From a 1850s ranch to Southern California’s Wine Country, Temecula has evolved into one of California's premier cities.
The only city in California to retain its aboriginal name
Temecula, established in 1859 with the opening of the seventh Post Office in California, gets its name from Colorado Shoshone Indians who were the first to inhabit the valley. They called their village “Temeku,” from the Luiseño word “Temecunga” -- “teme” meaning “sun,” and “nga” meaning “place of.” The first Europeans to arrive included Spanish missionary Father Juan Norberto de Santiago, who in 1797 was searching for a new mission site. They interpreted the name of the village as “Temecula.”
Santiago’s expedition led to the establishment of Mission San Luis Rey and the surrounding tribes became known collectively as Luiseño. Mexican independence in 1821 ushered in the rancho era, with the valley then comprising four land grants. In 1858, the Butterfield Stagecoach rumbled through on its way to San Francisco carrying mail from the east. The railroad soon replaced the stagecoach and the Santa Fe depot, built in 1882 on the banks of Murrieta Creek, became the foundation for what is known today as Old Town Temecula.
Arizona cattle baron Walter Vail bought the four ranchos in 1904 to create the 87,500-acre Vail Ranch, the second largest ranch in California. Many famous people passed through over the years, including Jedediah Smith, Kit Carson and Helen Hunt Jackson. "Perry Mason" author Erle Stanley Gardner made Temecula his home for 33 years.
Vail Ranch was sold in 1964 for development and the area was renamed Rancho California. With the completion of the Interstate 15 corridor between Los Angeles and San Diego, a population explosion began. When incorporated in 1989, citizens were asked to vote on a name for their new city. They chose Temecula over Rancho California, which makes Temecula the only city in California to retain its aboriginal name.
National City to Temecula rail line
On January 23, 1882, a rail line from National City to Temecula was completed and the valley’s silence was broken by the whistle of a locomotive. Regular service was started between National City and Temecula two months later, and local residents had good access to San Diego. A minor business boom began in Temecula with the advent of rail service, and several new stores were built and started to garner trade. In 1883, the line was extended to San Bernardino. In the late 1880s, a series of floods washed out the tracks and the railroad was finally abandoned. The old Temecula station wound up as a barn and was later demolished.
$600 million industry
A recent survey by Dean Runyan Associates, an economic and market research firm, found spending by travelers in Temecula Valley had increased from $131.2 million in 2000 to $597.8 million in 2011 — a jump of 356 percent. The 2011 figure is a 7.6 percent increase over 2010 and is close to the record $603.4 million tourists spent in the region in pre-recession 2007. Tourism-related jobs have also skyrocketed from 1,660 in 2000 to 6,190 in 2011.
One of the 'Most Playful Cities'
The city of Temecula was named the 2013 Playful City USA by the national nonprofit KaBOOM! for the city’s efforts in providing children with ample opportunities for play. Temecula received recognition for its 39 parks, 116,500 square feet of recreational facilities, and joint-use agreements with Temecula Valley Unified School District providing access to 43 acres of sports fields and playgrounds for public use outside of school hours.
The best winery in California
For the third time in the past five years, Temecula’s own South Coast Winery Resort & Spa has been named California State Winery of the Year at the state’s premier wine-judging competition at the California State Fair in Sacramento. The wine competition has been held for more than a century and this year had more than 700 participating wineries.
The American Lung Association recently released two reports, the "State of Tobacco Control," and "California Local Grades" which graded cities and counties on their air quality. Temecula was only one of 12 cities/counties in California to receive an "A" in air quality. Temecula was also the only city in Riverside County to receive an "A."
Top 10 weather
Suntan.com rates Temecula in its Top 10 “Best Weather Cities” in the United States. Suntan.com’s Top Ten “Best Weather Cities” in the United States include cities that have both moderate weather and fun outdoor activities. Temecula is ranked among other Top 10 Cities including Honolulu, Miami Beach, Santa Barbara and San Diego.