THE TOWN OF CABAZON
The fact that the railroad, when it pushed its first track through the uplands of the San Gorgonio Pass, established at Cabazon a small depot, has already been noted. Cabazon received its name from old Chief Cabazon, who was one of the well known Indians in the early days.
The town is located about six miles east of Banning, and is 1,776 feet in elevation. The railroad, which between Cabazon and Banning climbs a steep grade, drops from Cabazon to Whitewater, where there is a small depot and section house, to an elevation of about 1,100 feet in less than ten miles.
When Hall City was in existence Cabazon also assumed some importance, but later, until 1884, there was not much of moment in the place. In that year a company beaded by Balfour-Guthrie, a Scotch firm, and known as the Cabazon Land and Water Company, bought the land from the railroad and state. They commenced to colonize the place, and sold some of the land, but later bought this in again and managed the property, as a whole, through a resident manager. They built a two story house for the manager, probably about 1884 or 1885. A moderate acreage of grapes, apricots and almonds was set out, and these proved fruitful. Some of the earliest fruit in the San Gorgonio Pass is raised at Cabazon, and the quality is good. Water for the irrigation of the lands, and for domestic use, was brought in a five mile stone ditch from the Millard canyon, north of the town. The railroad company then, as now, obtained a supply for the water tank from a tributary canyon, and at present maintains a caretaker in the canyon who has charge of the company water system.
For many years the Scotch company carried on the fruit farming through a manager, but in 1910 the townsite was bought by R. F. Garner of San Bernardino. He soon sold it to the Malone Water and Land Company of Los Angeles, and last year they commenced the subdivision and improvement of their property. About 2,400 acres, lying for the most part south of the railroad, were platted by this company, and in the neighborhood of 1,000 acres were soon sold. One of the largest purchasers was the Angelus Fruit Company, which bought the land with the idea of raising olives, figs, peaches and apricots, with a preponderance of the first.
To date there has never been any town in a business sense at Cabazon. A number of the recent purchasers of land there have built homes for themselves, and the company in charge installed a distributing system for the water, laying about thirteen miles of pipe. The first postoffice was installed there early in the present year, with B. H. Votaw as postmaster, and bonds for a small schoolhouse have been voted. The residents have always been few in number, and at present the total is not large, in comparison with the other towns of the valley.
Historically, Calimesa began as a small rural town with mostly single-family homes and ranches. With completion of U.S.Route 99 (modern day I-10 freeway), businesses opened and Calimesa began to feel a separate identity from the larger neighboring town of Yucaipa. In June 1929 nearly 100 residents attended a meeting and decided to apply for their own post office and to state a “name contest” in which the winner was paid $10. Calimesa was chosen from 107 names submitted; and is said to come from “cali” (meaning California) and “mesa” from the Spanish word meaning “table" or table-lands.” The first post office was the grocery store at Calimesa Boulevard and Avenue "K".
The modern history of the area was initiated with the establishment of Spanish Missions in Alta California in 1769. The need for a land route to these missions inspired Captain Juan Bautista de Anza to lead a party through the area in 1774. As early as 1820, reference can be found to the messenger foot path for the missions in Arizona to the San Gabriel Mission.
The Assistencia in Redlands (which has been rebuilt) and the San Gorgonio Rancheria were part of the San Gabriel Mission located near today’s Los Angeles. The San Gorgonio Rancheria was located in what is now Cherry Valley near Edgar Canyon. The site of San Gorgonio Rancheria, the location of the present Highland Springs Resort, Whitewater, and a house at the east end of present day Singleton Road in Calimesa became stage stops along this path.
The post office reinforced the residents' feeling of a community separate from the town of Yucaipa. In 1939 or 1940, the Calimesa Improvement Association, Inc. was formed. According to the constitution of the association, “The object and purpose of the association shall be the development and improvement of Calimesa and The Community”. Volunteers built a community center at the corner of Bryant and Avenue H, which had been designated a park site by the Redlands-Yucaipa Land Company. The "South Mesa Water Company" purchased the land for a well site and allowed the association to use it for community events.
In 1962 the Calimesa Improvement Association became the Calimesa Chamber of Commerce. The Improvement Association and the Chamber have operated as a mix of promoting Calimesa, providing community service, and being a sounding board for residents’ problems. Prior to 1949 the fire protection for the valley was provided by the California Department of Forestry at the Avenue A station, which today is the office of County Service Area 63 in Yucaipa. Calimesa community members felt the need for more protection on the south side of the wash, so in 1949 they formed the Volunteer Fire Department.