Part 1 - Roots... The Citrus Belt Astronomers
by Bob Stephens
Riverside Logo

Many of you know that Harold Kaiser and others founded the Riverside Astronomical Society in 1957. However, 70 years ago, there was a previous astronomical society in Riverside. H. Page Bailey, a dentist in Riverside, founded the Citrus Belt Amateur Astronomers in 1933. That club eventually disbanded sometime after World War II. Meanwhile, Bailey achieved worldwide acclaim for his activates as an amateur astronomer, mirror maker and telescope maker.

Bailey built a series of split-ring horseshoe fork mounts starting in the early 1930's. Russell Porter who designed the 200-Inch Hale Telescope visited Bailey and is said to have adapted the design for the use on the 200-Inch. Later, in the 'official' history of the 200-inch, Bailey was not credited with the original design of the mount.

Here are letters and newspaper articles from the time, which was passed from Bailey's estate to Warren Estes (then Chief Observer of the Riverside Astronomical Society). Later, they were passed from Warren's Estate to Cliff Holmes. Jackie (Holmes) Bridges recently gave these copies to me.

Excerpts from Telescope Lens Grinder Reviews Unique Task
Press Enterprise, June 22, 1958

(Marcus H.) Brown (a member of the Citrus Belt Amateur Astronomers) was in charge, from the beginning, of the job of grinding the 200-inch telescope lens - the one that peers into the galaxies from the top of Mt. Palomar. The amazing thing is, that he had no formal education above the sixth grade. It was particularly amazing to European optical technologists. "Their idea was", Brown told me "that if you'd never done a job before, you can't do it."

At least it must have seemed that way. At least, to many who saw the work in progress, it was amazing that Brown and his crew came from outside the profession. He explained it simply "All the optical work in this country was of the small variety."

"There were only two men alive at that time who had-experience on the 100-inch telescope at Mt. Wilson."

About 1926 Brown was the driver of the supply truck for the Mt. Wilson observatory. He was 35, and "had always wanted to do something," but without education there seemed nothing to develop his possibilities. There was a small, optical shop at the observatory, with two men working there. Brown watched them, then set up an amateur shop of his own at home.

"I decided that was something I could do," he explained.

That was two years before the 200-inch project was announced in 1928.

"I put in a bid for a chance to work on the project," he said. "They knew I had experience with heavy machinery and that I'd work 24 hours in a day if I was needed. I was rather bull-headed about staying with it."

Dr. George Ellery Hale, who inspired the telescope and name it bears, took a fancy to Brown's way and encouraged him.

"There were two of us on the project at the time," Brown explained. "I and a younger boy. Somebody had to take the lead, so I took it. Eventually, I, was in charge, of the shop end of it. My immediate, superior was Dr. J. A. Anderson, who was in charge of the entire project."

"He knew optics, but couldn't read a blueprint. He didn't even seem to care what kind of mounting they built for it! Eventually, They built the yoke type, which allows the telescope to tilt itself down far enough to, shoot the pole stars."

"Page, here, was the first to build a mounting of that sort." Page was the man who called attention to Brown's, presence in Riverside. He is Dr. H. Page Bailey, retired dentist and amateur telescope maker. He still has the 15-inch telescope he made then, mirror, mounting, rotating, tilting-motor and everything.

Handwritten letter from Russell W. Porter to H. Page Bailey
February 25, 1931

Friday P.M.

Dear Mr. Bailey

Thanks for the prints in which Dr. Anderson joins - We are interested to know how the mounting works out - stability - ease of operations etc.

Ingalls of the Scientific American would be glad to use the illustrations I am sure. You could send him a set of prints or I'll send on those I have if you prefer.

Russell W. Porter

Dr. Anderson and Russell Porter
Dr. John A. Anderson and Russell Porter in
H. Page Bailey's backyard

David B. Pickering Impressed by Mounting of 15-Inch Reflector Here
Press Enterprise
Circa Early 1930s

Praise for the unusual design of a mounting of a 15-inch reflector telescope built by Dr. H. Page Bailey, Riverside amateur astronomer, of 3724 Franklin Avenue, last night was voiced here by David B. Pickering, head of the American Association of Variable Star, Observers, who, with his wife, is on a world tour. They reside in East Orange, N. J.

