California Fool’s Gold — A Riverside County Primer

In 2007, California Fool’s Gold began exploring Los Angeles County one community at a time. In 2010 I expanded my adventures into Orange County. It’s now 2015 and I would like to turn my sites to Riverside County.

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Riverside County is one of the ten counties of which Southern California is comprised. At 146,366 square kilometers, Southern California is a region larger in size than Greece, Nicaragua, and 150 other countries. With a population of (as of 2010) 22,422,614 people, it’s also more populous than Romania, Chile, The Netherlands, and 188 other countries.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Inland Empire -- San Bernardino and Riverside Counties
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography‘s map of the Inland Empire — San Bernardino and Riverside Counties

Riverside County is the fourth-most populous county in California and tenth-most in the nation. Together, Riverside and San Bernardino counties are often referred to as the Inland Empire, although that name lacks an official definition and is often reserved for just the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metropolitan area.

Riverside County covers 18,670 km2, most of which is desert although the central and western portions are chaparral. Natural attractions located partially within Cleveland National Forest, Joshua Tree National Park, the Salton Sea, and the San Bernardino National Forest. Areas including entirely within Riverside County include Coachella Valley National Wildlife Refuge, California Citrus State Historic Park, Lake Perris State Recreation Area, Mount San Jacinto State Park, Orocopia Mountains Wilderness, and Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

The area’s indigenous people were the Iviatim, Kuupangaxwichem, Payómkawichum, and Paiute. The first European settlement was the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, built by the Spanish in 1789. Today Riverside County is comprised of boomburbs, resort cities, small towns, and Native American reservations. Major edge cities in Riverside County include the county seat, Riverside, Moreno Valley, Corona, Murrieta, Temecula, Jurupa Valley, Indio, and Hemet. Resort towns include Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, and Desert Hot Springs. The population of Riverside County is approximately 45% Latino of any race, 41% white Anglo, 6% Asian, 6% black, 4% mixed race, and 1% Native American.

Riverside County has one commercial airport, Palm Springs International Airport. It is also served by Amtrak, which stops in Riverside and Palm Springs. Amtrak California buses provide connections to Beaumont, Hemet, Indio, Moreno Valley, Palm Springs, Perris, Riverside, Sun City, and Thousand Palms. Metrolink trains serve five stations in Riverside County: North Main-Corona, Pedley, Riverside-Downtown, Riverside-La Sierra, and West Corona. The county is additionally served by Greyhound and several smaller agencies including Corona Cruiser (serving Corona), Palo Verde Valley Transit Agency (serving Blythe), Pass Transit (serving the San Gorgonio Pass communities), and SunLine Transit Agency (serving Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley).

Here are the communities, in brief:

AGUA CALIENTE INDIAN RESERVATION

Tahquitz Canyon Falls
Tahquitz Canyon Falls

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation is a federally recognized tribe of the Iviatim (Cahuilla). The reservation was founded in 1896. The tribe owns two major casinos; the Spa Resort Casino and the Agua Caliente Casino Rancho Mirage. The reservation also maintains the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, two golf courses, and Tahquitz Canyon.

AGUANGA

Stagecoach Inn in Aguanga, California (image source: Trip Advisor)
Stagecoach Inn in Aguanga, California (image source: Trip Advisor)

Aguanga is a census-designated place (CDP) which in 2010 had a population of 1,128. The town gets it name from a former Payómkawichum village, Awáanga, the name of which means “dog place.” Aguanga, Anza, Garner Valley, Idyllwild, and Pinyon Pines are colloquially and collectively referred to as “The Hill.”

ALBERHILL

Alberhill (formerly Alberhil) is an unincorporated community named after landowners  C.H. Albers and James and George Hill.  In the 19th century, clay and coal mining were the town’s primary industries. The Pacific Clay Company, founded in 1918 as The Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company, still operates today. The Alberhill post office operated from 1915 to 1969.

ANZA

Anza, California (image source: Smaller Homes & Gardens)
Anza, California (image source: Smaller Homes & Gardens)

Anza is a CDP in the Anza Valley. As of 2010 there was a population of 3,014 people.

AUGUSTINE INDIAN RESERVATION

The Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians is a federally recognized Iviatim (Cahuilla) band whose autonym is Nanxaiyem. They are one of the smallest tribal nations — as of the 2010 census there were eleven members, and they own the Augustine Casino in Coachella.

