June 2008 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts











Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles




Click on the 4Runner or contact us at info@explorehistoricalif.com for tour information.


Fat Hill Fandango

July 19-21, 2008

LOGO T Shirts Available


Explore Historic California with our tour logo depicting the California backcountry and its rich history both true and farce.

We now offer shirts, sweats, jerseys and cups with our logo.

Click the shirt for details!


Friends of Last Chance Canyon is a new organization interested in sustaining and protecting areas within the El Paso Mountains, near Ridgecrest, California. The main focus is preserving and protecting historic sites like Burro Schmidt's tunnel and the Walt Bickel Camp.

Please click on either logo to visit the FLCC site.


We support


Support Room 8's charitable legacy by donating to the Room 8 Memorial Cat Foundation or adopting one of their cats.

Click on Room 8's photo or phone

951-361-2205 for more information.

Friends of Bodie Day

August 10, 2008

Celebrate Bodie's history in costume. Click on the poster for more information or phone (760) 647-6564

Mules can taste the difference--so can you




It's always FIRE SEASON! Click the NIFC logo above to see what's burning.



Click on the bag to find out how.

The #1 Source for Desert News Now Has A Forum.  Come Chat!


Visit Michael Piatt's site, www.bodiehistory.com, for the truth behind some of Bodie's myths.

Terri Geissinger is a Bodie area Historian, Guide and Chautauquan. A long time resident who lives in Bodie and Smith Valley, she is dedicated to preserving stories of the pioneer families, miners, ranchers and teamsters. Click the photo to visit her site.


Back to the past in California City--Wimpy's!

8209 California City Blvd.,
California City, 93505



Explore Historic California!

     Not too many years ago, the family station wagon was the magic carpet to adventure. Today, that family station wagon is likely to be a four wheel drive sport utility vehicle or pick up truck. SUV's and other 4x4's are one of the best selling classes of vehicles. Ironically, industry statistics show that once purchased, few owners will dare to drive their vehicles off the paved highway.

     Click your mouse through the website and enjoy our armchair adventures and the histories behind them. If you are interested in taking one of our guided tours with your vehicle, please contact us at: info@explorehistoricalif.com.

     Several years ago, we bought our first SUV. We went to a one-night class at a local community college entitled "How to 4-Wheel Drive" by Harry Lewellyn. The following weekend we attended the hands-on day tour. We liked what we were doing so much that we began going out nearly every weekend and learned how to negotiate a variety of dirt roads. Our spare time was spent doing research on the history and ecology of our favorite areas. A one-day outing turned into 16 years of leading others on mini-vacations throughout Southern California and the Owens Valley.

     Our 4WD outings involve driving on easy to moderate dirt roads and are ideally suited to novice and intermediate level drivers. All tours are suitable for stock vehicles in good condition, although some tours do have vehicle size restrictions.

     Our tours are operated under permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management, and other authorities.

     We share our knowledge of the backcountry over the CB radio with our guests. We frequently stop to explore mining areas, old and new, and ponder the rocks, plants and animals we may encounter. We'll occasionally visit an old cabin or deserted mountain lookout.

     California has a fascinating history, from geologic unrest and prehistoric petroglyph scribes to the "Radium Queen of the Mojave" and the "Human Mole of Black Mountain." Load up your 4X, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to explore historic California.

Roger, Cecile and Marty

Prudent Beaudry - Los Angeles City Maker
by Cecile Page Vargo

Prudent Beaudry, 1884

Los Angeles Public Library

From 1870 to 1872 the population of Los Angeles swelled from 5,700 to 9,000 thanks to shrewd land speculation which lead to the construction of over 2,000 homes. Prudent Beaudry, brother of Victor who was busy running a successful mining business (the ghost of which is well known to California backcountry explorers today) was primarily responsible for the building and population boom of the future megalopolis.

Even after his death, Beaudry's accomplishments earned praise in the book, Sixty Years in Southern California by Harris Newmark.

"Prudent Beaudry has the record of having made in different lines five large fortunes, four of which, through the act of God, or by the duplicity of man, in whom he had trusted, have been lost; but even then he was not discouraged, but faced the world, even at an advanced age, like a lion at bay, and his reward he now enjoys in the shape of a large and assured fortune. Of such stuff are the men who fill great places and who develop and make great country. To such men we of this later day owe much of the beauty and comfort that surrounds us, and to such we should look with admiration as models upon which to form rules of action in trying times."

