The original article on TheEastsiderLa.com.
An eastbound Electric Rail Car on Sunset between Waterloo and Coronado. The section of cliff that would collapse in February 2010 is below the house in the upper left, hidden just behind the front car. Undated photo.
E.C. Burlingame was also the Republican candidate for City Council from the 3rd Ward at the same time he was building the Ostrich Farm Railroad. Of this the Time’s would opine that he “made no concealment of his desire to go to the Council for the purpose of using the position for his personal advantage. He should be elected to stay at home.” As Burlingame was an advocate of temperance they exposed the illegal Saloon he operated for his crews at his grading camp on the Ostrich Farm Road. The grading camp was the site of a “near riot” in January 1888 when involved Burlingame’s crew brawled with the the crew of a rival contractor, McLaughlin, who was building the railroad along 2nd street and Beverly at that time. Burlingame took possession of a handcar he had ordered from McLaughlin, yet refused to pay. McLaughlin gathered a small army and headed out to Burlingame’s grading camp for the Ostrich Farm Road, which the Daily News places somewhere on Temple Street. Temple had been graded prior to 2nd Street or the Ostrich Farm, so it would have made sense as a base of operations to work on both streets from. City records of licensed saloons in 1887 suggest that Burlingame’s saloon was on the Ostrich Farm Road itself, though an exact location of the grading camp or the saloon has yet to be determined.
At the same time E.C. Burlingame was building the railroad and running for city council, he was also charged with the larger business of building a levee on the west side of the Los Angeles River north of downtown for the Santa Fe Railroad. His levee was destroyed and washed away by the floods of 1889. Shortly thereafter, the L.A. Times reported that Burlingame had had his loans called in by an unnamed creditor and led away in handcuffs.
Early engineering map showing the route for Sunset Boulevard preferred by Colonel Smith. The top street is Reservoir, the middle street the proposed path of Sunset, and the thinner double line running along the bottom is the Ostrich Farm Railroad and basically the route that modern day Sunset Boulevard follows.
Colonel George H. Smith had arrived in Los Angeles in 1869 and began to practice law. He married the widow of his 1st cousin, Susan Glassell Patton and raised his nephew George S. Patton as his son. In time, his tales of the Battle of Gettysburg would inspire his grandson, the future General George S Patton Jr. His brother, Isaiah, has been a Captain of Engineers in the Confederate Army, and helped to build the Imperial Mexican Railroad from Veracruz to Mexico City. This could help to explain a level of outrage that drove Colonel Smith to condemn and oppose the overly steepened cuts that scarred his land.
c. Los Angeles Public Library
And finally, Charles Stanbury, the 2nd contractor everyone blamed for screwing up Sunset Boulevard.
John Fisher’s brochure for the Department of Transportation, “Transportation Topics and Tales: Milestones in Transportation History in Southern California" is an excellent history of transportation in Los Angeles and a vital contribution from a man who is both engineer and historian.
(Many thanks to Michael Holland and Todd Gaydowski at the Los Angeles City Archives)