People always ask, "Where's Azusa?" It sounds more like the name of a musical instrument than a city. Set in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains that line LA basin, Azusa can be quite warm in the summer, and quite cool during the winter nights. Its range of temperatures and its proximity to Los Angeles are both assets for a city known as the home of high tech aeronautical firms.
Azusa is one of Los Angeles County's oldest cities, founded in 1887 and incorporated 1898. 27 miles northeast of the City of Los Angeles, the region that calls itself the Canyon City, was once known for gold discovered in those very canyons. gold was discovered in the San Gabriel Canyon in 1854, and a town named El Doradoville was built at the fork of the San Gabriel with some 2,000 occupant miners who had filed on gold claims along the east fork of the canyon.
$12 million in gold was mined and shipped to various mints throughout the United States during the next 20 years but floods destroyed the town in 1861 and 1862.
The canyon region prone to flooding had been "on the maps" much earlier as a reference in the diary of Father Juan Crespi, who traveled with the Portola Expedition in 1769 north from San Diego in search of Monterey Bay. Crespi described an area with a river and valley three leagues wide and paralleled by a tall mountain range running east and west. One reference to Azusa spoke about a native American community known as Asuksa-nga. It's believed by many that Azusa was derived from the Indian name. A visit to Azusa's Durrell House Museum may provide additional insights and information into Azusa's golden past.Once home to the Lucky Lager brewery, which was built in1949, the facility was purchased by Miller Brewery which operates a brewery in Irwindale nearby. Lucky Lager wasn't so lucky. Nor was Aerojet, a firm that supplied and a healthy tax base to the city.
Aerojet was a rocket development company that was sued for groundwater contamination. Becoming a Superfund Site by the EPA in 1985, Aerojet eventually sold the facility to Northrop Grumman Corporation around 2001.
Things to see and do:
Durrell House Museum, 729 N. Dalton Ave, is maintained and operated by the Azusa Historical Society. The house is a colonial craftsman style home built in 1923 by former Azusa mayor M.T. Durrell. Azusa formed its historical society in 1964. The first museum was hosted in City Hall but was closed. In 1987 the daughter of a former town mayor donated her father's residence for the purpose of forming a museum to house information and collections. Moved from its long-time property on 575 E. Foothill Blvd. to the Civic Center Park, currently known as Veteran's Freedom Park, the Azusa Historical Museum welcomed the public to its new home in 1991. Call for hours: (626) 334-1382.
Azusa Foothill Drive-Inon historic Route 66 opened on December 18, 1961 and had it's final showing on December 28, 2001.