January 21, 2012

Photo Essay: The Mysteries of Brand Park in Historic Glendale

What draws me to any trail?

Usually, it's some sense of history.

Which there is plenty of in LA.

Airplane parties were numerous in the days of private flying, and Miradero, the estate of Leslie Brand - who had a strong hand in the establishment of the city of Glendale, just east of Los Angeles - was central to the era of private flying parties. Brand had his own airfield on his private property - just south of the mansion and estate which now constitutes Brand Library in Brand Park - but his estate was also situated close to the old Grand Central, one of the many now-defunct municipal airfields of Los Angeles County.

Climbing the trails behind Brand Library, you can see some of the remnants of those private flying days, most notably a light beacon, perhaps having served Brand's airfield, perhaps Grand Central.

But there are plenty of other mysteries surrounding the old Brand estate, including some post-Brand city of Glendale developments whose vestiges litter the historic trails.

When hiking behind the library, I discovered some concrete footings that reminded me of the remnants of the Corralitas Red Car Property in Silver Lake, which would have been bizarre given the elevation of the Verdugo Mountains back there (although apparently there once was a plan to build a funicular in the Verdugos...).

Most certainly there hadn't been another incline railway here, but Glendale does have plenty of rail history...

...And Brand himself (the man often referred to as "The Father of Glendale") had been instrumental in a lot of the railway development in the city of Glendale, where one of the Pacific Electric lines used to end.

So then...what?

The Parks Department thinks that they look like remnant from some old water line components left over after the systems have been demolished over the years. Apparently, long gone are the water tanks and other piping servicing some of the improvements below, but concrete items like these would have been left behind because they were too heavy to move and wouldn't have had any scrap value.

And there are some pipes still up there.

The interesting thing is, no one really seems to know.

"That's Glendale..." said the librarian I visited at Brand Library.

Down below, along the fire road that becomes the Brand Motorway past the Debris Basin, you can find plenty of other ruins - your garden variety stairs-to-nowhere from once-razed structures, etc.

Equally mysterious is the Brand Cemetery, which was once the family's dog cemetery while they still resided at Miradero, and where the family is now laid to rest. The cemetery - and the pyramid-shaped headstone - lie behind a locked gate amidst the ruins...

There is a graffitied shed (reminiscent of Murphy Ranch) that historians speculate could have once served as a meat locker...

But what the heck is this boat doing there?

For now, much of it remains a mystery.

But that doesn't mean I'll stop trying to figure it out...

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  1. Those were not lights for the airport in the first pics. They were speakers that played in the evening. Growing up on the hill I stood under the speakers as they played.

    1. Thank you! I can't tell you how many people I asked about those, between the Brand Library and local historians! What did they play? Music? Who was in charge of piping the music through them?