Development of San Bernardino County

At this period the cultivation of citrus fruits, which has since become the leading industry of the county, was practically unassayed. In all the county the only orange trees were a few-not to exceed two or three dozen-at Old San Bernardino, and three or four on Judge Boren’s place at San Bernardino proper. The general idea was that at no place in the county save at Old San Bernardino was the winter climate mild enough to spare these trees, and the sup-posed orange limit was therefore in that district; whereas present results show that the orange belt of San Bernardino County is at least forty miles long by thirty wide.

At this time, the leading industries were wheat, barley, corn, alfalfa, pumpkins, mission grapes, and deciduous fruits in moderate quantity.

At this time the only mail communication was by stagecoach via Los Angeles.

San Bernardino was then the great entrepot and furnishing point for the desert mines, as well as for those of Arizona; and this commercial importance continued to be hers until the traversal of the county by the Southern Pacific Railway, with its improved facilities for transportation.

In 1867, Henry Goodall, Sr., established the first brickyard in the county-still running in San Bernardino.

In 1870 ” Uncle George” Lord, a pioneer in this as in many other directions, produced absolutely the first raisins grown and prepared in San Bernardino County. Other parties had already sold roughly cured raisins from the Mission grapes; but Mr. Lord’s raisins were from White Muscat grapes, which he raised on Lytle creek, on a farm four miles west of the town of San Bernardino. The scions of his White Muscat vines he had procured from El Monte, and he prepared the raisins after the approved regular process. On account of difficulties in obtaining the means of packing, he used empty cigar-boxes for that purpose, and put his goods, as a novelty, on the local market, where they sold readily at twenty-five cents per pound. Certain parties shipped by mail a number of boxes to the Eastern States, where, not-withstanding the flavor of tobacco with which the raisins were impregnated from the cigar-boxes, they were pronounced of superior quality.

The development of San Bernardino County has been comparatively slow, as contrasted with other portions of Southern California. The citizens here have been more conservative and less disposed to ” boom ” their section. The growth and development have been, however, remarkably steady and enduring, as will be seen in the divisions treating of the various districts.

It is notable, too, as a special feature, that while San Diego and Los Angeles counties have been developed largely by capital from abroad, San Bernardino County has depended almost entirely upon home moneys and domestic re-sources. It would almost seem, indeed, as if something in the soil and atmosphere fostered and nurtured the spirit of local exploitation displayed by the early Mormon settlers, to win from the land itself the price of its improvement; colloquially speaking, to ” make it pay its own way as it goes along.”

The increase of population in the county up to 1870 was slow, it numbering in that year only 7,310 souls. Then the era of fruit colonies began, and since that time the increase has been constant. The census of 1880 gave a population of 7,786, and in July 1888, it was deemed that 29,415 was a fair estimate, based upon the school census of that year.

The school census, including all children between the ages of five and seventeen years, shows a steady increase each succeeding year, and, according to the accepted ratio between the census children and the whole number of inhabitants, the population of the county is now about 33,000.
It is estimated that that portion of the San Bernardino valley situated south of the mountain range contains about 450,000 acres of arable land. Of this area, 64,410 acres are under cultivation, and the remainder either is used for grazing purposes, or else lies as waste land, having no water available for irrigation. Of the 64,410 acres under cultivation, only 22,-460 acres are planted to orchard and vine-yard, and from this portion the income, counting the citrus fruit crop harvested in the spring of 1889, and the other fruit crop harvested later in that season, amounted to $1,635,000, with an estimated income of about $2,000,000 if the citrus crop of 1889-’90 be counted with the other fruit crop of 1889.

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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