To his knowledge Dr. Bailey's' instrument, employing a "split ring" mounting for the telescope barrel, is the first of its kind in use, he said.

"Riverside can well be proud of the design of Dr. Bailey's telescope mounting, for I feel that it will be widely used even in professional circles if it adapts it self to larger glasses as well as I think it will," he said.

"There is no doubt Dr. Bailey has hit upon something new in the mountings. It gives a wider range to the north. The whole thing seems simple and one wonders why, it hasn't been used heretofore, but then discoveries are made that way," he said.

Dr. Bailey's telescope, now nearing completion after three or four years of tireless effort, is one of the largest amateur types in this district and already has attracted wide attention. Astronomical students have inspected the planetary-system through the instrument already.

Bailey with 15-inch telescope
Picture accompanying Press Enterprise article. Picture also appeared in Amateur Telescope Making Book published by Scientific American Vol. 1 - Page 452

Handwritten letter from Dr. John A. Anderson, Cal Tech to H. Page Bailey
January 6, 1933

My Dear Dr. Bailey,

I intended writing to you as soon as I had a chance to have a look at the 8-1/2 inch mirror you so kindly left here for me - but since you were here, I have been so busy that I have hardly had a chance to sit down. Things are easing up a bit now, so I hope soon to be back to my normal lazy life again.

A preliminary examination by Porter and myself with a Ronchi screen convinced us that the mirror is a good one - and I have turned it over to Dr. Strong for a coating of aluminum. Just when he will find time to do it, I cannot say, but presumably by the end of next week it will be done.

Now I should like to make this proposition: As soon as we get the coating on this mirror, suppose you take it and use it for photographing at the prime focus (just as you did when you took that Orion nebula picture). I imagine you could stick it into or on your 15 inch mounting for that purpose. A few months of that would give us quite a test of the aluminum, and might give you a collection of interesting photographs.

So far I have been unable to decide on just what type of mounting I want for this mirror - and after I decide that, it will take me some time to make it - so the above plan does not interfere at all with my pleasure.

With best regards, sincerely yours,

J. A. Anderson

Bailey's split ring mounting
A Bailey split-ring horseshoe telescope made for Nagata - circa mid 1930's

Excerpt from "The Amateur Astronomer"
Albert G. Ingalls
Scientific American
January 1933

Other amateur astronomical activities are shown in the photograph at the bottom of the page, taken on the occasion of a joint meeting of the Amateur Telescope Makers of Los Angeles and the Citrus Belt Astronomers, held at Pomona, California. Mr. M. Nagata of Brawley, California, discoverer of "Nagata's Comet" a year or so ago, appears in this group (front, third from left); also Dr. H. Page Bailey of Riverside (extreme left) who seems to be a general all-around genius and inspirer of telescope activities in that part of the, world. A neat, compact split-ring equatorial telescope of the Porter type (A. T. M., Figure 26, page 27), made by him for astronomer Nagata, appears near the middle of the picture. Amateur telescope making in California appears to have gone co-ed; look the picture over! Incidentally there are 10 telescopes in it. Can you find them all?

Citrus Belt Astronomers with ATMs from Los Angeles
Picture of the joint meeting of the Amateur Telescope Makers of Los Angeles and the
Citrus Belt Astronomers appearing in Scientific American

The Star-Gazer
May 1936

At six-thirty in the evening of Friday, May 22nd, at the Dr. Griffith Observatory Hill - 3 miles east of Riverside, out Linden Avenue - the Spring Rally of The Citrus Belt Amateur Astronomers will be held. Professional, amateur and wish-to-be astronomers, whether members of the society or not, are invited to attend. Detailed directions will be given to visitors upon arrival by calling phone 407 Riverside, or by coming to The Big Clock Corner, 7th and Fairmount, Chapman's Auto Electric and Machine Shops.

