Version 2013 July 21


FROM Mexican Independence TO Diversified Farming Era (1822-1893)

Link to Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) in this page (below)

Link to RAILROADS (1876 to 1967) in this page (below)


Mexican Independence (1824-1848):

Under Spanish rule, California had been dominated by Missions. Their plan to teach European ways to California Indians had been based on unrealistic assumptions and was unsuccessful. Much of the land that had been freely roamed by “hunter-gatherer” Indians was adopted by the Missions for agriculture, mostly cattle ranges. The main cattle products were hides and tallow, which were traded for articles (such as clothing and tools) that the Missions could not produce. Beef was usually discarded.

The land where Eastvale is now located was controlled by San Gabriel Mission, which had an outpost at Redlands, south of San Bernardino. The main travel route from the Mission to the outpost turned south along what is now known as Chino Creek, avoiding the arid Cucamonga Valley, and traversed the Santa Ana River valley to Redlands.

Soon after independence, Mexico “secularized” the Missions, removing them from church control – but the Indians could not resume their “hunter-gatherer” life style on land that had been transformed to cattle ranges. Some (especially women) moved into the labor pool.


Mission lands, including most of the California coastal plains, were distributed as land grants to prominent Mexican citizens. Most grants continued as cattle ranches, with a few of the surviving Mission Indians as Vaqueros (expert horsemen and cattle herders). Grantees were required to construct a residence, usually adobe, and some of these buildings survived into the twentieth century.

Don Juan Bandini received two large grants of land on the north side of the Santa Ana River valley, between Chino Creek and San Bernardino. These were Rancho Jurupa, later owned by Abel Stearns and Louis Robidoux, and Rancho El Rincon, later owned by Bernardo Yorba.


Much of California, including Los Angeles and the inland valleys of southern California, became a feudal society under land grantee “Dons,” with Indians and poor Mexican immigrants as peons. The Dons developed a life of leisure with dances, rodeos, and imported luxuries – also featuring hospitality for visiting Dons and travelers.


Immigration had been restricted to Spaniards (including native Mexicans, and others who adopted Spanish citizenship – notably Yankee entrepreneur Abel Stearns, who became a citizen of Spain, and was permitted to marry a daughter of Don Juan Bandini). After Mexican independence, these immigration restrictions were not enforced, so population pressure from the US increased. But unavailability of land (still tied up in large Ranchos) caused discontent, and encouraged “squatters.”


* Link to WIKI ->  Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848)

The “Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo” was signed on 2 February 1848, at the main altar of the old Basilica of Guadalupe at Villa Hidalgo (within present-day Mexico city).

By this treaty Mexico relinquished territory known as the “Mexican Cession” and confirmed the Texas-Mexico boundary. The “contiguous US” boundaries were now complete except for the Gadsden Purchase (1853) which added land south of the Gila River. See also “Manifest Destiny” (Wiki).

Gold had been discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma CA, nine days before the treaty was signed.

The Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty at the end of the US-Mexican war (during Polk’s administration in 1848) hastened downfall of the Rancho system, whose future may already have become questionable due to soil exhaustion and other economic factors. The Treaty expressed intent to respect Mexican era land ownership, but this proved difficult to implement, due to the legal expense of proving vague Spanish and Mexican era land titles according to strict US standards – exacerbated by exorbitant legal fees and interest rates. Dons continued to occupy most Rancho lands as cattle ranches, pending resolution of titles (most of which were “patented” 25-35 years later).

Gold Rush (approximately 1849-1855)

The Dons had a temporary windfall – food was scarce in gold mining areas because workers would rather mine than farm. Cattle were driven from southern CA Ranchos to the gold country. But as the gold rush ended, northerners turned to farming or left the state, and demand for southern CA beef decreased abruptly. The Dons’ windfall became a disaster.

 California Statehood (1851)

Population pressure and discontent increased – immigrants and unsuccessful gold miners found most potential farm land still occupied by Dons. (Meanwhile, beef had replaced hides and tallow as the principal products of cattle ranches.)

Mormons at San Bernardino (1851-1857) [from WIKI: History of San Bernardino, California]

Drawing of San Bernardino, 1852.

