NUGGETS OF CATALINA HISTORY

catalina HistoryIn the spirit of the recent holiday this week, I wanted to do my own historical digging into the island and the camp. I found some pretty unusual historical quirks that give the island its character.

In its early years of discovery and exploration, the island was popular for its otter hunting.

Introduced to Catalina Island in the 1930s initially to lessen the rattlesnake problem plaguing the island, wild pigs quickly became an invasive nuisance. They were also introduced for hunting reasons, but by the 1980s, they had negatively affected much of the native flora and fauna, including the endemic Catalina Ironwood, to the point where action was needed. An eradication program was put into place to eliminate the problem.

These little piggies were very much a part of camp life back then. Campers used to capture these baby piglets with leftover food and then leave them in convenient places such as their counselors’ beds, or a friend’s cabin.

This exact camp used to actually be a training camp for In fact, if you were a camper way back when, you probably had something called upper campfire. If you’re a camper now, you know this place as the Nine Square court. Either way, if you look hard enough, you can find bullet shells from the firing range that used to sit in that exact spot.

The Wrigley family (the family that also brought you Wrigley Chewing Gum) once owned the entire island. William Wrigley Jr. brought the baseball team he owned to Catalina Island for spring training for approximately 30 years—a little team called the Chicago Cubs. He left about 88% of the island to the conservancy on the island.

There are some pretty spooky stories about hauntings here on the island, but you’ll have to come to camp to hear those.

The airport in the sky, which is Catalina’s only airport, was actually created by Philip Wrigley and also Charlie Chaplin’s brother.

In 2007, there was a fire caused by a welder’s improper care. That fire caused an evacuation of Toyon Bay as it ate away at the eucalyptus grove at the heels of the camp.

Those four guardian palm trees that now shield our coast used to be a five-some. They had to be uprooted and moved, causing irreparable damage to one of them. When the camp looked into replacing that tree with another one to protect that five-tree icon, they learned that a similar tree came with a $10,000 bill. So four trees became the new icon.

 

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