BANNING

Banning, California (image source: Cheryl Spelts)
Banning, California (image source: Cheryl Spelts)

Banning is a town situated in the San Gorgonio Pass, which is also known as Banning Pass. Both the pass and town are named after Phineas Banning, stagecoach line owner and the “Father of the Port of Los Angeles.” As of 2010, the population was 29,603. The protagonist in the 1950 noir, D.O.A., was an accountant and notary from Banning. It’s also home to the Gilman Historic Ranch and Wagon Museum.

BEAUMONT

Beaumont, California (image source: The City of Beaumont California)
Beaumont, California (image source: The City of Beaumont California)

Beaumont is a planned city, which in 2010 had a population of 36,877. The town of San Gorgonio incorporated in November 1912 and adopted its a new name, Beaumont. It’s home to several planned communities and I once spent the night there after getting two flat tires in Joshua Tree.

BELLTOWN

Belltown is an unincorporated community that was founded in 1907 by N.G. Bell.

BERMUDA DUNES

Bermuda Dunes is a CDP in near Indio which in 2010 had a population of 7,282. It was developed in 1962 by Ernie Dunlevie and Ray Ryan.

BLYTHE

Blythe, California (image source: Bike Across America)
Blythe, California (image source: Bike Across America)

Blythe is a city in the Palo Verde Valley of the Lower Colorado River Valley region. It is named after British financier Thomas H. Blythe, who established the region’s primary water rights to the Colorado River in 1877 — and whose real family name was “Williams.” It was incorporated in 1916 and as of 2010 the population was 20,817.

CABAZON

Still from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure
Still from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

Cabazon is a CDP which in 2010 had a population of 2,535. Cabazon was actually incorporated as a city in 1955 but disincorporated in 1972. It is well-known for Claude Bell‘s roadside dinosaurs sculptures, featured prominently in the films Paris, Texas and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.

CABAZON INDIAN RESERVATION

The Cabazon Band of Mission Indians is a federally recognized tribe of Iviatim whose reservation was founded in 1876 and has a population of approximately 806. The band own the Cabazon Cultural Museum, Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Eagle Falls Golf Course, and several Indio-area restaurants.

CAHUILLA INDIAN RESERVATION

The Cahuilla Band of Cahuilla Indians is a federally recognized tribe of Iviatim. The Cahuilla Indian Reservation, founded in 1875, is located near the town of Anza and the tribe owns Cahuilla Creek Casino, Roadrunners Bar and Grill, and the Cahuilla Smokeshop.

CALIMESA

Calimesa is a small town in the San Gorgonia Pass. In 2010, its population was 7,879.

CANYON LAKE

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Canyon Lake is a gated community, master-planned community developed by Corona Land Company in 1968. The titular lake was formed in 1927 by the construction of Railroad Canyon Dam. As of 2010 it had a population of 10,561.

CATHEDRAL CITY

Cathedral City, California (image source: Patrick Pelster)
Cathedral City, California (image source: Patrick Pelster)

Cathedral City (known colloquially as “Cat City”) is located in the Coachella Valley. It was named in 1850 after Cathedral Canyon, by Colonel Henry Washington. During the Depression it hosted several notorious nightclubs, Al and Lou Wertheimer‘s (of Detroit‘s Purple Gang) Dunes Club, Earl T. Sausser‘s 139 Club, and Jake Katelman and Frank Portnoy‘s Cove Club. In 2010 it had a population of roughly 51,200.

CHERRY VALLEY

Cherry Valley, California (image source: Trip Advisor)
Cherry Valley, California (image source: Trip Advisor)

Cherry Valley is a CDP in the San Gorgonio Pass. In 2010 it had a population of 6,362.

CHIRIACO SUMMIT

Chiriaco Summit Airport (image source: Flying California)
Chiriaco Summit Airport (image source: Flying California)

Chiriaco Summit, formerly known as Shaver Summit, is a small town along Interstate 10 named after an entrepreneur from Alabama, Joe Chiriaco. It hosts a general aviation airport, Chiriaco Summit Airport.

COACHELLA

Coachella is situated at the eastern end of the Coachella Valley. It was founded as Woodspur in 1876. As of 2010 it had a population of 40,704. It lends its name to a variety of grapefruit. It was visited by Huell Howser for California’s Gold in 2001.

COLORADO RIVER INDIAN RESERVATION

The Colorado River Indian Reservation is located in the Parker Valley and spans the border between Riverside County and La Paz County, Arizona. Primarily located within the Arizona, its tribal headquarters are located there in Parker, Arizona. It was established in 1865.

