Avalon Live Cam

Avalon is the only incorporated city on Santa Catalina Island


Catalina Island

Catalina Island Casino Historical LandmarkCatalina Island is the perfect paradise for adventure, romance, family fun, and/or relaxation. This 76 square mile tropical island is full of eclectic scenery that will put you at ease the moment you arrive. The island covers the gamut of island activities, from land activities like hiking and bike riding to discovering the underwater kelp forest and incredible sea life. Catalina Island has beautiful beaches, romantic sunsets, as well as great dining and night life.


Avalon is a charming Mediterranean style small town.Located 22 miles off the coast of California, this charming Mediterranean style city is perfect for an island getaway. Conveniently located one hour (by boat) off the coast of Southern California makes it easy to escape and the hustle and bustle to enjoy Avalon's laid back atmosphere and warm weather.

Avalon prides itself on its present and future vision of being a healthy, small town island community, being a quality cultural resort, and being a model ecological town. The residents strive to keep a clean, safe environment for tourists, as well as maintain a high-quality, unique vacation experience.

Avalon is ecologically aware and practices environmental protection and stewardship. Avalon Bay is recognized nationally for its fine water quality. The community's efforts to reduce pollution, reduce waste and use energy efficient products make this an ecologically friendly environment.


From mountain to sea Catalina inspires ecological exploration. Catalina Island Conservancy is dedicated to preserving the plant and animal life on the island. Preserving the island's ecosystem provides us the beautiful and serene landscape. Catalina Island Conservancy offer ways to get involved, including: fox rescue, Eco Tours, Volunteer Vacations, Tree Sponsorship, etc.

How To Get Here

There are two ways to get the island. There are two services by ferry boat from Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point. Or arrive by helicopter. Once on the island, travel the 1 square mile island by foot, taxi, trolley, shuttle bus, bicycle, or golf cart.

Catalina "Zingers," Firsts and Unique Facts
  • 88% of Santa Catalina Island is owned by a non-profit conservancy
  • Catalina's flying fish are believed to be the largest in the world!
  • Catalina's flying fish boat trip is believed to be the only one in the world!
  • In 1919 one-quarter (25%) of all U. S. commercial airline passengers flew to Catalina on Chaplin Airlines!
  • Avalon is the only one of California's 500+ cities that you can't reach by car
  • Avalon is the only city in California empowered by the legislature to control the number and size of its automobiles!
  • There has never been gambling in the Catalina Casino
  • Avalon's desalination plant is the only one in the continental United States used for public consumption!
  • The Tuna Club in Avalon was founded by Charles Frederick Holder who also co-founded the Tournament of Roses (Rose Bowl) in Pasadena!
  • The Tuna Club established saltwater sportfishing standards that are now used throughout the world!
  • The first bald eagle chick hatched on Catalina in 40+ years was born in April of this year!
  • At the time of its construction (1931) the MV Phoenix was the largest glassbottom boat in the world
  • There are 9 plants, 5 mammals, 9 birds, 12 grasshoppers and 8 snails found only on Catalina Island and nowhere else in the world!
  • The Four Preps first sang the song "26 Miles" on Catalina in 1989 on "The Today Show," more than 30 years after they first recorded it!
  • The Tuna Club is the oldest saltwater sportfishing club in the world!
  • Rock quarried from Catalina has been used in virtually all marine breakwaters and construction projects from San Diego to Santa Barbara
  • In 1920 the 1,200 seat cafeteria in the Hotel Atwater was the largest in the world!
  • Crescent Avenue or "Front Street" is off-limits to vehicles and is one of the oldest "pedestrian malls" on the West Coast!
  • The 90' diameter main aviary at the former Catalina Bird Park was billed as "the world's largest bird cage!"
  • At the time the Great White Steamer S.S. Catalina was first placed in service, she carried more passengers than any other ocean-going passenger liner in the world!
  • The first glassbottom boat trips in the world were on Catalina in the late 1800's!
  • Avalon was named after an island paradise in Celtic mythology and is referenced in Alfred Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King
  • The world's first commercial wireless telegraph operated here in 1902!
  • The world's first radio telephone system was installed here in 1920!
  • The world's first civilian microwave telephone system was located here in 1946!
  • In January of 1927 17-year old George Young became the first to swim the San Pedro Channel during the Wrigley Ocean Marathon, outdistancing 102 other competitors and finishing in 15 hours and 46 minutes!
  • The Bobby Jones amateur golf tournament was held here from 1931 to 1955!
