San Jacinto History



Founded in 1870, and incorporated on April 9, 1888, San Jacinto is one of the County's oldest communities with roots that stretch back to the earliest days of California.

Because of its mild climate and fertile land, the region became home to Native Peoples, Spaniards, Mexicans and Americans - all of whom have made a unique and indelible imprint on the character of the valley.

Early History

The first native people settled in the San Jacinto Valley thousands of years ago. Later, the Serrano and Cahuilla people arrived. Their villages were located along and near streams and springs. They were hunters and gatherers and they subsisted primarily on small game and acorns. The Soboba Indian Reservation, just east of San Jacinto, is now the home to the descendants of some of these people.

The first Spanish explorers entered the San Jacinto Valley in the early 1770s. In 1774, and again in 1775, Col. Juan Bautista de Anza led two expeditions up from Mexico, crossing the Colorado River at Yuma and continuing across the Borrego Desert and up Coyote Canyon.

For a few years, the Valley was on the main overland route to California.

1820 - 1870

Beginning around 1820, the Mission San Luis Rey (located in modern day Oceanside) established a cattle ranch in the Valley, which they named for St. Hyacinth (San Jacinto in Spanish). St. Hyacinth ministered in Eastern Europe in the early 13th century; he was canonized in 1594 and his feast day is August 17th. Locally, the name San Jacinto was soon applied to the San Jacinto River and Mt. San Jacinto (elevation 10,804 ft.), one of the three tallest peaks in Southern California.

In 1834, after California had passed from Spanish to Mexican rule, the Mission San Luis Rey was taken over by the government, and its lands granted to private individuals. In 1842, José Antonio Estudillo was granted the 35,500-acre Rancho San Jacinto Viejo (Old San Jacinto), which took in most of the Valley.

Members of his family received two other nearby grants, giving the Estudillo family control over some 110,000 acres in the area. The Estudillos ran cattle on the land.

José Estudillo died in 1852, but his family continued to own most of the Valley until the early 1880s. Two of his sons built two-story brick mansions in 1885 - 1886. The oldest, built by Francisco Estudillo (1844 - 1921) in 1885, is located at Main and Seventh Streets in San Jacinto. It has been named the most significant historical building in the San Jacinto Valley and is one of the most significant in all of Riverside County.

Francisco Estudillo was San Jacinto's first Postmaster (1870), second mayor (1890), and served as the local Indian Agent for the Federal Government in the 1890s.

The Estudillo family remained prominent well on into the 20th Century. In the late 1860s, the family began selling portions of their San Jacinto ranch, and the first American settlers moved into the Valley.

By 1868, a little community had begun to develop on the south side of the Valley, near the San Jacinto River. In 1869, a school district was established. Procco Akimo, a Russian immigrant, established the first store. In 1870, the San Jacinto Post Office was established.

1870 - 1900

During the 1870s, a little town began to grow up around Procco Akimo's store. This community was located south east of modern downtown San Jacinto, on what is now Hewitt Street.

After the Estudillo lands were broken up in early 1889, a group of Los Angeles investors organized the San Jacinto Land Association, which acquired some 15,000 acres of the old ranch. In 1883, they laid out a rival town site less than two miles away.

For several years, "Old" San Jacinto and "New" San Jacinto struggled for dominance. The battle was not settled until 1888, when the Santa Fe railroad built a branch line into the Valley from Perris, which terminated on the west side of "New" San Jacinto on land donated for the purpose by Francisco Estudillo. "Old" San Jacinto was far from the tracks and eventually faded away. The new City of San Jacinto was incorporated that same year on April 9, 1888.

By the 1870s, the Valley's economy had moved from cattle ranching to horticulture. Early ranchers had grown grain, then apricots, walnuts and citrus production came to dominate the area. Turkey ranching and dairy farming came later. Besides agriculture, several local lime kilns added to the local economy before World War I.

1900 to Present  

Tourism also had an impact on the Valley, beginning around 1900.

Natural hot springs along the north side of the Valley stimulated the development of several tourist resorts with hotels, guest cabins and bath houses. Gilman Hot Springs was the best-known resort. It was originally developed in the 1880s, and was acquired in 1913 by the Gilman family, who ran the resort for 65 years. Soboba Hot Springs was also popular, with its Indian-style cottages scattered along the hillside. Further west was Eden Hot Springs.

The Estudillo Mansion is currently owned by the City of San Jacinto.  The City of San Jacinto successfully completed the interior and exterior Estudillo Mansion Restoration project. There has also been the addition of a Water Conservation Garden, parking lot and landscape improvements with a dedication event on May 16, 2009

Historic San Jacinto

San Jacinto Santa Fe Train Station

Train Pulling up to station

Vosburg Hotel in San jacinto

Old Street View of Sj