Pump Station Art History

The Costa Mesa Sanitary District (CMSD) partnered with the Costa Mesa Historical Society to adorn several of its pump station control panels with artwork depicting the history of the City of Costa Mesa. These control panels house the electrical controls that pump wastewater through CMSD’s sewer system.


Gisler Pump Station
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“Native American Village” - In this mural painted by Richard Gabriel Chase, the residents of Lukup go about their daily lives. Their wikiups were practical dwellings that, should they become infested with vermin, were burned down and then rebuilt nearby. The village was located along with bluffs of the Santa Ana River in Costa Mesa.


Iowa Pump Station
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“Fairview Hotel” - The Fairview Hotel is the subject of this painting by Richard Gabriel Chase. The Hotel was a tourist attraction in the North Costa Mesa area beginning in the late 1880s. Its popularity persisted long after the boom town of Fairview collapsed, offering a picturesque location, home-style cooking, sports, and amusements – all for the attractive rate of $10 per week. The Hotel was auctioned off for its lumber and fixture value in 1920.


Adams Pump Station 
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“Estancia Adobe” - The Adams Pump Station is located nearest to the Estancia Adobe, California Historic Landmark #227 and one of the oldest surviving buildings in Orange County. The Adobe was built in about 1820 as a way station for cattle herders from Mission San Juan Capistrano. Since the Adobe’s restoration in 1966, the Costa Mesa Historical Society has operated the building as a museum.


Valley (Aviemore) Pump Station
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“Lowland Farming & Farm Life” - The Santa Ana River lowlands were used for agricultural purposes, such as pasturing cows at the Brown Dairy, or growing crops. In this photograph, Irving Meyer and Fred Brace survey their lowland cabbage patch (located south of what is now Adams Avenue) before the 1938 flood. After the flood, crops were poor because of the large amount of deposited silt, which was as deep as 9 feet on top of the original soil.


City Corporation Yard Pump Station 
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“Vaqueros Tending Herds on the Mesa” - Created by local published author and artist, Peggy Gardner, this piece depicts vaqueros (cattle drivers) herding cattle on the bluffs overlooking the Santa Ana River lowlands. This vantage point allowed the vaqueros to easily keep a watchful eye over their herds. The view of the vaquero faces South, toward what is now Fairview Park.


Santa Ana Pump Station
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“Ellis Brothers” - The Ellis brothers, Henley and Boyd, entered their 1909 Buick in the 1913 Los Angeles to Phoenix Road Race, also known as “The Cactus Derby.” Following roughly the path of the future Route 66, they finished in seventh place after stopping to assist another racer who had overturned near Yuma. The Ellis ranch was located on the east side of Irvine Avenue, near its intersection with East 22nd Street.


Irvine Pump Station
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“Costa Mesa Farming” - Pictured here is the Tom S. Harlin family harvesting grain in 1906 with help from relatives and neighbors. The photograph was taken from the vantage point of what is now Newport Boulevard, looking east toward what would become the Santa Ana Country Club.


21st Pump Station
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“Logsdon Fruit and Vegetable Stand” - The District’s 21st Pump Station is located near where the Logsdon Fruit and Vegetable Stand stood. The Stand was a retail outlet for local crops such as apples. In 1919, Ed Logsdon shipped the first rail carload of apples to eastern markets. In total, Logsdon sold more than 90 tons of apples and 1,000 gallons of cider in 1919.


19th Street Pump Station
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“Two Children With Apples” - Judge Donald Dodge's children, Donald Jr. and Betty, symbolize the youthful spirit of early Costa Mesa as they show prize-winning apples grown on their family farm. 

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“Costa Mesa Brochure” - This 1920s promotional brochure was published by the local Chamber of Commerce. The artwork suggests changing aspirations, with commerce, housing, harbor gateway, and beach recreation all upstaging Costa Mesa's agricultural roots.


Calvert Avenue Electrical Box

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“Diego Sepulveda Adobe” - Mural painted by Richard Gabriel Chase depicting the historic Diego Sepulveda Adobe, located at 1900 Adams Avenue. At first the site was an Indian settlement, visited occasionally by Spanish Padres from Mission San Juan Capistrano. In the early 1800s, the Capistrano cattle grazed in what is now Costa Mesa and the herdsmen needed shelter. And so, a small adobe was built to house them. As the mission period passed, the old Spanish land grants were partitioned and the adobe became the property of Don Diego Sepulveda, a former alcalde of the Pueblo de Los Angeles. 


Adams Avenue Electrical Box

Bovet Family pictured in front of Diego Sepulveda Adobe in 1904

“Bovet Family” - Photo of the Bovet family, who lived in the Diego Sepulveda Adobe in 1904. Shown here are Frank Bovet with his younger brother on a horse, his mother, Eva, and father, John. In the background are a corner of the adobe and one of the surrounding pepper trees.


Canyon Drive Pump Station

Two fiberglass car bodies fabricated by Glasspar of Costa Mesa and assembled and tested by MAMECO Engineering in Newport BeachImage of Disneyland's Autopia cars in action at the theme park attraction

“Autopia Cars” - Costa Mesa was nicknamed “little Detroit” for a period of time because of the fiberglass auto bodies built locally. One of these autos was a Glasspar & MEMECO collaboration, the fiberglass G-2, which became Disney’s Autopia cars. A total of 40 Autopia fiberglass car bodies were fabricated by Glasspar of Costa Mesa and assembled and tested by MAMECO Engineering in Newport Beach. 36 of the cars were painted in bright colors, while the remaining 4 cars were painted two-tone black and white to resemble police cars. The mini-police cars had sirens and flashing lights and could reach speeds of up to 40 mph, while the rest of the Autopia cars would creep along at speeds of 11 mph.


Canyon Generator

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"Dorado" - More than 100 Costa Mesa small businesses supported the marine industry of Newport-Mesa in the 1950s and 1960s, including boat builders, boat mechanics, part fabricators, and supply sellers for fiberglass and marine paint. Most of these once thriving businesses no longer exist in the city, but this photo represents them in their prime. Pictured is the 1960 33’ Dittmar-Donaldson built “Dorado” which still resides in the Balboa Yacht Basin.


Elden Avenue Pump Station

Image of aspiring cadets at the Santa Ana Army Air Base (SAAAB) undergoing training

“Santa Ana Army Air Base” - The Santa Ana Army Air Base (SAAAB) was under the jurisdiction of the West Coast Army Air Corps Training Command Center. The other two centers were Southeast Army Air Corps Training Center at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama and Gulf Coast Army Air Corps Center at Randolph Field, San Antonio, Texas. The latter two centers were activated on July 8, 1940, while SAAAB was activated on February 15, 1942. On June 20, 1941, the Army Air Corps became the Army Air Forces. All three bases were classification centers, where aspiring cadets were tested for aptitudes and classified as pilots, navigators or bombardiers – however the SAAAB, as the largest of the three bases, was the only base to provide pre-flight training for all three classifications. Combat personnel who trained at the three bases contributed greatly in the battles of World War II. Numerous SAAAB cadets returned to the Costa Mesa area after the war and became a major factor in the growth of Orange County. Today, the SAAAB land has been re-directed to other uses such as Orange Coast College, Vanguard University, Costa Mesa High School, Davis Elementary School, City of Costa Mesa Civic Center, Air National Guard 222nd Combat Communications Squadron, Orange County/State Fairgrounds, Tewinkle Park, and several commercial and residential areas.



The Costa Mesa Sanitary District would like to give a special thank you to the Costa Mesa Historical Society for their partnership in making this project possible!