A Brief History of Cherry Valley, California
Did you know: Cherry Valley is the oldest settlement in the San Gorgonio Pass area? Cherry Valley has a long and very interesting history.
Of course, the Indians were the first residents. However, the first white settler of the Pass actually lived in Cherry Valley.
In the early 1820s, Spanish explorers discovered the Pass. Around 1823-24, Friars from the San Gabriel Mission established their mission in Cherry Valley. It was an adobe building, located where the Cherry Valley Fire Station 22 is now. (Stop by and read the monument denoting the location, placed there by our local firemen.)
On March 9, 1823 or 1824, the Friars named the mission San Gorgonio Rancho in honor of St. Gorgonius. This date became known as St. Gorgonius Day.
In 1844, a scout and mountain-man named Paulino Weaver lived in San Gorgonio Rancho with his Indian wife. He was granted the deed to the Rancho by Pio Pica, the Governor of Mexico.
Weaver worked for a man named Daniel Sexton, at a lumber mill located in Edgar Canyon, north of the fire station. This canyon was named after Dr. Edgar, a prominent resident of the area. Back then, water ran freely all the time. Now, Edgar Canyon is the source of water for the Beaumont/Cherry Valley Water District.
In 1843, Independence Day was celebrated with the local Indians. On that day, the American flag was flown for the FIRST TIME IN CALIFORNIA -- in CHERRY VALLEY!
In 1856, the first wedding in Cherry Valley was performed. That same year, Emily Smith became the first white baby born in Cherry Valley. In 1859, Oliver M. Smith became the first white male born in Cherry Valley.
Dr. Edgar established a winery. Another "first" came with the establishment of a U. S. Post Office at the winery in 1868. The Postmaster was Mark Garrett.
In 1874, John Ring became the first meteorologist for the Pass. The Pass soon became a major east-west route for the Stagecoach lines. The railroad later arrived, running through Banning and Beaumont, and leaving Cherry Valley Rural. Cherry Valley remains rural to this day.
In 1907, Claredon Eyer and Kenneth Smoot purchased Edgar and Noble Canyons as water sources to help develop the area. Cherry Valley had another "first" when Eyer and Smoot established the Apple Valley Water Company.
In June of 1944, during World War II, General George Patton built two hospitals in the Pass area, one in Banning and one in Cherry Valley. The Cherry Valley facility, the “base,” was leased to the government by J.J. Newberry, and sat on approximately 100 acres. Shortly after it was built, the site was vacated by the Army, and taken over by the US Navy. Located on Cherry Stone, it was built as a convalescent facility for military personnel with breathing problems, because of the clean air out here in this rural area. The Banning hospital cared for patients with other types of injuries.
Thirty people were assigned to work at the Cherry Valley hospital, caring for some 500 patients. The facility was occupied until October of 1945, and was closed the following December. The Banning hospital was decommissioned in 1946, its buildings dismantled and moved to 8th Street, in Beaumont, to be used for housing. Some of those buildings remain today.
There is nothing much left to indicate the location of the Cherry Valley hospital; just a few pieces of concrete and the water reservoir (still used by Cherry Valley Mutual Water Company). Even the flag pole has been moved. Now, in 2006, there are plans for three houses to be built on the site where the hospital used to stand.
In 1994, Cherry Valley had a “Flag Raising” ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII. The ceremony was attended by a number of people who were actually housed at the Cherry Valley hospital. Captain Russ Russell volunteered to raise the flag. He was told that the flagpole to be used was 38 feet in height, but when it came time to perform the ceremony, he found out the pole was 65 feet tall! Captain Russell had to enlist the services of an Edison truck to assist him.
It has been rumored that General Patton spent some time in Cherry Valley, but I have been informed that he probably did not visit our area, though he was in Banning on occasion.
During WWII, Cherry Valley became famous because of the “U-Pick-Your-Own-Cherries” concept, which was brought about by the shortage of help during the war. The idea worked so well that the community known as Apple Valley became Cherry Valley.
