Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead



By Charles N. Stevens

Photos by Dolores Seidman

Sometimes very interesting places are rather close to home. One such place is Oak Glen, a village devoted to growing apples and making products derived from them. Located in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains at an altitude of 4,734 feet, the crisp autumn days are just right for growing many apple varieties. The summers are cool and winters snow-dusted. Long ago the Cahuilla Indians picked acorns and leached the bitterness out of  them in the local streams.

From Interstate 10 we turned off at Yucaipa, passed through the town, then took the Oak Glen Road to our destination.

We first stopped at the Snowline Orchard and Winery, just off the main road. There was an autumn nip in the air which paired nicely with the crispness of apples. Once inside their sales room we followed the scent of apple cider donuts simmering in clear hot oil. As they are irresistible, I bought a small sack full of them. We reached into the warm sack, plucked them out and nibbled on them as we strolled through the store. They were incredibly delicious, so much so that we finished them in short order.

We wandered through the Snowline Store, marveling at all the products made from apples as well as the varieties of apples themselves. There was apple juice, apple cider, apple butter and jellies. Several varieties of apple were nestled in baskets for sale, one of each kind cut up in pieces for tasting. These apples did not gleam in the lights the way waxed and polished ones do in the supermarkets, the growers choosing to sell them naturally, just as they were on the trees when they picked them.

The Snowline Orchard was established in 1908, the orchard itself planted in 1898. As a symbol of its many years of operation, a mighty chestnut tree stands nearby, one of the oldest in California. We enjoyed its vast shade and the chestnuts with their spiny coats scattered around its base. We picked up some of the nuts, brown, hard and smooth.

Walking past the buildings, we ventured out toward the groves of apple trees, the trees all in rows, the 8,000 foot peaks of the San Bernardino Mountains as a magnificent backdrop. During the apple bearing season in September and early October, some orchards allow the public to pick their own apples.

We drove on to Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho, closer to the village, sometimes passing through stands of ponderosa pines. When we got out of the car, we were immediately drawn to the shouts of elementary school students, yelling at the top of their squeaky voices as a young man operated a press to squeeze the juice out of apples. The young man egged them on with his funny remarks. At the end of the pressing, he held up a jug of the juice he had extracted. They were amazed. They then, in their bright blue shirts, marched to the nearby park for lunch, the man with the jug following them. They were going to get to taste it. Before they left, the man tossed out the remaining pulp into a large container. Bees swarmed over the discarded pulp, attracted to all that sweetness.

We stepped into their store which was similar to the one in Snowline, again marveling at all the apple products, including many types of candied apples, all in rows with their sticks pointing upward. Some were covered with nuts.

Many varieties of apples were on sale with pieces for tasting. There were Spartan, Fuji, Granny Smith, Arkansas Black, Delicious, and Rome Beauty and even more. Some I had never heard of.

Oak Glen is also noted for its strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, pears and pumpkins, mostly during late spring and summer.

Finally we had lunch at a restaurant in the village where I tasted what I had been waiting for all day, fresh apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream.


Many varieties of apples are on sale along with small pieces for tasting.

Many varieties of apples are on sale along with small pieces for tasting.

At Snowline stands an ancient chestnut tree, its nuts scattered on the ground.

At Snowline stands an ancient chestnut tree, its nuts scattered on the ground.

This is the old cider mill at Snowline.

This is the old cider mill at Snowline.

 Apple orchards are everywhere with the scene of the San Bernardino Mountains behind them.

Apple orchards are everywhere with the scene of the San Bernardino Mountains behind them.

MONTEREY PARK AUTHOR PUBLISHES 4th BOOK – Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s:

Charles “Norm” Stevens, a 43 year resident of Monterey Park has recently published his 4th book: Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s. This is the story of a young boy growing up in Inglewood, California in the l930’s. This was a time during the depression when unemployment was affecting many and the banks were closed, while the clouds of war were gathering in Europe. But he was lucky enough to be raised in a loving family, the power of that love reflected throughout his stories.

Stevens is the author of three previous books about his experiences during WWII:

An Innocent at Polebrook: A Memoir of an 8th Air Force Bombardier (Story of his 34 bombing missions from his base at Polebrook, England over Germany and France)

The Innocent Cadet: Becoming A World War II Bombardier (A prequel to the first, telling of his training in the U.S. before going overseas into combat.)

Back from Combat: A WWII Bombardier Faces His Military Future from Combat: (This book details the time from when he returned from combat in England until the end of the war.)

He is known to the readers of The Citizen’s Voice as the author of Travel Log Articles including “Cruising the Rhine and Mosel”,” Best of the West”, “In Search of Snow” ,  “From Paris to Normandy on the Seine”, and “Exploring New York”.  He is retired, having taught for 32 years, primarily in the Montebello Unified School District.

Those interested in purchasing an autographed copy of any of his books, may contact the author at 323-721-8230 or  Normstevens24@gmail.com.

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