History

**The following is the opening page of the Pasadena Bait Club’s logbook**

History of the Pasadena Bait Club
West Fork San Gabriel River

            In the spring of 1890 a party composed of L.C. Torrance, H.H. Rose (later Mayor of Los Angeles), Walter L. Wotkyns, and Emil Kayser (Wetherby-Kayser Shoe Co.) packed in over the Mt. Wilson trail, then under construction, and after much trouble and hardship, reached the West Fork of the San Gabriel River.  This was the beginning of a fishing trip, which resulted in the formation of the Pasadena Bait Club.  On the way down the West Fork a site was selected for a Log Cabin Club House and within a year construction began under the supervision of Torrand and Rose.  This trip took two and a half days to reach the site selection.

            The original members were mostly young business and professional men of Pasadena and included such well-known names as George Post, C.D. Daggett, George F. Granger, Seymour Locke, Dr. H.H. Sherk, Webster Wotkyns, Walter S. Wright, L.C. Torrance, H.H. Rose, Theodore Welch, F.B. Wetherby (Wetherby-Kayser Shoe Co.), J.S. Torrance, and A.H. Conger (L.A. Brick).

            Many are the cherished memories of the outings at the Pasadena Bait Club, their families and friends, many the fine limits of trout caught from the West Fork, Devil’s Canyon, and Bear Creek, and many the tales, humorous and tragic, told by the club members.  One rainy night in the 1890’s the party in the cabin were aroused by a clamoring at the door, which being opened admitted Professor T.S.C. Lowe of Mt. Lowe fame and the 18th Governor of California H.H. Markham, who had been fishing up the West Fork and lost their way in a heavy storm while trying to reach their camp at Bear Creek. 

            The distinguished guests were made dry and warm before a roaring fire in the fireplace and further fortified with a drink from a jug of whiskey, which had been buried in the earthen floor for such emergency.  A 20’ x 20’ cement floor replaced this floor that still exists to this day.  Governor Markham became an honorary member of the Pasadena Bait Club and was credited with catching 98 trout (the limit then was 100 fish) fishing on an outing from the PBC Cabin.

            Christine Dayton tells the story about her dad, F.B. Wetherby, who put out a fire in the West Fork in the early 1890’s and was told by the head of the California Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that due to his bravery they gave Mr. Wetherby and his group a “permanent land owners deed to the land surrounding the cabin and told them that their title to the land would be the one and only ever given”!  This ruling has never been amended or changed by the Federal Government.

            Many are the stories of how many times on opening the PBC Cabin, rattlesnakes were found coiled up in the fireplace or in a corner.  And that once, in the dark of night a kangaroo rat climbed onto the table and, wrapping his tail around the neck of a beer bottle candlestick, dragged it about the place until all the guests were in a panic of fright!  Everyone survived!!!

            The original cabin site was under a lease from the General Land Office. The lease was for 99 years and covered a 10-acre site.  It was located at T2N-R10-SBM-Sec 22-QT-SE on 10 acres of land.  This covered all the land from the old cabin site to Bear Canyon about 1.7 miles down the road and about the same distance up the West Fork Road. 

            On November 7, 1906 we received our first Special Privilege Application from the new Department of Agriculture-Forest Service as per the Grant made by President Theodore Roosevelt.  We were still located in the San Gabriel Forest Reserve as of 1892.  All land in the National Forest was now to be managed by the new U.S. Forest Service.  President Roosevelt also granted the “right for the public to own cabins in the National Forests”.

            This original cabin, so well known to all travelers on the West Fork, was used up to 1922 when the new cabin located a mile plus up stream was finally completed.  The old cabin was destroyed in the great fire of 1924, which started at O’Melveny Flat and burned for about six weeks destroying everything in its path for over 10 miles in every direction.  All that was left of the original cabin was our old stone chimney, cement floor, and the five oaks at the front of the lot, which is still a monument to the memory of many happy outings in the old days.  A Plaque has been placed in the cement floor commemorating the original date.

            The current cabin was started between the First World War and 1919, and was completed by 1922.  Our Special Privilege Application was modified on September 11th, 1919 and our permit is now called a Special Use Permit and we now operate under a 30 year agreement with the new San Gabriel National Forest of 1907 and later the Angeles National Forest of 1908.  The new cabin site is T2N-R10W-Sec 21-NW1/4 of SE ¼, Lot number 20, which is approximately one-quarter acre plus in size.  A plaque has been placed in the cement floor commemorating the original date.

            We are the only recreation cabin on the Lower West Fork.  We are located in what is now called the San Gabriel Mountains, Angeles National Forest – San Gabriel River Ranger District which used to be called the Mt. Baldy Ranger District.  We are about 14 miles up Highway 39 from the 210 freeway and 4.6 miles up the West Fork Road.  This road continues up to Cogswell Reservoir and then up to Red Box Canyon and then to the Angeles Crest Highway, which is Highway 2.

            The only way to get the original and the second cabin was by horse and pack train over a difficult “West Fork” trail; or, down the original West Fork trail from the Old Mt. Wilson trail.  A road down from Red Box was started in 1935 and eventually connected to the road coming up from Cogswell and this road eventually came down near the old Rincon Ranger / Fire Station. 

            The current West Fork road was constructed in 1931 to help with the construction of San Gabriel Dam #2, which was later named Cogswell for an LA County Supervisor.  The dam was damaged by flood in 1933 and 1934 but repaired with new articulated wood facing.  The facing was finally replaced in 1947 with a concrete facing.

            The West Fork road was all dirt and rock.  At times there were up to 52 river crossings.  For that reason, it regularly washed out each year.  After the great flood of 1938 a new road was slowly redesigned and built by the Department of Public Works, with some added bridges to avoid having to go into the river.  This updated road was finally finished in January of 1943 when a huge storm dropped 26 inches of rain on the West Fork over a 24-hour period.   Once again the road washed out.  And once again, it was slowly rebuilt.  In 1946 and 1969 the road washed out again, until finally it was fully reopened in 1970.  Some years later the road received an asphalt cap and has remained in pretty good shape up through today.  It now takes about an hour to reach the cabin!

            We have suffered through a number of very difficult fires; a disaster in 1924, but cabin #2 was spared; 1957 a fire started over on Highway 39 near the Bear Canyon trailhead and swept up the north side of our canyon and ended up destroying several buildings at Cogswell Dam, but we were again spared; in 1968 a fire started in the main San Gabriel Canyon and came up the south side of our canyon, but went around our cabin since we had all the brush cleared in a proper manner, just as we do now! And although there have been a number of additional fires over the years, so far we have been spared!

            In December of 2008 we will receive our latest Special Use Permit, which is good for the next 20 years.  It contains a ten-year extension, if for some reason our site is needed for a more important reason…

As of November 2008