Highland Community News contributor Paul Prado recently gave a presentation to the Highland Area Historical Society on historic locations in Highland that can still be visited by residents today. Following is a timeline of many of the points of interest he mentioned.
The Patton Train Depot on Highland Avenue east of Victoria Avenue was demolished recently in mid-December. It was constructed of wood in 1893 and rebuilt in 1896. The depot was closed in 1938 and sold in 1948. In the 1990s, it was used as a fruit stand. During Halloween, it was a pumpkin patch.
Hunting deer was a common activity in Highland during the time of the Santa Fe East Highlands train depot.
Local hunters like S.K. Bacon and Wally Wattenbarger would bring their harvested deer and pose for pictures along the river rock wall at the depot.
On Boulder Avenue, north of Greenspot Road, you can see two orange tractors. These tractors worked at the Harvest Barn Strawberry Patch. The patch used to be the Yakamura Strawberry Patch.
Baseline Burgers, 25578 E. Base Line, has been a place of friendship and family dining for years. What is unique about the plaza is that the wood that was used to construct the buildings was shipped by train from San Francisco, hence the name San Francisco Plaza.
At Village Lakes on Greenspot Road, there is a small rock monument by one of the ponds. It shows a picture of the Cram House. The monument speaks of the Cram family and its planting of experimental orange trees in 1857.
In East Highlands, a historic neighborhood south of Greenspot Road at Church Street, affectionately called El Ranchito, there used to be a Filipino camp. The workers from the camp helped the local growers harvest their crop along with workers from Cone Camp on Greenspot Road. The camp was north of St. John Bosco Church.
The Beaver Medical Urgent Care, 7000 Boulder Ave., in Highland has a stone monument of El Molino. It is located right when you pull into the drive. El Molino was the Highland Lumber Company. They used shook, scraps of wood cuttings, for the orange boxes in the groves. The plaque features an etching a mule team, a train and the packinghouse.
The Belle, 6917 Palm Ave., in Highland’s historic business district, has the original bell from the East Highlands Train Depot and the depot sign. There is also a poem from the time of the lumber days rewritten and framed on the wall.
Remnants of the Highland Train Depot are on the northeast corner of Palm and Pacific Street. There remains a concrete platform that has steps and a partial rail. On the platform sits green tile work, possibly from a washroom.
The Stone House, or Rock House, at 7136 Club View Dr. also stands as a reminder of what life was like before the orange groves disappeared. The East Highlands Ranch was established by James S. Edwards in 1887. The Stone House was constructed in 1926 as a social gathering place for the workers of the ranch.
Aurantia Park, 29624 Greenspot Road, is home of a section of the Plunge Creek Bridge. The bridge sits near the rear of the park. The park is significant because it was created by the generosity and foresight of local citrus grower Elizabeth McLean Kiel to preserve the history of Highland’s citrus industry. The park has a playground, hard-packed, low-impact trails and two dog parks.
St. John Bosco Church, 28991 Merris St., has been a refuge for prayer, fellowship and celebrations for generations. The church was built on Aug. 13, 1941. Henrietta Aguilar Chavez has been the matriarch of the church for decades. Families move away from the section of Highland, but they return to enjoy its quiet and serene way of living.
The city of Highland has many hidden gems.