E.g., 10/18/2017
Did You Know?

When President Harding died of a heart attack in San Francisco, his last stop on the tour was to have been Santa Catalina Island to visit his friend William Wrigley Jr. “In tribute to his fallen friend,” Mr. Wrigley planted the entire hilltop of Mt. Ada with red geraniums. People began calling it Scarlet Hill and on clear days, it could be seen from the mainland.

Over 100 Years of Quality Service

Time Line Santa Catalina Island &  Catalina Island Company

About 9,000 years ago, Santa Catalina Island was inhabited by Native Americans
 
1542
Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo sails to island.  Claimed the island for Spain and named it San Salvador after his flagship
 
1602
Sebastian Viscaino lands on the island on the eve of Saint Catherine’s of Alexandria Day and names the island Santa Catalina in her honor
 
1790’s
American, Russian and Aleut Indians hunt sea otters around the island, eventually eliminating otters from the area
 
1821
Mexico gains independence from Spain and Catalina becomes a Mexican territory
 
1846
Thomas Robbins, a Yankee trader, becomes the first private owner of the Island.  He was given a Mexican Land Grant by Mexico’s last Governor of California, Pio Pico.  Possibly traded for a horse and a silver saddle.  Santa Catalina Island is now part of the United States
 
1850
Island is settled by fishermen, lease holders and squatters who bring sheep and cattle to the island
 
1864
The entire island is owned by Trustees of James Lick Trust.  Land is leased to ranchers with estimated amounts grazing the island i.e. 22,000 sheep, 4,200 cattle, 15,000 goats
 
1864
During the Civil War, Union troops scout Island for a possible Indian Reservation.  Barracks were built at Two Harbors.  Barracks still stand today as Isthmus Yacht Club
 
1887
George Shatto buys Santa Catalina Island.  Dreams of building it into a tourist destination.  Built first hotel, Hotel Metropole, established “Tent City.”  Shatto’s sister-in-Law, Etta Whittney names Avalon, inspired by Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem “Idylls of the King”
 
1888
Shatto builds what is now the “oldest house” still standing on the west side of Avalon
 
1889
First church was built, Avalon Community Church
 
1890
“Lookout Cottage” was built by Peter Gano.  Cottage now called “Holly Hill House”
 
1890
Shatto defaults on his agreement with the Trustees of the James Lick Trust.  Island reverts back to the Trust
 
1892
The Banning Brothers purchase Santa Catalina Island from the Lick Estate (sheriff’s auction)
They establish the Golf Course (three holes then later nine.)  Oldest course west of the Mississippi.  Added tennis courts, fresh water and sewage system, toilets with salt water flush, fire hydrants with salt water, brought electricity to Avalon, improved roads and offered police and fire protection
 
1894
  • Bannings formed the Santa Catalina Island Company.  
  • William Banning named President of SCICo
  • First stagecoach tours to island’s interior
 
1895
Zahn Brothers start carrier pigeon messenger mail service to mainland
 
1898
The Avalon Tuna Club was founded.  Oldest sport fishing club in the United States
 
1899 Aquarium built by Bannings near site of present Antonio’s Cabaret
 
1900 Isthmus township (Two Harbors) survey initiated
 
1902
  • Electrical generation system installed.  
  • First Glass Bottom Boat launched (Cleopatra.) 
  • Company assumes operation of tent housing franchise
1904
  • Stagecoach road from Avalon to Isthmus (Two Harbors) completed
  • The cross channel vessel “Cabrillo” was launched
1906
Avalon land sales by Bannings – includes flats and eastern terrace lots
 
1908
Pleasure Pier built, commonly known as the Green Pier
 
1909
Avalon Freeholders Improvement Association formed and given title to Pleasure Pier
 
1912
County-wide ordinance prohibits sale of alcohol in Avalon providing initial push toward cityhood and thus self-determination on temperance issue
 
1913
City of Avalon incorporated
 
1914
Bond issue to raise funds for City to buy utility system from SCICo fails
 
1915
Fire devastates one-third of Avalon beginning with the largest hotel, Hotel Metropole
 
1917 
Hotel St. Catherine at Descanso Canyon begins construction
 
1918
Hotel St. Catherine opens for summer season
 
1919
  • Bannings sell SCICo to a Pasadena real estate syndicate that included William Wrigley Jr.
  • David Blankenhorn named president
  • William Wrigley Jr. acquires majority stock of SCICo and the Wilmington Transportation Company
1920
  • J. H. Patrick named president
  • Steamship “S.S. Avalon” is purchased.  Meteor Boat Company acquired and the Hotel Atwater was built
1921
  • Built Sugar Loaf Dance Casino at Casino Point
  • Ballpark was built for Chicago Cubs spring training.  Cubs trained from 1921 to 1951 season – took break for World War II
1923
Mining operations started
 
