Clark Avenue

Named (by 1907) for a powerful family who owned a sugar beet refinery here. William Andrews Clark (1839-1925) was a cunning Pennsylvanian who moved to Montana in 1863 and made millions from copper mining. In fact he became one of the richest – and most corrupt – men in the world. Keen to diversify his portfolio, in 1896 he purchased over 8,000 acres of Rancho Los Alamitos from the Bixby family and founded the Los Alamitos Sugar Company. Clark himself split his time between Butte, MT and New York City, so his brother J. Ross Clark (1850-1927) and his son William Jr. (1877-1934) oversaw production from Los Angeles. The Clarks’ land covered much of present-day Lakewood, Eastside Long Beach, and Los Alamitos – their company town. In 1901, William Sr. bankrolled the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad to expedite shipping of his California sugar and his Southwest ore. One stop along that line was the little Nevada village of Las Vegas, which now sits in Clark County. No, it’s not a coincidence. The refinery shuttered in 1926 and William Jr. and his cousin Clark J. Bonner eventually began developing Lakewood under the auspices of the Montana Land Company (see Monlaco Road). Family footnotes: William Sr. also served in the U.S. Senate (D-MT); William Jr. founded the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1919; J. Ross’s son Walter Miller Clark went down with the Titanic; William Sr.’s youngest daughter Huguette lived a reclusive yet much-examined life, dying in 2011 at the age of 104.