Throwback Thursday | Home of the World’s Largest Bird: Cawston Ostrich Farm

Cawston Ostrich Farm in South Pasadena showcased the many oddities of the world’s largest bird – much to the delight of its guests!

PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | Attendant feeds oranges to the ostriches (1906)

Edwin Cawston courted the early-20th-century public’s fascination with exotic foreign creatures when he began raising ostriches, for more than the use of their feathers in the clothing industry.

When Cawston brought the enormous, flightless, African birds onto prime real estate in the Arroyo Seco of South Pasadena, more than a few observers thought that the looniest bird might be him.

PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | Cawston Ostrich Farm in South Pasadena – Top (left to right): solar power experiment, entrance, feather fashion, Bottom (left to right): farm grounds, retail chain, L.A. storefront

One of the Strangest Sights in America

Edwin Cawston was determined to showcase struthio camelus, the biggest bird in the world at eight vertical feet and 350 pounds. The Cawston Ostrich Farm soon became one of the most popular Southern California attractions, drawing millions to watch people ride the birds bareback at a cruising speed of 35 miles per hour.

PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | Trainer takes a guest for a wild ride (1921)
PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | Crowd gathers for trainers riding ostriches bareback (1914)
PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | Attendant is on the run when the oranges run out (1929)
PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | Attendant demonstrates the height of an ostrich and its desire to be fed (1911)
PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | Cawston brochure showing some of the more curious features of the ostrich farm extraordinaire (1908)
PHOTO: Rick Thomas Collection | SouthPasadenan.com News | Visitor of the world famous ostrich farm poses for a souvenir photo (1912)

Throwback Thursday is written and produced by Rick Thomas

 

Rick Thomas
Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.

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