CORONA

Corona, California
Corona, California

Corona is a medium sized city situated at the upper end of the Santa Ana River Canyon. It was founded as South Riverside in 1886 at the height of the Southern California citrus boom and was formerly billed as the “Lemon Capital of the World.” According to the International Time Capsule Society, it is also home to seventeen lost time capsules, another world record. As of the 2010 census, Corona had a population of 152,374.

CORONITA

Coronita is a CDP with a reported population (in 2010) of 2,608.

CRESTMORE HEIGHTS

Crestmore Heights is a CDP which in 2010 had a reported population of 384.

DESERT BEACH

Desert Shores (image source: Patrick Habron)
Desert Shores (image source: Patrick Habron)

Desert Beach is an unincorporated community located on the north shore of the Salton Sea. It’s comprised of a few homes located along five-block-long Tripoli Drive.

DESERT CENTER

Desert Center, California (image source: Chad Isley)
Desert Center, California (image source: Chad Isley)

Desert Center is a CDP with a 2010 population of 204. It’s located near the junction of Interstate 10 and Desert Center-Rice Road.

DESERT EDGE

Desert Edge is a CDP with a reported population of 3,822.

DESERT HOT SPRINGS

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Desert Hot Springs is a small city in the Coachella Valley with a 2010 population of 25,938. It’s named after a hot spring discovered on Miracle Hill in 1913 by Cabot Yerxa. Yerkxa’s Pueblo Revival adobe is now Cabot’s Pueblo Museum. The town of Desert Hot Springs was founded by L. W. Coffee in 1941 and became a popular tourist destination in the 1950s and a hotbed of mid-century modern residential architecture.

DESERT PALMS

Desert Palms is a CDP with a 2010 population of 6,957.

EAGLE MOUNTAIN

Eagle Mountain, California (image source: Daniel Ter-Nedden)
Eagle Mountain, California (image source: Daniel Ter-Nedden)

Eagle Mountain is a ghost town founded by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, then owner of Kaiser Steel Corporation. It was built in 1948 near the now defunct Eagle Mountain iron mine. The town’s fully integrated medical care system was the basis for the Kaiser Permanente organization. As of 2007, the town was fenced and gated, with a site manager appointed to handle access requests.

EAST HEMET

East Hemet is a CDP that in 2010 had a population of 17,418.

EASTVALE

Eastvale Gateway (image source: Brien Clark)
Eastvale Gateway (image source: Brien Clark)

Eastvale is a city that before the 1990s it was mostly agricultural and rural. Its population was 755 in 1940 and by 1990 had only increased to 1,587. In 2000 it increased to 6,011. In 2010, after a 793% increase, it reached 53,668.

EL CERRITO

El Cerrito is a CDP mostly surrounded by the city of Corona. As of 2010 it had a population of 5,100.

EL SOBRANTE

El Sobrante (“the surplus”) is a CDP which in 2010 had a population of 12,723. It was originally named El Sobrante de San Jacinto.

FRENCH VALLEY

French Valley is a CDP which lies within a geographic feature also named French Valley. As of 2010 it had a population of 23,067, making it the largest CDP in Riverside County.

GARNET

Garnet is a CDP which in 2010 had a population of 7,543. It began life in 1875 as a Southern Pacific Railroad depot known as Palms. In 1889 it was renamed Seven Palms; in 1900, Palm Springs; in 1906, Pierce; in 1917, Gray; in 1918, Noria; and in 1923, Garnet.

GOLD BASE

Gold Base
Gold Base

Gold Base is the international headquarters of the Church of Scientology. It’s heavily guarded, comprised of about fifty buildings, and surrounded by ultra barriers (tall, blade-topped fences), cameras, and motion detectors. The cult acquired the property, previously a resort called Gilman Hot Springs (established in the 1890s), in 1978. Up to 1,000 members of  Sea Org live and work on the base. If you’ve ever played Wasteland, think of the Guardian Citadel.

GOOD HOPE

Gold Hope Mine
Gold Hope Mine in 1907

Good Hope is a CDP which in 2010 had a population of 9,192. Good Hope Mine was a gold mine, located a bit to the south.

GREEN ACRES

Green Acres is a CDP which in 2010 had a population of 1,805.

HEMET

Hemet is a city in the San Jacinto Valley. In 1887, W.F. Whittier and E.L. Mayberry founded the Lake Hemet Water Company, the Hemet Land Company, and the city of Hemet. In 1895, the completion of the Hemet Dam created Lake Hemet. In 2010 Hemet had a population of 78,657. It is known for its Ramona Bowl, an amphitheater built in 1923, the Western Science Center, and just outside of the city a prehistoric petroglyph known as the Hemet Maze Stone.

