With plenty of water and good cultivation the doubt as to the value of the land was soon removed and the success of the colony enterprise was assured. Thus encouraged the projectors enlarged their possessions by additional purchases, until they had between 3,000 and 4,000 acres in their colony, which, on account of the peculiar color of the soil, they named Redlands.
In 1886 commissioners sent out to Southern California by an association formed in Chicago for the purpose of finding the best place in this State for a colony, after looking the state all over, purchased 440 acres of land lying between Redlands and Crafton.
This land was divided up into lots averaging about eleven acres each, and forty deeds made and executed, this being the number of purchasers and members of the association. This tract was given the name of the Chicago colony.
In 1887 a syndicate of Riverside businessmen and capitalists bought 500 acres west of Redlands and extending to San Timoteo Canon, through which the Southern Pacific Railroad passes, and in which the Brookside Station is located, laid it out so as to extend the main avenues of Redlands through the same and gave it the name of Terracina, now called West Redlands.
Southeast of Redlands lies the fertile valley of Yucaipa, with thousands of acres of grain and grazing land, with herds of cattle, large dairies, flocks of sheep, and orchards producing immense quantities of the finest apples and cherries.
Northeast lies Mentone, the terminus of the Valley railroad, embracing 3,000 acres.
Westward is the tract known as Williams, from the owner’s name, embracing 1,500 acres, and with a railroad station named Gladysta.
It has seemed well to make brief mention of Crafton, Lugonia, Terracina, Yucaipa, Old San Bernardino, Mentone and Williams, because they surround Redlands on every side, are immediately adjacent and are tributary to it. Three of these settlements were flourishing and prosperous with deciduous and citrus orchards and vineyards bearing years before there was a brick laid of the forty business blocks of Redlands. Not one of these settlements has a place of business of its own; all depend on Redlands for their mail and supplies. It is this rich and populous outlying country that has forced the growth of Redlands, and insures the continued advance of the city in trade and importance. There is no other town among those that have recently sprung up in Southern California that has so large and valuable a territory depending upon it and contributing to it.
Redlands is the fourth city incorporated within the county of San Bernardino, its incorporation dating from November 26, 1888. The population at present (May, 1890,) is about 2,500. Owing to the very rapid increase of population, there are many adult residents and heads of families, who have not been here long enough to become voters.
Redlands lies at the eastern end of the great valley of the Upper Santa Ana, sometimes called the East San Bernardino Valley. It stretches from the banks of the Santa Ana River, the largest stream in Southern California, on the north, to the hills on the south. The boundaries of the city incorporation include seventeen square miles of the richest and best soil in the State for orange growing. Perfect drainage is secured by the natural slope of the land and the character of the soil. It is nine miles directly east of San Bernardino, the county seat; thirteen miles northeast from Riverside; sixty miles directly east of Los Angeles, and one hundred miles north of San Diego, airline distances.
The Southern Pacific overland railroad enters the valley on the south through the San Gorgonio Pass. Brookside Station on this road is two miles southwest of the business center of Redlands. The Southern California, a branch of the Santa Fe, enters the valley from the north through the Cajon Pass, and makes San Bernardino its central point. Redlands has direct railroad communication with Los Angeles over the San Bernardino Valley Railroad (the Santa Fe system) three times a day; with Riverside the same; with San Bernardino and Colton six times each day. The mail is received and sent from the Redlands post office three times daily.
In addition the San Bernardino and Redlands narrow-gauge (called the Motor Road) makes ten trips between Redlands and San Bernardino each day, connecting with the Rapid Transit road which turns to Colton and Riverside. Redlands has already built and in operation three miles of street railroad, connecting the stations of both wide and narrow-gauge railroads with different residence portions of the city.
The Southern Pacific Company has surveyed a line for a road between Los Angeles and Red-lands and announced its intention to build in the near future. Local capital, interested in the great cedar and pine forests on the mountain ranges east and north of the city, is also surveying routes for railroads to these vast lumber districts. The vast importance of the lumber area of Bear Valley and adjacent territory, as well as the growing importance of that most beautiful mountain summer resort, will compel the building of a narrow-gauge railroad at no very far distant day. The route is practicable and the grade not at all difficult, while the passenger travel in summer will be very heavy.
On the area occupied by the business portion of this city thirty months ago, there was not a single building. Today there are forty substantial brick business buildings, none less than two stories high, all occupied by the various branches of trade and manufacturing. Among the business establishments are three large general and grocery houses, dry goods store, a national bank, a State bank, three agricultural implement and hardware houses, three drug stores, two furniture stores, two meat markets, two bakeries, three large commercial hotels, three restaurants, two tin and plumbing establishments, two lumber yards, three blacksmith and repairing shops, three vegetable and fruit stores, two harness shops, a livery stable, carriage repository, clothing store, jewelry store, sash and door factory, planning mill, boot and shoe store, photograph gallery, two paint shops, two barber shops, a book store, two wood and coal yards, an art store, a ladies’ bazaar, three boarding houses, two manufactories of cement pipe, a roller feed mill, three fruit-packing houses, numerous real-estate and insurance offices, lawyers, doctors, and a first-class job printing and newspaper office, the Citrograph.
Assessed valuation of the three school districts in 1889 was about $2,500,000.
Within the city limits are three fine schools, in the Redlands, Lugonia and Crafton districts, with a daily average attendance of upwards of 300. The three schoolhouses cost over $26,000. In addition, the Bellevue Academy, under the management of Prof. H. A. Brown, teaches the higher branches of learning preparatory to college.
The Congregationalists, Episcopalians, Baptists and Presbyterians have commodious church buildings; the Methodists are about to build, and all five hold regular services every Sunday.
A strong Young Men’s Christian Association occupies its own hall, with public lectures and a free reading room.
The Masons, Odd Fellows, Good Templars and Knights of Pythias all have organizations and hold regular meetings.
Fruit culture is the leading industry of this compact cluster of colonies. The fruits produced are chiefly oranges and the raisin grape; also berries of various kinds, peaches, apricots, nectarines, olives, limes and lemons.
Within the district surrounding the city of Redlands and naturally tributary to it as a business center, there is over 25,000 acres of good fruit land. Over 15,000 acres of this is good orange land. Reckoning in the Yucaipa, Potato, Bear and numerous other small valleys opening out into these and the East San Bernardino, there are 10,000 additional acres of fertile soil, a large portion of which is excellent for deciduous fruits, but too elevated for orange culture on account of temperature. In these high mountain valleys the finest small fruits, potatoes and apples are raised, yielding profits to the acre equal in many instances to the profits of orange culture.
To make fruit culture in all the section under discussion successful, or even possible, irrigation is a necessity. The supply of water for full irrigation of 25,000 acres in the valley is abundant. The sources of supply are the high ranges of mountains walling in the valley on the north and east. These ranges obtain at points an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, and their summits are in the regions of perpetual ice and snow. The Santa Ana River, Mill Creek, Plunge Creek and other smaller streams conduct the water from nature’s deposits to the valley. Formerly, as in other portions of the State, the great supply of the winter rains ran through these channels to the sea and was lost forever. A great natural lake formerly existed high up on the San Bernardino range. Probably an earthquake or some other convulsion broke the rim of the lake, and the accumulated waters made their escape through the Santa Ana River. This broken rim has been repaired by ingenuity, energy and capital, and the greatest stored supply of water for irrigation in the world Bear Valley Reservoir is the result.