Murals from the old Red Chief Motel’s restaurant have been pulled from storage and put on view at Upland’s Cooper Museum. My column Wednesday is about the murals and the motel, with some details provided from the 1940s by an eyewitness.
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.
Rancho Cucamonga’s Terra Vista 6 may be the Inland Valley’s forgotten movie theater. It’s not owned by any of the majors and is tucked away off Town Center Drive behind the Terra Vista Town Center shopping center.
Sometimes it comes to mind, especially if I’m on Haven Avenue and see the small monument sign with that week’s titles, and think, I ought to go there sometime.
Weeks ago, I did, catching “Captain America: Civil War” back in May. (I couldn’t decide whether to write a column item or blog post and ended up doing neither, until now.) That evening, a Tuesday, I pulled up to the spacious, near-empty lot and walked around to the ticket window, which faces a courtyard near the food court.
Had I ever been to the Terra Vista 6? Not that I could recall. I rectified that by buying a ticket, at $8.50 a bargain these days. The ticket taker cheerfully checked my ticket and said, “This will be a good one.” Non-robotic service? It’s appreciated.
The mulitplex opened in 1991 — “The Doors” was among the first films that played — and was an Edwards originally; if you didn’t know that, the restrooms on the mezzanine level, an Edwards hallmark, would tip you off.
The theater has a 1980s, padded-wall look, like stepping back in time to a hokier era of cinema. The seats have been replaced, though, with semi-recliners. Basically, they tip back whether you want them to or not. It was not entirely comfortable, but it was okay, and the movie was good enough that I didn’t care.
Terra Vista 6 is owned by Tristone, which has five other theaters: Brea, Jurupa Valley, Palm Desert, Simi Valley and Temecula. Enjoy the Rancho Cucamonga one while it’s still around, flying under the valley’s radar.
When taking photos recently of the property around Rancho Cucamonga’s Sycamore Inn for which development is proposed, I paid a visit to the Bear Gulch monument and historical marker, on the western edge of the restaurant property.
The monument was erected in 1932 to mark a resting point of the 18th century. The two overland expeditions by Juan Bautista de Anza from Mexico to Northern California stopped there. Bear Gulch is the local name for the area where, evidently, bears had been spotted on numerous occasions in olden days.
You can check out the plaque below. It’s listed online in the Historical Marker Database.
My colleague Joe Blackstock explored the marker in a column in 2014. He wondered why the marker cites the minor Father Pedro Font when he was accompanying the better-known de Anza, and why the marker says 1779 when the expedition was actually in 1776 — and de Anza had previously been there in 1774.
More whimsically, reader Will Plunkett says he refers to the statue as the Monkey Bear because the bear’s face has a simian aspect.
Check it out sometime when you’re driving past on Foothill Boulevard or eating at the Sycamore, and maybe give a little growl.
Friday’s column may give you an ice cream headache: Farrell’s has left the Inland Valley for the second time. First it was Montclair in the 1980s. Now it’s Rancho Cucamonga this month. Plus: two more items, and a valley vignette. Above, a thwarted diner reads the message Tuesday afternoon about the closing.
If you want to read about the old Farrell’s, I posted about it here.
The Richfield sign atop the restored Cucamonga Service Station was put back in place Friday morning. Reader Diego Ramirez contributed the two photos above. The gas station, now a Route 66 museum, was built in 1915 and stands on Foothill Boulevard just west of Archibald Avenue.
You might recall that the rooftop sign was taken down in February until its height could be lowered by a couple of feet. Its placement interfered with the electronic billboard next door, and its owner, Lennar Advertising Co, had after all donated the service station to the nonprofit Route 66 Inland Empire California Association, so its request deserved consideration.
Below is a view of the newly installed sign on Monday, shot by me as a selfie out my window while stopped at a red light in the northbound turn lane! There’s a small shopping center going up to the west, as you can see.
The sleepy western entrance to Rancho Cucamonga may become home to 175 condos around the Sycamore Inn. My Friday column has some news on that, as well as other RC items, a Culture Corner and more.
On Sunday, I got to co-interview Billy Dee Williams onstage at Rancho Cucamonga’s Lewis Family Playhouse about his career as part of the library’s Star Wars Reads weekend of events. It was occasionally revealing, and occasionally tense. Read about it in my Wednesday column.
A gift basket of Frito-Lay items was delivered to our newsroom during my vacation. This was in response to my item March 27 about the Frito-Lay plant across the street from our Rancho Cucamonga office constructing an eight-story warehouse for its snack products prior to distribution. An editor kindly locked the basket in her office until my return today.
I’m not a big snacker, and even if I were I couldn’t eat all this, so I set it out for the staff, after taking a couple of items for later consumption. We’ll consider the basket a welcome gift from our new neighbors. No word yet on my idea of a chute to connect the warehouse to our breakroom…
In Wednesday’s column, there’s a short history of Rancho Cucamonga’s Red Hill Coffee Shop stretching back to the 1940s, followed by six items from around that city and a schedule for my movie nights in April at the Ontario library. Last column for the week as I’m on vacation. Back in print April 6.