Discover a vintage Richfield service station, a winery, and the history behind this town.

Rancho Cucamonga

Scenes around Rancho Cucamonga:

  • Rancho Cucamonga
    Bridge over Route 66
  • Rancho Cucamonga
    Inside the Richfield Service Station

By Edward Dietl (Mr. Ed)

Long before modern man came to make his home in Southern California, Indians walked a trail through the Kukaumo-nga territory. Much later came the Missionaries who built our famous missions along the California coast all within a days’ ride of each other using much of the trail the Indians had pioneered through the hot desert wilderness. Eventually the trail became part of the famous Santa Fe Trail, moving thousands of settlers from the east to settle in a land rich with all needed to grow and enrich their lives.

The trail became a rutted road then traversed by horse drawn buckboards and stagecoaches bringing goods and travelers from San Bernardino to the growing town of Los Angeles.  The single lane path that passed through Bear Gulch, past Billy Rubottom’s Stagecoach stop and around the base of Red Hill was realigned and widened to accommodate lines of cattle, horses and wagons bringing trade goods and agriculture to the fertile California valleys and what was known then as “Cucamonga Township”.

The area, sometimes referred to as the Cucamonga Valley was becoming famous for its vineyards and fruit orchards that covered many miles of land.  The first winery in California, the Thomas winery, still exists on the corner of Foothill Blvd. and Vineyard Ave.  Huge packing house sprang up to crate and ship the oranges, Lemons, peaches and grapes. The railroads came through these fertile areas to ship the wine and produce all over the United States and the world.

The trail through Cucamonga was still a dirt road when the early automobile and motorcycles appeared. They plied the dusty, sometimes muddy path along the Cucamonga foothills with few places for services of any type.  In the early 1900s, a resident of Cucamonga, Mr. William Harvey, was the owner of one of the five automobiles in the small township. In 1914 the state extended the trail through a solid orange grove and called the section Foothill Blvd., and Mr. Harvey erected the first service station built between San Bernardino and Pasadena with gas pumps.  Prior to that, vehicles were filled from buckets.

In the mid 1920s the United States government could see the need for highways that could cross the country from east to west to support commerce and travelers.  The very first of these was Route 66 that meandered through eight states from Chicago to California.  This was the heyday of the automobile and the family vacation travelers. It also brought thousands of re-settlers leaving the dust bowl, the depression and WWII.  Many stopped in Cucamonga and their families live here today.

Just mentioning Route 66 to travelers, cyclists and classic car owners brings back images of the times they traveled the mother road.  There is still a longing to again travel it’s cross country meandering back to times when things were simple and the ride, not the destination, was the enjoyment.

Historic Route 66 (Foothill Blvd.) is now a historical ride through the past in what is now known as Rancho Cucamonga.  In 1977 the cities of Etiwanda, Cucamonga and Alta Loma Incorporated to form the beautiful city of Rancho Cucamonga.  Our road shows its heritage and history by displaying many “Route 66” and “Cucamonga” signs. Along with remodeled wineries, restaurants and shopping areas.  Come and visit our past. 

Where is Rancho Cucamonga?