The old forbidden places

Here’s the portion of Greg Nelson’s letter that I saved for its own post, a few lines about the secret, and possibly dangerous, places near Pomona that kids of the ’50s and ’60s liked to get into. Take it away, Greg:

“As far as tunnels under Pomona goes, there were real tunnels, but they were the storm drains, and we used to break into them in Ganesha Park and travel miles around the town underground. My pal Phillip O’Brien was always talking me into going down there with him. I heard he died in a hang-glider accident somewhere around San Dimas Canyon years ago. I remember his parents were fanatical Catholics. They said a rosary together as a family every night. If you spent the night at his house you had to do it with them.

“Those storm drains were a forbidden place, and we stopped going once we saw the movie ‘Them’ about the giant bees that built nests in the Los Angeles storm drains.

“The other forbidden place to go was Walnut Falls, on the far side of Puddingstone, behind the dam. We loved to hike out there early on summer Saturdays and jump from the cliffs surrounding the pool created by the falls. In the summer there was just a trickle of water over the falls, and around noon the local L.A. Sheriffs would raid the place and chase us all away. It was too dangerous a place to let kids play, I guess.”

Your turn, readers: What risky stunts did you pull as kids? Where did you go that you knew you shouldn’t?

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  • Ren

    My friends and I used to go down in the storm drains but we used to go below the Pomona Mall. We got busted and since then they put a bar across the the storm drain that you see today. Everytime I walk by that drain it brings back the day we crawled out looking at some police officers black shoes.

    Now the falls on the far side of Puddingstone were a lot of fun. You had to drive in an orange grove to get to it and there was a cable you could use to climb down to the pond. Also there were a couple of cars down there. They say if you jump into the pond from the cliffs you never hit bottom.

    [So you ruined the storm drain experience for everyone after you? For shame, Ren. — DA]

  • Jason McPheron

    I went to the falls by Puddingstone once or twice. This would have been the early ’90s, and there were rumors that there was a pitchfork under the surface of the water below the falls. I know I never tried jumping off the falls ummm because I forgot my swimsuit yeah, thats it.

  • Linda Biscardi

    My mom used to go to confession at the church in Guasti before Easter every year. There was an Italian-speaking priest there and she preferred to confess in her native language. The church was always dark, lit mostly by the sun filtering through the stained glass and the open door. My mom would go into one door of the confessional, the priest would go into his door and my sister and I were left “alone” in the church. We snuck up into the choir loft a couple of times even bringing a small flashlight so we could navigate the stairs. We thought we were very brave considering whose house we were in. As I recall the view was worth the “danger” involved.

  • Bob House

    When the portion of the San Bernardino Freeway through Claremont was first completed in the mid-’50s, there were no fences. A number of us kids on South College Ave. made a game of running out to the median and back between cars.

    [I’m glad you’re still among us to tell us about it, Bob! — DA]

  • A. S. Ashley

    “THEM” — Ants, giant ANTS!

  • Eric


    In the last La Verne Community News (Feb. 2010), La Verne Historian Galen Beery submitted an article entitled “They Hiked to Puddingstone Falls” recounting the hiking trips of Lordsburg College students pre-1917 (it also includes a photo of the falls, from the 1890s). Many of the details Ren spoke of were mentioned in an essay that Mr. Beery quoted in his article from a student. Mr. Beery also recently made a trek to the falls, and provided details. Maybe he would allow you to reprint the article? I couldn’t find it online at this time…

  • Bob Terry

    In the late ’60s they used to bus the Jr. High kids from Diamond Bar to Fremont in Pomona. On some Fridays, I would tell my parents that I was going to spend the night with a “friend” and then take the bus to DB with my buddies. There was always something to do in the evening but I sometimes had no place to stay so I would crash in a friend’s parents’ car in the driveway or one time I slept in the restroom of the Chevron station by Golden Springs but some milkman ran me out of there at 4 in the morning…it was a long walk home and gave me time to come up with a good excuse.

  • Bob House

    More Misguided Fun: In the early ’60s, a wide concrete drainage channel was built between San Antonio Dam (above Claremont, off Mt. Baldy Rd.) and Prado Dam in Chino. These were the days when a “skateboard” was a 2×4 with the two halves of one of your sister’s roller skates nailed to it.

