CHINO - It was a time of sugar beets, pumping water from wells, farming and working from home.

"In those days, it was a chance to buy property, own your own land, raise crops and figure out how to make money off your land," said Dale Bright, Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce chairman.

In a rare find, members of the chamber came across a century-old map of a subdivided portion of the Chino Ranch made by the Chino Land and Water Co.

Bright came across the neatly folded map last November while cleaning the chamber's storage unit.

It was in a box filled with "old stuff" and VHS tapes.

"I pulled it out of files that were stored from the 1920s," he said. "I carefully unfolded it and said, `My God, what did we find?"'

In 1881, Richard Gird was the owner the 46,000-acre mapped land - 20,000 acres in the valley and the balance in the Chino Hills. In 1907, Chino Land Co. became the owners of the Chino Ranch.

With such a rare find, Bright knew the chamber needed to find a way to preserve the map.

Jamie Harwood, past chairman of the chamber board, took it to a couple of framing companies but was turned away. They said they didn't want to take responsibility for framing the delicate artifact.

Finally, Bright was introduced his past summer to Erin Jue of Los Angeles Art Conversation who specializes in the treatment of historic and artistic works of paper and objects.

When the map first came to Jue its original condition included major creases from being folded. Tears along creases as well as smaller creases could be found on the edges of map.

"The treatment consisted of humidifying the object and flattening it, which takes about a week for drying time and during that time the flaps were unfolded so you can see the entire image," said Jue, who is the co-owner of LAAC.

"And then the tears that were throughout the object were repaired with a very thin acrylic-toned Japanese tissue called `tengujo' and wheat starch paste, which is an archival adhesive."

The repair material is not very visible because it's been toned to visually match the color of the original map.

"So if you looked very closely, you can see the repairs, but if you stand 10 feet away you can't. It's only visible from the back, because that's where I applied it," Jue said.

When they got it back in August - after two months of healing - holes had been patched, the paper was fully flattened and it was treated for preservation purposes.

There was also specific instructions on how the map would be taken care of from now on.

The framing had to be of museum quality, with the Plexiglas having ultraviolet protection. It also can't be hung in bathrooms or anywhere near moisture and not on any outside walls, Bright said.

The map is in a plastic sleeve until the chamber can get it correctly framed, which Harwood estimates may cost more than $500.

A framed 24-by-36-inch photo copy of the map was presented as gifts during Chino and Chino Hills council meetings in September.

The 28-by-37-inch original blueprint made of linen and parchment paper includes photos of artesian water wells, beet sugar factories, residents' homes as well as facts to entice potential landowners.

For example, "Dairying is an important industry on the Chino Ranch," "Chino is in the heart of the great citrus belt of Southern California" and "There are over 100 artesian wells in successful operation in Chino Ranch."

The ranch was subdivided into boxes on the map.

If a box was colored in red it meant the land was sold - white meant unsold.

"Today, we talk about conserving water because it comes from up north and here we have water at the turn of the century that they didn't know what to do with," Bright said.

Interested buyers could pay $100 an acre and upward at 6 percent interest. If you wanted water it was $200 an acre.

Only two streets were noted on the map - Central and Euclid avenues. 

"I've lived here for 26 years and to see a map of any place in Southern California with only two streets on it, to me, is a slice of history," Harwood said.

Those interested in seeing the actual map can call the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce for an appointment at 909-627-6177.


Reach Canan via email, call her at 909-987-6397 ext. 425, or find her on Twitter @ChinoValleyNow.