HIGHGROVE

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Highgrove is a CDP which in 2010 had a population of 3,988.

HOME GARDENS

Home Gardens (also known as Riverside Valley Home Gardens) is a CDP which in 2010 had a population of 11,570.

HOMELAND

Homeland is a CDP which in 2010 reported a population of 5,969. It was named after Greek immigrant Romonio Homonicholai, who emigrated to the area from Naxos in 1889.

IDYLLWILD

Idyllwild, California (image source: mwr)
Idyllwild, California (image source: mwr)

Idyllwild is an unincorporated town located in the San Jacinto Mountains. The resort, Mile-high Idyllwild, is popular with tourists. In 2010 the Idyllwild-Pine Cove CDP had a population of 3,874. For thousands of years it was a summer home to the Iviatim. It was later known as Strawberry Valley until the 1901, when the Idyllwild Sanitarium was constructed which was later redeveloped as a resort called Idyllwild Among the Pines.  The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and other hippies arrived in the 1960s. From 1974 to 1979, Idyllwild hosted the Idyllwild Bluegrass Invitational, then the only such festival in Southern California. Today Idyllwild is also known for its Mount San Jacinto State Park Historic District.

INDIAN WELLS

Indian Wells is a city in the Coachella Valley which incorporated in 1967 and in 2010 had a population of 4,958. The city hosts the Indian Wells Masters tennis tournament at the 16,100-seat Indian Wells Tennis Garden stadium.

INDIO

Indio, California (image source: Trip Advisor)
Indio, California (image source: Trip Advisor)

Indio is a city in the Coachella Valley which in 2010 had a population of 76,036. It was once nicknamed, the “Hub of the Valley” but now, thanks in part to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, bills itself as the “City of Festivals.”

INDIO HILLS

Indio Hills is a CDP which in 2010 had a population of 972.

JURUPA VALLEY

Jurupa Valley, California (image source: City of Jururpa Valley)
Jurupa Valley, California (image source: City of Jururpa Valley)

Jurupa Valley is a city which incorporated in 2011 with the merger of Belltown, Glen Avon, Indian Hills, Jurupa, Jurupa Hills, Mira Loma, Pedley, Rubidoux, Sky Country, and Sunnyslope. As of 2010 it had a population of 94,235.

LA PLACITA

La Placita (originally “La Placita de los Trujillos”) is a ghost town established around 1843 on the Santa Ana River across the river fLa Quinta Resort and Clubrom Agua Mansa. The two towns were the first Mexican settlements in the San Bernardino Valley and were collectively known as San Salvador. Serious floods in 1862 and 1886 convinced most of the townsfolk to leave.

LA QUINTA

La Quinta is a resort city in the Coachella Valley which in 2010 had a population of 37,467. It’s popular for its La Quinta Resort and Club, a resort built in1926 for as a sort of socialite hideaway and its golf course was the first in the Coachella Valley. A public library came much later, in 2005.

LAKE ELSINORE

Lake Elsinore (image source: miheco)
Lake Elsinore (image source: miheco)

The town of Lake Elsinore was established on the shore of Lake Elsinore in the 1880s, incorporated in 1888. The 1,200 hectare lake is the largest natural lake in Southern California. Originally a small resort town it grew by 2010 to a population of 51,821.  Lake Elsinore is known for its historic Armory Hall and Crescent Bathhouse (also known as “The Chimes”), both built in 1887, and Bredlau Castle, built by Henry Schultz in 1926.

LAKE MATTHEWS

Lake Matthews (image source: Daniel Orth)
Lake Matthews (image source: Daniel Orth)

Lake Mathews is a CDP in the Cajalco Valley which in 2010 had a population of 5,890. It is located near and named after a large reservoir created in 1939 at the western terminus for the Colorado River Aqueduct. Lake Mathews is surrounded by approximately 1,600 hectares of protected land, the Lake Mathews Estelle Mountain Reserve.

LAKE RIVERSIDE

Lake Riverside, California (image source: Aguangaman)
Lake Riverside, California (image source: Aguangaman)

Lake Riverside is a CDP which in 2010 had a population of 1,173. It is named after a small body of water of the same name.

LAKE TAMARISK

Lake Tamarisk Desert Resort (image source: Lake Tamarisk Desert Resort)
Lake Tamarisk Desert Resort (image source: Lake Tamarisk Desert Resort)

Lake Tamarisk is a community which has a golf course, the Lake Tamarisk Library, and Riverside County Fire Station 49.

