Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hiking Adventure #3 Devil's Gate Dam

Address: Oak Grove Drive & Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

Top Elevation: 1310 ft. 

Our hiking adventure began as we parked at Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena, (No there is no typo there) This park is named after a chief of a Native American tribe who resided in the area during the late 1700's. In this adventure our main goal was to see the Devil's Gate Dam, but also to hike one side of the Arroyo Seco. The Arroyo Seco was one of the Los Angeles River streams explored by Gaspar de Portola in 1770s. He named the stream Arroyo Seco, for of all the canyons he had seen; this stream  had the least water hence the name seco, which means dry in English. Although considered a dry steam, floods in 1914 and 1916 destroyed parts of Pasadena and Los Angeles which led engineers to build a dam to control future floods. 

Devil's Gate Dam, built in 1920 was named for the appearance of a horned devil face in a narrow canyon of the Arroyo Seco. Native Americans thought the area near Devil’s Gate to be haunted and they forbade their people from frequenting the spot. They also believe that this area would lead them to another dimension and people would disappear. Now some of the stories that I've have read are all very similar to one another but I am not sure how accurate they can be since I could not retrieve any newspaper stories just stories from other credible blogs. 

History of Devil's Gate Dam in Pasadena
Construction of Devil's Gate Dam 1920
More pictures of Devil's Dam Pasadena

According to research posted by Carol of Los Angeles Ghost Patrol:

“The Devil’s Gate’s notoriety continued to build through the mid-twentieth century with the disappearance of at least four children in the area. In August 1956, 13-year old Donald Lee Baker and 11-year old Brenda Howell went missing while riding their bicycles in the recreation area behind the dam. They were last seen alive on a Sunday evening but never returned home. Hundreds of volunteers searched the foothills of the San Gabriels, while Navy divers checked the reservoir. All that was found were their bicycles and Brenda’s jacket. Less than a year later in March 1957, 8-year old Tommy Bowman vanished while hiking with his family; he simply ran ahead, rounded a bend and disappeared. Again, search parties scoured the area, on foot and horseback as well as in helicopters. Three years later, 6-year old Bruce Kremen also vanished from the nearby YMCA camp. The boy was not feeling well and a camp counselor watched him walk back towards the camp, not more than 300 yards away. He never arrived.”

All these stories might be urban legends but I am sure there some true stories out there. Due to this current drought there is no water surrounding the dam, so you will not see any water if you go hike around this season. Some hikers have had problems and drowned due to floods so be careful when to go. The hike took us roughly a good 2 hours and 26 minutes but it involved a lot of stopping and creating our own trails to make it a little bit more difficult. We passed the Dam and continued through this tunnel which led to 210 freeway overpass, this hike and trail I believe continues on past Colorado Street Bridge (AKA: Suicide Bridge) I do strongly encourage any hikers to be careful with bugs and mosquitos.  Whether you’re into scary or haunted place this is a great hike that you can do without even following a specific trail.

Dam sign

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