Colton founded in 1874, is an incorporated city, the third in the county in point of population. It is at an elevation of some 900 feet, lying fifty-eight miles from Los Angeles, on the through line of the Southern Pacific Railway, by which line it was founded, being named after one of the deceased directors of this company. The climate is warm and dry, neither frost nor fog being known here. It is three miles from the county seat, with which it is connected by a motor line and by the Santa Fe line, which crosses the Southern Pacific at Colton.
The town’s location at the intersection of these two transcontinental roads, gives it an importance at once apparent. Some sixty trains pass Colton daily. Thus the town is the commercial entrepot or distributing point, through the ramifications of these lines, for goods and wares over a very large extent of territory, as well as being the depot of output for all the products of that same territory. Lying in the very heart of the citrus region, Colton ranks first in the State as a shipping point for oranges, and for total shipments it stands third on the list. During 1889 there were forwarded from Colton by the Southern Pacific alone, 22,060,606 pounds of freight, and 38,788,805 pounds were received during the same period. For the first five months of 1889 the number of pounds forwarded was 13,777,-887; received, 17,073,125. For the corresponding five months of 1890, the number of pounds forwarded was 22,250,701; received, 19,389,953. There were 551 car-loads of oranges shipped from Colton during 1889; up to May 20, 1890, there were forwarded 750 car-loads, and probably fifty more will go out before the end of the season. The foregoing figures relate exclusively to the business of the Southern Pacific.
It has been impossible to secure a statement of the traffic by the Santa Fe, and it can only be guessed at, taking into consideration the numerous branches hereabouts of this system.
The Colton City Water Company derives its domestic supply from artesian wells two miles north of the city, piping in seventy-five inches under 150 feet pressure. The irrigation supply, also artesian water, is conveyed by three separate companies, through pipes and cement ditches.
The greatest and most important enterprise of Colton is undoubtedly the marble and lime industry on Slover Mountain, fully described elsewhere. Next to this probably comes the Colton Packing Company, with their fine plant, covering two acres of land, their sidetrack to the cannery from the S. P. Railway, and their extensive operations. This cannery employs during the season, some 300 men, women and children, its pay roll amounting to $1,500 or $2,000 weekly. The work usually begins about the middle of June, and continues for about four months on green fruit, and two months longer on raisins. The fruit canned consists of berries, grapes, apricots, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and prunes. The cannery receives not only a vast quantity of homegrown fruit, but it also draws largely upon the territory from Redlands to Pomona, and even from a greater distance. During the last season this company handled 1,000 tons of green fruit, packed 1,000,000 cans, prepared forty tons of dried fruit, and put up 40,000 boxes of raisins.
The Colton Rolling Mills had in 1889 an output of one-ton daily of rolled barley.
The soil of Colton is wonderfully fertile, producing cereals and root crops, as well as a great variety of fruits, both citrus and deciduous. The oranges of Colton Terrace are considered especially fine; it is from this growth that Leland Stanford chooses the supply for his own table.
Colton has a planning mill, employing about eighty hands; a bank with a paid-up capital of $100,000; two weekly newspapers, the Chronicle and the News; and two hotels, with several restaurants and eating-houses, besides the usual complement of stores, shops, etc. There are six practicing physicians and two lawyers.
The principal schoolhouse, containing eight rooms, was built some two years since, costing $18,500 cash. There is also another school building, and the force consists of a principal or superintendent and six assistant teachers.
There are Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Baptist church congregations, the two first named owning church buildings.
Among the various fraternal societies represented are: the Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Ancient Order of Foresters, United Workmen, Grand Army of the Republic, Young Men’s Christian Association, Young Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Independent Order of Good Templar F and Loyal Legion.
The city officials are: five trustees, clerk, treasurer, marshal, engineer, attorney, recorder, health officer, street superintendent, two constables, and two justices of the peace.
Colton’s burying-ground is near the eastern base of Slover mountain.
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.