LAKELAND VILLAGE

Lakeland Village is CDP which in 2010 had a population of 11,541. It is located on the southwestern short of Lake Elsinore.

LAKEVIEW

Lakeview is a CDP in the San Jacinto Valley which in 2010 had a population of 2,104. It is named after the ephemeral Mystic Lake, typically full only during late winter and spring and located near the 3,600 hectare San Jacinto Wildlife Area.

LOST LAKE

Lost Lake Resort (image source: Lost Lake Resort)
Lost Lake Resort (image source: Lost Lake Resort)

Lost Lake (also known as Lost Lake Resort and Lost Lake Landing) is located along the west shore of the Colorado River on the Colorado River Indian Reservation.

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE

The old tower toppling -- since replaced (image source: March ARB)
The old tower toppling — since replaced (image source: March ARB)

March Air Reserve Base opened as Alessandro Flying Training Field in 1918. Today it is home to the Air Force Reserve Command‘s 4th Air Force Headquarters and the host 452d Air Mobility Wing. It is also home to units from the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, and the California Air National Guard. It is also home to the March Field Air Museum and the Myron Hunt-designed March Field Historic District (built in 1928). The 2010 census reported that March ARB had a population of 1,159.

MEAD VALLEY

Mead Valley is a CDP located in a valley of the same name in the northeastern Temescal Mountains. In 2010 it had a reported population of 18,510.

MEADOWBROOK

Meadowbrook is a CDP which in 2010 reported a population of 3,185.

MECCA

An International Fiberglass statue in Mecca, California (image source: Jerry Brick)
An International Fiberglass statue in Mecca, California (image source: Jerry Brick)

Mecca is an unincorporated community located on the north shore of the Salton Sea. The focal point of the community is the Mecca Family and Farm Worker’s Service Center but visitors might be more interested in the natural Painted Canyon, the Salton Sea History Museum, and the International Banana Museum. Due to a strange tradition, I’ve stayed at Mecca’s Sunset Ranch Oasis on a few occasions.

MENIFEE

Menifee, California (image source: Kim Copeland)
Menifee, California (image source: Kim Copeland)

Menifee is a city which in 2010 had a population of 77,519. It was created in 2008 from a merger of the communities of Menifee, Paloma Valley, Quail Valley, Sun City, and portions of Romoland. Its name is derived from quartz miner Luther Menifee Wilson, who mined the area in the 1880s.

MESA VERDE

Mesa Verde is a CDP which in 2010 had a reported population of 1,023.

MIDLAND

Midland, California (image source: The Gypsum Files)
Midland, California (image source: The Gypsum Files)

Midland is an abandoned mining town located at the foot of the Little Maria Mountains. From 1925 to the 1966, Midland was owned by the U.S. Gypsum Co. Most of the buildings were demolished but there are still ruins and abandoned cars, &c.

MORENO VALLEY

Moreno Valley, California (image source: Livingdead90)
Moreno Valley, California (image source: Livingdead90)

Moreno Valley is a city which in 2010 had a population of 193,365. Its initial growth was closely tied to nearby March Field. In the 1980s another spurt was fueled by a state economic boom and it incorporated in 1984. From 1957 to 1989 it was home to the Riverside International Raceway — the site is now occupied by the Moreno Valley Mall.

MORONGO INDIAN RESERVATION

Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa
Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians is a federally recognized tribe whose autonym is Maarenga’yam. The Morongo Reservation is located at the base of the San Gorgonio and San Jacinto Mountains and was established in 1876. It is home to approximately 996 residents. The tribe opened a small bingo hall in 1983, which became the foundation of what is now Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa, built in 2004. The reservation is also home to the Malki Museum.

MOUNTAIN CENTER

Paradise Cafe in Mountain Center, California (image source: Travel Advisor)
Paradise Cafe in Mountain Center, California (image source: Travel Advisor)

Mountain Center is a CDP in the San Bernardino National Forest. As of 2010 it had a population of 63.

MURRIETA

Murrieta, California (image source: C12435768999)
Murrieta, California (image source: C12435768999)

Murrieta is a large, residential, commuter town which in 2010 Murrieta had a population of 103,466. It was previously a sheep ranch operated by Basque shepherd, Juan Murrieta.

NORCO

Norco’s is a city, the name of which is an abbreviation of “North Corona.” It was developed in 1923 by the North Corona Land Company. It promotes itself as “Horsetown, USA” and there are more horse trails than sidewalks. As of 2010 Norco had a population of 27,063.

