History of Elsinore, California
From: History of Riverside County, California
with Biographical Sketches.
History By: Elmer Wallace Holmes
Historic Record Company.
Los Angeles, Califirnia 1912

By L. B. Peck

Elsinore was evidently designed by nature as a health and pleasure resort. Here we have a natural sanitarium for the sick, a romantic resort for the pleasure seeker and tourist, and a paradise for the sportsman. The city is situated on the northern shore of Lake Elsinore; it contains five hundred or more inhabitants, which number is increased by the residents of the surrounding valley to fifteen or eighteen hundred. During the summer season Elsinore is daily favored by ocean breezes, and owing somewhat, perhaps, to the elevation and the intervening mountain ranges, the humidity of the ocean air is greatly modified, being rendered much dryer than it is in places on a lower altitude although equidistant from the ocean. For the health seeker this locality combines the many virtues of its hot mineral waters, to the rare medicinal properties of which hundreds can testify; many who came here on cots, or hobbling along on crutches, after having drunk and bathed in them a few days or weeks, were enabled to return to their homes in the enjoyment of health and consequent happiness. With the advantages of an elevation above miasmatic influences, is a climate that is unsurpassed on this mundane sphere, a dry, pure and invigorating atmosphere, with comparatively few fogs, and where malaria is unknown. All these climatic properties are united to form one of nature's greatest tonics, which can always be relied on to assist in restoring lost vitality. Owing to a knowledge of these facts it has been stated by residents, and reiterated by visiting physicians, that Elsinore possesses the essential conditions to constitute it one of the most healthful localities in the world. But the charms of its climate, the beauty and grandeur of its environs, and the invaluable boon of its healing waters, are not the only advantages of this part of our wonderfully favored county of Riverside, whose natural resources are not excelled by any county in the state.

Elsinore valley, including the lake, was formerly a part of San Diego county and was purchased by William Collier, D. M. Graham and F. H. Heald in November, 1883. This tract was transferred to Riverside county at the time of the organization of said county, May 11, 1893. The town of Elsinore was incorporated as a city of the sixth class in April, 1888. It has three churches: the Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian and Catholic. It has two schools, one high school, the building of which has just been completed at a cost of $15,000, and one grammar school, with the prospect of a primary school building being erected in the near future, at a cost of $2,500. There are two bath houses in Elsinore where hot water baths are given, and one where mud baths are given. All water is heated by a natural process.

A point of the greatest interest to the late arrival, or would be settler in a locality with which he is not familiar is, what are its natural, most valuable and productive resources? What will render the greatest reward for the time, labor and money expended in producing a fair income from the soil and otherwise? The valley lands surrounding the city extend for several miles in some directions, the soil is rich and is capable of producing abundantly as is shown and fully demonstrated. This soil grows almost all kinds of grain as well as nearly every kind of fruit, both citrus and deciduous, and nuts of many kinds, including the English walnut. Grapes of all kinds are raised here, also peaches, apples, pears, prunes, plums, apricots, quinces, cherries, olives and figs. Berries are also successfully raised here, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and in fact the Elsinore valley land will come as near starting sprouts on a broomstick as any soil beneath the sun, "if you give it water."

The first bank in Elsinore was organized in 1887, and was known as the Exchange Bank. Later the Bank of Elsinore was organized and on June 5, 1890, the Exchange Bank and the Bank of Elsinore consolidated, assuming the name of the Consolidated Bank of Elsinore, of which J. A. Crane has been the cashier for six years and R. H. Kirkpatrick is his present efficient assistant.

The Lakeland Olive Grove, which is on the south side of the lake, contains one hundred and thirty five acres in olives and is owned by C. H. Albers of St. Louis, Mo., together with the machinery, which is used in manufacturing the oil, this being under the successful management of J. C. Ranisdale. (This grove produces an annual average crop of two hundred and fifty tons of olives, which are all manufactured into oil or canned on the premises, besides many more tons that are raised in the Elsinore valley.) At the present time there is an addition being made to the factory which will enlarge its capacity fully one half, making it equal to any factory in the state, if not the largest.

There are three hotels in Elsinore: the Bundy, owned by Mrs. Fannie A. Amsbury and her son Homer Wassner; the Lakeview, owned by Mrs. Gardner; and the Elsinore, owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Ellis, besides a number of restaurants and rooming houses.

A company has been recently organized to be known as the Laguna Gas and Oil company, with Mrs. Mary A. Gardner as its president, for the purpose of prospecting for and the development of these products in Warmspring valley, just north of the city, where the indications seem favorable and encouraging.

About eighteen miles from the eastern shore of the father of waters nestles the beautiful lake of Elsinore; it is the largest and most durable lake in Southern California, two miles wide and five miles long, with an average depth of twenty feet. It is surrounded by picturesque hills and lofty mountains, whose rock ribbed sides and tree capped domes are frequently photographed on the surface of its pellucid waters. Here, too, the vale of Elsinore which surrounds this lake has been by nature carved out of this mountainous region as an oasis possessing great fertility, susceptible of the highest cultivation. Three hundred and twenty days in the year. the golden sun with undimmed and genial rays, tempers the ocean breeze and northern blast, robs old winter of its dread tempests. and substitutes for sleighbell chimes the melody of birds.

The city owns and fully controls its own domestic water system. The hot sulphur water is pumped into a reservoir and thence distributed over the city.

