September 21, 2023

IE COMMUNITY NEWS

El Chicano, Colton Courier, Rialto Record

Colton’s Historic Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery Gets Much-needed Facelift

2 min read

The Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery is located at 2021 Agua Mansa Road in Colton.

The Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in San Bernardino County, is receiving a much-needed facelift that will improve the property for public enjoyment and create a serene visiting place for the loved ones of those resting there. 

The cemetery is all that remains of the communities of Agua Mansa and La Placita. Situated across from each other along the Santa Ana River, they were the first non-native settlements in the San Bernardino Valley and the largest settlements between New Mexico and Los Angeles during the 1840s.

In 1862, the Santa Ana River flooded and destroyed large parts of both communities, neither of which ever fully recovered. The last burial at Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery was in 1963 and the site was acquired by San Bernardino County in 1967. It is currently operated as a historic branch site of the San Bernardino County Museum. 

“The Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery and the story of Agua Mansa and La Placita are a vitally important part of our history,” said San Bernardino County Supervisor Joe Baca, Jr., whose Fifth District includes the cemetery and the surrounding communities. “Even in its present state, walking through the cemetery and reading the names and dates on the gravestones creates a tangible connection with those early settlers. I am very proud of our efforts to restore this place, honor those who rest here, and create a meaningful experience for our residents and future generations.”  

The Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery rehabilitation project, conceived in early 2022, is being funded through a combination of San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors allocated capital improvement funds and Board-approved grant funds through the California Cultural and Historical Endowment to make improvements across the Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery site including drive repairs, landscaping and beautification, entrance monument, interpretive signage, gate replacement and select headstone and monument conservation.

The project also includes funding for ground penetrating radar mapping of the entire site, which will provide a complete map of all burials and serve as a valuable tool for future researchers. These significant investments will improve visitor experience, increase opportunities for learning and ensure this historically significant site is protected and relevant for years to come. 

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