NORTH SHORE

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North Shore is a CDP located along the northeast shore of the Salton Sea. It was developed as a resort town in 1958 by Ray Ryan and Trav Rogers. The Albert Frey-designed North Shore Beach and Yacht Club, opened in 1962 and was in active use until 1984. Its population in 2010 was 3,477.

NUEVO

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Nuevo is a CDP located east of Lake Perris which in 2010 reported a population of 6,447.

OASIS

Oasis is a CDP which in 2010 reported a population of 6,890. There are also communities of the same name in Mendocino and Mono counties.

PALM DESERT

Palm Desert
View of Palm Desert, Coachella Valley Vista Point, Pines to Palms Scenic Byway (Image: Ken Lund)

Palm Desert is a city which in 2010 had a population of 48,445. It was originally known as Old MacDonald Ranch but in the 1920s was renamed Palm Village after date palms were planted. It incorporated as Palm Desert in 1973. It is home to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens botanical garden and the Palomar Mountain (founded in 1928).

PALM SPRINGS

Greetings_from_Palm_Springs_-_Golf_Course_postcard_(1960s)

Although Palm Springs isn’t even one of the top ten most populous cities in Riverside County, the resort town is one of the most popular with tourists and it’s the largest city in Riverside County in terms of area. It is also home of the county’s only commercial airport, Palm Springs International Airport (which includes Palm Springs Air Museum). Palm Springs is widely known for its vibrant gay scene, resort hotels, public art, and its iconic Desert Modernist architecture.

Modernism in Palm Springs (image source: 101 Things to Do)
Modernism in Palm Springs (image source: 101 Things to Do)

Some of Palm Springs’ attractions and events include Modernism Week, the Palm Springs Art Museum, the White Party, the Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend, the Aerial Tramway, the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and the Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week.

PECHANGA INDIAN RESERVATION

The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians is a federally recognized tribe of Payómkawichum. As of 2011, 467 people lived on the reservation.

PERRIS

Perris, California (image source: Orange Empire Railway Museum)
Perris, California (image source: Orange Empire Railway Museum)

Perris is a city in the Perris Valley. As of 2010 the population was 68,386. The town was developed around the Perris Depot, built in 1892 and now home to the Orange Empire Railway Museum. Perris is known for the Rock Castle (built in 1929) and the Italianate-style Southern Hotel, now a museum (built in 1886).

RANCHO CAPISTRANO

Rancho Mirage, California
Rancho Mirage, California

Rancho Capistrano, is a private, gated community in the Cleveland National Forest. It was developed in 1969.

RANCHO MIRAGE

Rancho Mirage (image source: Rancho Mirage Country Club)
Rancho Mirage (image source: Rancho Mirage Country Club)

Rancho Mirage is a resort city in the Coachella Valley with twelve golf courses. It was incorporated in 1973, created by a merger of five “Cove Communities” (Desert, Magnesia, Palmas, Tamarisk, and Thunderbird). In 2010 population it had a population of 17,218.

RIPLEY

Ripley, California (image source: J.gumby.BOURRET)
Ripley, California (image source: J.gumby.BOURRET)

Ripley is a CDP which in 2010 had a population of 692. The town is primarily engaged in agriculture on desert irrigated with water from the Colorado River. It was established in 1920 and named after a former president of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, Edward Payson Ripley.

RIVERSIDE

Riverside-Ca-Wideview

Riverside is the most populous city in the Inland Empire, the county seat of Riverside County, and the birthplace of the California citrus industry (the still extant Parent Washington Navel Orange Tree was planted there in 1918 and the city is also home to the California Citrus State Historic Park and Museum). Riverside hosts several events including Riverside Airshow, The Riverside Dickens Festival, Festival of Trees, Legends of Riverside Film Festival, Long Night of Arts & Innovation, Riverside Festival of Lights, and Riverside International Film Festival. Riverside is also home to several colleges and universities including California Baptist University, California Southern Law School, Kaplan College, La Sierra University (home of the Frances E. Barnard Memorial Observatory), Riverside City College, and the University of California Riverside.

