If you live in a home built before 1960, chances are you still have a backyard incinerator, a charred relic of Southern California’s history of smog.
Before regular roadside garbage disposals, the majority of household waste was burned in small concrete, cinder block, brick, or metal incinerators in suburban and rural backyards.
In large cities, many apartment buildings, businesses, schools, and factories had their own incinerators, which were fed and managed by maintenance personnel.
Since the early days of communal living, humans have struggled with managing trash, sewage, and discarded junk.
Great ancient cities became overwhelmed with garbage as their populations grew, and began requiring residents to carry their garbage a minimum distance from the city where the garbage could rot and stink, resulting in fewer complaints. I got
During the Industrial Revolution, around 1760-1840, garbage and waste became unacceptable, especially in large European cities. It was during this period that large cities began creating municipal codes for managing their waste.
Believe it or not, there was no direct health risk correlation between garbage, sewage and dirty water until the mid-1800s.
Air quality was recognized as a health problem in very early societies due to the direct effects of breathing smoke and polluted air.
Southern California’s population began to grow exponentially in the 1880s and continued to explode, creating complex waste disposal problems. They were treated in a haphazard and disjointed fashion until the mid-1900s.
Prefabricated backyard incinerators were introduced in the late 1800s and offered a simple and efficient solution to an age-old garbage disposal problem.
In the 1890s, Los Angeles was in serious trouble. In 1896, the City of Los Angeles Board of Health decided that the garbage collection contract was not keeping up with the garbage generated. As a result, the board recommended modifications to the garbage collection process and began allowing residents to burn their own garbage in domestic incinerators.
San Bernardino was an early adopter of mandatory garbage collection in 1910. The city has passed an ordinance requiring all homes and businesses in the city to have their garbage carried by a “regular garbage collector.”
Cement contractor James McNair won a contract with the city to collect the garbage and was preparing to build a large incinerator to burn the materials. In the early 1900s, garbage contractors often paid the city for the right to collect their garbage, making a profit from recycling the waste. McNair’s contract required him to pay San Bernardino $100 a year.
Early garbage companies used horse-drawn carriages to collect garbage and transport it to designated dumps, usually on the outskirts of town.
In 1912, the City of Venice purchased a 3-ton Pope-Hartford electric garbage truck for $3,750, making it one of the first cities in California to operate electric garbage trucks. Mechanized garbage trucks began to gain popularity in his 1920s.
As waste disposal became more complex and costly, cities began charging residents a collection fee. Some residents protested that the incinerator at home was enough to dispose of the garbage, and said they would take any that could not be burned to a local landfill.
Hickey-Carroll & Company of Los Angeles began selling “peerless” incinerators around 1920 and became one of the largest suppliers in Southern California. The company had a showroom in downtown Los Angeles, and he was selling concrete and cast-iron units starting at $5.
Several cities in Southern California, including San Bernardino, used private contractors to transport garbage to rural pig farms, where animals ate the garbage.
This solved some disposal problems but created some problems like rats, flies, bad smells and people getting sick from eating undercooked pork fed to the garbage. .
In 1924, San Bernardino County passed an emergency ordinance prohibiting the movement of trash within the county, effectively making each city responsible for its own trash disposal. This change has caused cities to re-evaluate their processes.
By the 1920s charging residents for garbage collection became commonplace, and in December 1928 the City of Redlands entered into a new contract that would cost each household 50 cents a month for twice-weekly street collection. We negotiated. The new contract also allowed contractors to operate pig farms in Menthon that consume some of the waste. For residents on a tight budget, a reliable backyard incinerator was an option that could reduce their monthly garbage collection fees.
By the 1940s, air pollution in the Los Angeles Basin, Orange County, and the Inland Empire became a major problem, with health officials looking for sources of what came to be known as “smog.”
In 1950, Los Angeles County Smog Control Director Gordon P. Larson told Los Angeles City Commissioners that to reduce smog, “we must get rid of backyard incinerators.” Officials across the state have joined the movement to ban backyard incinerators.
Los Angeles County first enacted a countywide ban on backyard incinerators in October 1957.
According to a February 15, 1958, San Bernardino Daily Sun report, laws enacted in Los Angeles County have dramatically reduced pollution.
Refinery smoke has been reduced from 800 tons to 150 tons per day, factory smoke has been reduced from 100 tons to 25 tons, and pollution from backyard incinerators has reduced the county’s 1.5 million backyard burners. was reduced from 800 tonnes to almost zero by banning the use of
The elephants in the room are, of course, automobiles, and it will take decades to reduce exhaust pollution from automobiles.
Following the ban on incinerators, municipalities and counties began to see garbage disposal residential mainstays disappear from backyards.
A few backyard incinerators remain today as reminders of the once-regular smoky skies.
Mark Landis is a freelance writer. His contact is Historyinca@yahoo.com.