Local myths of Fontana that are quite real....

We often hear rumors about who or what might have lived, or died or has family in an area.. Below are some figures, some most noticeable and others not so notorious that once had something to do with the city of Fontana.

Gangster Al Capone once had a home in Fontana, which was notable for the initial "C" displayed on one of the home's chimneys. It was rumored that Capone had secret passageways or tunnels built under the house that led out into the back yard making for a quick escape in case his place was ever surrounded by the fuzz. No tunnels were ever found though after the home was torn down. And we all know what happened to Al after he left Fontana.

The Crlenica Brothers, a local Slavic "Tamburitza" musical group, lived in Fontana, had a music store on Arrow Blvd., and played music locally for Fontana's large Slavic population. Unbeknownst to most Fontana residents, they also did some movie work in Hollywood, performing on the soundtrack of "Dr. Zhivago", and also in the movie "Patton," near the end of the movie in the Russian dance scene.

Shelton Brooks, legendary songwriter and bandleader of the early 20th century, spent several decades in his later years living in Fontana. The writer of such hits as "Darktown Strutters’ Ball" and "Some of These Days," he would buy a new Cadillac every year with his songwriter royalties.. As a leader of his own successful big band, he hobnobbed with the Hollywood elite and became especially close to torch singer Sophie Tucker, known as The Last of the Red Hot Mammas.
Whitman Mayo, the actor who played Shady Grady in the TV series "Sanford and Son," moved with his family from New York City to Fontana in 1967, when he was 37. While living in Fontana he attended Chaffey College in nearby Cucamonga.. He once served as the Grand Marshall in the Fontana Days parade.

Legendary motorcycle builder Denver Mullins was from Fontana.. He started a bike shop, Denver’s Choppers, in San Bernardino in 1967, where he was the first to toy in the building of custom bikes and replacement bike parts. The shop later moved to Henderson, Nevada, just outside Las Vegas, where it still operates to this day. Denver died in a racing boat accident in 1992.

Henry Kaiser’s steel mill in Fontana was the only steel mill west of the Mississippi River.. During WWII Kaiser shipbuilding contributed hundreds of naval and merchant vessels.. The steel mill scene in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie "Terminator 2" was filmed in the abandoned Kaiser Steel Mill. Robo Cop was also filmed at the old steel mill as well as many sci-fi and police movies.

What ever happened to Ro-Val’s automobile museum, located on Foothill Blvd on the western outskirts between Fontana and Cucamonga? It was for a while the home for many classic automobiles of the 20’s and 30’s, including a huge vehicle once owned by screen actor Fatty Arbuckle. When the Ro-Val museum closed, the vehicles were sold to Bill Harrah, a Nevada casino owner and automobile collector, who placed them on display in the museum located at his casino.

In the 1950’s and 60’s Fontana was home to a famous drag racing strip that was a significant venue in the NHRA circuit. Known officially as Mickey Thompson’s Fontana International Dragway, it was also referred to as Fontana Drag City or just plain old Fontana Drag Strip. The original Fontana strip closed after several serous accidents and deaths to the drivers ad the NHRA deemed the track to short and narrow for safe racing.


The Capone house was not torn down- I can walk over there right now

good shit ive been saying that forever!

The house was never torn down. I live just around the corner from the Capone home. The C is on the chimney on the south side of the home. Some friends of mine living there have added a few things to the large backyard, including a pool that looks like a natural hot spring. They mentioned the secret tunnels found througout the home, but they have been covered up for some time.

I lived in a house on Anastasia and I remember the stories of Sammy Hagar practicing in the garage/carport there when he was a young musician breaking through. I also sat on the roof of that house when there was a KKK rally across the street when George Pepper and his associates in full KKK garb, with music blaring, burned 3 crosses in the backyard. I believe this was in either 1979 or 1980. Channel 7 news had the audacity to send Angela Black, a very young but accomplished African American reporter, to cover the story at the time. And yes, the Capone house still exists. There is a standing agreement that the portrait above the fireplace won't be removed ever by any new buyer. It may be a portrait of Al Capone's mother, is what I recollect, as well as other contingencies of "no changes" to any prospective new owner. The house seemed to change hands often, so who knows if it's haunted or just a freaky place to live.

I remember the KKK rally. It was probably the fall of 1980. I was 13 years old and was going for a jog that morning. I saw a sign that said Ku Klux Klan rally tonight. I knew what it was from school but history wasn't my favorite subject so I was a little confused. I thought maybe I had paid even less attention than I had. I went home told my mom about it and asked her about it. She said yes, that's what it is. I grew up in Fontana and couldn't believe it. I guess I had been sheltered. I had several Hispanic friends but there were only a handful of "blacks" in the whole town. Now I know why. And yes, I remember the black reporter on TV that night. They were burning a cross in the background. You could tell she was nervous but handled it with professionalism. I couldn't believe they would send her into that situation. Guess it was for ratings! I wonder what ever happened to her?

good stuff, my mother still lives in Fontana and i lived there for 18 years before i moved. A friend that i went to high school with lived in that house and i dont remember the whole having to leave the picture there and other stuff but i also know that its been ransacked and alot of the stuff inside had been stolen from the property. That also doesnt mean that you're incorrect because your very right about it not keeping any new tenants for very long. Great Job!!

I wonder if the "tunnel" part of the Capone House story might stem from his (Al Capone's) involvement in the construction of the old hotel at the Arrowhead Springs Resort. I worked there in 2003, after a controlled burn destroyed several structures, including the entrance to the steam cave, located directly beneath the hotel. Before arriving there, I was told about rumors of a secret shaft which lead to the cave from the hotel above, providing for covert comings and goings. The cave entrance is at the top of a narrow canyon that goes down toward Waterman Canyon. There is a constant water source. The plant life in that canyon was already recovering rapidly. Before the fire there would have been ample cover for anyone wishing to escape to the highway unseen.
I had a chance to explore a little and, at the rear of the cave, there was what appeared to be a doorway which had been sealed off with cinder blocks.
At the time, the property was owned by Calvary Chapel. It was my understanding that they were looking to sell it. I don't know if that ever occurred. But there were guards posted and no public access to the grounds. I doubt that has changed, regardless of who owns it now. You can't miss the entrance though. Just drive up Old Waterman Canyon Road until you see the big indian pointing at it, unless it too has burnt since then, of course.

Does anyone know where George pepper lives or his ph number i used to work with him om riverside and would like to re connect if he is not involved in the kkk anymore.


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