  • The Avalon Theatre was used as a model in the acoustic design of the Radio City Music Hall in New York City!
  • Founded in 1892 Avalon's golf course is believed to be the oldest in southern California and one of the oldest in the nation!
  • The O.S.S. or Office of Strategic Services (predecessor of the C.I.A.) trained men at Toyon Bay for the invasion of Burma during World War II!
  • The Avalon Ballroom in the Casino is the largest circular dance floor in the world!
  • Over 6,200 people danced in the Avalon Ballroom on opening day in 1941!
  • The Two Harbors Elementary School at the Isthmus is the only operating 1-room schoolhouse in Los Angeles County!
  • The annual 26-mile Catalina Marathon is rated as the most difficult marathon race in the western United States!
  • An inhabitant of Catalina waters, the sheephead is a fish which begins life as a female and then becomes a male
  • The Catalina or Trask's mountain mahogany is the rarest tree in the state of California and at one time there were only 7 naturally growing specimens in the world!
  • Tuna Club member and movie director Hal Roach will be 100 years old next year. A birthday party and Laurel & Hardy movie celebration at the Casino is planned!
  • The The Catalina Islander newspaper is the second oldest continuously published newspaper in southern California!
  • The giant bladder kelp found growing offshore is the fastest growing (up to 24" per day) form of plant or animal life in the world!
  • On May 10, 1912, pioneer aviator Glenn Martin made the "longest overseas flight," flying from Newport Bay and landing in Avalon Bay!
  • Ceramic pottery made at the Catalina Clay Products factory from 1927 to 1937 are now valuable collector's items!
  • The Chicago Cubs trained here from 1921 to 1951 with a break during the war years and were the first professional baseball team to hold spring training on the West Coast
  • Former presidents Coolidge and Hoover are said to have been guests of the Wrigleys and President Nixon visited the island during his term of office
  • Ronald Reagan's road to the presidency may have started here... as a sportscaster covering the Chicago Cubs spring training, he went to Hollywood for a successful screen test and the rest is history!
  • The island is located on a geologic plate moving northward relative to the mainland at a rate of about 2" a year... in several million years Catalina may be located off San Francisco instead of Los Angeles!
Location and Geography
  • Catalina is centered at 33 23' North latitude, 118 27' West longitude and is at the same latitude as Osaka, Japan; Crete, Greece; Casablanca, Morocco and Savannah, Georgia
  • 19.7 miles from the mainland at the closest point (Doctor's Cove near Arrow Point to Point Fermin), 18.8 miles from Ship Rock to Point Fermin and 21.8 miles from San Pedro breakwater to Avalon (not 26 miles!)
  • San Pedro Channel between Catalina and the mainland reaches depths greater than 3,000 feet (deeper than the English Channel!)
  • 3rd largest of the eight Channel Islands
  • Only Channel Island with a resident population (1990 census: 2,999)
  • Catalina is 21 miles long, 8 miles wide at its widest point but only 1/2 mile at the Isthmus (Two Harbors)
  • Two highest peaks are Mt. Orizaba (2,069') and Mt. Black Jack (2,006')
  • Never connected to the mainland
  • primary industry: tourism
  • Avalon is the only incorporated city on the eight Channel Islands; other settlements at Two Harbors, Middle Ranch, El Rancho Escondido and various coves and camps
  • Climate: average 267 sunny days per year; maritime influence creates average highs of 76 degrees June to October and 63 degrees November to May; average annual rainfall in Avalon only 14"
  • Everything (including automobiles) must be barged over
  • Due to plate tectonics (continental drift) island is moving northward at about 2" per year
Early History
  • Catalina occupied by Native American tribes for at least 6,000 years
  • Native American population estimated at 2,500 (nearly the same as the present day population!)
