Local Altadena/Pasadena History

Owen Brown's grave

(N 34 12.966 W 118 09.676)

In the Altadena foothills, not too far from where we lived, we once accidentally came upon the site of Owen Brown's grave. It had a marker when we first found it, but that disappeared and the place was left unmarked for over a decade. The gravestone may have been refound.


The pronunciation is hah - hah - mow - gnaw. The indigenous inhabitants of Altadena and Pasadena were a Native American tribe who lived in the Arroyo Seco at the time General Portola of the Mexican Army made an exploratory expediton of Alta California in 1770. With the establishment of the San Gabriel Mission (1773) and the City of Los Angeles (1781), the south lands of California were properties claimed in the name of the King of Spain.

Altadena is the northernmost portion of Rancho San Pascual as established by the Mexican Government in 1826 after they had claimed independence from Spain. California was annexed in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 and became a state in 1850. The Mexican Ranchos were then open to settlement from other parts of the Country. Rancho San Pascual was settled by the Indiana Colony in 1874 and incorporated as Pasadena, a Chippewa name derived from a translation for "Crown of the Valley", in 1886. The highland areas, such as Altadena, remained undeveloped areas of the Los Angeles County.

El Molino Viejo

(N 34 7.153 W 118 7.657)

This is a lovely little spot that has ties to many of the prominent historical figures from the area. The original millstones disappeared for nearly a century and were found by General George S. Patton who remembered seeing them as a boy.

A brief history of El Molino Viejo:

Robert R. Blacker House

(N 34 07.651 W 118 07.897)

This is one of the Greene & Greene Craftsman bungalows built in Pasadena at the turn of the century. Today it is still a private residence, and our main interest in it is that it shares the same name as the undergraduate residence we lived in at Caltech. The interiors of Doc's house in the movie Back to the Future were filmed inside the Blacker House. The exterior shots of Doc's house were filmed at another National Historic Landmark, The Gamble House.

Other stuff:

Lynn Salmon <>{

Last updated: February 24, 2021