Long Beach Heritage is a nonprofit education and advocacy group promoting public knowledge and preservation of significant historical and architectural resources, neighborhoods, and the cultural heritage of Long Beach.

By Stanley Poe

Brighton Beach was a very popular area at the turn of the century. It was established as a seaside resort on the western end of what was known as “Rattlesnake Island,” now Terminal Island. In the 1870s the U. S. Corps of Engineers constructed jetties, dredged the channel between the island and San Pedro, and secured dockside landing facilities. A small community was established comprised of houses on stilts and small cottages. Apparently the rattlesnakes were convinced to relocate. 

By the turn of the century, tourists flocked to the area. Hotels, bathhouses, taverns and an observatory were constructed on the southwestern side of the island. An electrically illuminated boardwalk was built and proved to be a real draw for tourists. Many homes were built along the strand, including some rather large two story “cottages.” There were enough permanent residents to build a two story Victorian style school. However, the resort lifestyle was short lived. The city developed and private storage companies expanded the harbor. The long sandy beaches were swallowed up, and guest quarters became rooms for new

laborers who came to build boats, fish, and longshore at the new wharves. Although the area once resembled the Peninsula in Long Beach, deposits from the dredging were dumped in front of the homes making them further and further from the water and many were abandoned. Eventually the island was populated by Japanese who were involved in the fishing industry. At the beginning of World War II many of those people were placed in internment camps and the residential component eradicated. 

The name was changed from Rattlesnake Island in 1891 when the Terminal Railway Line was built. It later became the Los Angeles, San Pedro, Rattlesnakes, Resorts and Railroad… Brighton Beach and Salt Lake Railroad and reached the capitol of Utah in 1905. The route went through Los Angeles, Riverside (where an elaborate station remains in good condition), Daggett, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City. It eventually connected with Chicago.

Today Brighton Beach is only a memory to a handful of people. Luckily photographs remain to tell the story of this delightful resort which was located along the present day approach to the Vincent Thomas Bridge.