Houman Fakhimi

The History of Rancho Cucamonga

Ever wondered where Route 66 ends? The final miles of this trans-American highway unwind in Southern California. Many may not know, but it’s an important part of the history of Rancho Cucamonga; it’s where the famous corridor ends.

The history of this city dates back to the mid-1800s when it was still under Mexican rule. TubercioTapio, a well-known and respected vintner, created the city with 13,000 acres of land he had owned and nurtured for his vineyards for years. The name Rancho Cucamonga was inspired by the Kucamongan Native American tribe that had settled in this region. The goal was to pay homage to the original settlers. By 1850, California was named a state, and for those in agriculture, they had to find more fertile grounds. Grapes could thrive in this area of the state, and soon, vineyards began popping up. Those vineyards would eventually create wealthy men out of those who had previously struggled to put food on the table for their families. They may not have hadvineyards when they arrived, but it did not take long to understand where the money was in this region of the state.

The vineyards became award-winning and world famous, but like all good things, there were bound to be setbacks and losses. These losses often came in the form of devastating fires, many of which wiped out entire warehouses of wine and the vines from which the grapes grew. This includes TubercioTapio’s the famous Wine Central warehouse, where cases of wine were said to have boiled within the bottles that housed them.

By the late 1800s, the entire state of California was invaded by prospectors and railroad lines. The Butterfield Stagecoach Route and the Santa Fe Trail were just two of the new routes that linked Rancho Cucamonga to the rest of the state and region.

Route 66 was the road to freedom for many in the Midwest who were looking for a better life away from the devastating Dust Bowl in the 1930s that ruined everything in its path. Many knew Southern California was being spared from the cruel games of Mother Nature. Unfortunately, upon arriving at the California border, those who risked the dangerous travel were told they would have to turn around. Their four-month journey to get to Californiasuddenly became an eight-month journey as they began to return home.

Today, visitors are reminded of Route 66’s final stopping place with streetscaping. Paying respect to the Rancho Cucamonga history, there are original sign posts that have been on display since they were erected and more modern Route 66landmarks at particularly popular points in the city.

The population has consistently increased over the years; however, in recent years, that growth in population has skyrocketed from 44,000 in the early 1980s to 140,000 today. The city has managed to combine a contemporary way of life for today’s families without leaving the city’s rich history behind, only to be found in history books. It’s an ideal balance and provides a healthy respect for the history of Rancho Cucamonga.