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The Pit to the Summit
updated: May 28, 2011, 9:45 AM

By Stacey Wright & Peter Hartmann

This week we continued our quest to walk all 256 miles of public streets within the city limits of Santa Barbara, and report back to you on our adventure from Hendry's Beach (Arroyo Burro; The Pit) to Campanil Hill.

This "hike" was actually comprised of a few hikes that covered the southwestern-most territory in the City (except for the airport). The area, which includes Alan Road and its environs, Yankee Farm Road and its environs, and Campanil Hill is bounded by Hope Ranch to the west, Las Positas to the east, Cliff Drive to the south and Hidden Valley to the north. It's truly a pocket of paradise.

We began our hike at Hendry's, which is actually a County Park...but it's so close to the City boundary that we decide to start there anyway... And what a beautiful starting point it is...every vantage point is just as gorgeous as the next.

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After a quick stop at the "Pit", we continued our hike, crossing Cliff Drive at Alan Road and headed toward the mountains. This neighborhood is not always given the respect it deserves, being the "stepsister" to Yankee Farm and Campanil Hill...but we think it's worthy of tons of praise. The neighborhood is very homogeneous and is reminiscent of a bygone era...lots of great family homes with every modern amenity; plus location, location, location....The Alan Road neighborhood is indeed a real estate agent's dream.

In this neighborhood we found, among other things, a really interesting house that is covered in rock rescued from the demolition of the Miramar Hotel...we even met the homeowner/artist, Jim Mahoney, who told us that the first sign he placed was immediately stolen by merry pranksters. As a result, he fastened this one into the earth to preserve its dignity for years and years...also in this neck of the woods; we found, at the end of the road, a sign that said...ummmm...the end of the road.

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After finishing off this neighborhood we headed up the hill toward Hope Ranch...above the beach, we looked back over our shoulders and saw one of the most pleasant views we've seen during our urban hike adventures...Hendry's Beach in all its glory.

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After hiking up Cliff Drive to Yankee Farm Road, we hung a right and entered another neighborhood, different and apart from the one we had earlier trekked. But there's one small disclosure we must now make...when we were on Vista del Mar, in the Alan Road neighborhood, we ventured off road long enough to discover a little footpath that led from that road to Brosian Way, which is in the Yankee Farm neighborhood. So, what we are saying is that if you want to connect to this neighborhood without risking life and limb on Cliff Drive, just take the short cut at the end of Vista Del Mar...

This neighborhood, which includes Yankee Farm, Braemer Drive, Braemer Ranch, Brosian Way and Calle Los Calderas, is so bucolic, and so idyllic that one could not imagine anything other than pure bliss each and every day in this part of Santa Barbara. It seemed all we could do was snap photo after photo of wonderful sights. We even found a little footpath that seemed to lead to heaven.

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As we were admiring the sign to Yankee Farm, we happened to meet one of the owners on the roadway...the story we heard was historical and fascinating, and deserved further investigation...and so we looked into things just a little bit further.

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We were able to verify the following: The area that is now known as Yankee Farm has a history dating back to the time of Mexican rule, when the Governor granted the land to Nicholas Den. We believe that after his death, the land was divided amongst his children, and eventually became part of the Hendry estate. Sometime around the turn of the century, a carriage house was built adjacent to what is now the entrance to Yankee Farm. We heard that the reason for the building was that travelers making the trip from Gaviota to Santa Barbara were in for a long journey, and even when the days were the longest, the ride into town could not be made in a single day. As a result, a weigh station was created that would allow weary travelers to stop for the evening and then continue into town the following day.

We know that in 1944 Edward E. Haskell purchased the property from Amy E. Du Pont, the youngest daughter of the industrialist Eugene Du Pont. Mr. Haskell was a prominent Santa Barbaran who had arrived in 1917, after graduating from Stanford University with a degree in engineering. Making his home on Anacapa Street, he was hired as the City Manager, and less than a year later, entered into a contract to build Gibraltar Dam.

