The favorite bird chosen for place names in our state is the eagle.
There are about 10 Eagle Peaks and as many Eagle Rocks, but the one which rises above a small valley between Pasadena and Glendale is by far the most intriguing.
For one thing, the 150-foot-high Eagle Rock just north of Colorado Boulevard which has been the namesake of the local community since 1911, is the 10th historical landmark in the city and the only natural formation so designated.
It owes its name to a curious freak of nature.
Every sunny day, at about the noon hour, the black shadow of a giant eagle in full flight appears on the surface of the rock, an illusion resulting from shadows cast by the projecting ledges above two cave entrances formed by centuries of weathering of the hardened Miocene mass.
Ralph Sherman, a former president of the Eagle Rock Historical Society, recounted an oft-repeated legend which tells of a band of Gabrielino Indians who gathered long ago by the rock when a huge eagle appeared and swooped up an infant member of the tribe. The Indians summoned the Great Spirit to intercede and the result is that the eagle lost its ability to fly and crashed against the rock.
The landmark has witnessed many happenings and changes over the years and some of them may be worth repeating for the sake of newcomers to the area who may not know, for instance, that Eagle Rock was the site of the first Easter sunrise services in the state in 1917; that it is the home of Occidental College (founded in 1887 by the Presbyterian Churches of Los Angeles) and is one of the enduring centers of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.
The rock itself has been the focus of considerable attention over the years and at one time was up for sale at $250,000 when numerous campaigns were in progress to acquire the massive sandstone formation with enough surrounding land to provide a public park area.
The "Save the Rock" movements spearheaded by the Women's 20th Century Club in 1962, sought to purchase the rock from the late James Real who appraised the rock and the surrounding area at $2.50 a square foot at that time.
Eventually sold to other developers, the public lost out to the condominium builders.