Verdugo Views: The circuitous route of the historic Tioga Wolf

L.C. Brand’s custom-made Tioga Wolf has always intrigued vintage car buffs and local historians, including Arlene Vidor, president of Associates of Brand Library & Art Center. In preparation for the grand reopening of the library later this month, Vidor set out to learn more about the vehicle.

Some sleuthing on the Internet put her together with the car’s owner who told her the Wolf is in pristine condition and has completed many Horseless Carriage Club of America tours.

She also learned that it was built around 1913 by Moreland Truck Company in Burbank to Brand’s specifications and used as transport to his then-remote hideaway, Tioga Lodge, in the Mono Lake area.

Now, I don’t believe that Brand ever left a detailed account of his trips, but in 1914, five friends of his made the same trek and on their return, gave the Glendale Evening News a full account, and excerpts were reprinted in a 1955 Glendale News-Press edition, on file in Special Collections.

Early on July 3, 1914, the men gathered in downtown Los Angeles, packed themselves into two cars and after a brief fueling stop at Brand’s estate in Glendale, were off on a then-monumental road trip.

The drivers were Arthur Campbell, superintendent of the Glendale Consolidated Water Company, and Hugh Blue, of Brand’s Title Guarantee & Trust Company.

A few miles past Saugus they crossed the Los Angeles Aqueduct (opened just the year before) and stopped in Bouquet Canyon to “give their radiators a fresh drink of water for the rather heavy grade to Elizabeth Lake.”

After a night in a place busy with motorists stopping to refuel throughout the entire night, they were out by 4:50 a.m. By the time they reached Mojave they were hot from the sun and from the “fiery wind.” Nearing Big Pine, the roads were better, plus they had a good view of Mt. Whitney.

After Bishop, a mistake in the map led them up an old wagon road complete with deep ruts in the solid rock. The passengers got out and pushed both vehicles to the end of the rock road where they encountered deep sand and another grade. So, they got out the shovel and ax they had brought along and began digging.

They crossed the Owens River on two logs, only to find more sand. “After battling the sand for several hours, we reached the shores of Mono Lake and were greeted by Mr. Brand and his chauffeur, Fletcher Pomeroy.” The next morning they boarded Brand’s vehicle for the last 7 miles — mostly up a steep grade — to the lodge.

After a two-day visit, they began their return trip, through that same sand and over those same rough roads back to Los Angeles, no doubt the same roads that Pomeroy and Brand faced each summer.

Ten summers later, when he was just 62, Brand learned that he had terminal cancer.

Neither Brand nor the Tioga Wolf ever returned to Mono Lake. In April 1925, the Wolf carried Brand’s casket to his grave site on the hill above his mansion.

Brand left much of his property to the city and the mansion is now Brand Library. Vidor and the Brand Associates invite the public to come see the newly renovated library during its grand reopening events, beginning with a gala on Saturday, March 22 followed by a ribbon-cutting Thursday morning, March 27. The celebration continues on Sunday, March 30 when Brand Park and Library open to the public. For more information, see the Associates of Brand Library website.

Readers Write:

A reader wants to know what happened to the "Welcome to Montrose’’ sign that stood in the Verdugo Road median at the intersection of Verdugo and La Crescenta Avenue for many years. “Heading north on Verdugo, the sign said “Welcome to Montrose.” Heading south on Verdugo, the other side of the sign said “Return Safely to Montrose.” It also had a collection of logos of the local chapters of service organizations — Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, etc.,” wrote Lawrence Kalfayan. “I wonder when it was removed, and why — maybe it got old and weather-beaten? It was a warm, homey touch of hospitality.”


If you have questions, comments or memories to share, please write to Verdugo Views, c/o News-Press, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Please include your name, address and phone number.nd Floor, Glendale, CA 91203. Please include your name, address and phone number.

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