Saturday, September 10, 2011

El Monte

Los Angeles County, September 7, 1995 

Even the title of this landmark should raise a flag or two; EL MONTE-FIRST SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SETTLEMENT BY IMMIGRANTS FROM UNITED STATES. An immigrant is someone settling in a new country from another, while an emigrant is someone leaving their native land for another. So, 49er’s and folks coming west have always been called emigrants, at least after California became a state in 1850, Whatever, El Monte was an attractive place to settle for it was on higher ground between two seasonal rivers, snd you could grow just about anything.

In 1987 El Monte went through the submission process and was accepted as a state landmark by proving that the Santa Fe trail seemed to wind up here, either by using the Old Spanish Trial, which ran a northerly route or the Gila River Trail, which went through Arizona, and that El Monte was the actual end of the Santa Fe trail. Still, nobody has, or is calling it the El Monte trail. There’s a group called ‘The Santa Fe Trail Council’ who, at the time, thought this claim was a lot of hooey, and they could be right. It’s best to think of both Independence MO. And Santa Fe NM as the major staging points from which people came to or left from in many directions. No one however disputes the fact that MGM’s roaring lion came from Gay’s Lion Farm in El Monte.

At any rate, the city got landmark status and built a historic park on an acre of land carved out of Pioneer Park The special features of this park include the Osmond House, a typical 1800’s house, the original El Monte Jail, a Conestoga wagon and the Official California State Historical Marker which are all built around a center plaza fountain. Under an internet article titled ‘The Useless Santa Fe Trail Historic Park’, an upset El Montian had this to say: “During the time of this neighborhoods attempt to rid themselves of their worst neighbor, the El Monte Fillies Baseball Organization, amid promises and misdirection by the Officials of the City of El Monte, El Monte spent thousands (the number is yet to be determined by me) on a useless "pat on the back" in the construction of The Santa Fe Trail Historical Park. On recent visit to the park, Saturday Afternoon April 4, 2004, I found all entrances to the padlocked. Imagine a city spending this amount of money, on a park that is absolutely useless to the residents of El Monte . This is a State Historical Landmark and it is locked to the public Saturday Afternoon. There were no signs posted as to what the hours of operation are. All the bronze plaques with the information about the site are faced away from the outside fence. The Fillies should be outraged that they are allowed to play in such a small and dilapidated place while the City of El Monte, with little future and no present must lean on its past for a sense of civic pride and build this monument to themselves.”

Perhaps a less contested suggestion for a landmark in El Monte would be the 1932 Olympic wrestling site, the teen dance hall of legend, the birthplace of west coast R&B and rock & roll, Cliffie Stone’s hometown Jamboree, Art Laboe, Johnnie Otis, and The Penguins, and the promise of a good time touted in thousands of hours of LA area radio commercials…..El Monte Legion Statium.

NO. 975 EL MONTE-FIRST SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SETTLEMENT BY IMMIGRANTS FROM UNITED STATES - El Monte, on the bank of the San Gabriel River, played a significant part in California's early pioneer history. It was first an encampment on the Old Spanish Trail, an extension of the trail from Missouri to Santa Fe. By the 1850s, some began to call El Monte the 'End of the Santa Fe Trail.' Early in that decade a permanent settlement was established by immigrants from Texas, the first settlement in Southern California founded by citizens of the United States.
Location: Santa Fe Trail Historical Park, Valley Blvd and Santa Anita Ave, El Monte
Google 34.076603,-118.041146

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