  • Catalina Native Americans manufactured bowls and utensils of steatite rock and traded them throughout southern California using plank canoes called tomolos
  • Discovered by Juan Rodgriguez Cabrillo on October 7, 1542 (just 50 years after Columbus) sailing under the Spanish flag looking for the mythical Straits of Anian that linked the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; named island after one of his 3 ships
  • Rediscovered on November 24, 1602, by Sebastian Vizcaino and named for Saint Catherine of Alexandria
  • Spanish established closest mission inland at San Gabriel in 1781; lack of water on island prevented establishment of a mission here
  • Island used by pirates preying on Spanish galleons and Yankee ships trading with China following the Revolutionary War
  • Sea otter hunting for valuable pelts was primary activity in early 1800's
  • Island used for smuggling by trading ships avoiding Spanish and Mexican duties; illegal Chinese "aliens" during the period of the China Boy Laws (1850's to 1890's) and for bootleg alcohol during Prohibition
  • In 1864 a detachment of Union soldiers occupied the Isthmus to determine the suitability of the island as a reservation for Native Americans from Humboldt County
  • Squatters and later lease-holders grazed cattle and sheep during the 1800's and early 1900's for trade with northern California and during World War II the SCICo grazed cattle to alleviate the wartime meat shortage
Ownership History
  • In 1848 Thomas Robbins became the first private owner, receiving a land grant as the last official act of departing Mexican Governor Pio Pico who according to legend received a silver saddle and horse in exchange.
  • Land speculators bought and sold the island in the 1850's and 1860's until James Lick essentially re-consolidated ownership in 1866.
  • The trustees of the James Lick Estate sold Catalina in 1887 for $200,000 to help finance construction of Lick Observatory near San Jose, California.
  • George Shatto purchased the island in 1887 to develop it as a resort; his sister-in-law Etta Whitney named Avalon after an island paradise in Celtic mythology.
  • The Banning brothers (Joseph B., Captain William and Hancock) purchase Catalina in 1892 to develop it as a resort.
  • In 1894 the Bannings incorporated the Santa Catalina Island Company
  • Improvements during the Banning era included the first dance pavilion, the Greek Theatre, an incline railway, the golf course, stagecoaches and interior roads, the Hotel St. Catherine, early electrical power, etc.
  • William Wrigley Jr. obtains a controlling interest in the Santa Catalina Island Company in 1919 and proceeds to develop Catalina as a playground for all Americans.
  • Improvements during the Wrigley era have included the Casino, Bird Park, Hotel Atwater, Pavilion Hotel, Island Villas, an expanded golf course, the Country Club, a vastly improved water and power system, additions to the Hotel St. Catherine, Catalina Clay Products, Catalina Furniture Factory, Airport-in-the-Sky, El Rancho Escondido, USC Marine Science Center, Hamilton Beach Airport, vastly improved cross-channel transportation with the addition of the "Great White Steamers" SS Avalon and SS Catalina as well as regular seaplane service, etc.
  • The Wrigley family under Philip Knight Wrigley and Dorothy Wrigley Offield establish Santa Catalina Island Conservancy in 1972 and deed 88% of the island to it in 1975 through the Santa Catalina Island Company.
City of Avalon
  • The City was known as the "Bay of Seven Moons," Johnson's Landing, Dakin's Cove and Timms' Landing prior to receiving its current name in 1887.
  • The City of Avalon was incorporated on June 26, 1913, in part as a response to end County prohibition and generate needed revenue from the sale of liquor.
  • City governed by a 5-member elected City Council including an elected Mayor and administered by an appointed City Manager.
  • Our current mayor is Hugh T. "Bud" Smith.
  • Avalon is a general law city operating under the statutes of the state of California.
  • The incorporated city limits encompass just over 800 acres, although an additional 1,201 acres will be added when Lots 1, 7, 8 and 9 are annexed.
  • The 1990 census listed 2,999 residents but on summer weekends that number swells to more than 10,000.
  • Avalon public schools are part of the Long Beach Unified School District.
  • 12-bed hospital affiliated with the University of Southern California medical system.
  • Many public services including sheriffs, paramedics and life guards are provided under contract with the County of Los Angeles.
  • The Avalon Fire Department fights fires within the city limits while the Los Angeles County Fire Department fights those in the interior.
  • Southern California Edison provides the electrical, gas and water utilities (Catalina is the only area in their territory where Edison is responsible for the water supply).
  • The number (800) and size (less than 180") of personal cars in Avalon is limited by a 1979 ordinance although golf carts are also licensed for street use.
  • There are about 2,100 cars, golf carts and motorcycles on the island.
  • There are no stop lights or billboards in town!
  • As early as 1893 an article in the Avalon Crusoe newspaper expressed a desire to limit the number of vehicles (horse carts and buggies) in town.
  • As of 1988 the waiting list to obtain a permit for a personal vehicle was 6 years but a new policy of a 2-for-1 exchange will increase this waiting period.
  • An annual gate card key costing $195 is required for access to the interior with the fee used to help maintain the privately-owned road system.
  • The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department uses a specially-equipped golf cart complete with radio, siren, lights and high speed gears for law enforcement here.
