Article from the 3/18/2016 Catalina Islander

Since I became "Catalina's Official Greeter", March 10,2014, when the Chamber Of Commerce assigned me to greet the cruise ships and cross channel boats, I have answered 44,??? questions.
 
These are some of the more interesting/unusual questions/comments I have answered:
"Do people live on Catalina?  I was told they don't."
"Do you put blue dye in the ocean to make the water that beautiful color?"
"Where do I get the glass bottom boat to the 'Bird Park'?"  (The "Bird Park" hasn't been in use since 1966 and was up "Avalon Canyon".  It is the framework of the Sugarloaf Casino, at the same location as the present Casino, and was there from1920-28.  It is now the PLAY school facility)
A visitor came over on the "Catalina Express".  When she arrived, she went to one of the ticket agents and asked where the "Pacific Hotel" was.  When she was informed that there wasn't any such hotel on Catalina, she said, "There MUST be!  I made these reservations with a travel agent in San Pedro and here are my confirmation documents!"  On examining them, the sympathetic agent had to inform her that the "Pacific Hotel" was in "Avalon, Florida".
"Is this the boat from Long Island?"
 
"SO THAT'S WHY!"
As far back as I can remember, I have LOVED history!  I was intrigued by how people lived and SURVIVED under conditions that would now be considered impossible.  I loved to see how inventions came to be and what changes it made to different cultures.  The one problem that I always faced in how history was generally taught was to memorize people, places, and dates (who, what, where, when), but I was always fascinated with WHY and this "W" was often skimmed over or ignored completely.  Events "just happened!" 
With this in mind, I am going to now and then do a "SO THAT'S WHY! 101".  Sit back and hopefully enjoy a long list of "whys"!
The first glass bottom row boat was reported to have been invented around 1895 and there are those who believe it was on Catalina Island (no, NOT just me!).  They followed an earlier design where fishermen simply put a box with a glass bottom over the side of their fishing row boats so that they could examine the terrain, plant, and fish life, in order to decide where to cast their nets, lines, etc..  Someone realized how this "technique" made the underwater world come alive to those who couldn't swim (over 70% of the world population couldn't swim at this time, which is why they called what they did "bathing" not "swimming" and one of the reasons they had "Bath Houses", not just for getting clean, but preparing to "bathe" (not become buoyant) in the ocean.  They wore "bathing suits", not "swim suits".  Masks, as we know them today, didn't exist, so the glass bottom boat was quite a remarkable invention. Only Jules Verne type "hard hat" divers could experience this.
Problem was that these "row boats" had to be "rowed".  And the poor rower had to manipulate the boat which accommodated approximately 8 passengers to the best viewing areas for fish.  The boats would leave from the beach and the closest viewing location was "Sugar Loaf" Rock ("a large conical mass of hard refined sugar commonly used in households until the mid 19th Century or any formation that took on this look.") where the Casino Point is and where modern SCUBA divers still enjoy the bounty of sea life.  Even as far West as the present beach goes, that was still quite a distance to row. 
All of this changed in 1903 when the first "motorized" glass bottom boats were invented.  No more "rowers" and they could now go further to where it was generally agreed was the best "viewing" of he sea life from a glass bottom boat, and that was "Lovers' Cove". 
Now, let's clear up this question about "Lovers' Cove".  Notice where I put the possessive mark.  That is the way it should be written, unless a person visiting here was narcistic.  "Lovers' Cove" was so named as it is not visible to Avalon and a road wasn't built there until 1906. Young couples would go there to "court" (date) and there they were free to "bill", "coo", and "spoon" (make out), without being observed or bothered.  "The Cove For Lovers".
For a couple of years the boats would leave from the only pier, the "Steamer Pier" (location of the present "Blue Water Avalon" restaurant), as the "Pleasure Pier" wasn't built until 1909 (notice I didn't call it the "Green Pier", as the pier was brown until it was painted green in 1918).  A lot of wasted time and less than scenic views were passed over just to make it to the final destination, so a decision was made to move the glass bottom boats to "Lovers' Cove". Now, the problem was how to get tourists to "Lovers' Cove".  A counter-balanced venicular tram was erected in 1905 which was called the "Island Mountain Railroad", also called "Angel's Flight", after the one that just been built in Los Angeles going to "Bunker Hill".  It started just across from the "Greek Amphitheatre" (built in 1904, the amphitheater is now the turn around area above City Park, built in 1937, before the homes on Lower Terrace begin. The rows of rock seats are still there).  The tram went behind the "Holy Hill House" (built in 1890, third oldest permanent home built in Avalon) and up to "Buena Vista" ("Good View"), which is now "Mt. Ada" (named in 1964 for the wife of William  Wrigley, Jr.) and then proceeded down the other side to "Lovers' Cover".
At "Buena Vista", there was a tea house, a chocolate shop, and a 40,000 gallon salt water reservoir (which is still there).  The reservoir was strategically placed here as a water source to put our fires on the East Side terraces (below the Wrigley home/"Inn On Mt. Ada"), where homes were now being built.  There wasn't adequate water pressure to put out any fires which might consume these homes. 
Almost immediately, the Banning Brothers, who had owned the Island since 1891 and their company, "The Santa Catalina Island, Co.:, which was formed in 1894, decided that they needed to finally make the much needed major change in the topography of the East Side of town.  In 1906 a road from Avalon to "Pebbly Beach" (so called for all of the pebbles found along the shoreline) and then an upper road from "Pebbly Beach", back to Avalon were blasted out of the hillside that had previously met the ocean.  They were now able to provide the tourists to "Lovers' Cove" and the glass bottom boats and the access to the hillside homes, for the fire department. 

All of this to prepare you for the story of the "Easter Sunrise Service" for next week.  Email me if you think you can find the connection.