Completion of the first major resort hotel in San Gabriel Valley was far from certain when Walter Raymond’s father (Emmons Raymond) visited the construction site during a rainstorm in the winter of 1885. While grading the hilltop, the work crew discovered granite requiring costly blasting operations. With over 200 workers sitting idle, the fate of the project was in question.
At sunrise the next morning the rain had stopped. Emmons was greeted by breathtaking views of the mountains and the surrounding grassy hillsides, young orchards and poppy fields. Emmons gave his son the money he needed to complete the hotel.
The spillover work crew hastily set up camp on this grassy field at the base of Raymond Hill. With Emmons Raymond giving his son’s hotel project the green light, there was much work to be done. The hill had to be reduced to a level wide enough for the construction of a major resort hotel – the largest ever built in San Gabriel Valley.
Raymond Hill was now a “flat top” and ready for the foundation work to begin. Notice the nursery operation of trees and shrubs planted in the foreground next to the workshops.
Over one million bricks were manufactured on site for the hotel’s foundation and two dozen chimneys.
The Royal Raymond project required several skilled work teams. The labor force varied for each phase of construction; swelling up to 250 workers during the leveling of the hill and hotel building.
The resort hotel project required massive amounts of lumber. Fortunately, this natural resource was plentiful. The mill operations of the Great Northwest supplied a constant flow of lumber to the California port cities: San Francisco, San Pedro (Los Angeles), and San Diego.
Shortly after grading and construction of the Royal Raymond were complete, a rainstorm hit the area creating muddy roads and the swollen Arroyo Seco impassable. Notice the deep cut erosion visible in the photo below.
Note: next week’s Throwback Thursday will tell the story of the Royal Raymond’s Grand Dedication Ball held on November 17, 1886, and the hotel’s first Thanksgiving the following week.
Throwback Thursday is written and produced by Rick Thomas