  • Glenn Martin made the then "longest overseas" air flight from Newport Beach to Avalon Bay on May 10, 1912
  • Sid Chaplin (half-brother of actor Charlie Chaplin) formed Chaplin Air Lines in 1919 and carried 25% of all commercial airline passengers in the United States that year on his runs to Avalon
  • From 1931 to 1941 an amphibious airplane terminal at Hamilton Beach used a "railroad" turntable to return seaplanes to the water and was billed as "the world's smallest airport with the world's largest landing field-- the Pacific Ocean"
  • From 1904 to 1976 seasonal boat service to Catalina was provided by the "Great White Steamers" S.S. Cabrillo, S.S. Avalon and the 301' S.S. Catalina (which when launched carried 1,963 passengers, more than any other ocean-going vessel in the world)
  • During the era of the Great White Steamers passengers arrived at the old Steamer Pier and Terminal Building at the foot of Metropole Avenue
  • Currently cross-channel passenger service is provided by several different carriers from six different mainland ports (San Pedro, Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Newport Beach, Oceanside and San Diego) in smaller vessels with more flexible schedules
  • Helicopter service is provided from San Pedro, Long Beach, Burbank, Orange County Airport and Los Angeles International via Island Express and Helitrans
  • Cruise ships including the 730-passenger Southward (operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines) and 1500-passenger Viking Serenade (operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.) visit the island twice weekly
  • There are about 400 boat moorings in Avalon Bay with another 600 elsewhere on Catalina with prices ranging to in excess of $250,000
  • The 3,250 foot runway at the Airport-in-the-Sky (elevation 1,602') has about 22,000 private aircraft land each year and is a favorite destination for pilots
  • From 1894 to 1898 communications with the mainland was by carrier pigeon service which took 45 minutes compared to as long as 10 days to deliver a letter from the Isthmus to Wilmington on the mainland. In that period only two messages were not successfully delivered.
  • In 1902 General F. E. New built the world's first commercial wireless telegraph station operating as the Pacific Wireless Telegraph on the ridge above the current Catalina Casino
  • In recent decades all mail to Catalina was delivered by air, originally on Grumman Goose seaplanes and now by standard aircraft to the Airport-in-the-Sky
  • In 1920 Pacific Telephone and Telegraph operated the world's first radio telephone from Pebbly Beach... conversations could be overheard as far away as Butte, Montana, prompting Philip K. Wrigley to refer to it as "the world's biggest party line"
  • In 1923 two 23-mile, 300-ton submarine telephone cables were laid to the mainland and were the first manufactured in the United States
  • In May of 1946 the world's first civilian microwave telephone system was installed at Pebbly Beach and in 1952 moved to its present location on Dakin Peak
  • Avalon had one of the last operator-assist telephone switchboards in America, having converted to direct dial in 1978
  • In 1903 The Wireless, a Catalina newspaper published by the Los Angeles Times became the world's first newspaper to receive its information feed via wireless telegraph
  • The Catalina Islander, started in 1914 by Judge Ernest Windle, is the second oldest continuously published newspaper in southern California
Water Supply & Conservation
  • Catalina Island, like all of southern California, is located in a near-desert environment and freshwater is scarce.
  • William Wrigley Jr. recognized the need for a reliable source of freshwater and constructed a major water system for the island. The Thompson Dam and Reservoir in Middle Canyon, named after Chicago mayor "Big Bill" Thompson, is our primary storage facility and holds over 1,000 acre-feet (more than 300 million gallons) of water.
  • Water is pumped from the reservoir over 8 miles of 10" pipe to Avalon.
  • In 1986 residents and visitors to the island used 389 acre-feet (127,000,000 gallons) of water.
  • The 145 acre-feet per year reverse osmosis desalination plant at Pebbly Beach was officially opened in June, 1991.
Conservation & Ecology
  • Early range management programs by the Santa Catalina Island Co. under the Wrigley family included the removal of grazing sheep and cattle from the island; tree-planting programs initiated in the 1920's and 1930's; and planting large areas in Harding grass to hold the eroded soil during the 1940's and 1950's.
  • In 1953 the Range and Wildlife management program began on Catalina with cultivation, re-seeding, reforestation of rangelands; construction of range fences for wildlife control and special programs dealing with the conservation of existing wildlife and introduction of new species.
