1876: 125 Years Ago
Lieutenant George M. Wheeler,
U.S. Army, Geographical Explorer

compiled by
Robert 'Roy' J van de Hoek
Field Biologist & Geographer
Sierra Club, Wetlands Action Network, National Audubon Society

**On the road from Los Angeles to Cahuenga Pass, descending the northern declivity of the hills, before reaching the plain of Balonas or Bayona, we find several scanty petroleum-springs, and the limestone is strongly impregnated with asphaltum, the petroleum, or bitumen, when dried in the sun, becomes hard, and is then known by the name of “Brea” to the Mexicans who use it as a covering for the roofs of their houses and is a pavement for sidewalks.**

**The hills of Los Angeles begin at the Southeast of the lagoon, and of the Balona or Bayona Ranch, rising at the east-northeast toward the canon of the Rio de Los Angeles or Rio Porciuncula, which crosses them.**

**Footnote Source = *Annual Report on the Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian in California. General Printing Office. 1876. Appendix H1, George M. Wheeler, page 158.**

Closing Comment
Robert 'Roy' J. van de Hoek

It is always good to see what a visitor-explorer to Los Angeles 125 years ago in 1876 thought of the LA landscape. In this case, the topography of the hills, plain, lagoon, canon, Rio Los Angeles, Cahuenga Pass, "Brea" and Mexican culture.

Today, in 2001, 125 years after 1876, "Lagoon" refers to Ballona Wetlands, Del Rey Lagoon, Venice Canal.

Today, in 2001, 125 years after 1876, "hills that begin southeast of lagoon" are the Westchester Bluffs that merge with the Baldwin Hills, then become the Rosecrans Hills, then become the West Adams Boulevard Hills, the Mar Vista Hills, the Cheviot Hills, Beverly Hills, that finally merge with Santa Monica Mountains and then on to Cahuenga Pass.

Today, in 2001, 125 years after 1876, "Brea" refers to the La Brea Tarpits on Wilshire Boulevard.

Today, 2001, 125 years after 1876, "sidewalks" are always made of cement, never of tar-asphalt.

Today, in 2001, 125 years after 1876, "canon of Rio Los Angeles" refers to the Los Angeles River in the region of Griffith Park, also called the Glendale Narrows where the confluence of the Arroyo Seco and Los Angeles River is found.