Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Early Etiwanda Welcomes Chaffey Garcia House


Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail

Our next stop on our tour is the historic CHAFFEY GARCIA HOUSE


The Chaffey Brothers are some of the most important entrepreneurs that helped transform the Inland Empire.

The sons of George Chaffey Sr. bought this house in 1881 from a retired Portuguese sea captain named John Garcia. The father had come from Ontario, Canada with hopes of helping his illness, which was the dreaded tuberculosis, called “consumption” back then.

It was recommended that the warm dry climate in Riverside would help him.

Sadly, he died a short time afterward, but the sons realized the area was ripe for development and in this regard, they brought water from the hills to the north of the immediate area and aided in the development and future expansion of the citrus industry.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Etiwanda” was named by the Chaffey’s after a Canadian Indian Chief. The house also was quite original and the first to have electricity in the greater Los Angeles area.

Working in real estate, land management, hydroelectricity, and especially advertising the Chaffey family were instrumental to the development of the area. Because of their vision, thousands of people from across Americans hungry for farmland, wide open areas, and a chance to start over, arrived due to the lure of the brothers advertising. They had tour trains scheduled to bring in investors of all sorts from all over the country. Their efforts put Etiwanda / Cucamonga on the map and today, there are schools and streets that bear their name that attest to the important role they played in our history.

After securing their foothold in the area, several of the brothers looked to new areas to work their magic and today the popularity of wine from Australia can be partially attributed to the brother’s hard work and vision of transplanting vines from this area to the down under continent.

After falling into disrepair, the non-profit Etiwanda Historical Society helped save the Chaffey-Garcia House and brought it back to its glory. Joseph Garcia, a retired Portuguese sea captain, built the majestic house around 1874. It was the site of the first electric light west of the Rocky Mountains and home to the first long distance telephone call in California. The house was moved to its present location in 1985. Today there are occasional tours of the home to show what life was like over 100 years ago.

About 600 feet away sits the Chaffey-Isle House, which the Chaffey brothers built for their mother and sister. James C. Isle, one of the largest citrus ranchers of the time, purchased the house in 1902 and moved it to land where the 210 Freeway is now located. In 1998, the City of Rancho Cucamonga bought the house from the California Department of Transportation, and it was moved to its current location adjacent to the historic Etiwanda Pacific Electric Depot.  Have you visited this historic location?  Please comment below.

Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail
Dennis Jones Friend of the Pacific Electric Trail
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