Improve your view with Seneca

Maybe it’s a little early, but spring is in the air! What better way to capture all those special moments than taking a photograph? These days we have excellent cameras built right into our phones. Some people, though, prefer to use film cameras and develop the photos themselves. That process is more complicated than just the point-and-shoot method, but developing film into beautiful pictures is a combination of science and art. It would be interesting and fun to take a photography class!

At first look, you might think this Seneca tripod camera wouldn’t work anymore, but that is not the case, this tripod is still in working condition! You can view it at the Carriage Barn & Historical Museum at Heritage Park in Santa Fe Springs. This camera has three legs, which is why it’s called a tripod. A similar platform can be used for many film cameras now as well.

camera 1

The Seneca Camera Co. was founded in 1895, and was the leading producer of cameras. This particular camera was patented on November 15th, 1904, by Seneca Manufacturing Co. It’s called the Seneca Improved View Camera* and was made to work just as well today as it did in the early 1900’s. Made of mahogany with brass hardware, the black pleating (called the “bellows”) was made so it could fold up and be more compact and therefore portable. The function of the bellows was to move the lens so the camera could focus. The large bellows on the Seneca camera means that it was able to extend quite far for the picture. Think of the amazing photographs this camera has taken!


There are quite a few historical photographs in the Carriage Barn Museum as well as scattered throughout Heritage Park.  They give us a glimpse of what life was really like in those moments in history. When you have a picture of someone or something in a certain place, it can help you remember that exact time so you don’t forget those memories. Make it a February goal to take more pictures, but remember to appreciate the experience too!

Old cameras like this are still available online for purchase to use or to collect, so even though you wouldn’t be able to use it, stop by and take a look at this wonderful work of history.

camera 4


*To learn more please visit

“Coffee – the favorite drink of the civilized world.” – Thomas Jefferson


coffee grinder 2

There’s nothing better to perk you up after the New Year than a cup of freshly brewed coffee!  Before people could buy pre-ground coffee, the beans were ground at home in a coffee mill. Some coffee drinkers still prefer to grind their own coffee beans.

The Carriage Barn & Historical Museum located at Heritage Park in Santa Fe Springs has an antique coffee grinder produced by The Sun Manufacturing Co. from around the 1900s.  Surprisingly, most of the label on this piece is still intact.  The rest of the grinder is made of wood with a metal handle and crank.  It also has a small pull-out drawer to retrieve the ground coffee. The actual part for grinding is made of steel alloy buhrs, a shortened form of buhrstone, which is a rock used as a material for millstones (two circular stones used for grinding). This mill claims to be fast – a good thing if you’re in a hurry for your first cup of the day!

It is also interesting to note that we still don’t exactly know how coffee was discovered. There are many legends about it, but what we do know for sure is that it was found in Ethiopia, and once word spread, coffee cultivation and trade began stretching to the Arabian Peninsula. Once in Europe, coffee was sadly regarded with suspicion, even being called “the bitter invention of Satan”. Strong words! The controversy became so great that the Pope had to intervene. Thankfully when the Pope tasted coffee, he approved. In the mid-1600s, the drink was brought to New Amsterdam, now known as New York, by the British. It is said that the Boston Tea Party revolt is what changed the public’s drinking preference from tea to coffee. Soon after, demand spread globally.*

So as you’re having your hot, steaming cup of coffee, it’s good to remember that we almost didn’t have it at all. And be sure to enjoy the beverage, but keep it outside the Carriage Barn!


*learn more at



“An American Original”

hot choc                You live where it snows (obviously not here in Southern California).  You’ve spent the whole day sledding, ice skating, making a snowman, or having a snowball fight.  Now you’re cold and wet, shivery and tired.  What can turn this day around?  You get into the house and see a fresh cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream (just the way you like it!) waiting for you on the table.  You sip it, and everything is better.  Nothing is more comforting than a cup of hot cocoa.   The perfect beverage for a cold night.  The wind may be howling outside, but inside, everything is warm and peaceful.

After all that, you’re probably ready to have some right now!  But what is the difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa?  Typically, hot chocolate is liquid made from cocoa beans.  Hot cocoa is made from chocolate powder.  I would think it would be the other way around!  But whatever you call it or whatever you’d rather drink, it’s delicious.

The Carriage Barn & Historical Museum located at Heritage Park in Santa Fe Springs has a one pound tin of Wilbur’s brand Breakfast Cocoa from Wilbur’s Chocolate Co.  The company was started in 1865 by Mr. Henry Oscar Wilbur in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  They are still around today, making them around 150 years old!  If you like to collect cool antiques, old Wilbur tins are available online.

How do you take your hot chocolate drink?  With cream, with milk, with whipped topping, or marshmallows added?  Think about it while you come visit the Wilbur Breakfast Cocoa tin in the “Keeping a Home” section of the Carriage Barn Museum!

hot choc 2


“Can I interest you in a heater?”

toy stove 4Time for another round of What Would You Rather Cook On?  Today’s contestant is a toy – yes, a toy, measuring just 4 inches high- potbellied heater with one cooktop.  Bonus: it’s real cast iron.

While working stove and oven ranges were available in miniature to teach children how to care for the home, this tiny heater is more likely a salesman’s model.  If you were interested in buying one, you could see it in small size before making the commitment to the bigger one.

The history of this type of stove goes way back, even though its first recorded usage was in the 1800-1820s in The Old Farmer’s Almanac.  Robert Bailey Thomas wrote the first entry about it; he really enjoyed that it used half the wood as other stoves*.  Usually people had these to cook on, but it also made an excellent heater, because its large midsection – the belly – got extremely hot and could warm up a room very efficiently.  The fact that it was more portable than other stoves and fireplaces (obviously) made it desirable as well.

We don’t use these items today very much, so production of the small versions have ceased.  They are still available online for the avid collector.

If you’re thinking of making a 5-course meal anytime soon, ask yourself: tiny heater with ONE cooktop, or a new 30 inch/5.6 cubic feet gas range in stainless steel?  The choice is yours.



Rosemary’s Baby?

Baby Carriage 4

Anyone remember a book or movie called Rosemary’s Baby?  If you do, perhaps the sight of an empty baby carriage in a dimly lit museum gives you the creeps.  Or maybe it would be better if it were covered up!  But then you wouldn’t be able to see what may…lie inside.

There’s also folklore where a faerie (“fairy” or member of the “fae”) will swap one of their faerie babies with the real, human baby.  Then it’s up to the mother to figure out how to get her actual baby back.*  So there are definitely a few negative aspects to baby carriages.  Imagine the double terror you might experience if you see a baby carriage with an antique doll in it!  Can we say Annabelle?

You’re sure to be safe visiting the baby carriage at the Santa Fe Springs Carriage Barn & Historical Museum located at Heritage Park.  The carriage itself is a blend of woven wicker and iron.  The handle is black wood and an ivory lace umbrella hangs over it to protect the baby from the sun.  The woven sides and front are high to keep the baby from rolling out.  It is a very elegant antique piece and in amazing condition.

Please come and see this cool baby carriage!  And when you do, definitely don’t think about this:



Or this:



Nothing will happen.  Probably.


*To learn more about the baby-swapping legend, visit