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The date and origin of the name Eagle Rock for the large conglomerate formation which names our community and the preceding City of Eagle Rock (1911-1923) is unknown. The term seems to be associated with the coming of English speakers to the valley around 1886 when the land was dispersed out of the Rancho San Rafael. The Spanish speakers before this referred to the rock as Piedra Gorda (fat rock).
The association of the term Eagle Rock with the native people of the area (formerly known as Gabrielino now known as Tongva) was asserted by many of the early historians of the valley, most prominently Emma (Mrs. C. W.) Young. The phrasing of these legends together with the lack of actual communication with or knowledge of the native people makes these associations quite doubtful in my view. As far as I know no one has asked the Tongva their view or whether such a legend exists in their oral tradition. This said, below is a version of the legend which was published around 1970 on the back of note cards sold by the Eagle Rock High School Jazz Band.
“Indian Legend – An Indian baby lay on a skin. An Eagle swooped, clutched the babe and flew eastward. The Indians in chase, called to the Sun, “Let him crush himself against the Rock and turn to stone upon it.” ‘Twas done, the infant lay unhurt below.”
“Few landmarks in the United States bear both national emblems-George Washington in profile – the Eagle, front view.”
Some say that the overhang forming the right wing of the spread eagle shadow has been eroded over the years. The photographic evidence, beginning in 1888 is quite inconclusive. Many of the photographs have been retouched to enhance the eagle shadow.
President, Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society