C.E. HOAR PURCHASES THE HUMMINGBIRD'S NEST

 

 

Janet Cameron cites Charles Emerson Hoar as having purchased the Hummingbird's Nest Ranch from Juan Pucillo in 1872 or 1873. Certainly, Janet Cameron was in a good position to have that information, because Mr. Hoar had lived with the Cameron family at the end of his life. However, it now seems that that information was not accurate. Mr. Hoar occupied "the Hummingbird" as part of his lease of 13,000 acres of land – essentially the eastern half of the valley.

 

Bill Appleton found the records of the 1887 and 1888 sales of the ranch parcels by the Simi Land and Water Company to Mr. Hoar. It seems that the land passed from the hands of the de la Guerra family into those of an eastern petroleum investment company, which later formed the Simi Land and Water Company. The coming of the railroad to southern California during the 1880s triggered a real estate boom in southern California. The Simi Land and Water Company was formed to offer the land of the company for sale for town and farming purposes. Since Charles Hoar still held a valid lease on those 13,000 acres, a deal was cut with Mr. Hoar to give up his lease while retaining the Hummingbird's Nest Ranch. The three sales transactions conveyed 160 acres of land for $12,000, 50 acres for $500 and 46.68 acres for $5.00. The lands involved totalled 256.86 acres, while the when Paula Meehan owned it during the 1990s (then called the "Ballymeehan Ranch”) included only 96.68 acres.

 

The $5.00 price for a 46.86 acre parcel seems very low. However, the sale includes the commitment of a conveyance of two miner’s inches of flow of water to the Simi Land and Water Company. Two miner’s inches of flow is the water that can flow through a two square inch opening with four inches of hydraulic head. (That amount was enough to operate a long tom or rocker in gold mining operations.) This then resulted in the two inch water line for the Simi Hotel that was constructed to house prospective buyers of real estate. (The hotel was located on a hill at the present site of Simi Valley High School. When the high school was built, the hill was graded away.) Mr. Hoar's relinquishing of the lease on those 13,000 acres was apparently handled by a separate agreement but undoubtedly accouts for the $5.00 price for the 46.86 acre parcel.

 

The sale of 50 acres for $500 indicates that those 50 acres were only usable for grazing in that the Simi Land and Water Company's land was offered for $10 - $100 per acre.

 

The 160 acre parcel for $12,000 represented a sales price of $75 per acre and included a great deal of rocky territory. However, it also included many improvements, including buildings, fences, and corrals. Of great interest is that the sale reserved a right-of-way, 60 feet wide, for the railroad. If the railroad had not excised the right-of-way reservation by the end of 1890, then the right-of-way reservation was to expire. What this tells us is that in late 1887 or early 1888 the decision had not been made as to how the railroad would get through Santa Susana Pass. We do know that the route had been selected by 1895 and the railroad into Simi Valley from the west was completed by 1900. The constructions of the "Chatsworth Tunnel" was begun in 1900 and completed by 1904. So, they had decided that a one and one half mile tunnel through sandstone would be cheaper in the long run than trying to build the rail line over the pass.

 

                                                                                                Mike Kuhn

                                                                                                11-2-04