Crafted Living

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Utility Box Art #2

The art on this utility box pays homage to America’s first ostrich farm.  The Cawston Ostrich Farm was started in 1886 when Edward Cawston brought ostriches to California to cash in on the popularity of ostrich feathers as fashion by cutting out the middlemen and raising his own birds.

The ostrich is part of South Pasadena's heritage.

The ostrich is part of South Pasadena’s heritage.

Most of the birds he imported from South Africa and Texas died almost immediately, but he was soon able to encourage the remaining birds to breed.  His herd would swell to one hundred at its height.  Cawston soon realized that he could charge tourists and locals for ostrich rides while hawking lucrative ostrich memorabilia from the farm’s gift shop.


In the 1880’s, exceptional ostrich feathers could fetch as much as $5 a piece on the market.

The farm became so popular that the Pacific Electric Railway built a Red Car trolley stop nearby to accommodate the flood of visitors headed up the Arroyo Seco to see Cawston’s birds.


Considered an ornithological curiosity, ostriches have always been fascinating to watch.

In the 1910s, the market for ostrich plumes collapsed, but tourists continued to flock to ostrich farms well into the twentieth century. Visitors rode in ostrich-drawn carriages and wagons or even, in some cases, rode the birds bareback.



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One thought on “Utility Box Art #2

  1. Kistingers on said:

    I think ostrich races were part of or predated the Rose Bowl game==way back then.

    Rod Kistinger >

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