We hate to diverge too much from the business of urban hiking, but after looking into the history of Gibraltar Dam, we really want to share with you some of the story. And so we will... In July 1918, the City of Santa Barbara signed a $2 million contract to build a dam that could and would deliver water to the residents of the town. The supervising engineer was none other than Edward Haskell (who would later go on to assist in the design and construction of the Cold Spring Bridge, with his son Eldon). Mr. Haskell supervised a project so grand that it's hard to imagine how it came in on budget and took just over 18 months from start to finish.

Gibraltar Dam is an arch gravity dam, completed in January 1920. It is 1,100 feet long, 185 feet high and required 54,000 cubic yards of concrete to build. This was all accomplished after engineers drilled a tunnel, approximately 4 miles long, through a mountain, foot by foot. At times, the temperature in the Mission Tunnel reached upwards of 120 degrees, and the men were forced to sit in vats of water as they drilled, in an effort to keep cool enough to complete the work. As the tunnel was drilled (at what is now the top of Tunnel Road), an 18 gauge track was installed behind the workers. This track would ultimately deliver the men, equipment and supplies to the site of the dam. The interior of the 4-mile long tunnel was 9 feet high by 6 feet wide and had "criss- cross" sections that supported it. At the commencement of the building of the dam itself, 32,000 sacks of cement had been transported along the track and stored in a warehouse at the site of the building site. As the project continued, more cement was delivered, mixed and poured, and used in creating what is now the source of much of the local water delivered to Santa Barbara. The tunnel, which had housed the rail cars is now an integral part of the dam and water system; no longer required to transport goods, it was converted into a waterway and now serves to deliver water from the dam to the City of Santa Barbara.

And so, it was dear Mr. Edwards, who after completing the project that provides water to our city, decided to move his family from the city to the ‘burbs, and bought from Ms. Du Pont the acreage near Arroyo Burro Beach. Mr. Edwards, who originally hailed from the East Coast, named his property Yankee Farm, because it reminded him of his home in Canaan, Maine. He lived very happily in what had been the original carriage house until his death. Ultimately the property was bequeathed equally to his three children and became home to his grandchildren and their children, who now occupy the property, along with an organic farmer who grows fruits, vegetables and flowers for sale at the farmers' markets.

Before we left this neighborhood, we stopped to admire some of the most beautiful trees we have seen in all of Santa Barbara. Indeed they reminded us of a plein air painting; so regal, strong and enduring. And as we were stopped to photograph them, we heard from a resident of this neighborhood that a homeowner on Brosian Way is hoping to cut these very trees down to provide a better view for his property. And so, if the tale is accurate, a stand of 3 magnificent sugar gum trees will soon be destroyed in order to make way for "progress". We were happy to hear that a large singular tree, once the target of a similar fate was spared several years ago and that it will remain, even if the others are chopped down. Ironically on the day of our hike, which was blustery and unpredictable, the three trees slated to be axed stood tall, proud and steady. If we have anything to say about it, we think the trees should stay and the homeowner should just learn to appreciate their elegance and beauty.

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The last of our photographs from the Yankee Farm area shows a little hummingbird, a bunny, a cool horse, and two different views that are truly amazing.


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Leaving Yankee Farm and environs, we headed toward Hope Ranch, via Cliff Drive. We passed the turnout that offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

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As if we hadn't hiked enough up one hill and down another, we headed up, up, and up Sea Ranch Drive. The views and the wildlife in this neighborhood abound and astound. We captured a picture of a quail near the campanil, and were simply awestruck by the views...But we wonder why the neighborhood is called Campanil Hills, since there is only one hill and the bell is long gone...maybe it should be re-named Wishbone Heights...but all kidding aside, we encourage you to refresh your memory about this wonderful neighborhood by reading the attached Edhat link...because it's the history that makes the adventure so unforgettable...and while we're at it, we have a nagging question about this neighborhood that we hope can be answered...was the vacant property adjacent to the water plant designated as a public park at the time of the development? We tend to think it was...but then again we could be wrong... And lastly, on a lighter note, we have a story from years ago. During the construction of the water plant, the workers were approached by a gentleman who expressed an interest in purchasing the "house" they were working on. The water plant had been so well designed to blend in with the neighborhood that it looked just like another home. (The water plant is shown in one of the following photos, to the right of the campanil.

