Invisible Trajectories

Windbreaks

Windbreaks appeared in the Inland Empire with the movement of agriculture into the region. Designed to protect crops against the powerful Santa Ana winds blowing through the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountain passes, the windbreaks protected farmland from soil erosion and the community from massive dust clouds carried over the foothills.

Windbreak patterns defined the landscape of the Inland Empire. Grids of Eucalyptus, imported to the I.E. from Australia, marked property boundaries between independent farms, crop divisions, and the routes of highways and railways that pushed through the area. Hot winds carried the smell of Eucalyptus and particulate air pollution. Children of the I.E followed the paths of the windbreaks on their way to school, play dates, and neighborhood markets. In the Inland Empire, windbreaks have always marked movement.

Most major routes—Foothill, Arrow Highway, Baseline, and Highland—saw their windbreak strands removed as strip development grew with population. Traffic engineers and city planners favored smaller trees, since they didn’t obstruct the driver’s ability to see the new commercial opportunities on the sides of the road. Development in Alta Loma and Etiwanda incorporated fragmented strands as equestrian trails between housing developments. Some remaining windbreaks still mark active agriculture.

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