Fox Center (image source: Hypnosis Group)
Fox Performing Arts Center (image source: Hypnosis Group)

Local museums, cultural venues and institutions include in Riverside include California Riverside Ballet, California Museum of Photography, Entomology Research Museum at the University of California Riverside (not open to the public), Fox Performing Arts Center, Heritage House Museum, Jensen Alvarado Historic Ranch and Museum, Riverside Art Museum (located in the old YWCA Building), Riverside International Automotive Museum, Riverside Metropolitan Museum (housed in the old Federal Post Office), Sherman Indian Museum, Southern California Medical Museum, the Stahl Center Museum of Culture and World Museum of Natural History (at the La Sierra University), Sweeney Art Gallery, and the University of California Riverside California Museum of Photography.

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Historic Riverside attractions include the S. C. Evans Residence (c. 1874), Magnolia United Presbyterian Church (1881), Raeburn (1897), Devine House (1888), Loring Building (1890), Waite House (1890), Edgewild (1891), Heritage House (1891), All Souls Universalist Church (1892 – now known as Universalist Unitarian Church of Riverside), First Church of Christ, Scientist (1901), Cressman House (1902), Greystones (1902), Administration Building, Sherman Institute (1903), Riverside County Historic Courthouse (1903), New Jerusalem Church (1904), San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad Depot (1904 – now a Union Pacific Station), Harada House (1905), Irvine House (1906), Bonnett Building (1908), Masonic Temple (1908), Arlington Branch Library and Fire Hall (1909), Hole Mansion (1909), YMCA Building (1909), William Childs House (1910), Estudillo House (1911), Fred Stebler House (1911), First Congregational Church of Riverside (1914), the Harada House (1915), Old City Hall (1923), Riverside-Arlington Heights Fruit Exchange (1923), the Carillon tower at The Riverside Church (1925 – a bell tower containing 74 bronze bells), M. H. Simon‘s Undertaking Chapel (1925), the Lerner Building (1927), the Arcade Building cade Building (1928), Riverside Municipal Auditorium and Soldiers’ Memorial Building (1928), University Heights Junior High School (1928), Benedict Castle (1931), Grant School (1935), and the Mission Court Bungalows.

World's Largest Paper Cup (image source: Fork Creede)
World’s Largest Paper Cup (image source: Fork Creede)

Other attractions include the “world’s largest paper cup,” the 21-meter-tall, not-actually-paper, Giant Lily Cup; the painted rocks of Graffiti Waterfall; Mount Rubidoux (and its World Peace Bridge); scenic Victoria Avenue and historic Seventh Street; the 48-bell University of California, Riverside Bell Tower and Carillon; and the Concrete Railway Viaduct which was at the time of its completion in 1903 the longest concrete viaduct in the world.

ROMOLAND

Motte's Romola Farms (image source: Ralph Martinez)
Motte’s Romola Farms (image source: Ralph Martinez)

Romoland is a CDP which in 2010 reported a population of 1,684. Romoland has nothing to do with the short-lived, Melody Maker-championed London-base music scene of that mid-1990s. It’s actually named for Greek immigrant Romonio Homonicholai, the same Homonicholai of Homeland. The original name of the town was Ethanac, derived from the name of a citrus baron, Ethan A. Chase.

SAGE

Sage is an unincorporated community south of Hemet. It’s home to Tucalota Springs RV Park & Campground.

SAN JACINTO

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San Jacinto is a city located at the north end of the San Jacinto Valley. As of 2010 the population was 44,199. It was founded in 1870 and incorporated in 1888. It’s home to Mt. San Jacinto College and the historic Estudillo Mansion, built in 1884.

SANTA ROSA INDIAN RESERVATION

The Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians is a federally recognized tribe of Iviatim. The Santa Rosa Indian Reservation was created in 1907. It’s located in the Santa Rosa Mountains and home to about 7 people as of the last count, apparently undertaken in 1970.

SKY VALLEY

Sky Valley (image source: eyetwist)
Sky Valley (image source: eyetwist)

Sky Valley is a CDP which in 2010 had a population of 2,406. In 1994, Kyuss released an album, Welcome to Sky Valley.

SOBOBA RESERVATION

The Soboba Band of Mission Indians Reservation was created for a band of Payómkawichum in 1883. The reservation hosts the Soboba Casino and the Soboba Golf Classic.

TEMECULA

Temecula City Hall (image source: Davishan99)
Temecula City Hall (image source: Davishan99)

Temecula is a city which in 2010 reported a population of 100,097. It was known to the Temeekuyam band as Temeekunga, “the place of the sun.” It was incorporated in 1989 and is both a commuter city and resort town known for its Temecula Valley Wine Country, Old Town Temecula, the Temecula Valley Polo Club, the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, and the Temecula Valley International Film & Music Festival.