There is to be no charge for anything, but there's a catch! Every person attending must bring food enough for his party and supper will be served picnic-fashion on spacious banquet tables. Coffee, tea and milk is furnished by the Society.

For our entertainment we will have orchestra music, motion picture news-reels, a few 3-minute speakers and telescopes a-plenty.

Above is a picture of one of these gatherings, taken three years ago when the Riverside group was in its youth. Reading from left to right they are: Arthur Brown and his father Marcus Brown, optician in charge of the 200-inch telescope; Noah Adair of San Bernardino; Mrs. and Mr. John Chambers of Ontario. (The next three are unknown to the writer). Albtri E. Johnson, Secretary of the Citrus Belt Amateur Astronomers; M. Nagata, noted comet discoverer of Brawley. ''Doc'' Hoare and Claude Craft, both of Riverside. (The next gentleman is not known to us). H. E. Stinchfield of Riverside; Ira Hite of Redlands; Don Hendrix, optician at Mount Wilson Observatory; Howard L. Fletcher of Redlands; Mrs. N. A, Richardson, San Bernardino astronomer, and her friend, Mrs. Anna Pierce; A. L. Richardson and N. O. Dodge of Riverside; Henry Dietrich of Banning. (The next one is unfamiliar to us). Ed Turner of Whittier, who brought the large Zeiss refractor mounted a-top the auto; E. H. Morse and his wife; Mr. Wingren; C. C. Chapman of Riverside; Mrs. Ned Hall and her husband; Dr. W. T. Whitney of Pomona College; and last, but not least, Dr. H. Page Bailey, prominent builder of telescopes and modern mountings.

Dr. Bailey was the founder and first president of The Citrus Belt Amateur Astronomers and has helped most of the members to build their instruments. To Mr. Claude Craft, the President, and who was the Society's first Secretary, goes much of the credit for the present development of this organization. Mr. Albert ("Bert") E. Johnson, the present Secretary, occupies the position of the well-known "George", to whom most everything is left to do, and with the every-ready aid of Mr. C. C. Chapman, the Vice- President, things get done. Dr. Griffith, now retired - and incidentally, the first telescope builder of Riverside - furnishes the hilltop for the Society.

Come and see for yourself what astronomers do when they meet.

This is a VERY early RTMC photo - actually its predecessor. This picture was taken 3 miles east of Riverside, CA circa 1935.
It was called the Spring Rally of the Citrus Belt Amateur Astronomers. It accompanied an article published in the long-defunct
magazine, "The Stargazer." Notice the old car on the right with a telescope mounted through its roof. That's the 9-1/2 inch Zeiss
refractor that was eventually piggybacked onto the 12-inch Zeiss at Griffith Observatory and Planetarium in Los Angeles, CA.
As a former employee of Griffith Observatory, I had the good fortune to use this 9-1/2 inch. I can attest to its excellent optics.
It is actually better than the 12-inch.   Photo and descriptions provided by Lew Chilton.

Astronomers Club Meets at Gate City
Press Enterprise - circa mid 1930's

Members of the Citrus Belt Astronomers club and friends have been invited to attend a lecture by F. B. Lindsay tomorrow night at the San Bernardino Junior College, on "Constellations of the Solar System."

During the series of lectures that have been planned, Prof. Lindsay hopes to provide the astronomers with many glimpses of Saturn and Jupiter, as well as the Orion nebula and the double cluster of Perseus, on the new 16-inch reflecting telescope.

The new mounting for this telescope was built by Dr. H. Page Bailey of Riverside.

The telescope was passed upon yesterday by Dr. John A. Anderson, of the Mount Wilson Observatory, and Russell W. Porter, of the California Institute of Technology. This is the first time the mounting has been used. Dr. Bailey was highly commended by the experts for this workmanship.