  • The non-profit Catalina Conservancy, formed in 1972, received title to 88% (42,135 acres) of Catalina from Philip K. Wrigley and Dorothy Wrigley Offield through the Santa Catalina Island Co. in 1975. Its mandate is to preserve native plants and animals, biological communities and geologic features and to manage the lands for scenic beauty and controlled human access. In addition the Conservancy runs a Nature Center at the Airport-in-the-Sky, a Native Plant Nursery at Middle Ranch, provides rangers in the interior, maintains over 200 miles of roads and trails and is actively involved in the ecological restoration of the island, repairing damage caused by introduced plants and animals over the centuries.
  • Through a 1974 Open Space Easement agreement with the County of Los Angeles 41,000 acres of the island were made available for educational, scientific and recreational use for a period of 50 years.
  • In 1990 the Conservancy began a massive ecological restoration program on the island's West End, controlling the introduced feral animals and revegetating eroded regions with native plants from its nursery.
  • In 1980 in conjunction with the Institute for Wildlife Studies, the Conservancy undertook a project to reintroduce the American bald eagle to Catalina with the first successful hatching in 1991. The Institute is also involved in the Catalina Island fox recovery and feral animal control programs.
  • The Wrigley Botanic Garden Foundation was formed in 1969 to oversee and expand the original cactus garden planted by Mrs. Ada Wrigley around 1919 on 37.5 acres in Avalon Canyon. The Foundation displays many of the endemic and rare Catalina plants and has developed techniques to propagate the island's native species including Catalina ironwood.
  • The Tuna Club was an early marine conservation organization, founded on Catalina in 1898 by a group including Charles F. Holder. In the late 1800's Avalon was an angler's paradise but fishermen used stout handlines to catch tuna, black sea bass and other species. After photographing their catch, anglers tossed thousands of pounds of fish each day into the bay for the sea lions. Members of the Tuna Club introduced sporting light tackle (rod and reel) and regulations which were later adopted by the International Gamefish Association when it was formed in 1936.
  • The Catalina Island Marine Institute located at Toyon Bay since 1979 offers environmental education programs in marine and island ecology to all age groups.
  • Formal long-range land use plans were developed by the Santa Catalina Island Co. in 1960... well in advance of legislation by the State of California mandating such actions for coastal regions in the 1970's. The long-range plans for both Avalon and Catalina are periodically reviewed and updated.
Natural History
  • There are 396 plant species native to Catalina and 167 introduced species.
  • Botanical authories recognize between seven and nine (7-9) endemic plants found nowhere else in the world. These include the Catalina ironwood, Catalina mahogany, Catalina manzanita, Catalina bedstraw, St. Catherine's lace, wild tomato, Catalina live-forever, Trask's monkeyflower and yerba santa.
  • 24 species of plants are found only on Catalina and at least one of the other California Channel Islands.
  • Exotic species such as European oat, Dyer's greenwold or Canary Island broom, sweet fennel, tree tobacco and ice plant have created ecological problems and are being controlled by the Catalina Conservancy.
  • The dominant vegetation types on the island are coastal grassland, coastal sage scrub and chaparral.
  • 5 mammal species or subspecies (Catalina island fox, ornate shrew, western harvest mouse, deer mouse and ground squirrel) are endemic to the island and found nowhere else in the world.
  • The Catalina Conservancy is presently controlling introduced herbivores such as the goat, pig, bison and deer responsible for ecological imbalance on the island due to overgrazing.
  • Goats are believed to have been introduced by early settlers prior to 1827.
  • 14 American bison were introduced to the island in 1924 for the filming of Zane Grey's "The Vanishing American."
  • Domestic pig were introduced in the 1930's reportedly to control the rattlesnake population, although this has not proven effective.
  • Of the more than 100 resident species of birds 9 species or subspecies of birds including our Catalina quail, Bewick's wren, horned lark and Allen's hummingbird are found no where else in the world.
  • The American bald eagle is being reintroduced to Catalina by the Catalina Conservancy and the Institute for Wildlife Studies. The eagle bred on Catalina until 1948 and survived until the mid-1950's but was eliminated by DDT poisoning, egg collection, hunting and nest disturbance.
  • In April the first bald eagle chick to hatch from an egg laid on Catalina in 40+ years was born!
  • Although the insects are not well known, at least 12 species of grasshopper are endemic to Catalina.
  • Some island animals exhibit "gigantism" (quail, ground squirrel, harvest mouse) while others show "dwarfism" (island fox).
  • Catalina waters are home of the giant bladder kelp, one of the largest plants in the world which grows as much as 1-2 feet per day and reaches lengths of 200+ feet.
