Have you been up Mount Rubidoux lately? The road, officially named Huntington Drive, has been repaved and widened. The road was named after Henry Huntington, the Los Angeles area tycoon, who, among other things, expanded the Pacific Electric Railroad out to the Inland Empire. Huntington was a significant financial contributor to the development of the mountain, which Frank Miller, owner of the Mission Inn, promoted. The dedication of the road took place on February 22, 1907, at Fort Chittenden (another story) near the top of the mountain. The road, built initially for automobiles, has been restricted for many years to pedestrians due to the number of walkers and runners. From the beginning, hikers have made good use of the climb up the mountain. One such regular climber was a gentleman by the name of Ike Logan.
Health problems brought Isaac Logan from his home in Nova Scotia, Canada, to Southern California in 1887. He later recalled coming to the area in November 1887 with “one good lung and 50 cents in my pocket. I fully recovered my health, but someone stole my 50 cents.” First settling in the Murrieta area, he moved to Riverside in 1893 to become a Deputy Recorder for the newly formed Riverside County. In 1905, upon the death of the County Recorder, he was appointed to fill that position, a position to which he later was elected and served for some years.
The climate of Southern California helped to restore Ike’s health. He became very active in the Riverside Wheelmen’s Club (predecessor of the Riverside Cycle Club) and managed an early lacrosse team in Riverside. With some young friends for several years, he hiked to Elliotta Springs, an early pool built over a hot spring near Orange Street and Strong Street, every morning at 5 a.m. for a dip in the cold waters.
In 1910, Ike Logan built his own home in the shadow of Mount Rubidoux at 1555 Seventh Street (today 4555 Mission Inn Avenue).
After moving into this new home, Ike’s exercise practices took a new turn. Taking a footpath, he began to climb Mount Rubidoux early every morning and, at 7 a.m., would ring the bell near the mountain’s northern summit. Residents at the foot of the mountain said that they could set their clocks by the ringing of the bell. Rain or shine, for almost thirty years, Ike continued this practice. After vandals stole the bell clapper, Ike carried a hammer to signal the city that it was 7 a.m.
In May of 1941, Ike Logan responded with a letter to The Los Angeles Times concerning the benefit to soldiers of using oil on their feet. He related that for over 25 years, he had been climbing Mount Rubidoux to ring the 7 o’clock bell. On one such climb, he met a San Francisco school teacher who told him she rubbed oil on her feet to keep them fit for the long hours standing on them in teaching. He tried this remedy and found it quite helpful. Ike generally used either olive oil or castor oil. He closed his letter with the comment: “It is a much pleasanter experience to take castor oil that way instead of the usual prescription.”
In celebration of his 76th birthday on August 24, 1941, Ike made a special trip up the mountain to ring the bell at 7 a.m. He had only stopped this routine about two years previous to this. In an interview that day, he stated the best part of the day was between 4:30 and 8:00 a.m., which many people waste in bed. He spoke highly of physical exercise and Riverside orange juice for good health.
The man who became known as The Bell Ringer of Mount Rubidoux lived in his home in the shadows of the mountain until his death in 1948. Today, when you climb Mount Rubidoux, you can look down on his house when standing near the Huntington Shrine near the northern edge of the road up the mountain. Around the bend in the area overlooking the Loring memorial, look up to the west. Looking up from that area, you can see some small trees or shrubs at the highest point. That is where the bell was that Ike rang every morning. If you climb up to that summit, you have a gorgeous view of Riverside, with Fairmount Park slightly to the north. Although the bell is long gone, if you listen carefully at 7 a.m., you may hear the echoes of that bell.
Ike Logan, Henry Huntington, John Muir, Charles Loring, Booker T. Washington, Henry Coil and Frank Miller, and more each have a chapter in the book They Climbed the Mountain by Glenn Wenzel.