1924
  • “S.S. Catalina,” “Blanche W.,” and “M.V. Princess” launched
  • Thompson Reservoir built near Middle Ranch
1925
Deagan Chimes Tower was built
 
1926
Mining operations halted
 
1927
  • Wrigley Ocean Marathon with $25,000 prize, from Two Harbors to Palos Verdes
  • Catalina Tile and Pottery operations began
  • The Bird Park was created
1928
  • Catalina Country Club was built for Chicago Cubs Clubhouse
  • Pebbly Beach Road from Crescent Avenue to site of present Cabrillo Mole deeded to City 
1929
  • D. M. Renton completes construction of Catalina Casino
  • May 29, 1929 Grand Opening of the Casino Building    
1930
  • Catalina Jaunting Car Company acquired
  • Catalina Island Golf Course expanded to 18 holes
  • “M.V. Emperor” destroyed in storm (paddlewheel glass bottom boat)
1931
  • “M.V. Phoenix” built (paddlewheel glass bottom boat)
  • Catalina Airlines begins amphibian air service to Hamilton Beach
1932
  • William Wrigley Jr. passes away
  • Philip Wrigley named president of William Wrigley Jr. Company and the Santa Catalina Island Company
  • Artists Dorothy and Otis Shepard arrive to create Early California Spanish ambience in Avalon.
  • Construction begins on El Rancho Escondido – mid island – where champion Arabian horses are raised.
1934
Big Band music is broadcast by CBS across the nation, live from the Casino Ballroom
 
1935
  • “M.V. Empress” destroyed by storm (paddlewheel glass bottom boat)
  •  Dorothy and Otis Shepard’s “Early California Spanish” theme construction begins in Avalon
1937
SCICo exits tile and pottery business – sold molds to Gladding McBean 
 
1939
SCICo built a float and entered the Rose Parade on January 1, 1940
 
1940
Construction begins on the Airport-in-the-Sky
 
1942-1945
  • World War II – The Island became a Federal Military Zone and became a training base.  Maritime Service located in Avalon, Coast Guard at the Isthmus, OSS at Toyon Bay, Signal Corps at Camp Cactus and the Navy at the Isthmus.  The “SS Catalina,” “SS Avalon,” and the “Blanche W.”  were used by the military.  The Island was closed to visitors
1946
Airport-in-the-Sky completed and opened for commercial use
 
1947
“M. V. Toyon” launched
 
1948
Isthmus renamed Two Harbors by Philip and Helen Wrigley
 
1950
Inland Motor Tour begins
 
1951
Final spring training season in Avalon for Chicago Cubs
 
1953
Assistance provided in formation of and providing a home for the Catalina Island Museum Society
 
1954
  • Range and wildlife management program started
  • Year round small boat cross-channel service experiments begin in effort to find ways for more frequent, faster service as the future of the steamers are uncertain
 
1956
Arthur Meyerhoff Associates establish agency office in Avalon.  William Wrigley Jr.’s Chicago agency
 
1957
Doug and Audrey Bombard take over Catalina Cove and Camp Department – includes Two Harbors
 
1958
Pavilion Lodge opens
 
1959
“M.V. Princess” sold.  “M.V. Nautilus” launched
 
1960
Long range land use planning program started by SCICo
 
1962
Southern California Edison acquires water, electricity and gas utilities for the Island
 
1964
“S.S. Catalina” steamship is sold to MGRS
 
1965
SCICo grants University of Southern California 5.3 acres at Big Fisherman’s Cove (next to Isthmus Cove) for a Marine Science Center
 
1966
Hotel St. Catherine torn down
 
1967
  • Construction begins on USC Marine Science Center
  • Cabrillo Mole shore area and Avalon Cemetery given to City of Avalon
 
1969
Steamer Pier taken down
 
1970
Casino Walking Tour begins
 
1971
Agreements signed for condominium project at Hamilton Cove
 
1972
An additional 8.8 acres of land was made available to USC for construction of housing and food service complex at the Marine Science Center
Santa Catalina Island Conservancy formed
 