In spite of this early visionary, most Angelinos are hard pressed to know how the Los Angeles street, Beaudry Avenue, earned its name.

Map of downtown Los Angles, 1928. Beaudry Avenue is outlined in red.

The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

Prudent was born in St. Anne Des Plaines, Province of Quebec, Canada. His native Canadian parents were of French ancestry. His father provided for the family with his earnings as a merchant, and served as an example that Prudent, and his brothers followed. The French schools of Canada provided Prudent's early education. He went on to pursue graduate studies in business at the English schools of New York City. 

 The Canadian Rebellions of 1837 had just ended by this time, spurring Prudent to join efforts touting Canada's annexation to the United States. As efforts failed to annex Canada, Prudent decided to head to the United States himself, and wound up in New Orleans.  Here he gathered experiences in commercial activities which would help him in his further venues throughout his life.

As 1842 rolled around, Prudent found himself back in Montreal with his brothers forming an import-export business. Travel to England and Scotland was necessary to purchase stock. He continued in this business until sometime in 1850, when he decided to sell his interest to one of his brothers, and follow another to California.

Victor Beaudry

EHC collection

The 1849 California Gold Rush brought Prudent's brother, Victor, to San Francisco. When Prudent arrived the climate was right for a general mercantile business. His entire capital of $26,000 was invested in the venture. The possibilities of business related to the construction of the Nicaragua Canal called to Victor, however, leaving Prudent with everything in San Francisco.

Within two and a half months Prudent cleared $33,000. Unfortunately, soon after his financial success, two fires nearly destroyed his retail business.  Not long after the fires, large shipments of sugar and other commodities arrived at the sea ports. Prudent along with many other San Francisco merchants found themselves in an overstocked market. In an ironic twist of the economy, he found himself walking Montgomery Street sidewalks which were now built of the boxes of plug tobacco and other goods that could no longer be traded.

Finding himself left with a thousand dollars or so of goods and two or three hundred dollars in actual cash, Prudent Beaudry traveled south to the pueblo of Los Angeles. On Main Street across from the Abel Stearns home, he set up a small store. Within thirty days he had $2,000 and only part of his stock left.  This prompted Prudent to move to Commercial Street where he formed partnership, first with a man named Brown, and then with one named Le Matre. A short time later he bought them out and ran the successful enterprise by himself, catering to the more wealthy clients.

View of  1850's Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Public Library

By 1854, Prudent found he was able to invest in more property at the corner of Aliso and Los Angeles streets, which subsequently became known as the "Beaudry Block." Following an initial investment of $11,000, he added $25,000 in improvements.  The now elongated adobe enabled him to bring the rents from $300 to $1,000 a month.

As a sleepy pueblo grew, Prudent Beaudry's success and wealth also increased. The hard work began to take a toll on his health, however. In 1855, finding California lacking in the latest medical procedures, he traveled to Paris where he consulted unsuccessfully with the eminent oculist, Sichel, for problems with his eyes. Prudent's interests in Los Angeles were left in the hands of his brother, Victor, who had returned from Central America. This enabled Prudent to return to Montreal for five years where he recuperated.

The Civil War called to Victor Beaudry in 1861 bringing Prudent back to Los Angeles so his brother could pursue merchandising efforts with the Army of the Potomac.  Prudent remained in business in the Beaudry Block until 1865. After three years, and a profit of over $40,000, health issues again forced Prudent into short retirement.

Aside from benefiting from miners by providing much needed supplies and services to them, Victor Beaudry dabbled in the mining industry itself, with interests in the San Gabriel Mountains, and eventually found big time success in the Inyo Mountains at the Cerro Gordo Mines.

Prudent was prompted to try his hand at mining when the Slate Range Gold and Silver Mining Company became indebted to Prudent for a large amount of goods he had sold them. The company, consisting of a thirteen stamp mill, twelve buildings, and six mines was sold at a sheriff's sale. Prudent saw his opportunity and bid on it. Unfortunately, roving bands of Indians discovered the mine and buildings and burned them to the ground.  Prudent was left with $6,000 in insurance, and a strong distaste for mining ventures.