Bailey mounting for 16-inch at San Bernardino Junior College
New Bailey mounting for 16" telescope at San Bernardino Junior College

Bailey in Optical Shop
H. Page Bailey in his Optical Shop

Final Notes:

H. Page Bailey built many instruments in his lifetime. Most have been lost to time, but one has displayed a curious history. This mount was built in 1932 and was perhaps his favorite, appearing in many pictures of his observatory over the years. After his death, the telescope went to Warren Estes. The tube was destroyed in a fire. The mirror and what was left of the mount went to Clifford Holmes upon Warren's death. Cliff mounted the 15" mirror in a Dobsonian and used it for public star parties. The mount set in the elements in Cliff's yard for many years.

Upon Cliff’s death, the mount went to Dave Retting, a famous professional telescope maker in San Bernardino. There, Allan Guthmiller retrieved it out of a scrap heap behind Dave’s shop. Allan subsequently restored it and won a merit award at the 2000 Riverside Telescope Makers Conference.

All I can say is that it is a good thing that Porter and Anderson did not run into Smokey back then, or the 200-Inch could have ended up looking like a Box Kite! Many thanks to Jim Bridges and Jackie Holmes Bridges who scanned several of these pictures.

Warren Estes with Bailey's 15-inch telescope circa late 1960's
Warren Estes with the Bailey 15"
circa late 1960's

Bailey's observatory near 7th Street and Franklin
Bailey's observatory near 7th and Franklin in Riverside

Bailey 4th from left circa mid 1930's
Bailey 4th from left - circa mid 1930's

Bailey telescope with dog
Bailey telescope with dog belonging to Nagata

Bailey 15-inch with 8-inch Schmidt Camera
Bailey 15" with 8" Schmidt Camera - this is the instrument that went to
Warren Estes and finally Allan Guthmiller

Bailey Observatory
Bailey Observatory

More recent correspondence...

E-Mail from Bill Hepner to David Sleeter - March, 2000


Sorry I don`t remember you. Warren (Estes) and I used to do a lot of astronomy instruction with elementary school kids and I assisted the astronomy class at the J.C. I remember Harold and John very well. I am of the 58` class of Poly (High School). I often recall many neat things that Warren would come up with. It`s so nice to hear some recall his name.

It was through him that I got in touch with Tom Cave and was able to organize a field trip to Palomar`s working areas.

E-Mail from David Sleeter to Bill Hepner - March 20, 2000

Hi Bill:

I`m in Moreno Valley, CA, about 10 miles from Riverside. I started Poly High School in 1960; I graduated in 1963. You were in the class of `58`. So we missed each other by two years, and that`s probably why you don`t remember me. Here are some of the things that I remember about the Riverside Astronomical Society in the early 1960s.

I attended my first RAS meeting in September of 1960. Warren Estes was teaching at Riverside City College and living at his parents` house on the corner of Central and Jurupa. The meeting was held there. Warren`s father was Fred Estes. When I was 12 years old (1958), Fred was a forest ranger at a campground near Mount Laguna; I think it was called "Cuyamaca". My grandparents used to camp there, and that`s how I met Fred and learned about the RAS. Two years later I became interested enough to join. After the meeting at the Estes house, we held our meetings in a classroom at the old Poly High School across from Riverside City College.

In 1960 Warren had a workshop in his parents` garage, and in his spare time, he made 6" reflectors. He used Cave optics and a nice, homemade, pipe fitting mount. He`d finish the scopes with gray "Zolatone" paint, and sell them for $195. John Barclay bought one. I saved up for another year and bought an 8 inch Cave Newtonian. At the time I ordered my Cave, Alika Herring was working for Cave, and to my great, good fortune, Alika Herring made the mirror. It was truly diffraction limited. On nights of perfect seeing, I could make out a dark spot or two on Ganymede.

Also in 1960, Harold Kaiser built a roll-off roof observatory in the back yard of his house on Hedrick St. He outfitted it with a big, baby blue, 12-1/2", F8 Cave Newtonian. It was one of the largest scopes in Southern California at the time. Gene Purdick married Harold`s daughter, Patty, and they built a house on the back of Harold`s property shortly thereafter.