  • Charles Darwin likened giant bladder kelp to the tropical rainforests because of the diverse marine life (over 1,000 species) it is home to.
  • In the past kelp was harvested for iodine and acetone as well as potash to make fertilizer and ammunition during World War I.
  • Algin harvested from the giant bladder kelp is used in everyday products such as beer, ice cream, dairy products, bakery goods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, toothpaste, salad dressings, chocolate syrup, milkshakes, party dips, etc.
  • On Catalina we have birds that swim (cormorants) and fish that fly (flying fish).
  • The Catalina flying fish is believed to be the largest (20-22") species of flying fish in the world and flies at speeds of 20 mph for distances up to nearly a quarter mile.
  • The garibaldi, the only fish fully protected by the state, carefully makes a nest and weeds all but three species of algae from it which are required for egg laying
  • The sheephead is a fish that begins life as a female, then becomes a male
  • Catalina is the only known United States location for the threadfin bass and the orange throat pike blenny
  • The 50 foot California grey whale passes Catalina on its 10,-14,000 mile round trip annual migration between the Bering Sea and Baja California
Catalina Casino
  • The landmark Catalina Casino building which houses the Theatre and Avalon Ballroom is 140 feet tall, the height of a 12-story building, and 178 feet in diameter
  • Despite its name, there never was any gambling in the building as the word is Italian for a "place of gathering or entertainment"
  • This impressive building opened May 29, 1929 and took just 14 months to complete with a crew of 500 men working three shifts 7 days a week
  • The Casino was the recipient of the Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects, Southern California Chapter, in 1930
  • Its unique cantilever design involves no supporting columns in either the Theatre or the Ballroom
  • Instead of using stairs or elevators to move the large crowds to the ballroom levels, a series of ramps based on those at Wrigley Field in Chicago are used
  • The building is constructed largely from local materials such as Mission, roof and glazed tiles from Catalina Clay Products; sand and crushed rock from the quarry; furniture from the Catalina Furniture Factory and wrought iron from the blacksmith shop
  • 60,000 4" squares of Sterling silver leaf cover the Theatre ceiling and 500 square feet of 22 carat gold leaf were used in the building's interior
  • The Casino Theatre which seats 1,184 was the first motion picture theatre specifically designed for the then-new technology of "talkies" back in 1928-1929
  • The Theatre was included in a PBS television special on the great "Movie Palaces" of America which was produced by the Smithsonian Institution
  • Radio City Music Hall in New York was designed based on acoustical studies of the Casino Theatre!
  • The Theatre's 16-ton, 4-manual Page Organ was one of only four in the world and is still used on weekends and to accompany special screenings of silent classics in the Theatre
  • This organ required 13 railroad cars to transport it to the island
  • The 10' x 25' exterior murals were executed in what is now referred to as an Art Deco style by artist John Gabriel Beckman who returned to the island nearly 60 years later to supervise their restoration in tile as originally envisioned
  • The Avalon Ballroom on the Casino's upper floor was home to the Big Bands of the 20's through the 50's
  • The Ballroom and Theatre are in the early stages of an on-going restoration program. Completed to date are new chairs and carpeting for the Ballroom as well as Ballroom painting and dance floor restoration
  • Recent and upcoming events include Jazz Trax, the Dixieland Jazz Festival and concerts by Steven Stills, Steppenwolf, John Mayall, Spencer Davis, The Lettermen, etc.
  • Some unusual uses for the Casino include: Avalon High School basketball games; World War II military training, boxing matches, gunnery and ship ditching practice; a demonstration by Gene Autrey's horse; Dick Clark's American Bandstand and disco dancing
  • Current Director of Casino Operations Billy Delbert was formerly personal manager to entertainer John Davidson as well as road manager for the popular singing group, The Lettermen
Chicago Cubs Spring Training
  • According to Chicago Cubs manager Rogers Hornsby, baseball was William Wrigley Jr.'s greatest love
  • In 1921 at the suggestion of majority owner William Wrigley Jr. the Chicago Cubs became the first major league team to conduct spring training on the West Coast
  • William Wrigley Jr. felt that the sportscasters covering spring training would advertise the fair climate and beauty of Catalina Island to the rest of the country
  • The Chicago Cubs trained on the island for 26 seasons until 1951 (with the exception of the War years)
  • The Cubs used the showers, steam room and rub-down rooms at the Catalina Country Club and were housed and fed at the Hotel St. Catherine
  • Ronald Reagan might never have become president were it not for the Cubs' spring training: in 1937 he convinced WHO radio in Des Moines, Iowa, to send him to Catalina as a sports broadcaster and had a successful screen test with Warner Brothers Studio later that year
Catalina in World War II
  • During World War II, Catalina housed many branches of the military and civilian traffic to the island was curtailed
  • The U.S. Maritime Service was stationed in Avalon, the Coast Guard at Two Harbors, the Office of Strategic Services at Toyon Bay, the Navy at Mt. Black Jack and the Army Signal Corps at Camp Cactus
  • The military requisitioned the Great White Steamers, the seaplanes and the flying fish shore excursion boat, the Blanche W.
