About twenty years before Yorba Linda came into being, there was an attempt to start a town in what is now a part of Yorba Linda. The town of Carlton was located on 400 acres of land near the area that is now Rose Drive and Citrus Avenue and lying north of Imperial Highway. The townsite was laid out in 1888, having been filed in Los Angeles on January 19 of that year. It was a tragic failure, an impractical dream of promoters who moved too fast with too little knowledge of the land and too little assurance against failure.
The promoters advertised across the nation. They put up about twenty-five buildings in all, which included some fairly pretentious ones in the business district and some private dwellings.
There was a newspaper called the Carlton Chronicle. Its first issue, Vol. I, No. 1 of February 25, 1888 is extravagantly lyrical in describing the homesite values of Carlton. Mildred Yorba Serrano had a copy of this paper in 1957 and loaned it to Val Lucas, then editor of the Yorba Linda Star, who wrote a story from it. Mr. Lucas doubted that there ever was a No. 2 issue.
We quote from the Chronicle. "Olinda and Carlton, the greatest ranch and town in Los Angeles County. The greatest railroad developments outside of the city of Los Angeles. More improvements have been placed in Carlton and Olinda than ever  went in anywhere else in the same length of time." A map shows two of the railroads projected, the Anaheim, Olinda and Pomona and the Los Angeles, Carlton and Eastern. "Improvements already in are: oranges, lemons, apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, prunes, alfalfa, grapes, castor beans. . . . and a beautiful water supply. Improvements in rapid course of construction are: two lines of steam railroad, a light steam motor road (???), a system of water works, boring an oil well, a grand hotel building, handsome bank building, a newspaper plant and building. . . etc. etc. And all this on a town just sixty days old."
Further on in the paper the writer severely criticizes promoters who are dishonest and advertise non-existent improvements. He scornfully calls them "paper towns, dishonest and unlawful pretense; swindlers!"
Well! It is not known just how long Carlton continued to exist. One report says that it was completely deserted in 1896. Others place the date earlier. Many people from many states came in response to the advertising. They tried hard to make a success of the venture, but circumstances against them were too powerful. The water in the wells turned brackish and unfit for use. The railroads failed to materialize (and supposedly, also, the light steam motor road). The people were forced to give up and leave. Some lost all they had.
The deserted buildings were left to be a prey to vandals and the weather. Some were torn down for their lumber and two of the better business buildings were successfully moved to Fullerton where they stood for years on Commonwealth Avenue.
Perhaps one good thing came from the Carlton project. It taught other settlers to be more cautious and to be sure of a water supply before investing too heavily. 
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