Gene worked for Tom Cave, and also for Biela Observatories as a salesman for their newly imported 6 inch "Nishimura" Newtonian reflectors. These scopes came from Japan. They were GOREGOUS, but none of us could afford one. They cost $600!

In 1961-1962 I was the secretary-treasurer of the RAS, took care of dues, Sky & Telescope subscriptions, etc. A one year subscription to Sky & Telescope cost $3.50! Our membership began to grow at that time, and we moved our regular meetings from the classroom at Poly to a room at Victoria Savings & Loan in the Riverside Plaza. Warren started working for the Alvord School District. He ran their "curriculum lab". I THINK he was in charge of making all the scientific demonstration equipment for their science classes. The "lab" was on Keller Avenue in La Sierra. Doug Schneider, Randy Smith, and I went out there a few of times. The place looked like Mr. Wizard`s workshop. Among other things were a Tesla coil and a big Van de Graaf generator, by which I got zapped several times. An interesting footnote to THIS memory is that about 10 years ago (1990), I stopped at a yard sale here in Moreno Valley. The man running the sale had a Tesla coil that looked VERY familiar. When I asked him about it, he said that Warren Estes and his father were old friends. The Tesla coil was made by Warren, and was probably the one that I`d seen at the Keller Ave. lab in 1961. I bought it for $35, and a few months later sold it to a science teacher in Perris, CA.

Sometime around 1961, the famous Riverside dentist, "Doc Bailey" died, and Warren bought Doc`s homemade (and famous) 15" Newtonian reflector. He paid Doc`s widow $500. Warren set it up in the vacant lot next to his parent`s house, but he never made it fully functional. I know that it sat there until I started college at U.C. Riverside in 1963. I left the RAS at that time, because I didn`t feel that I`d have the time for hobbies like astronomy. Regretfully, I also SOLD my 8 inch Cave with the Alika Herring mirror. Like Jonie Mitchell used to sing, "You don`t know what you got till it`s gone!"

Randy Smith was a year behind me in school, so he was a senior at Poly while I was a freshman year at U.C. Riverside. We`d see each other about once a month, and during our conversations, he began to tell me about this guy named Cliff Holmes Jr., who`d joined the RAS a month after I left. He said that Cliff was a real powerhouse of a person and was energizing the other members to do all kinds of new and interesting things. Of course, we all know what happened after that.

As another footnote, when I mentioned Cliff Holmes Jr. to my parents, they reminded me that Cliff Holmes Sr. was a building contractor who`d done some remodeling at our house on Elmwood Ct. They dug around in their photos and found a picture of Cliff Sr. and Cliff Jr. (with the BACK of their heads to the camera, of course) plastering a wall at our house in 1957.

Alan Guthmiller at 1999 RTMC with Bailey split ring horseshoe mountAlan Guthmiller at 1999 RTMC with Bailey split ring horseshoe mount

After college I got involved with non-astronomy things, and I didn`t attend anything astronomical until the Riverside Telescope Maker`s Convention in 1978. Warren Estes had died just two months before, and Cliff Holmes had bought Doc Bailey`s scope from Warren`s widow. Cliff and John Parks removed the mirror and mounted it in a cardboard Dobsonian. In 1992, after another long hiatus, I started attending the RTMCs again, but saw nothing further of Doc Bailey`s 15 incher until the 1999 RTMC, when Alan Guthmiller showed up with a large, trailer mounted scope made with PARTS from Doc Bailey`s old scope. I THINK he told me that Doc Bailey`s 15 inch mirror had been BROKEN, and that he`d bought the remains of the scope from Cliff. Assuming that the stuff he bought from Cliff is that same stuff that Cliff bought from Warren`s estate, the mount on Alan Guthmiller`s scope is the same Doc Bailey mount that sat in the field next to Warren Estes`s parents` house in 1961, an interesting example of how the pieces of something old can become the parts of something new.

Dave Sleeter

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