  • The Casino was used for military training (and USO dances), and guns were mounted on its grounds for anti-aircraft gunnery practice
  • The Catalina Country Club was transformed into a military hospital
  • The Chicago Cubs training field became an obstacle course and drill field
  • 300-600 men were stationed at a secret radar base at Camp Cactus in the island's interior by the 654th Signal Corps Aircraft Warning Co. of the 4th Army Air Corps
  • The Santa Catalina Island Co. grazed 5,000 Hereford and Brahmin cattle in the interior due to the wartime meat shortages
Catalina in Movies & Song
  • A Movie colony was established at the Isthmus for the filming of major motion pictures in the days before world-wide location shooting
  • Several hundred movies dating back to 1908 were filmed entirely or in part on Catalina Island including the original Mutiny on the Bounty, Our Gang comedies, Captain's Courageous, Old Ironsides, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, Treasure Island, King of Kings, Chinatown, The Glassbottom Boat, Rosemary's Baby, Jaws (for a more complete list of the motion pictures filmed on Santa Catalina Island click on one of the following: movie list by film title, by date, OR by film studio.)
  • The Casino Theatre was used by Cecil B. DeMille, Louis B. Mayer, Samuel Goldwyn and others to preview "rushes" from motion pictures shot on the island
  • Television shows including Route 66, Barnaby Jones, Cannon, The FBI, Lawrence Welk, McHale's Navy, Mannix, Quincy and Sea Hunt filmed episodes on the island
  • Famous Catalina songs include "26 Miles" by the Four Preps and "Avalon" by Al Jolson
Famous Personalities
  • Movie stars and celebrities who used to regularly visit Catalina included Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, Paulette Goddard, Cecil B. DeMille, Johnny Weismuller, Betty Grable, Errol Flynn, Gloria Swanson, Tyrone Power, Fatty Arbuckle, John Wayne, David Niven, Olivia deHavilland, ...
  • Movie and television actors Gregory Harrison and Tony Dow grew up on Catalina while actors Richard X. Slattery (Murf of Union Oil TV commercial fame) and Emmett Walsh ("Cannery Row") had homes on Catalina.
  • Entertainers Bob Hope, Kate Smith and Phil Harris entertained here during World War II while Gene Autrey, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were here after the War and John Davidson ran a Summer Singer's Camp on the island in the 1970's.
  • Big band leaders that played (and played) here included Benny Goodman, Rudy Valle, Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Count Basie, Bob Crosby, Kay Kyser, Buddy Rogers, Ben Bernie and Jan Garber.
  • Chicago Cubs ball players and managers who trained here included Hack Wilson, Gabby Hartnett, Rogers Hornsby, Phil Cavaretta, Stan Hack, and Joe McCarthy.
  • General George S. "Blood and Guts" Patton grew up and western actor Tom Mix had a home here in Avalon.
  • Authors Zane Grey and Gene Stratton Porter lived and wrote here.
  • Zane Grey also co-founded the Izaak Walton League in 1922.
  • Lynn Franklin, who wrote The Beverly Hills Cop Story, lived on the island.
  • Charles F. Holder, co-founder of the Tuna Club, was a noted author, newspaper editor and curator at the American Museum of Natural History who also founded the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena.
  • The Cousteau Society has filmed several television documentaries on the island.
  • Tuna Club members included presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland and Herbert Hoover; world leaders Winston Churchill and King Olaf V of Norway; film celebrities Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, Mack Sennett, Hal Roach and Cecil B. DeMille
  • Former Presidents Coolidge and Hoover are said to have been guests of William Wrigley Jr. and President Harding died in San Francisco on his way to visit the Wrigleys on Catalina. Former President Nixon visited the island during his term and Ronald Reagan was a sportscaster on Catalina prior to beginning the movie career that led to the Presidency.