Mormon Leader Brigham Young saw Southern California as a supply source for the salt flats of Utah, and as an immigration and mail stop between Salt Lake City and San Pedro, California. A group of almost 500 Mormons left Utah for California in 1851. They found abundant water in the valley, along with willows, sycamores, cottonwood and mustard, as well as the Yucca plant. They first made camp at the Sycamore Grove, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) southeast of the present Glen Helen Regional Park. They stayed till the sale of Rancho San Bernardino could be arranged. In September 1851, Lugo sold the Rancho to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). The Rancho included most of modern San Bernardino.

The Mormons built Fort San Bernardino at the site of the present county courthouse. Inside the fort, they had small stores, and outside, they grew wheat and other crops. They later moved outside the walls of the fort when feared-attacks did not materialize. The Mormon Council House was built in 1852. It was used as the post office, school, church, and was the county courthouse from 1854 to 1858.

In 1857, President Brigham Young recalled the Mormons to Salt Lake City, though some remained. Mainline Mormon structures were not reestablished till after 1920.

Civil War (1860-1864)

Had little effect in CA till end of war, when displaced southerners added to immigration and to discontent.

Weather problems for Ranchos (1861-1865)

Severe floods (1861-62) were followed by three years of major drought. Along with Guadalupe-Hidalgo land losses and legal debts, this led to financial devastation of cattle ranches. (“Ranchers learned to plant feed crops in order to lessen their reliance on natural forage. The raising of sheep – a far more ‘drought-tolerant’ animal than a cow – became popular.”) But sheep depleted pasture land by grazing it to bare earth.


AFTER 1870

Guadalupe-Hidalgo “land patent” settlements during the 1870s made subdivision practical: small landowners could now obtain a reliable legal title. This hastened the end of the Rancho system, allowing the Dons to sell out by subdividing, and thus settle their accrued weather and legal debts. Abel Stearns would have become a rich subdivider if he hadn’t died in 1871. Many present-day California land titles are derived from Guadalupe-Hidalgo patent settlements.


Near Eastvale (Bandini grants):

Jurupa-Robidoux (eastern 15% of Jurupa grant) patented 1876

Jurupa-Stearns (western 85% of Jurupa grant) and El Rincon-Yorba patented 1879.

Oranges and Irrigation

“Around 1875 a mutant Brazilian orange tree that produced fruit with no seeds was brought to the city. In the rich soil by the Santa Ana River the fruit flourished under the abundant sunshine. By 1887 the navel orange had become the dominant crop in Riverside and other California cities.

About the same time, with the financial aid of people from England, Matthew Gage, an immigrant from Canada, began work on a canal to bring water to all of Riverside, parts of which had no water available. With the irrigation made possible by Gage's canal, Riverside's greatest growth period began. Three new subdivisions—White's Addition, Hall's Addition, and Arlington Heights—were developed.

Economic strides were made in the 1880s when a number of local fruit growers joined together to pick and sell fruit under one brand name they could all use, and to grade their oranges for quality. The plan expanded and by 1893 a group of all the growers of California was formed under the name of the Southern California Fruit Exchange, now known as Sunkist. The development of refrigerated railroad cars [about 1880: see WIKI ‘Refrigerator Car’] and innovative irrigation systems established Riverside as the state's wealthiest city per capita by 1895.”




Central Pacific rails, laid eastward from northern California, linked with Union Pacific westward from Omaha NE. This link, celebrated by the “Golden Spike” ceremony at Promontory UT on 10 May 1869, increased the demand for a route to southern California.

Southern Pacific (a subsidiary of the “Big Four” Central Pacific transcontinental railroad company) completed the first rail connection between Los Angeles and the eastern US in Sep 1876. Its route went through, around, and over the mountains to Mojave and Bakersfield; and then north to meet Central Pacific. The last link constructed was the San Fernando Tunnel (see Santa Clarita History).

San Fernando Tunnel

(Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society)

Tehachapi Loop

(Google Maps, 2011)

Southern Pacific Railroad route between Los Angeles and Bakersfield includes impressive features:

= Between Los Angeles and Palmdale, the San Fernando Tunnel, 1.3 mi long, was longest in the US when completed Sep 1876.

= At the Tehachapi Loop between Mojave and Bakersfield, the railroad crosses itself. The Loop adds almost a mile of length, to decrease the steepness of the grade. From the Loop, the railroad descends to Bakersfield (northwest, upper left), and rises to Tehachapi (southeast, lower right).

