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Wrightwood Papers: Finding Aid
mssHM 73800-73829  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Wrightwood Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1922-1929
    Collection Number: mssHM 73800-73829
    Extent: 30 items in 1 box
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains 30 items dealing with the development of Wrightwood, California, in the San Gabriel Mountains, from a cattle ranch and apple orchard into a vacation destination by Sumner B. Wright (1858-1944) and his business associates.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Wrightwood Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of Homer D. Crotty, January 1961.

    Historical Note

    Sumner Banks Wright (1858-1944) began buying up land in the Swarthout Valley of the San Gabriel Mountains at the turn of the 20th century; by the 1920s he had turned his considerable holdings in the valley into the Circle Mountain Cattle Company, which was both cattle ranch and apple orchard. During the 1920s Wright faced financial problems that led him to try and develop the ranch more profitably as a vacation destination for the greater Los Angeles area. By the end of the decade Wright had sold or lost much of the land as a result of his financial problems; despite this, his vision of the Wright ranch becoming a tourist destination was ultimately fulfilled. The completion of the Angeles Crest highway in 1956 coincided with Los Angeles' postwar boom, and brought a new generation of vacation-seeking LA suburbanites to the new tourist-ranches, hiking trails, and ski slopes of Wrightwood.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains 30 items dealing with the development of Wrightwood, California, in the San Gabriel Mountains, by Sumner B. Wright (1858-1944) and his business associates. The collection is divided into three main series, all arranged chronologically. All three sections deal with Wright's financially troubled years of the mid-late 1920s, when he and his business associates were taking steps to turn the cattle and apple operation into a vacation destination. The one exception is the first document in the container, which is the earliest and only document dating to 1922 and which deals with water-rights issues that affected the ranch's agricultural pursuits.
    The first part of the collection is composed of correspondence between Sumner B. Wright and his business associates in the development of Wrightwood: Los Angeles banker A. J. (Arthur J.) Wheeler and San Francisco attorney James M. Oliver. Also included are letters from specialists hired as consultants to report on the history, climate, and geography of the area as part of the development's progress. Topics include: the environment and geography of the San Gabriel Mountains, water and riparian rights, bills and investments, business negotiations, the National Forest Service, and the development of roads.
    The second part of the collection is composed of the legal and business documents or agreements made by and between Wright, Wheeler, and Oliver. These include acknowledgements of trusteeship, negotiation of investment-ownership in the land, and right to sell agreements.
    The third part of the collection is composed of documents that describe or report on the Wright ranch, none of which appear to have been published. Some are the reports filed by the specialists and consultants on the meteorological, geological, and environmental conditions of the Wright ranch land, including reports by Ford A. Carpenter and Southern California Edison Company; others are documents that broadly survey and describe the ranch's history, location, water rights, and development potential - usually in a favorable light. One of these reports contains photographs of the landscape and environment.


    Correspondence arranged chronologically, followed by two memoranda of agreement.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    United States. Forest Service.
    Ranches -- California -- Los Angeles County.
    Water rights -- California -- Los Angeles.
    California -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    Los Angeles (Calif.)
    San Gabriel Mountains (Calif.) -- Recreational use.
    Wrightwood (Calif.)


    Business records -- California -- 20th century.
    Letters (correspondence) -- California -- 20th century.
    Reports -- California -- 20th century.

    Additional Contributors

    Carpenter, Ford A. (Ford Ashman), b. 1868.
    Oliver, James M.
    Wheeler, A. J.
    Wright, Sumner B.
    Southern California Edison Company.