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The final photo of our hike shows the end of the line, which is just off Campanil Drive...if it were to go through it would take us into Hope Ranch. Lucky for these hikers (who are trying to observe the City limits) some benevolent soul blocked off the road and prevented us from wandering even further into territory that is beyond our jurisdiction... (INSERT pic #30).

We encourage you to go on an urban hike of your own, meet your neighbors and see the pride they take in their homes and neighborhoods. We also remind you to keep your eyes, ears and minds open to all that you encounter along the way, and to be on the lookout for us. We still have the Harry's gift certificate, and are anxious to give it to the first person on foot who sees us during one of our hikes and says, "Hey! Aren't you the Urban Hikers?"

(Editor's Note: We have removed a map and description of the public pathway. The owner of this property has asked for this to be removed from the article as it is not public property as the article stated.)

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 177641 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-28 11:06 AM

Here comes the party-pooper...
After the Chumash revolt at several missions in the 1820`s,
many Chumash were sent to the SYV & many stayed in Syuxtun.
The area known as "Hope Ranch"[not it`s actual name of course] & surroundings,became the "reservation" for the rest of the Natives [meaning it was deeded],but when it was obvious Mexico was losing the state,it was taken [illegaly if that means anything]& sold to U.S. interests, & re-sold since then.
During it`s development,many artifacts were disturbed,stolen,sold to musuems,kept in collections,but none to the Chumash.


 COMMENT 177651 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-28 11:38 AM

thanks for another enjoyable & educational chronicle of your local adventures! your commentary & photos are always delightful.


 COMMENT 177666 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-28 12:53 PM

I always look forward to the next installment of 'urban hikers' and have discovered many new areas because of it. Thank you!


 COMMENT 177729 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-28 05:11 PM

Same here--always looking forward to your posts. Enjoy how you both make it all so fascinating. We're on the lookout for the Urban Hikers!


 COMMENT 177741 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-28 07:06 PM

I so look forward to your commentaries with history not to easily be found elsewhere. It would be wonderful to have it all chronicled in a little booklet someday. I'd sure buy it!


 COMMENT 177746 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-28 07:53 PM

About the "wishbone" (cut from my comments in an earlier edhat article)

The True Story of El Campana Perdidio.

First off, the word "campanil" means "bell-tower" and "centinela" means "sentry" or "sentinel." Symbolically speaking, the wishbone stands as a sentry and serves as a bell tower as it originally had a bell attached to a chain hung from the center of the "wishbone.

I don't know if that area was called "Campanil Hills" prior to the sub-division and streets coming in (around 1966) or if it was just the developer's enchanting name.

But, only El Barbareno can tell you the true story of "el campana perdidio."

The bell was removed by three or four San Marcos High School students around 1971 or 1972. If I recall correctly, one of them was sitting on the bell as they cut the chain and then it all let loose before he was ready and he took the ride down to earth perched atop the bell. He sang a fine soprano in church that Sunday.

When I last heard, "el campana perdido" was languishing in the garage of one of the miscreant's parents or grandparents in Hope Ranch. Nice to hear it was taken to a responsible party. Maybe it's time to put it back.

The fenced structure (unfenced when I was a kid) is part of the City of Santa Barbara's water system. It is the "Hope Pump Station and Reservoir."

(some updates to the story)

An edhat reader said the bell was in the Hope Ranch office.

Another edhat reader, identified Robert Ingle Hoyt as the "Wishbone" architect (and as their father).

