Remembering the Red Chief Motel


The Red Chief was in business on Route 66 in Cucamonga, pre-Rancho, from 1936 to 1977, although from 1962 on, it was the Sycamore Motel, reflecting its neighbor, the Sycamore Inn, according to phone directory listings. The office/restaurant building still exists, if heavily remodeled, as Gao Sushi.

The photo above comes from the Model Colony History Room of the Ontario City Library. The view above is looking east on Foothill. The photo below, courtesy of the Gentleman Racer blog, shows the building last year, before the Notice of Filing sign for development went up.



Now compare these two photos — above, from Marilyn Anderson’s Hometown Spirit newsletter; below, from Michelle Lindley — taken from the same vantage point but some time apart and with crucial differences.

The Red Chief sign has moved off the roof and to the roadway, with the cafe sign incorporated beneath; also, the motto “Excellent Food” has been added to the building. That’s all I noticed, except to observe that the photo below was taken on a hazy or smoggy day, as the mountains have disappeared.


The postcard below comes from the Model Colony History Room — “for those who care.”


The remaining images come courtesy of Jane Vath O’Connell. Lindley has a photo of the ashtray too, and as her grandparents owned the motel in its latter years, I’ll accept it as genuine even though it seems generic.





Do you have any memories of the motel? Post a comment for posterity’s sake, please.

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  • DebB

    This reminds me of something that would have been in the “Cars” movie. I have no memory of it, because I wasn’t around this area then. But $2 a night! Wow!

  • John E. Bredehoft (Empoprises)

    It’s been a long time since businesses out here had addresses such as “one mile east of…”

  • Lucian Hood

    I think I stayed there a couple of months 1975, it was next to the Sycamore Inn and I think the Sycamore Inn owned it or it was next door to the Red Chief … I remember the Kitchen that was by the front door but do not remember the cafe in front, I think it was a unit for rent? Next to Bear Gulch Creek, I do not think there is Creek anymore but Bear Gulch Park, Road, School. I … Lucian

  • Lucian Hood

    continued ..If you go to Google maps you will see the asphalt remaining of the Red Chief, behind Gao Sushi also read the early History of the Sycamore Inn, there were lots of Bears around Bear Gluch Creek. ..a fellow that grew up in Mt Baldy Village said the last he saw Bears was where a Mom and Cubs came to the Trout Ponds above Upland to have some Trout … L

  • Joanne Dallas

    It was more fun to stay in places like this.

  • Darin Kuna

    Too bad you didn’t contact me, Dave. I have a couple interior shots of the place from the 40’s and 1950.