Tehachapi Loop: “It was completed in 1876 under the direction of William Hood, Southern Pacific Railroad engineer. In gaining elevation around central hill of the Loop a 4000-foot train will cross 77 feet above its rear cars in the tunnel below.” A train of this length could include about 100 “twentieth-century standard” 40-foot boxcars.

RAIL ROUTES near Eastvale, 1876 to present:

Southern Pacific (1881) goes directly from Ontario to Colton (along the north side of Ontario Airport).

Santa Fe (1887) has two lines to Colton: through Upland, and via Santa Ana Canyon and Corona.

Union Pacific goes from Ontario (along the south side of Ontario Airport) to Riverside (1905).

TIME LINE (1876-1905):

= Southern Pacific connected Los Angeles with Bakersfield in 1876, via San Fernando Tunnel, Palmdale, Mojave, and Tehachapi Loop. This was the final link in the first rail connection between Los Angeles and the eastern US – via existing Central Pacific lines (from Bakersfield to northern CA, and eastward to the 1869 “Golden Spike” site in UT), and Union Pacific to Omaha NE.

Soon afterward (1881), Southern Pacific linked Los Angeles with the southeast US via Colton, San Gorgonio Pass, Palm Springs, Yuma AZ, and El Paso TX. (This Yuma line proposal had been an important incentive for the 1853 Gadsden Purchase, but became entangled in pre-Civil War politics.)

= Santa Fe ran to the east from Mojave (1883) via Barstow, Needles, and Santa Fe NM, sharing Southern Pacific tracks over Tehachapi Pass to connect with Bakersfield and northern CA.

California Southern railroad (later absorbed by Santa Fe) connected the Santa Fe route at Barstow with San Diego, via Cajon Pass (1885), Colton, Perris, Temecula, and Oceanside. Sponsors of this line hoped to establish San Diego as a major West Coast seaport, but this plan was soon abandoned due to washouts in the canyons between Temecula and Oceanside. Santa Fe took over (1887) and completed two connecting routes from Colton to Los Angeles, via Upland and through Santa Ana Canyon. A coastal track ran from the city of Santa Ana to Oceanside, and from there to San Diego via the 1885 railroad.

When Riverside County was formed (1893), transcontinental railroad links via northern CA (1876), El Paso TX (1881), and Santa Fe NM (1883) had all been in operation for at least 10 years.

Eastvale ranch owners Charles and Ortus Fuller came to Los Angeles soon after 1880, during the economic boom era that followed transcontinental railroad connections. The Fuller brothers’ early ventures in merchandising and transportation near Los Angeles were made possible by the railroads. One purpose for their ranching enterprises (in the Santa Ana River valley and elsewhere) was to raise draft horses for their transportation business. Ortus lived on the ranch and managed it till after 1900.

= Union Pacific went northeast (1905) from San Bernardino to Barstow, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City, sharing Santa Fe tracks over Cajon Pass.


Los Angeles Union Railroad Station (1926)

Southern Pacific (1967) constructed “Palmdale cutoff” from Colton to Mojave, paralleling Santa Fe (not sharing tracks) through Cajon Pass and then turning west near Victorville. This improved the connection from southwestern US to northern CA, avoiding congestion near downtown Los Angeles.

= I can remember lying in bed on quiet nights, hearing Union Pacific trains whistle as they approached Etiwanda Ave at Mission Blvd, about 3 miles north of where I lived.


The railroad companies have been reorganized and renamed during recent decades. Some of the original routes now provide Metrolink light rail service throughout the Los Angeles basin (including the Antelope Valley line which still uses San Fernando Tunnel).

= AMTRAK passenger service from Los Angeles to eastern US runs about once a day on each of two traditional routes: Santa Fe via Santa Fe NM, and Southern Pacific via Yuma AZ. Also AMTRAK runs daily trains along the CA coast, south to San Diego and north to Sacramento, and an AMTRAK bus service between Los Angeles and Bakersfield meets Central Valley trains. There are AMTRAK connections from Bakersfield and Sacramento to the Pacific Northwest and to the eastern US.

= High speed passenger rail service between San Francisco and Los Angeles, via Bakersfield and new tunnels through the southern mountains, is being studied.

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