Chino Ranch, San Bernardino County, California

Chino Ranch is situated wholly in San Bernardino County, thirty-five miles easterly from Los Angeles city, and about twenty-five miles southwesterly from the city of San Bernardino. It adjoins Ontario and Pomona and is about fifteen miles from Riverside. Depots on the Southern Pacific and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroads are near it, and the Pomona, Elsinore and Southern Pacific railroad companies have made surveys through its center. It is composed of two Mexican grants, respectively named “Santa Ana del Chino” and “Addition to Santa Ana del Chino,” the former containing 22,234 and the latter 13,366 acres. The Chino was granted to Antonio M. Lugo, a Mexican of distinction and an alcalde, March 26, 1841, and was patented by the United States, February 16, 1869; the Addition was granted to Isaac Williams (Senor Lugo’s son-in-law, April 1, 1843, and patented by the United States, April 29, 1869. At that early day these shrewd men selected the Chino lands in preference to hundreds of other rich and vacant tracts, and after carefully inspecting all the other large grants in Southern California with a view to good investment and a permanent home. Mr. Richard Gird, the present owner, bought the Chino” and the Addition ” in 1881, and has since increased his acreage by the purchase of adjoining land, until at this writing (1889) he is the owner of nearly 47,000 acres, truly a principality in extent. He resides upon the ranch and is improving its former good reputation for blooded horses and cattle-there being now 800 head of finely bred horses and 6,000 cattle on it. The ranch is producing some of the most valuable thoroughbred trotting and draft-horses to be found in Southern California. Among the cattle, which are Durham and Holstein stock, is a dairy of 200 milch cows. The product of this dairy, butter, ranks among the finest in this State.

The ranch is rich in historical events. There the early emigrants to California by the southern route found accommodations to rest and recruit themselves and animals. Mr. Gird has a large book containing autographic accounts of the tedious and dangerous trip, circumstances of fights with the Indians, etc. This ranch was the scene of Indian attacks, and of fights between Americans and Mexicans when California was acquired. Many old Mexicans believe much gold treasure was buried upon it, and every year some of them ask permission to dig for it. Passing over many incidents of great interest, it is a widely known fact that during the growth year of 1864 the Chino was the only ranch that carried all its cattle, and it sustained 5,000 head that memorable season, proving its superiority for water and pasturage. Twenty-three thousand acres have been surveyed into ten-acre tracts, with streets fronting all. All the land is valuable, no gulches, no rocks, no brush, -in fact, all is ready for the plow. It has a uniform slope of from twenty to forty feet to the mile, just right for the best drainage without washing. The most experienced cultivators in the State have testified and practically proven that every ten acres of such land will amply support a family. Many thousands of acres are moist land, not needing irrigation, a fact of the greatest value, insuring the largest crops at the least cost; and the great depth of the soil renders fertilizing unnecessary for many years, if ever. Fully 10,000 acres are specially adapted to the growth of oranges, and 3,000 or more to raisin grapes. Ten thousand acres will grow any fruit or crop without any irrigation, and the vast size of the ranch enables buyers to choose tracts exactly suited to vegetables and alfalfa; to oranges, lemons and limes; to olives, grapes, pears, prunes, plums, peaches, apples and small fruits, and to walnuts and other nuts.

The water supply is abundant and never failing; the Chino Creek, a tributary of the Santa Ana River, passes through .the ranch. The average rise of the land to the mountains on the north is sixty feet to the mile. These mountains carry snow nine months in the year, and have an animal rainfall of from forty to sixty inches–say an average of forty-five. This mountain catchment, tributary to Chino Valley, about 400 miles in extent, is enough to make a large and rapidly flowing river the whole year, and all of it, except what is absorbed by the intervening lands and taken up by evaporation, must find its way underground to Chino Valley (for there is no other to receive it), giving the ranch an unfailing supply of pure, soft water, at from six to eighteen feet from the surface, and 100 to 400 for artesian wells. With an average rainfall in the valley of nearly twenty inches, and this vast catchment, both surface and artesian supply is assured beyond a doubt. For the fifty or more years this ranch has been inhabited, there has never been any lack of water, or of thrifty crops and pasturage. Artesian wells, with large flows, at from 100 to 400 feet, have been bored in different parts of the tract, and more are in progress.

Source: An Illustrated History of Southern California: embracing the counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the peninsula of lower California.

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