Throwback Thursday | Thanksgiving Edition

A look back at Cawston Ostrich Farm

PHOTO: courtesy South Pasadena Public Library | | Cawston Ostrich Farm in South Pasadena

Probably the first thing that comes to mind on Thanksgiving is the meal. For many families, the turkey is to Thanksgiving as the pine tree is to the winter holidays. A century ago in South Pasadena, another bird took center stage – the ostrich. Our city was the location of the largest farm of its kind in America.

Today, the ostrich is known for its meat: “Unlike chicken or turkey, it resembles beef in taste, coloring, and texture. Often compared to filet mignon, it’s also leaner – 97-percent fat free – lower in cholesterol, and higher in iron than beef.”

From 1896 to 1934, the Cawston Ostrich Farm in South Pasadena sold ostrich feather fashion exclusively – factory direct by mail order and storefronts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City. The ostrich farm was also a world-famous tourist attraction and home of the world’s first successful solar power experiment for commercial use.

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Throwback Thursday is written and produced by 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.