Ending in Long Beach, California
Well, we made it to the end of US-6! Don Milne here with an epilogue to our longest Roadtrip-'62 ™ journey. Thanks for traveling with me! There are a few things yet to see in Long Beach, California, so let’s get back on the road. If you see anything you like, you really should get yourself out on the road and enjoy it in person. While this virtual roadtrip has been fun, there's nothing like the real thing! At any time, click on an underlined word below to learn more about the places on the trip.
If you’re up early enough, you could catch a ferry out to Catalina Island. The island is 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles and is the southernmost island of California’s Channel Islands. Santa Catalina Island is just 22 miles long and 8 miles across, and other than at the towns where the ferries land, it is a beautiful, rugged wilderness. After a few failed attempts at resort development, the island was sold to the sons of Phineas Banning in 1891. You might remember Phineas Banning from yesterday, when we drove by the Banning Museum, his former home. We didn’t have time to see the museum yesterday, but we will now, as I’m not heading out to Catalina. The Banning Brothers developed the city of Avalon and paved the first roads into the island’s interior. They offered stagecoach tours around the island, built hunting lodges, and created access to Avalon’s beach areas. A fire in 1915 burned down half of Avalon’s buildings, forcing the brothers to sell the island in 1919. The new buyer was William Wrigley Jr., owner of the Wrigley chewing gum company. Wrigley invested millions of dollars in the island, building infrastructure including the Catalina Casino, which boasts the world’s largest circular ballroom. To promote the island to tourists, he made it the spring training home of the Chicago Cub’s baseball team, which he also owned.
Following his death, his son and daughter, Philip Wrigley and Dorothy Wrigley Offield, sold 88% of Santa Catalina Island to the Catalina Island Conservancy, which now operates the island. Attractions include the Casino, Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens, a country club, a working ranch, the Catalina Island Museum (which was still in the Casino building in 1962), and another Banning House. You can see the backcountry of the island by jeep tour, golfcart rental, or hiking. There are also scuba diving outings, glass bottom boat tours, a variety of watersports, zipline adventures, camping, and more. I’m pretty sure there were no ziplines in 1962, but most of the rest of the fun was there. Santa Catalina Island has been the subject of many songs, including one we might have heard in 1962. The Four Preps had a #2 hit song in 1958 with "26 Miles".
You can also catch a boat tour to see the local colony of sea lions and view dolphins and whales in open water. And, you can catch the whale watching tours from the mainland here in Long Beach, if you’re not going out to the island. Whether you go or not, you should go to See's Candies. See’s is a California institution, first opened in 1921 in Los Angeles. In just a few years there were twelve See’s Candies shops in the Los Angeles Area and they have since expanded all over the state. Factories are now in both Los Angeles and South San Francisco, with a local Long Beach store. I think I’ll treat myself for the end of a trip, with their Dark Molasses Chips: crispy wafers flavored with molasses and covered in dark chocolate.
Of course there are some tourist attractions in Long Beach that are too new for us. The wonderful Aquarium of the Pacific opened in 1998, the El Dorado Nature Center has only been around for about 40 years, and the Queen Mary was moored here as a hotel and tourist attraction in 1967. Of course, it roamed the open seas before that, so you could have taken a transatlantic cruise on it back in 1962. After World War II, the Queen Mary was restored to its passenger glory, having served as a troop transport during the war. She resumed regular passenger service across the Atlantic Ocean in 1947, and the 1950s are regarded as her golden days. Fast airline travel during the 1960s put the ship out of business and nearly bankrupted its parent company, Cunard Lines. Today, you can still see the authentic polished wood paneling, the original 1930s artwork, and all the Art Deco style details.
The Rancho Los Alamitos Historical Ranch & Gardens is also too new for us, having been privately occupied until 1968 when it was donated to the City of Long Beach. However, another historic rancho has been a city park and museum since 1955. The Rancho Los Cerritos museum is dedicated to the history of the Rancho and the surrounding area and is a national, state and city landmark. The historic building dates from before 1844, when it replaced two earlier buildings on the site. Additions and remodeling occurred since then, as the home was occupied until its donation in 1955. Guided tours are given. I’m going to spend most of my time in the gardens at Rancho Los Cerritos. They began as a formal, colonial-style garden in the 1840s, but with the sale of the property in the 1860s, they were transformed into a working garden providing food for the new owners. After another change of owners, in 1929 landscape architect Ralph D. Cornell designed a much-expanded garden that included native California plants and a rose garden, cutting garden, and wisteria arbor.
I guess that makes it lunch time. While Chee Chinese Restaurant has been here since 1962, in a building of classic 1960s restaurant architecture and signing, I’m not in the mood for Chinese today. Let’s head south from the end of old US-6, on Atlantic Avenue. That will take us downtown to the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, where the monument to the end of US-6 is. I’m sure we will find some older restaurants down there. Maybe Louis Burgers III, which is on our way and looks like a typical 1960s place. And after we eat, and now that I’m at the end of US-6, what do I do next? Go surfing at the beaches, see a Dodger’s baseball game, or head back north to visit Hollywood? Nope, just like the commercials used say, I’m going to Disneyland! Right from the point where old US-6 ended, I can hop onto old US-91 and head east to Anaheim, California. But I won’t be writing about Disneyland in 1962, because someone beat me to it! Check out Mindy’s “60 Days to 60 Years of Disneyland – 1962” and see for yourself. But if you want to see my detailed review of an amusement park in 1962, please read my Cedar Point, Ohio page.
And after I spend tomorrow at Disneyland, where to next: what highway is the next roadtrip down? Actually, I’m changing direction from here. Instead of a long trip down one highway, I’ll be providing short essays on destinations, people, news, music, and more from 1962. These will all appear on the front page, in a blog style, with the five most recent posts always on that page. Older posts will have their own archive at the Roadtrip-'62 ™ blog. Join me soon for the first post of news from 1962 on Roadtrip-'62 ™ !
All photos by the author and Copyright © 2017, 2021 - Donald Dale Milne, except as noted.
All other content Copyright © 2017, 2021 - Donald Dale Milne.