From the Author
Every place name is a story. In them, we see reminders of the eras, activities, and personalities that make up our local history. Understanding their origin and meaning helps us to better understand our past. This book is an attempt to capture a few of those stories, and share them with county residents both old and new. But what exactly is a place name? Some scholars insist on purely geographical names -- names of cities, towns, rivers, mountains, and streams. But in a modern, suburban area such as Orange County, place names take on many other forms. We speak of places "over by Disneyland," or "below the El Toro Y." Some names may have never appeared on a map, but are used as place names none the less. Our towns and cities are broken down into scores of communities and neighborhoods. The City of Santa Ana counts more than 50 separate neighborhoods within its boundaries, and Newport Beach is a patchwork of communities stretching from West Newport to the Newport Coast, with stops along the way in Corona del Mar, Balboa, East Bluff, and half a dozen islands. Their names are part of what give these neighborhoods their identity. Place names come in many forms. They can be descriptive (Emerald Bay, Carbon Canyon, Bolsa Chica), they can commemorate a person or event (Trabuco Canyon, Silverado, Huntington Beach), they can be transplanted from other areas (Delhi, Las Flores), or they can simply be the product of human imagination (Coast Royal, Corona del Mar). Other place names are borrowed from earlier names. Thus the various "lagunas" that have spread out across the South County, far from the original lakes named during the mission days. But while some names spread, others diminish. In mission times, "Santa Ana" was used to describe the coastal plain from Newport Bay up over the hills into the Pomona Valley and out to Chino. In the years before the county was formed, what would become Orange County was generally known as the Santa Ana Valley. Today that name is almost extinct. Many other early place names only survive as the names of streets, parks, or schools. I have chosen to take a broad approach in selecting the names for this book. I have tried to include all the major place names currently in use in the county, along with those historic names that may have faded from view but are still significant. Other names are included for what they can teach us about our local history, or simply for the pleasure of spinning a good yarn. Many other historians have explored our local place names over the years. In the early 1930s, Terry Stephenson wrote two interesting articles about Orange County place names. Erwin Gudde's California Place Names (first published in 1949 and now in its fourth edition) has been a standard work for more than half a century. Other local historians have discussed place names while writing about their own communities. But it was the late Don Meadows who compiled the only full-length study of the subject, Historic Place Names of Orange County (1966). I freely acknowledge my debt to my old friend and mentor -- and also to Don's family, who have allowed me to quote freely from his work. * * * It has been said that there are two kinds of books -- perfect books, and books that actually get published. I have opted for the latter. More research will continue to uncover additional information about our local place names, but in the meantime, I hope this book will prove useful as an interim report. To keep things simple, I have identified any quotes by the name of the author, the publication date, and a page number (Meadows, 1966:1). You can find a complete citation in the Selected Bibliography at the end of this book. I have tried to group together similar names, and keep cross-references to a minimum. Many entries also mention other place names, and more information can be found in those listings. To save space, I only give locations for places not readily available from modern sources, such as the Thomas Guide street atlas, or topographical maps. In the same way, any Spanish-English dictionary will translate most of the common Spanish words that remain a part of our local place names. If this book can help to spread a greater awareness and appreciation of Orange County's rich history, I will be grateful. If it encourages even one other person to begin their own research into our past, my efforts will have been richly rewarded.
-- Phil Brigandi
From the Back Cover
Orange County's place names take us through the history of California's second largest county, from Indian villages to modern master-planned communities. Over the years, Spanish explorers, residents and others left their mark by naming the places where they lived, worked, and traveled. Mexican ranchos, family farms, forgotten towns, and short-lived post offices have all had their names immortalized on the list of local place names. Here, in over 500 alphabetical listings, are hundreds of these intriguing glimpses into Orange County's colorful past.
Phil Brigandi has been researching and writing local history since 1975, and has more than 15 books to his credit, including Orange, The City `Round the Plaza; A Place Called Home, Orange's Architectural Legacy; and Old Orange County Courthouse, A Centennial History. He was also a contributor to the fourth edition of California Place Names. Brigandi has served on the board of directors of the Orange Community Historical Society, on the Orange County Historical Commission, and since 2003 has served as County Archivist for Orange County.