Today, the residents of Cherry Valley are fighting to keep their community rural.
Bogart Park’s “Noble” Beginnings
North of the City of Beaumont, (in Cherry Valley) where Cherry Avenue meets Noble Creek, is the District’s Bogart Park facility consists of over 400 acres of mostly open space and large trees. Although it is one of our most picturesque parks, few people today realize the civic-mindedness that went into the founding of the park during the depths of the Great Depression.
On March 30, 1930, the City of Beaumont and the Beaumont Rotary Club hosted the first official Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival held in the United States. It was a great success – in fact, it was too much of a success. Fully 32,000 people descended on Beaumont (when its population was only 1,332). Noting the tremendous success of the Festival and the need for a better facility, Dr. Guy Bogart, who at the time was president of the Beaumont Rotary, began searching for a more suitable location and found it in the vicinity of Noble Creek north of Beaumont.
The area he found consisted of 200 acres owned by the Beaumont Irrigation District (precursor to today’s Beaumont/Cherry Valley Water District), and 80 acres that were for sale. The property was covered with Live Oaks and other trees, which made it a natural treasure. In addition, within the hilly area, there was a natural amphitheater that Bogart and others thought might be perfect for future Cherry Blossom Festivals. Bogart’s dream was to create a large county park on the land, opening the majority of it to picnickers and campers while planning the amphitheater in a Japanese style.
To make these plans a reality, he and several other businessmen in Beaumont convinced the Beaumont Irrigation District to lease the 200 acres to the County for a park if the County would purchase the 80 acres, which were for sale for $2,500. Bogart approached the Board of Supervisors early in 1931, but at the depth of the Great Depression, the Board lacked the money to make the purchase. The Supervisors approved of the idea, though, and gave Bogart their word that once the money was available during the next year, they would purchase the land.
Bogart, desperate for a location for the 1931 Cherry Blossom Festival, convinced 25 Beaumont businessmen to loan $100 each to purchase the land. The land was purchased, the lease was signed, and the second Cherry Blossom Festival was another great success.
Once the Board purchased the land in the summer of 1931, plans were made to formally dedicate the new park. In the post-WWI era, many people formed peace societies and made efforts to educate others about different cultures in what became an international peace movement. Guy Bogart was a strong supporter of this attitude, and suggested that the new park be dedicated to international peace. The Beaumont Rotary Club enthusiastically embraced this ideal. Therefore, on October 18, 1931, the new park was dedicated as International Park. This ceremony was attended by Dr. Bogart, Frank Miller (who constructed the Mission Inn in Riverside and had just dedicated the new Rotunda Wing to international peace), U.S. Senator Samuel Shortridge, and delegations from Mexico and Japan.
At that time, the interior road was named Rotary Drive for the Rotary Club, and the hiss around which the road leads (the long and large hill to the right of the visitor center after leaving the fee booth ) was named David Star Jordan Peach Hill after the long-time peace activist and former president of Stanford University. In addition to the naming of various points, three cedar trees were planted atop the hill and named the World-Friendship Grove. One of the trees, taken from the Verdugo Hills north of Glendale, was dedicated to John Steven McGroarty, who wrote the Mission Play. After all had been said and done, the Riverside Enterprise remarked of the occasion:
“Mankind came a step closer to making international peace and brotherhood a reality on a rainy hilltop of International Park here today … The thunder was not that of war but of peace, thunder of the rain that falls so that man may harvest rather than destroy.”
So how did International Park become Bogart Park?? All things Japanese soon fell out of favor during the 1930’s as Japan made continued incursions into China, culminating with World War II. After the war, the Cold War took over, and thought of International peace quickly declined. In 1957, the Board of Supervisors decided to rename the park to honor Dr. Guy Bogard who had done so much to make the park a reality. Few of any of the mementos of Bogart Park’s beginnings survive today – however, subsequent generations should be reminded of the civic pride that their predecessors once had.
By. Steve Lech.