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In the Pipeline: A sign of the (bygone) times

July 02, 2012|By Chris Epting
(Courtesy Chris…)

While I was driving down Bushard Street in Fountain Valley recently, just after crossing Talbert Avenue, something caught my eye near the Taco Bell parking lot — a small, square-shaped green sign fixed to a metal post.

What drew my attention were the words atop the sign, "Blacksmith Shop." I pulled over to check it out and, to my pleasant surprise, discovered that the sign was a historic designation (my favorite kind of sign) indicating that, "In 1898, John Corbett opened a blacksmith shop here. It was later purchased by Charles Archer. Two other shops were located nearby."

A logo on the sign seemed to indicate that it had been placed during Fountain Valley's 50th anniversary celebration back in 2007.

Then, gazing across the street, I noticed another green sign. And another. Further down the block, yet another. It seemed the history of the intersection of Talbert and Bushard had been completely documented with these signs, and so I set off to read them.

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Within just a few minutes, I'd learned about the Escalante Circus, which each year would erect its tent on the site, marking the point where the circus parade would begin. I stood at the site where, in 1899, a post office was established, and next to it, between 1896 and 1898, a country store owned by Tom Talbert (Talbert, as you may know, was one of Orange County's most prominent citizens — in addition to being a farmer and working in real estate, he also served as mayor of Huntington Beach).

I crossed Bushard where another sign was located, to find that I was now standing where an elementary school had once stood in the early 1900s, replaced by a building in 1920 that wound up serving as city hall from 1962-64.

All of a sudden, the intersection of Talbert and Bushard took on a new life. Standing there, I could imagine how it may have looked, felt and sounded 100 years ago. And this was exciting.

Looking down Bushard, I thought I saw a few more signs on the next block, so I wandered off. I was rewarded with a green sign marking the site of the "Talbert Home," where "Sam and Hattie came here in 1897. He built a river levee and huge ditches so that the land would drain to permit regular farming."

Almost directly opposite the street, the former site of a "Buddhist Church." As the sign described, the church had been built in 1935, dedicated in 1936, and was the first Buddhist church in Orange County. In 1954, the church moved to Stanton, then moved to Anaheim in 1965.

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