Catalina Attractions
  • The Steamer Pier, which formerly extended into the bay from the old Terminal Building (present home of Antonio's Pizzeria and Armstrong's Seafood), served the islands cross-channel boats from 1887 to 1969. A favorite island tradition was greeting the steamers and local boys would dive for coins thrown into the clear waters by passengers.
  • The Inn on Mt. Ada was the former resident of William and Ada Wrigley. This 7,000 square foot, 22-room Georgian Colonial home was completed in 1921 on top of 350' Mt. Ada. Legend says that Mrs. Wrigley's only stipulations were that the house be located on the sunniest site in Avalon and that it have green shutters! The home now serves as an exclusive bed-and-breakfast inn.
  • The Catalina Bird Park, operating from 1928 to 1966 in upper Avalon Canyon, was one of the free attractions developed by William Wrigley Jr. It housed more than 3,800 birds of some 300 varieties. Its main aviary was billed as "the world's largest bird cage." In addition to the birds, beautiful Catalina tile was featured.
  • Our original 3-hole Golf Course was started by the Banning brothers in 1892 and is believed to be the oldest course in southern California. It was expanded to 18-holes and a Moorish-style club house was added by William Wrigley Jr. between 1927-1929. National tournaments including the Bobby Jones amateur (1931-1955) and the Catalina Open were held here. The course was reduced to 9-holes during World War II.
  • The Queen Anne style Holly Hill House with its cupola is the third oldest home in Avalon and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was completed by engineer Peter Gano and his horse Mercury in 1890.
  • The green Pleasure Pier was built to serve as the municipal pier in 1909. During its early years it featured the boatstands and equipment lockers of the numerous charter fishing boats operating out of Avalon. It currently is home to the Avalon Harbor Master and serves the world-famous glassbottom boats and other tour vessels.
  • Philip K. Wrigley started El Rancho Escondido, located in the island's interior, in 1930 for horse breeding and cattle raising. By 1949 this ranch was the largest purebred Arabian horse facility in southern California. The Trophy & Saddle Room houses trophies and ribbons attesting to the success of the breeding program.
  • The University of Southern California Philip K. Wrigley Marine Science Center at Big Fisherman's Cove near the Isthmus resulted from an outright gift of land in 1965 by the Santa Catalina Island Company. It is now part of USC's Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies (WIES), a major university research center, and offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in marine sciences. The Center also operates a hyperbaric chamber to treat decompression sickness and air embolisms in SCUBA divers.
  • The Zane Grey Pueblo, home of the noted author and fisherman, was built in 1926. Grey and his bride spent their honeymoon on Catalina in 1906 fishing for the large game fish abounding in Catalina's waters. Grey wrote 89 books, mostly westerns and rather than having numbers, the rooms in the hotel here are named after his books!
  • The Stagecoach Road from Avalon to the Summit was built between 1897-1898 by the Bannings for their stagecoaches which operated sightseeing trips through the interior. Eight passenger Concord stages pulled passengers to the Summit in 1 1/2 hours while the roundtrip to the Isthmus was a 3-day trip in those days!
  • Hamilton Cove is an exclusive 34-acre condominium project located in a cove that formerly housed the unique Hamilton Beach air terminal. 330 units were originally approved and current selling prices range from $425,000 to nearly $2 million.
  • The Catalina Island Yacht Club, a purely social club, was built in 1924.
  • The Tuna Club was formed in 1898 although the original structure was destroyed in the Fire of 1915 and the present one was built a year later. Co-founder Charles F. Holder introduced rod-and-reel fishing to the island in the 1890's to replace the unsportsmanlike hand lines then used. The Tuna Club introduced sporting regulations aimed at conserving local marine species by shifting the emphasis from how many fish one could catch to trying to catch the largest fish on the lightest tackle.
  • Cabrillo Mole serves as the present cross-channel boat terminal and was completed in 1969 to replace the old Steamer Pier. Rock for the Mole came from the quarry operations at the island's East End.
  • The Wrigley Memorial located 1.7 miles up Avalon Canyon was completed in 1934 to serve as the final resting place for William Wrigley Jr. It is 130' tall and has a 232' frontage and was constructed largely of local materials. Although Mr. Wrigley's body was later removed, a beautiful cactus and native plant garden surrounds the site.
  • The East End Quarry is one of two quarries operating on Catalina since the late 1800's. Rock from these quarries was used in the construction of breakwaters and other harbor improvements in San Pedro, Long Beach, and Redondo Beach. More than a cubic mile of rock has been removed to date.