O.C. Answer Man: ‘Carbondale’ is a California Historical Landmark. What is it?

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Historical plaque dedication, Carbondale, 1976
Photo courtesy Orange County Archives


A: Located near the mouth of Silverado Canyon, the town of Carbondale disappeared long ago. The folks who discovered coal there in 1878 formed the Santa Clara Coal Mining Co. Their major customer was the Southern Pacific Railroad, which turned out to already own the land. The railroad took over and built a town with a store, saloon, hotel, school, and miners’ shacks. The town’s name, Harrisburg—after mine superintendent Tom Harris—was later changed to Carbondale. The boom went bust, and the town was nearly empty by 1883. Carbondale died when the saloon closed, but attempts at mining continued until 1917. Today, the only signs of Carbondale are historical plaques outside Calvary Chapel of the Canyons.

Chris Jepsen is the Answer Man. Have a question? Send it to cjepsen@socal.rr.com

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