History Nuggets

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The Santa Ana, Fairview, and Pacific Railroad was one of the shortest-lived railroads in boom-era Orange County. In March 1889, the Santa Ana River overflowed at Fruitland, washing out a portion of the nine-month-old tracks, and the small repairs were never made.

The town of Fruitland was near the intersection of present-day Harbor and Warner. It is called a phantom town because it was never officially registered.

In addition to the town of Fruitland, the right of way survey for the railroad lists other landholders adjacent to the tracks. At least three properties appear to have been held by women: Elizabeth Rabel, Mary Smith, and Mary Banning. 

The SAF&P never reached the harbor. Some claim Banning denied the right of way, while others say the boosters only wanted to sell land, not run a railway.

Many old place names have changed over the years. Fairview Avenue is now Harbor Boulevard, Shell Beach is now Huntington, Rocky Point is now Corona Del Mar, and Santa Ana’s West Street is now Broadway. 

Speaking of Broadways, in June 1928 the residents of Harper Street in Costa Mesa successfully petitioned to rename their own thoroughfare to Broadway. Why? Was it to shake off the associations with “old” Harper? To advertise, reminding visitors of the mansion-lined street in Santa Ana? Or because every town needs a Broadway?

According to the OC Register, contemporary accounts show the namesake of Edinger Avenue, farmer and politician Christopher C. Edinger, rhymed his name with “finger” or “humdinger,” not with “ginger,” as it’s usually heard today.

A photograph of the Fairview No. 1 engine is stamped Conaway & Hummel. Conaway was a leading landscape photographer of his day. While Conaway’s partnership with Hummel only lasted between 1887-1889, he later took on a young apprentice, Lou P. Hickox, who eventually bought out his former master. Hickox in turn sold to Mary A. Smart, who renamed the studio after herself. The Smart Studio operated until 1992, when the business closed for good, some 100 years after this photo was taken.