History of San Bernardino, CA

Have you ever wanted to know the history of the beautiful city of San Bernardino you see or hear about today? Well, then you are in the right place. Below is a brief history of the city.

The area known as San Bernardino was inhabited by Spanish missionaries in the 19th century. This is because the land was extremely fertile, and they used it as an outpost for missionaries who traversed the entire California territory preaching the word to the Indian tribes who were spread across the land.

According to preserved history, a Catholic missionary named father Francisco Dumetz travelled from mission San Gabriel to San Bernardino Valley in 1810 in an effort to convert Indian tribes into Christianity. He built an altar, and named the area San Bernardino, CA after Saint Bernardino who was the patron saint at that time according to catholic calendar.

Rancho San Bernardino was established by the Mission Gabriel in 1819, which was geared towards the spiritual wellbeing of the Indians. However, the missionaries also educated the community on how to tap water from mill creek, better farming and irrigation methods. As the missionaries progressed economically, the local communities followed suite.


In 1834, Governor Figeroa of California gave a decree to close down all missions in the area. However, this did not deter this place from growing. It gave birth to vast Spanish rancheros. The abandoned missions became trading hubs, and the economy started booming.

The landowners built beautiful haciendas in the area, and the ranchos were so sightly such that they started attracting visitors.

However, the Indian tribes living in the desert started launching attacks in the haciendas and wiped out all the herds. The Spanish settlers gave up and left the area. It remained deserted until 1851 when a group of 500 Mormons arrived. Due to the abundance of water and the growth of sycamores, mustard, wild oats, cottonwoods, and willows, the Mormons named the stream Lytle Creek after Captain Andrew Lytle who was their leader.

Aware of the attacks by the surrounding Indian communities, they built a stockade around the area they inhabited and named it Fort San Bernardino.

The city of San Bernardino was officially incorporated in 1852. It had a population of 1200 people. Since 900 of them were Mormons who were God-fearing, it was named a temperance town where no gambling or drinking was allowed.

The Mormons were, however, recalled in 1857. Despite this, they had established stores, a strong government, network of roads, schools and even some attractions like McDonald’s Museum in the short period that they served in the area.


Despite developing lots of problems in the last years of the 19th century, railway companies entered the city and brought it back to life. The Union of Pacific, The south pacific, and the Santa Fe railroads converged in San Bernardino, and it became a center of all their operations in California.

With competition among the railway companies, settlers flocked and the population grew tremendously. The city flourished . Today, this city is highly civilized and has many attractions that people can visit like the Cucamonga, and is host to a modern and focused community. The dreams and desire to achieve of the pioneers can be seen through the vigor and determination displayed by the community. San Bernardino is a city that carries a bright future, not only for California State, but also for the United States of America

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