The Arroyo Rosa de Castilla once coursed its way through the hills and canyons on what is now the eastern edge of El Sereno. Before Spanish and Mexican colonists arrived, the stream helped sustained a Tongva indian village. Under Mexican rule, the sprawling Rancho Rosa de Castilla adopted the name of the stream, which later provided essential water to a sheep herding ranch operated by Argentine immigrants, according to the El Sereno Historical Society. Today, the Arroyo Rosa de Castilla has been mostly forgotten and covered up, with the stream visible in one case for about three blocks as it flows down a concrete channel next to the southbound 710 Freeway before disappearing under a tangle of roads and freeway lanes near Cal State L.A. Now, there is an effort to raise awareness of Arroyo Rosa de Castilla and its role in El Sereno and Los Angeles history.
While there is a street named Rancho Paseo Castilla, which runs through Cal State L.A., there are no other signs letting residents know of the existence of the Arroyo Rosa de Castilla. The fledgling El Sereno Historical Society would like to change that. On My Historic L.A., a website operated by the city’s Office of Historic Resources, the Jorge Garcia of the El Sereno Historical Society said it’s time for a sign:
Maybe it’s time we gave this little known and always-flowing Arroyo the recognition it rightly deserves. A plaque and/or the official recognition of its importance in the annals of LA’s and El Sereno’s history is the least we can do for the Arroy0 …
There does not appear to be any easy public access, however, to the concrete channel, which runs at the bottom of a narrow canyon between the freeway and a dirt path behind a row of homes. Garcia, who spent the past several months visiting libraries, interviewing historians and tracking down aerial photos of the arroyo, said the historical society is open to suggestions about where to place a plaque. “We would like to see it placed somewhere accessible and viewable by all, so that the public can read what the plaque is commemorating.”
Why even bother installing a plaque to honor a stream that has nearly disappeared from view as well as memory? Garcia said that the existence of the stream provided the water that allowed the cattle and sheep ranchers to remain independent. In fact, the Batz family, which operated a sheep herding ranch on the land after 1852, was able to expand their holdings while other ranch owners were selling off land to subdividers, Garcia said.
- The Little Arroyo That Forged El Sereno’s History. ESHS