    We would take these boards up above Foothill Blvd., climb over the safety fence into the dry channel and take off on the smooth surface. You could go for miles. The only problem was momentuum — the skateboard built up such speed that you couldn’t get off it gracefully. If you tried to step off the speeding board, you would take maybe one step before stumbling and then tumbling to a stop — with your skateboard finally coming to rest far away down the channel.

    [Thanks for the misguided fun, Bob. — DA]

  • Darryl

    The old gravel pit just west of the 605 freeway on the north side of Lower Azusa Road at the confluence of Arcadia, El Monte and Irwindale used to have a nice lake there and everybody would sneak in and swim. The braver people would climb to the rim and go cliff diving. I did it once…feet first…and it felt like I got hit with an uppercut when I hit the water.

    I think it’s being filled in now.

  • Steve Mock

    Haha, well… since you asked… We used to have little league games at Westmont Park which was the southwest part of Pomona (I was from the Northeast part of town so this was during playoffs I think) and I used to look up at this cave on the side of a hill. Years later I finally went in that cave a ways but most of it was blocked off and there wasn’t much to it. But i had heard some wierded out stories about it.

    We also would throw our bikes over the fence at Puddingstone and ride them across the dam face — which was a difficult ride across at best!

    I never knew about any of these tunnels, but man I wish I did, I would be there in a heartbeat.

    We would also try to climb the roof at night of the Pilgrim Congregational Church on Holt and Garey in the 1980’s, until my friend fell and broke his collarbone.

    In Ganesha Park where the Fairplex hotel is now there used to be some Eucalyptus trees that lined the fence and a wash right below it… we used to ‘hang out’ there up in the trees and hop the fence to get into the fairgrounds when the security guards weren’t looking.

    Anyway I think I have incriminated myself enough, so im gonna stop for now!

    [Thanks for that catalog of criminality, Steve. Ha ha. — DA]

  • Bob Terry

    All the true Little League games played in the southside of Pomona were played at Ralph Welch Park on the corner of 9th & Buena Vista…maybe peewee’s were played in Westmont. As for the cave above Westmont, we used to go there circa 1967-69 until they closed it off…just too much “herbal relief” going on up there.

  • Steve Mock

    Hey Bob or Dave, is the face of the Westmont cave still there or did it get completely filled in?

    [Search for Westmont on this blog or in the Pomona A to Z category for my piece on Westmont. I mention the cave and lots of comments do too. — DA]

  • Scott

    Exploring the area and all of the fun placed it had to offer. Here’s a few memories for some of you.

    Spadra graveyard. YEARS ago we were exploring the hills and stumbled upon Spadra. Today, it’s well preserved and closed off.

    We spent MANY afternoons in the Westmont cave, finding crystals and rolling boulders.

    Claude Osteen’s Cycle park

    and theres a natural spring up on the side of the Westmont hills too! I moved away in 1980 and the smoked the cave in 82.

    Good times!!

  • Kerry McKee

    Living in Glendora my Mom would take us to the “Ganesha Plunge” to swim the day away. This was in the late ’50s. As a young kid, four or five years old, I used to climb the river rock wall and go back on the side of the hill exploring. That’s it! Not very exciting now, but at that age it was adring. 🙂

  • Mark Pietz

    There was access to one such drain across from Ganesha High School, and it went under the high school. Spooky! Long since covered over now.

    I thought Puddingstone Falls was long gone by the ’90s. I have a couple of pictures I took in the ’70s as they were filling it in. Or have I slipped a cog here? In 1969 and early ’70s still accessed through that orange grove. Used to sit on the cliffs and drink beer and jump into the pool.

  • Daniel Lamas

    in the early 90s i used to live in south pomona on olive and angela st in the ghetto apts and me and my friends used to go just south of there right before the 60fwy and theirs a drain opening there they call kings kongs asshole and we used to light up torches and go exploring the sewers and ended coming out deep in chino hills and we would be starving and eat the fruits that grow in chino hills and then walk home with the bottom of my pants wet and green from the sewer water. one of my friends later joined the olive street gang and was shot and killed in philadelphia elementary school. i knew him by indio.