TEMESCAL VALLEY

Temescal Valley is a CDP which in 2010 reported a population of 22,535. Temescal Valley takes its name from the Leandro Serrano’s Rancho Temescal. Temescal Valley includes within it  the Rancho Temescal site, home to the Serrano Boulder (California Historical Landmark #185) and the historic Serrano tanning vats.

THERMAL

Avenue 56 in Thermal, California (image source: Mars Rover)
Avenue 56 in Thermal, California (image source: Mars Rover)

Thermal is a CDP which in 2010 reported a population of 2,865. Thermal was established as a railroad camp originally known as Kokell in 1910. It’s home to a private motorsports facility called The Thermal Club.

THOUSAND PALMS

The Paul Wilhelm Grove
The Paul Wilhelm Grove in the Thousand Palm Oasis Preserve

Thousand Palms’s name suggests that it’s 34.5 times the town that Twentynine Palms is, or at least that it has 34.5 times the palm trees. In fact it is a small CDP that in 2010 reported a population of 7,715. The town was previously known as Edom and was renamed Thousand Palms in 1939. Its palm trees are probably uncounted although there are quite a few in the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve. 

TORRES-MARTINEZ INDIAN RESERVATION

The Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Reservation (image source: The Desert Sun)
The Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Reservation (image source: The Desert Sun)

The Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians are a federally recognized tribe of Iviatim and the Chemehuevi band of Paiute whose autonym is “Mau-Wal-Mah Su-Kutt Menyi.” The Torres-Martinez Indian Reservation was established in 1876. As of 1970s there were 42 residents living on the reservation. They own and operate Red Earth Casino in nearby Salton City.

TWENTY-NINE PALMS INDIAN RESERVATION

The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians of California is a federally recognized tribe with two reservations, one Riverside County and the other in San Bernardino County. Prior to 1976, the Riverside County Reservation was shared with the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians. The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians operate the Spotlight 29 Casino, which opened in 1995.

VALLE VISTA

Valle Vista is a CDP which in 2010 reported a population of 11,036.

VISTA SANTA ROSA

Vista Santa Rosa is a CDP which in 2010 reported a population of 2,926. It is situated at an elevation of 21 meter below sea level.

WARM SPRINGS

Warm Springs is a CDP which in 2010 reported a population of 2,676.

WHITEWATER

Whitewater ranger station (image source: Janet P.)
Whitewater ranger station (image source: Janet P.)

Whitewater (formerly, White Water) is a CDP which reported a population of 859 in 2010. It’s located in the San Gorgonio Pass, site of the well-known San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm. It’s less well known for the 1,154 hectare Whitewater Preserve, a riparian habitat home to several endangered species.

WILDOMAR

Wildomar, California (image source: Janice Carabine)
Wildomar, California (image source: Janice Carabine)

Wildomar is a city which incorporated in 2008 and as of 2010 had a population of 32,176. The name of the city is derived by combining the names of the town’s founders, William Collier, Donald Graham, and Margaret Collier Graham.

WINCHESTER

Winchester, California (image source: Wikipedia)
Winchester, California (image source: Wikipedia)

Winchester is a CDP which in 2010 reported a population of 2,534. It was founded in 1886 as Pleasant Valley but later renamed after one Amy Winchester. It was primarily agricultural for much of its existence and is the birthplace of the Winchester Cheese Company. It’s also home to the historic Rocco Garbani Homestead.

WOODCREST

Woodcrest is a CDP that in 2010 had a population of 14,347. The town emerged in the late 19th century around a community of grain farmers.

*****

So there you have it, a very brief introduction to the varied and various communities of Riverside County. Vote for as many as you’d like to see profiled in California Fool’s Gold by clicking here. If you’ve got any photos that better represent the communities, let me know and I’ll consider adding them and linking to your website.

If you’d like to vote for Orange County neighborhoods, click here. If you’d like to vote for Los Angeles County communities, click here. If you’d like to vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To join the Facebook Inland Empire community, click here.

*****

Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing Boing,Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

15 thoughts on “California Fool’s Gold — A Riverside County Primer

  1. the El Sobrante and El Cerrito you show are both in the Bay Area. El Sobrante is north of Lake Mathews, but at best is an unincorporated area south of Riverside proper. El Cerrito is SE of Corona proper, is similar to Home Gardens (where I grew up; which has never been called “Riverside Valley”) but is slightly more rural in character.

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    1. I thought it was interesting and they’re really just placeholders until I visit the community. That might take a while in the case of Wildomar, however, since no one has voted for it yet.

      Like

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