The eucalyptus tree seems peculiarly adapted to this soil and climate and has been tested by many. The Eucalyptus syndicate, of which E. J. McCully is president, is thoroughly testing it, having already planted some five hundred acres, and purposes planting three hundred acres more next season. Mr. Stiles has set out forty five acres in the same locality known as Warmspring valley, just north of the city of Elsinore, and all of the trees are in splendid condition. There is in the entire valley at present not less than seven hundred acres of this kind of valuable timber, and more to follow as fast as water can be developed with which to give the trees a start. Walnut trees grow here to perfection, abundantly large, being healthy and produce good crops each year. The acreage in walnuts is not very large, but will doubtless be largely increased in the very near future, according to the demand now being made.

One of the greatest sources of revenue in this locality is clay, owned by the Alberhill Coal & Clay Company, of which J. H. Hill is president. There are six distinct qualities or varieties and the average daily shipment is two hundred and seventy tons. There is also a strata of coal thirteen feet in thickness in close proximity to the clay. Neither the coal nor clay is a new find, both having been under successful mining operation for a number of years. As a test, the clay and coal were compared to the Akron (Ohio) and

Newbrighton (Pa.) products some twenty five years ago and pronounced equal to either. It is generally believed that near this extensive clay bed an abundance of crude oil awaits development, which will no doubt be undertaken in the near future.

A weekly paper is published here by W. H. Green, the title of which is the Lake Elsinore Valley Press. The local news is well and extensively handled.

A scene of beauty is a joy or pleasure unsurpassed, and what can be more beautiful or enchanting than the grand and diversified scenes of nature! Running through the city of Elsinore, near its center on a line north and south, is a range of hills commencing near the bed of the lake and thence running north until it reaches an altitude three hundred feet or more at a point known as Hamptons Height, at which altitude it is the design of Mr. Hampton to construct an observatory to be known as the scenic observatory. A road has been constructed from the base of the bill to the observatory which is so constructed or graded that carriages and automobiles can ascend to the full height. From this standpoint looking to the northwest we see the snow crested summit of old Baldy; northeast of the observatory the snow capped heights of the San Bernardino mountains shows very distinctly and to the east are seen the San Jacinto snow covered mountains.


In this semi-tropic, pleasant clime,
Where breezes fro the ocean's shore,
Though they do not waft the sleigh-bells chime,
Temper Sol's rays, at Elsinore.

Romantic scenes, and lofty mountains!
Rich mines of precious golden ore,
Life giving springs and healing fountains,
All bless the vale of Elsinore.

Here sunny springtime linkers ever,
Around the lakelet's sylvan shore;
And blossoms lose their fragrance never,
On hill and dale, at Elsinore.

Mystic mirror! Thy limpid waters,
With fairy scenes are penciled o'er;
Thou fairest of Pacific's daughters,
We hail thee, Queen of Elsinore!

In winter, fields are robed with flowers,
And song birds tune their grand encore,
In orange grove and olive bowers,
Throughout the vale of Elsinore.

Plenty of the finest fruits "and to spare"
Are raised where sage-brush grew before;
The apricot, prune, peach, plum and pear,
Adorn the vale of Elsinore.

Here, too, lemons, figs and walnuts grow
And all vegetables galore;
As choice grain as the earth can bestow,
Is harvested at Elsinore.

A more healthful place cannot be found,
Though we may earth's domains explore,
Or search the whole world through and around,
Than Elsinore! Fair Elsinore!

Including the lake there are thirteen thousand acres in what is known as the Elsinore Colony; from its northern boundary it extends southward about nine miles to where the southern boundary line crosses the Elsinore valley. Following this valley southward from the city of Elsinore the first town we arrive at is Wildomar, seven miles distant, situated on the Santa Fe Railroad. It contains one hundred inhabitants, has one church, the Methodist Episcopal, and one school. The character of the soil surrounding it is a sandy loam and is especially adapted to raising grain, alfalfa and deciduous fruits. It will be interesting to some to know why so peculiar a name as Wildemar was adopted and what gave rise to it. In explanation I will state that William Collier and Donald Graham were two of the original purchasers of the Laguna grant. Mrs. Margaret Graham, the wife of Mr. Graham, also being interested in the enterprise, was given the honor of manufacturing a name for the new 'town, which she did by using the first syllable or part of each of the three given names mentioned, thus Wil-Do-Mar.

Proceeding southward the next town arrived at is Murrietta, about ten miles from Elsinore. It contains one hundred and fifty inhabitants, has three churches (Methodist Episcopal, Holiness and Episcopal) one hotel and one school. The surrounding soil is good and well adapted to raising grain, alfalfa and deciduous fruits. The indications are favorable for the development of a sufficient amount of water for all practical purposes. The hot springs are about three and one half miles east of the town and are quite extensively patronized, especially for remedial purposes. The tilable soil in that vicinity yields good grain and would doubtless grow fine eucalyptus timber.

Six miles from Murrietta southward, at the terminus of the valley, the town of Temecula is reached; it is four miles north of the San Diego county boundary line. It contains two hundred and ninety inhabitants, has one school and one hotel. The soil in this part of the valley is quite productive and yields grain and alfalfa in abundance. Water seems plentiful and is flowing on the surface in a number of places. Lake Elsinore is the basin for the surface flow from a water shed extending east one hundred miles or more; sooner or later, however, it sinks below the surface but continues to flow underground. About one and a half miles south of the lake the east side of the valley a syndicate recently purchased a tract of two thousand acres. This company, known as the Superior Land and Water Company, made a test to learn what the prospect was for obtaining water in that locality and were highly pleased with the result; at a depth of from one hundred and thirty five to four hundred and fifty feet they tapped a vein which yields six hundred inches of pure water from five wells. This certainly looks favorable for there being an undercurrent flowing throughout the entire valley which will doubtless be tested at no distant time, and if found in sufficient quantity will be utilized throughout this picturesque and fertile valley.

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