1973
Santa Catalina Island Company and Southern California Edison involved in early studies into seawater desalination viability for the Island
 
1974
SCICo signed an Open Space easement with Los Angeles County
 
1975
  • Stockholders of SCICo and members of the Wrigley and Offield families donate shares of SCICo to the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy which were redeemed for title to 88% of Santa Catalina Island land area to be preserved and protected in perpetuity
  • SCICo grants four ocean front parcels to City of Avalon
1977
  • Philip Knight Wrigley passes away
  • Claude Brooks named President of SCICo
 
1979
City of Avalon buys fire station location
 
1981
  • Local Coastal Plan for Santa Catalina Island approved and certified
  • Tour bus garage and service station relocated from Tremont Street to Pebbly Beach
 
1983
Portion of Terminal Building, destroyed by fire, is rebuilt and reopened as Busy Bee and Armstrong’s Seafood restaurants
 
1984
  • William (Bill) Wrigley named President of SCICo
  • Twilight Dining at Two Harbors begins (“Blanche W.” transportation)
1985
  • Visitors Information Center opens at corner of Crescent and Catalina Avenues
  • First units of Hamilton Cove condominium project sold
1986
  • SCICo resumes operation of Pavilion Hotel and Hotel Atwater from outside management company
  • In-house publication, “Water Lines” was launched
  • Telephone reservation department established for SCICo
  • “Tugs, Tours and Tempers Golf Tournament” started with 35 participants
1987
  • “M.V. Toyon” decommissioned (glass bottom boat)
  • “M.V. Moonstone” launched (glass bottom boat)
  • SCICo assumes operation of the Casino Ballroom and other SCICo properties
1988
  • William (Bill) Wrigley named CEO 
  • Paxson H. Offield (great grandson of William Wrigley Jr.) named President of SCICo
  • Second phase of “Old Terminal Building” construction project completed with opening of Antonio’s Cabaret, Catalina Gear and Big Olaf’s
  • SCICo assumes operation of Avalon Theatre
  • Hermit’s Gulch Campground opened
1989
  • Refurbished Casino Ballroom
  • JazzTrax concerts begin
  • 15 Year Concept Plans presented to the community
  • Desalination engineering cost study concluded
1990
  • Pavilion Lodge remodel began
  • Pointe Builders selected for Descanso Resort project
  • SCICO works with City to enable Eucalyptus Hill housing project
1991
  • Sightseeing Plaza redesigned
  • Descanso Resort and 15 year Plan Environmental Impact Report completed
1992
  • Pavilion Lodge receives AAA 3 Diamond Award following completion of remodel
  • City of Avalon certifies Descanso Resort and 15 year Plan Environmental Impact Report
1993
  • Paxson H. Offield named CEO
  • Avalon Theatre remodel started
  • Contract for the construction of a semi-submersible is signed
  • Improvements begin on the commercial areas of Pebbly Beach
  • SCICo donates Joe Machado Softball Field and Avalon Canyon Road to the City of Avalon
1994
  • Santa Catalina Island Company turns 100 years old
  • The Pointe Resort’s Development Agreement is submitted to the City for approval
  • Tremont Hall made available to the City for ten years, to be used as a Community Center
  • “Starlight,” the company’s first semi-submersible is built
  • Avalon Theatre is renewed.  Murals restored, seats re-covered 
1995
  • “M.V. Phoenix” sold
  • Carnival Cruises begins weekly calls
  • The Pointe Resort terminates their SCICo relationship and P.O.E (Paxson Offield Enterprises) takes over their operations
  • “Emerald,” the second semi-submersible is built
1996
The Atwater Hotel is remodeled
 
1997
  • Catalina Country Club building has a seismic retrofit and is remodeled
  • A new ticket booth is built on the Pleasure Pier
  • SCICo goes on-line with Company website
 
1997 and 1998
  • Wilmington Transportation Company (WT Co.), a subsidiary of SCICo is sold
  • Purchased Doug Bombard Enterprises (DBE) and established Two Harbor Enterprises (THE)
 
1999
  • William (Bill) Wrigley passes away
  • Paxson Offield is elected SCICo Chairman of the Board
  • P.O.E.’s Two Harbors operations are acquired by THE
2000
  • Catalina Island Resort Services is established and acquires P.O.E. Avalon operations
  • Catalina Cruises exits the commercial PUC regulated cross channel transportation
2001  
  • 9/11 impacts tourism dramatically
  • Ron Doutt named SCICo President
 
