Local historian Jim Wood is giving a presentation on the Agua Mansa Corridor’s history this Saturday at the Colton Area Museum.
Wood, who is a member of the Old Spanish Trail Association, said his presentation will provide an in-depth overview of the rise and fall of the Agua Mansa settlement.
“Learning this history is a useful way for residents to understand things that are happening in the present,” said Wood. “I’m hoping by the end of the presentation, people will have an appreciation of the things settlers did to take us to where we are Today.”
In response to constant raids by nomadic Native American tribes, Don Antonio Maria Lugo, the founder of Rancho San Bernardino, persuaded several New Mexican settlers to protect land near the Santa Ana river in the early 19th Century. As a reward, these individuals were given plots of land for farming and settlement.
Those areas were referred to as Agua Mansa and La Placita, or what some historians refer to as San Salvador. The town’s first church was established in 1853 in Agua Mansa, though a flood in the Santa Ana River in 1863 destroyed the building and most of the settlement, according to Chicano historian Albert Camarillo.
Wood explained that the New Mexican settlements encouraged other groups to travel west to establish similar communities. Through his research, Wood said he’s been able to trace Mormon ties and interests to Agua Mansa and La Placita.
“Those are some of the things that I’ve uncovered,” Wood said about his research. “I think it’s fascinating.”
Wood said he and other invested community members are aiming to work with both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties to try to preserve both communities as historical monuments.
“We feel it should be a regional park,” said Wood. “This is something huge for many people in our area. Anyone of hispanic descent could be related to the original settlers of our community. It’s important that we don’t forget the past.”
Community residents and visitors are invited to attend the presentation that will start around 2:30pm inside the museum, located at 380 N. La Cadena Drive. For more information, contact Dr. Luis Gonzalez (909) 213-3730