And as for the date, a commentor found an article from the August 23, 1964 LA Times about a bell tower to be built at that spot. ... [ more ]


 COMMENT 177779 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-29 07:24 AM

beautiful, evocative narration and delightful photos.

641, thanks for chiming in. It's important to know and respect all history, even if sad.


 COMMENT 177928 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-29 03:18 PM

the stand of eucalyptus trees at corner of Braemar and Brosian Way go to the City Council for review, late June. The City Parks and Rec Commission voted 5 to 1 to remove the trees because of safety issues. Neighbors and concerned nature lovers are appealing the decision. I voted to save the trees.

Chris Casebeer
City of SB Parks and Rec commissioner


 COMMENT 177933P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-29 03:41 PM

641: Your story fo "Hope Ranch" was interesting so I thought I would do some research about the "reservation".
As I couldn't find anything about the "reservation", could you please provide directions to your source(s). I would love to research this more.


 CHERIDIANE agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-29 04:02 PM

Love reading your Urban Hikes articles and seeing the photos. Keep going. I learn so much history and see parts of the city I heretofore have not explored the way you do. I plan to explore more on foot myself after reading.

Thank you, "Chris Casebeer, City of SB Parks and Rec commissioner" for voting to save the trees. I love eucalyptus trees. I love all trees. Of course they must be cared for and have a life span. But there are too many who would shorten said lifespan. So I applaud you.


 COMMENT 178107 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-05-30 11:32 AM

To 177933 about Hope Ranch…

Hope Ranch was not a reservation for the Chumash, nor was it ever a treasure trove of Chumash artifacts. The Chumash did hunt in the Hope Ranch area and there was evidence of a village along the western bluff above the Hope Ranch Beach entrance. Though I have no knowledge of other Chumash “Hope Ranch” communities, I would not be surprised that there were small villages along creeks and other beneficial sites.

The reservation that 117641 is referring to is the Chumash village of Cieneguitas (little swamps), roughly in the Hollister and Modoc area which was part of Hope Ranch at one time. The village was along the NW edge of Rancho Las Positas y Calera (granted in 1843) which was purchased by Thomas Hope in 1861. Cieneguitas was a village before the Spanish arrived and continued to exist through the Mission, Mexican and American eras. During Hope’s time the village was left undisturbed, but following his death (1876) and the sale of the ranch in 1887 the few Chumash still there were harassed and their homes destroyed (presumably by agents of the Pacific Improvement Company, the new owners of the ranch). For many years the only visible remnant of the village was a small adobe church believed to have been built in the late 1820s (though some have claimed as early as 1803). Chumash artifacts have been found in Hope Ranch, but not to the extent that 177641 states. However, the sites of the major Chumash villages of Syukthun (along West Beach between Chapala, Bath, and Montecito streets), Mescalitan Island (in the Goleta Slough) and Dos Pueblos were dug up by looters, archeologists, (amateur and professional) and tourists. TONS of these artifacts were indeed sent to museums and collections throughout the world.

I would be curious to know where the information came from that following the 1824 Chumash revolt many Chumash were sent to the Santa Ynez Valley and to Syukthon (there are many spelling for that village). The whole idea of rounding up the Chumash that had fled over the mountains was to bring them back to missions, not send them to “unsupervised” villages away from the control of the missions.

For more information about the village of Cieneguitas or the 1824 Chumash Revolt visit the Santa Barbara Historical Museum library (you can just walk in) or call the Santa Barbara Mission Archive Library (appointments only).


 COMMENT 178727 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-06-01 12:01 PM

There are history books written by those who would be favored should one take the Western teachings to heart.
Then there are those who`s families were here during those historical times.
El Barbareno,I see you are well versed in Western History,[it`s good to know both sides] but in Chumash teachings,we see differently.
There`s a good reason your info can be found in books....because Chumash did`nt write it ...
One will NOT find our teachings in a book,but must spend hours,days...years..with Elders to hear them.
Peter O. , Santa Barbara Chumash Tour


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