2002
Cape Canyon Tour begins
 
2003    
  • Pavilion Lodge remodeled
  • Catalina Country Club Restaurant remodel
 
2004  
  • Adventurous  tours introduced when Unimog is purchased
  • El Rancho Escondido Trophy Room and Gift Shop remodeled
  • Three more Flxible busses added to the two 1953 original models
  • All Flxibles switched to power steering and “sky” windows added
2005  
  • Severe rains closed mainland boat terminal and interior roads
  • Website upgraded; internet sales capability begins
2006  
  • New pier and dinghy docks at Two Harbors
  • Thirty-two new moorings approved and installed at Two Harbors
  • Island Press Block was upgraded
 
2007
  • Ron Doutt named Chief Executive Officer
  • Ground breaking grapevine planting at El Rancho Escondido
  • Casino lighting renovation
  • John Anglin steps down from Board of Directors.  Fetter, Lanza and Stephens join Board
  • May 10th a major fire began in the interior of the island
  • Cross channel service limited.  Boats were provided for people to evacuate island
  • Randall Herrel was hired as Executive Vice President and COO of SCICo
 
2008
Randall Herrel named President, Kenny Loggins performs at Casino
 
2009
  • Ron Doutt, President, retires 
  • Randall Herrel named Chief Executive Officer and President
  • Geoffrey C. Rusack elected Chairman of the Board
  • Marie Knowles joins Board of Directors
  • First grape harvest commenced September 1st at El Rancho Escondido
  • Old Tremont housing renovation
  • Triana housing added to portfolio
  • SeaTrek (with Scuba Luv)
  • Casino exterior renovation
  • New Gas Station at Two Harbors
 
2010  
  • Zip Line opened
  • Pavilion Hotel is completely remodeled and landscaped
  • Avalon Grille opens
  • Descanso Beach Club remodeled with cabanas and lounge chairs, new restrooms and landscaping
  • New Casino Theatre sound system installed
  • New Casino Behind the Scenes Tour
  • Grand Prix motorcycle race returns after fifty-two years 
 
2011
  • Launched Quality of Service Program
  • Climbing Wall installed at Descanso Beach
 
2012
  • New information technology solutions
  • Reorganization forms Santa Catalina Island Resort Services
  • Pebbly Beach Road easement granted to City who re-opens the road
 
2013
  • SCICo offices open in Irvine
  • Island enters Stage 1 water rationing
  • Bluewater Avalon Opens
  • Catalina Chimes Tower Foundation is formed
  • Project Catalina Renaissance launched
2014
  • Island Spa Catalina opens
  • Stage 2 water rationing implemented
  • Second phase of Descanso Beach Club improvement to facility
  • Shops at the Atwater opens
2015
  • Paxson H. Offield, former Chairman of the Board of SCICo passes away
  • Catherine’s Terrace, banquet and wedding venue, opens at Descanso Beach Club
  • Inn on Mt. Ada added to hotel portfolio
  • Pavilion and Riviera Block receive facelift 
  • Launched the island’s first homemade bakery – Ben’s Bakery
  • Helped launch new Latitude 33 retail shop
  • General Store at Two Harbors received interior face lift (new flooring and fixtures)
  • Golf Gardens picnic area installed
 
2016
  • Aerial Adventure and Cyclone vessel being planned
  • SeaTrek discontinued
  • Land in Island Plaza sold to Vons for new grocery store
  • Implemented free non-potable water program to help island residents better cope with drought restrictions
  • Opened Two Harbors Business Center
  • Launched Catalina Dreamin’ loyalty and reservation program at Two Harbors
  • Launched Catalina Falconry Experience at Descanso Beach Club
  • Entered Stage 3 water rationing
  • Major renovation on five units at Country Club Apartments
  • New Camping check-in office in the Tour Plaza (former Hen House/original Island Villa)
  • Field of Dreams returned to SCICo from City
  • Avalon Freight Service selected as new freight operator
 
2017
  • Aerial Adventure opens in time for summer season and Cyclone begins operating Flying Fish Trip and trips to Two Harbors
  • New Avalon Harbor Lights tour begins in July
  • Harbor Sands opens at Two Harbors (outdoor restaurant/bar and palapas)
  • Record rainfall of 23 inches.  Island returns to Stage 1 Water Rationing
  • Mr. Nings Chinese Restaurant announces retirement
  • Company’s operating name changed to Catalina Island Company

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