery coffee shop chain, circa 1967.
(approx. 0.8 miles away); Elias J. Baldwin (approx. one mile away); Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden (approx. 1.2 miles away); Santa Anita Depot (approx. 1.2 miles away); Queen Anne Cottage (approx. 1.3 miles away); Pacific Electric Railway (approx. 1.8 miles away); Mount Wilson Trail (approx. 2.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Arcadia.
 
Regarding Arcadia County Park. The park is located a half-mile east of today’s Santa Anita Race Track.
 
Also see . . .  Arcadia Historical Markers Guide. (Submitted on October 3, 2019.)
 
Categories. Air & SpaceMan-Made FeaturesSportsWar, World I
 

More. Search the internet for Arcadia County Park.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 4, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 3, 2019, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. This page has been viewed 53 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 3, 2019, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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