Regional Park has experienced many changes since
1846 when it was part of a Mexican land grant of
47,000 acres made to Teodosio Yorba, who called
it Rancho Lomas de Santiago (Hills of St.
The section that
would become Peters Canyon was known as Canon de
las Ranas (Canyon of the Frogs) because it
drained into the Cienega de las Ranas (Marsh of
the Frogs), now Upper Newport Bay. James Irvine
purchased the rancho in 1897 and leased the
canyon to several farmers including James Peters
who had been dry farming barley and beans in the
upper part of it since 1891. Peters built a
house and planted a eucalyptus grove near Little
Peters Lake in the lower part of the canyon.
A group of men
from Orange and Santa Ana leased land in the
canyon from Irvine in 1899, formed the Santiago
Golf Club and built a nine-hole course. Greens
were oil-soaked sand with fairways of hard dirt.
Golfers traveled to the club by buggy and
bicycle, carrying their lunches since their
bright red clubhouse served no food. Later
moving to the bluffs of Upper Newport Bay, then
to Newport Blvd., they reorganized as the Santa
Ana Country Club in 1923.
Water came to the
canyon when Irvine built two reservoirs, Upper
Peters Canyon Reservoir in 1931 and a lower
reservoir (Little Peters Lake now a flood
control basin) in 1940. The basins regulated the
Irvine Company's draft from Santiago Reservoir
and conserved runoff from the canyon's
watershed. Agriculture including orange groves
thrived with the availability of water.
Peters Canyon was
used as a training area for the U.S. Army during
World War II. Established in the eucalyptus
grove near Little Peters Lake, Camp Commander
fought mock battles with Camp Rathke, an Army
post two miles away in Irvine Regional Park.
Company dedicated 354 acres of Peters Canyon to
the County of Orange on March 3, 1992. Preserved
as open space, Peters Canyon Regional Park,
abounds with coastal sage, scrub, riparian,
freshwater marsh and grassland habitats.
Willows, sycamores and black cottonwood grow
along Peters Canyon Creek. Wild life and birds
are often encountered by those who hike, ride
mountain bikes or horses on the many trails.
Aren't we lucky
to have this beautiful area in our back yard?