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.
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.
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.
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.