Piru is located in Southern California's Santa Clara Valley between Interstate 5 and Highway 101. It is east of Santa Paula.
"The area was originally inhabited by the Tataviam Indians," according to Wikipedia. "They left information about themselves chiseled into and painted on rocky overhangs and secreted caves throughout the local mountains. By all accounts a peaceful tribe, the Tataviam were Christianized under the San Fernando Mission. Later they worked on large Spanish ranchos such as Rancho Camulos.
"The name Piru (originally pronounced 'Pea-roo' by the Indians) comes from the Tataviam word for the tule reeds growing along Piru Creek that were used in making baskets.
"The town was founded in 1887 by David C. Cook from Elgin, Illinois, a wealthy publisher of Sunday School tracts and supplies who bought the Rancho Temescal Mexican land grant from the sons of Ygnacio del Valle. Wanting to establish a 'Second Garden of Eden' in this part of the Santa Clara River Valley, Cook specified, tradition says, that the acreage be planted with fruits identified with the Biblical garden — apricots, dates, figs, grapes, olives and pomegranates. That same year, he built his first home, a Colonial Revival structure, at the southwest corner of Main and Center Streets.
"The coast rail line was built through the valley in 1887. Because a small depot was already going to be built in nearby Camulos, Charles Crocker of Southern Pacific Railroad refused to build a depot in Piru. This so annoyed David Cook that he built his own depot and hired a stationmaster. Cook laid out the town around the railroad in 1888.
"The U.S. Post Office Department established the Piru Post Office on June 14, 1888. Legend has it that the
change in pronunciation was brought about by conductors of Southern Pacific Railroad trains, who would shout out, 'Pie-roo!' when pulling into town. Another story tells of a Piru restaurant known for good pies. The owner hung a sign proclaiming, 'We Put The Pie In Piru.'
"In 1890, Cook built a lavish Queen Anne Style home a few blocks northwest of his original home, which came to be known as the Piru Mansion. A strict Methodist, he provided for construction of a church on the north side of Center Street, just west of Main. The church front is used in the movie J.W.Coop starring Cliff Robertson (1972). His home at Main and Center became the Piru Hotel.
"Cook sold out to the Piru Oil and Land Co. in 1900 after being cured of his ailments and realizing a profit due to recent oil discoveries.
"For her novel Ramona (1884), Helen Hunt Jackson had used nearby Rancho Camulos as one of the settings. Portions of the 1910 silent movie, Ramona, starring Mary Pickford were shot there. During the production, Pickford, D.W. Griffith and others
of the cast and crew, stayed at the Piru Hotel. The hotel later became known as the Mountain View Hotel. The name was later changed to the Round Rock Hotel, because of a large, round boulder located in the northeast corner of the front yard.
"On December 17, 1922, Jenks Harris, a would-be cowboy actor, and a gang of partners in crime, robbed the bank in Piru of $11,000. He said, when later caught in Los Angeles, that he conceived of the idea while on location at Piru with the film company Universal.
"In the 1950s, the Round Rock Hotel became the Round Rock Rest Home for elderly tenants, which it remained until 1989.
"It then became the Heritage Valley Inn. It is no longer functioning as an inn."
Note: These photos were taken with a consumer-grade DSLR before I purchased my present professional gear. As a result, the settings and angles were not ideal, so the photos should just be viewed and not ordered, unless you order a small print.
Keywords:Glenn Franco Simmons, Piru, Santa Clara County, Southern California, landscape
© Glenn Thomas Franco Simmons