The Mormon Era


Things to remember:

This is Mormon elder and settlement leader Charles Rich. He visited the valley in 1849 and heard that the Chino ranch was for sale. He helped lead the wagon train to San Bernardino Valley in 1851.

The End of the Rancho -- The Beginning of a City

The Lugos, as you may remember, were finding ranching in the valley very frustrating. Their biggest problem was the loss of horses that they needed to take care of thousands of head of cattle. Indians from over the mountains kept stealing their valuable horses. A very bad snowstorm in 1848 killed many thousand of their cattle.

Men on a Mission

A battalion of 500 men from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also called "Mormons") had marched to California in 1847 to help the United States in its war with Mexico. This was probably the longest infantry march in American history!

After the war, soldiers became regular men again, and began doing their usual work. Some stayed in Southern California for awhile, and liked living here.

 Charles Rich and others thought that this area would be a great stopping-point for missionaries and supply wagons to stop and rest between Utah and other places. Most of the Mormons were living in Utah by this time, and many supplies had to be taken by wagon from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other places.

Let's Buy a Ranch!

They picked Chino Rancho for the new settlement because the owner, Isaac Williams, said he wanted to sell his ranch. Members of the Mormon Battalion convinced the leader of the Mormon Church, Brigham Young, to let them buy the ranch and start a new settlement.

A Huge Party

Church leaders asked for volunteers to go to Southern California. They were hoping for a few people. Over 400 adults signed up, surprising everyone. After a horrible march across the dry, hot desert, the Saints arrived at the Cajon Pass.


A Perfect Rest Stop

The travelers were thrilled to stop and camp at a place they called "Sycamore Grove". You can go there today. It's now part of the Glen Helen Regional Park. If you go, try to imagine how good it would feel to put your hot feet in the cool water as you sat in the shade of the sycamore trees.

A Big Disappointment!

Happiness turned to tears when Mr. Williams refused to sell his ranch. The Lugos, however, were happy to sell theirs! Mormon Elders Charles Rich and Amasa Lyman agreed to buy all the San Bernardino Rancho for $77,500. Did you remember that the Lugos bought it for $800 in cowhides? That's called profit!