TThe Woodill Wildfire was conceived and
produced in Tustin during
1952-58 by Dodge/Willys dealer B. R. “Woody”
As you drive
through the North Tustin area of Lemon Heights
and Cowan Heights, admiring the beautiful homes
that line the streets, it is hard to believe
that this was once raw, undeveloped land.
C.E. Utt and
Sherman Stevens, who formed the San Joaquin
Fruit Co. and planted citrus on 1,000 acres of
flat land purchased from James Irvine in 1906,
recognized the possibilities of the hill
property in 1910 and acquired 600 acres, which
would become known as Lemon Heights because of
the citrus they planted.
George E. Marcy,
a wealthy Chicago businessman who often visited
this area, later bought a large portion of the
Utt/Stevens property as well as other property
in the area, reaching a total of 17,000 acres.
established the headquarters for Marcy Ranch on
the west side of Newport Avenue, just north of
today’s Barrett Lane.
Most of the land
purchased for the ranch was unfit for
cultivation, but Marcy had other plans for it.
One of his goals was to develop a large park of
about 300 acres, similar to Smiley Heights in
Since the area
had only one well, water for irrigation was
brought from wells in Tustin and stored in a
large reservoir on the very top of the hill.
shady walks with an abundance of green planting
and a lake with swans were among the attractions
developed in the area. Access roads and scenic
drives were established.
Many visitors drove up the hill to enjoy both
the view and the park when it was completed. The
roads were popular test sites for those
considering the purchase of an automobile. A
vehicle that could maneuver the steep inclines
was considered powerful.
remains of the park is bordered by Cowan Heights
Drive, Skyline Drive and Equestrian Drive. Utt
kept about 200 acres south of the park for
growing citrus, grapes and peanuts.
Soon others were
acquiring land in the area. Samuel
Armor’s”History of Orange County, California,”
published in 1921 by the Historic Record Co.,
Los Angeles, lists former Chicagoan Robert M.
Simons as owning 90 acres of oranges and lemons
and Dr. and Mrs. Bartholomew with 65 acres, as
well as local residents, including Arthur Lyon,
who reportedly refused $108,000 for 39 acres of
citrus, and Dr. Wilella Waffle, a well-known
Santa Ana physician, who owned 30 acres of
“fine view of the valleys and plains,
constituting the central and south portions of
the county” that could be seen from the heights,
Armor predicted “doubtless many palatial
residences will be erected there in the near
future, whose occupants may thus perennially
enjoy the beauties of nature enhanced by the
arts of civilizations.”
came true when Walter Cowan purchased a large
chunk of the Marcy property with the intention
of using it for agricultural purposes, but
developed Cowan Heights after deciding the area
would make a wonderful residential area. Others
followed suit and Lemon Heights, which had only
a few homes including that of Utt, was also