By 1867, Prudent Beaudry saw even more promise of growth in Los Angeles. He capitalized on it by buying real estate. He purchased the steep hillside of New High Street for $55, opposite the Pico House. He built houses and made improvements, then proceeded to purchase another twenty acres bounded by Second, Fourth and Charity Streets. The original investment of $517 for the second piece of property soon turned into a profit of $30,000 as Beaudry sub divided it into eighty lots and put them up for sale.

Map of downtown Los Angles, 1857.

The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

Another acquisition of thirty nine acres between Fourth and Sixth streets and Grand Avenue and Pearl Street included some of the finest property in Los Angeles at the time, putting over $50,000 in his bank accounts.

It was said that many a happy home became the property of the poor man because of Prudent Beaudry's ability to popularize real estate and bring it to reach of the common man by selling on small monthly payments. Beaudry not only bought and sold properties; he made sure the communities were provided with appropriate water systems, graded streets and eventually, public transportation systems as well.

View of  Los Angles, 1877.

The Library of Congress collection

By the 1880s circulars could be seen throughout Los Angeles printed in red ink with bold headlines reading:   


Have a home on the Hills! Stop paying rent in the Valleys! View from your own home the broad Pacific, the green hills and the model city! Best Water supply. Drainage perfect.  Best sunny exposures. Pure air, and away from fogs! Have a Home on the line of the great Cable Railway System! Mark your calendar before the day of sale! February 15,16, 17, at 10 o'clock each Day. Bear in mind that this property is on the HILLS, and on the line of the Cable Railway System! No such opportunity has ever been offered to the people of Southern California. Public School and Young Ladies Seminary in the immediate vicinity!

View of Bunker Hill area of Los Angeles, 1885.

Los Angeles Public Library

The Los Angeles City Water Company was organized in 1868 under the leadership of Prudent as its first president. Water mains were built to supply water for the properties he had purchased and sold to others. Once the lower regions were supplied, Prudent devoted himself to perfecting a high service system that supplied water to hills west of the city. This system would ultimately be responsible for turning barren land into elegant residences and business blocks for the most agreeable properties of the city.

Prudent, also joined forces with George Hanson and others in creating a canal and reservoir system that brought water from the Los Angeles River. In addition to building waterworks, Beaudry was the first person responsible for paving the streets of the growing town.

From 1874 to 1876, following service as a member of the Angeles City Council, Prudent Beaudry became the city's thirteenth mayor.

In his later years Prudent continued to keep himself busy with water, real estate, and transportation, to help meet the needs of the little pueblo which had now grown into a major city of over 13,000 citizens.  As time went on, he withdrew from public service enjoying good health until the last week of his life.

Prudent Beaudry, a lifelong bachelor, died in the spring of 1893. Upon his death the Los Angeles Times reported:

"In his official capacity he was noted for his fearless honesty and his active advocacy of all measures looking for the benefit of the city.. Only those who have lived in Los Angele can form an idea of how great a debt the city owes to this unobtrusive quietly energetic man. His wealth was always kept occupied in developing new enterprises, and  thus was diffused among the poorer people. His philanthropy was of that best kind - he furnished work whereby a man could earn  his livelihood."



City-Makers: The story of SouthernCalifornia's First Boom
by Remi Nadeau
Trans-Anglo Books (Out of Print)

Sixty Years in Southern California 1853 - 1913, Containing the reminiscences of Harris Newmark
by Harris Newmark; Maurice H. and Marco R. Newmark
(Out Of Print)

Los Angeles Times archives via Pro Quest

Los Angeles County Biographies
Prudent Beaudry


The Library of Congress Map collection


The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection


The Los Angeles Public Library Photo collection


Snakes on the Plain!

These photos of a nest of "Mojave green"  (Crotalus scutulatus) rattlesnakes were taken in early June and sent to us. The snakes were photographed in Rosamond, California near the Rancho Santa Fe subdivision.


The Mojave green rattlesnake highly venomous. Its venom, attacks the victim's  the nervous system with nuerotoxins and the bloodstream with hemotoxins.

Rattlesnakes are important members of the natural community. They will not attack, but if disturbed or cornered, they will defend themselves. Reasonable watchfulness should be sufficient to avoid snakebite. Give them distance and respect.


For additional information on the Mojave green, visit: http://www.californiaherps.com/snakes/pages/c.s.scutulatus.html
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