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Letter from Mesa Dobson to A.B. Perkins
Subject: Creation of Placerita State Park



Image compiled from multiple digital images of original letter. Click to enlarge.

Webmaster's note.

Frank Walker was quick to claim that Francisco Lopez discovered gold in 1842 on his Placerita Canyon property when in 1930 Walker was looking for a "hook" to attract tourists to his "gold camp," but by the late 1940s, when historically minded folks wanted to acquire the discovery site for a state park, Walker had changed his tune, as indicated in this letter from Mesa Dobson.

The letter is addressed to historian A.B. Perkins; it was found among his personal papers. We don't know what the "enclosed letter" was. The "Trueblood" referenced herein would be Fred W. Trueblood II, owner of The Signal Newspaper from 1938 to 1963. Grace Stoormer was a grand (i.e., state) president of the Order of Native Daughters of the Golden West (year unknown).

Dobson's letter of March 27 doesn't state a year, but it probably dates to 1946 or 1947, during the run-up to the centennial of the 1848 Marshall discovery, when the state was suffering from gold fever and locals were begging for attention to the earlier Lopez discovery.

According to local historian John Boston (2007), Dodson was "an energetic Los Angeles PR woman who ... worked the political scene, twisting Assemblyman Julian Beck's arm to get California Gov. Earl Warren to sign the bill appropriating $15,000 to found the park."

According to a history of the Walker Family by Leigh Nicolai-Moon (2002), based largely on information from Walker's daughter Melba Fisher and her son George Starbuck, the state paid $48,000 for the original acreage that formed the nucleus of Placerita Canyon State Park. According to Fred Salter, gr-grandson-in-law to Frank Walker, the original purchase price was $25,000, and Salter said Walker retained the mineral rights and a right-of-way. Frank Walker held out for more money; in 1959, the state paid him an additional $150,000 for more acreage, expanding the park to its current 351 acres. Walker moved away at that time.

The County of Los Angeles has operated the park ever since it was created in 1949. On Nov. 1 of that year the Board of Supervisors approved a 50-year operating agreement with the state; it was superseded in 1956 by a 25-year operating agreement that was extended in 1981 for 5 years. After 1986 the park was operated on a month-to-month lease until March 2012 when the supervisors approved another 50-year operating agreement.


March 27

Dear Mr. Perkins:

The enclosed letter was drafted by a number of people, but Mrs. Isabel Fages of Pomona got the last word. She came into our office today to see that everything was going okay, and added her bit.

Biggest controversy among those who saw the letter was on whether or not we should mention Sutter's Mill, because of the feeling up north, or let well enough alone. Mrs. Fages argued that since Walker has announced far and wide that he will try to prove that gold was found somewhere else in the canyon first, not on his property, we can't ignore the fact. We might as well argue back, she says, because his letters obviously will reach many of the same people [as] ours.

I think her argument is sound, even though Grace S. Stoormer, probably the most influential gal on the list, feels we might stir up something unnecessarily. Can't please everybody.

Ludlow and Trueblood are getting copies of the letter, too, so everyone will know what we're doing. About time, you say?

Jack Hayden of the Div. of Beaches and Parks thought your answer on how big the park should be was perfectly proper. I'm acquainted with him now and he knows my part in this, and agrees that the state will decide how big the park will be no matter what we say. He says there's a great rush for all info and letters, support, etc., at Sacramento. He will make the report soon, it's already long overdue, and then the bill probably will come up in the committee and move fast to the house. He said, incidentally, that the $100,000 asked for in the bill (copy enclosed) probably is way excessive.

Sincerely,

Mesa Dobson


19200 dpi jpeg from digital images by Leon Worden, 3-2-2008, of original document in A.B. Perkins private collection.

GOLD CATEGORIES:
• California Gold
• Lopez Discovery
• Placerita Post-Lopez
• San Francisquito
• Oak/Dream Dedication 1930
• Oak/Dream

OAK OF THE GOLDEN DREAM

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Correspondence Re: Park Creation 1940s

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Run-Up to Park Formation 1940s

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Stolen Plaque Replaced 1941

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Park Dedication 1956

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Pageant 1959 x2

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~1963

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Rudy Pavini's Murals (Dedicated 1976)

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2004 x2

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