7 ancient wonders

Last Aug. 22 I wrote a column on the Seven Wonders of the Inland Valley, a silly local response to the global Seven Wonders list that had just been revised.

Like the revision, my list was made up of seven things still in existence: The Donahoo’s rooster, the Montclair Mystery Tower, the Magic Lamp Inn, the University of La Verne Super Tents, the “full order” at Vince’s Spaghetti, 94-year-old restaurateur Ramon Sanchez of Ramon’s Cactus Patch and, to throw in a ringer, a completely faded stop sign in Rancho Cucamonga (which was replaced by a cherry red model within days of the column’s appearance).

After my list broke, reader Derek Deason sent me a note with an idea:

“Hey, about your Seven Wonders of the Inland Valley, you should do a column on the Seven Ancient Wonders of the Inland Valley. One could be the Valley Drive-In sign. Or the big Christmas tree that used to be at the Pomona Valley Center mall at Holt and Indian Hill, before Sears left and it was an open-air mall.”

Not a bad idea, eh? I let this sit around (in those pre-blog days)(how did we ever get along without my blog?) with the thought of following up at some point.

Well, let’s do it here. Any ideas of iconic, vanished wonders that should be on the list?

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  • Randall Volm

    Dear David,

    Yes, by all means, how about the Thunderbird Lanes sign that stood proudly off the 10 freeway @ Mountain Avenue in Ontario for many, many years?

    [That’s a good one. Note that the sign is on display in the Ontario Museum of History and Art for anyone who wishes to pay obeisance to the Thunderbird. — DA]

  • John Clifford

    As previously noted: Henry’s.

  • JMac

    My iconic symbols may not be others’, but how about these……..the neon Thunderbird atop Thunderbird Bowling Alley, the Shark of Ganesha Park, the neon Fun Zone sigh at the Fair, along with the giant Ferris Wheel, and the Googie-style architecture of Henry’s.

    [Tell me about the Shark. Haven’t heard of that one. — DA]

  • richard e nunez

    there use to be a sign that hung above holt between indianhill and mills.it would say welcome to pomona home of the los angeles county fair.and the mt.baldy drive in.

  • Lois R.

    What about all of the Bob’s Big Boy restaurants that used to be on about every corner? I kind of miss that statue that greeted you as you went in. The last Bob’s that I remember was the one in Pomona on Holt just east of Garey. I know it lasted into the ’90s.

  • Teri Siaz

    Dorm room 108 — the left bed — in Sanborn Hall at Pitzer College.

  • JMac

    David, the Ganesha Park Shark was a blue fiberglass Mako (I think). I have no idea of its exact birth, but it disappeared sometime in the ’80s and returned in the ’90s, I believe.

    Its ’90s reincarnation was painted black, I presume to keep the taggers at bay. But alas, it was removed at some point, probably due to some liability issues. I’ve submitted a link to view the last version of the shark.There are also pics of his little buddies, the sea turtles at the great library collections site.


  • ray escoto

    The Ganesha Shark was made out of fiberglass. It could only take so many clubbings until it would splinter into unsafe condition. It was repaired & brought back to life in the early ’90s as indicated by JMac. The Shark may be retired and circling the Pomona Park Dept Yard. I preferred its teal-looking color.

  • ray escoto

    Remember “Christmas Tree Lane” a beautiful display of lights in the median along Huntington Ave in Pomona ?? A little help on this one !!

  • Donna

    How about that elephant statue? The one that ended up in the front yard on a home on Euclid in Ontario (I forgot where it went). It was certainly a wonder for anyone with kids in the car.

    I also vote for the Thunderbird sign. I grew up in Covina and always knew we were getting close to home when I saw it.

    [I believe the elephant statue was claimed by the L.A. Zoo, its original and rightful owner, circa 2000. — DA]

  • Charles Bentley


    The ancient wonders of the Inland Valley. Choosing seven will certainly be harder than deciding which establishment to make your “restaurant of the week.”

    Here are a few ideas, large and small:

    * Ontario Motor Speedway. Long before Fontana lured NASCAR fans, OMS offered a facility to rival Indy. It lasted less than a dozen years but generated memories (and headaches) that remain firmly etched in the local memory.

    * The Gravity Mule Car. From the mega-horse power displayed at the Big O, switch to the single mule power of this trolley that ran along the Euclid Avenue median. Proof that public transit isn’t a new idea in the IV.

    * General Dynamics, Pomona. This defense industry plant helped bring technological acclaim to the IV. It also made it a prime target for nuclear attack during the Cold War.

    * Kapu-Kai Bowling Alley/Restaurant. A place to meet, eat and compete along old Route 66, this monument to all things Tiki failed to survive the flood that helped reshape Vineyard Avenue.

    * Smudge Pots. These malodorous oil-burning creations served the Inland Valley citrus industry as protectors and saviors for some seven decades. While dangerous to use and hazardous to inhale, the smudge pot proved a healthy influence to the economic life of the IV and left a clear mark on its history.

    Of course there are many more wonders to ponder before assembling the final list. For what it’s worth, I’d add that a list of the most influential individuals in IV history would make an interesting blog effort.

    [As always, a thought-provoking post, Charles. — DA]

  • Lauren

    What about the Candy Canes on Second Street in Upland that came out every Christmas? I don’t remember seeing them as much now — I guess some of the new owners don’t have them?

  • Gene Harvey

    Wonders that aren’t here anymore? What about the Greek Theater in Ganesha Park?

  • Bob A.

    Not sure it qualifies as a “wonder,” but I miss the old Comic Bookie sign outside the Old Schoolhouse in Claremont. I remember a plan hatched among some friends to steal it and take it to the store’s new location, but someone got to it before we could muster the courage.

    [Your friends sound like reprobates. Just kidding. I’m one of Bob’s friends! — DA]

  • Will Plunkett

    How about the Pipeline skateboard “park” on Arrow Route [Way? Avenue?] between Benson and Central? It was a collection of several drained in-ground swimming pools where vistors could watch the skaters FOR FREE!

    Roller City (I see a theme here) at Vineyard and Foothill in Cucamonga was a popular hangout. Now the name’s in Fontana but I’m a tad old [ancient?] for that these days.

    The Thomas Winery (across the street from where Roller City was) was the oldest one in CA, according to the wine barrel sign out front.

  • tkranawetter

    Coral snake at Zodys urban myth? Ice House Lodge.

  • Wayne Nicholas

    The Ganesha Park shark was originally blue and was born in 1962 of 63. I remember learning to climb on him the first year he was put in that old sand pit. In the summer we would swim in the park pool. I haven’t been back there in 20 years so it is nice to know the shark is back. How about the pool? By the say, my son learned to climb the shark when he was 4 back in the ’70s.

    [There’s still a Ganesha Park pool, yes. — DA]

  • Wayne Nicholas

    So, the seven ancient wonders of the Inland Valley?

    How about Ford’s Diner on the corner of Euclid Ave and Holt in Ontario?

    Buffum’s Department Store in the Pomona Mall.

    Mel’s Drive In on Holt Ave.

    A & W Drive In.

    Newberry’s Department Store with that darn mynah bird in the basement.

    Some still are around like the old YMCA where I learned to swim in 1962?

    Ah, memories.

    [Not a bad list, Wayne. — DA]

  • Mike Barrow

    Shot my first 200 (219) when I was 10 at Thunderbird Lanes in 1960. I was a fifth grader at Sierra Vista in Upland. Good memory! Thanx!

  • Judy ayala

    I remember Christmas tree lane @ Huntington!!!

    I lived on William st in the 60-70’s. I loved when they lit the trees every year!!

    I wish they would do it one more time!!!!

    [Are you sure they don’t? — DA]

  • Robert Dalley

    There used to be a small comic book shop on with comic characters painted on the wall behind it. I believe is was on B and Vine in ontario.