Agua Mansa, California

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Agua Mansa
Ghost town
Agua Mansa is located in California
Agua Mansa
Agua Mansa
Location within the state of California
Coordinates: 34°2′30.84″N 117°21′47.16″W / 34.0419000°N 117.3631000°W / 34.0419000; -117.3631000Coordinates: 34°2′30.84″N 117°21′47.16″W / 34.0419000°N 117.3631000°W / 34.0419000; -117.3631000
Country United States
State California
County San Bernardino
Elevation [1] 922 ft (281 m)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
GNIS feature ID 238451
Reference No. 121

Agua Mansa ("gentle water")[2] is a former settlement in an unincorporated area of San Bernardino County, California, United States. Now a ghost town, only the cemetery remains,[3] it once was the largest settlement in San Bernardino County. The town was established in 1845[4] on the Santa Ana River, across from the town of La Placita.[5] Agua Mansa and La Placita were the first non-native settlements in the San Bernardino Valley.[6] Together known as "San Salvador",[7] they were also the largest settlements between New Mexico and Los Angeles in the 1840s.[8]


In 1845, Don Juan Bandini donated parts of his Rancho Jurupa to a group of colonists from Abiquiú, New Mexico on the condition that they would assist in protecting his stock from Indian raids. Ten of these families moved to 2,000 acres (810 ha) on the "Bandini Donation" on the east side of the Santa Ana River, forming the village of La Placita while a second group colonized the west side of the river, forming the town of Agua Mansa.[6] The group that formed Agua Mansa was led by Don Jose Tomas Salajar, and included Cristobal Slover and Louis Rubidoux.[4]

After the adobe church built in La Placita in 1852 collapsed in quicksand, a new church was built in Agua Mansa. Completed in 1853 and dedicated to San Salvador, the church survived through the Great Flood of 1862.[6] The parish, which included Agua Mansa and La Placita, became known as San Salvador de Jurupa, and was the first non-mission parish in Southern California.[9] The chapel's bell now hangs at the Glenwood Mission Inn.[10]

The town prospered for almost 20 years until the 1862 flooding swept away many of the adobe buildings, leaving the area strewn with sand and gravel. Though the town was rebuilt on higher ground, its prosperity did not return.[2] Built in 1870, the Jensen Alvarado Ranch is a California Historical Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Its vineyard produced and sold thousands of gallons of wine each year.[11]


The Agua Mansa valley is located on the south side of Slover Mountain.[12] The valley was 6 mi (9.7 km) in length; its width varied between .5 mi (0.80 km) and .75 mi (1.21 km), the variance depending on the river that flowed through the valley. The area was used as farmland, divided into at least one hundred fields, owned by separate farmers. The valley's lower end included Rubidoux's cottonwood forest, while the upper end was a sandy plain that extended to the borders of San Bernardino.[13]

Pioneer Cemetery Landmark[edit]

Agua Mansa is designated California Historical Landmark (No. 121).[14] The marker is located at Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery, the only site that remains of the once flourishing town.[7][14] The first burial occurred in 1852, and the last occurred 111 years later in 1963. Notable pioneers buried at the cemetery include Louis Rubidoux, Cornelius Jensen and Jensen's wife Mercedes Alvarado.[8] In 1955, a descendant of the original Agua Mansa families established "Friends for the Preservation of the Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery" and the volunteers of this group refurbished the cemetery, fenced it off and added a gate. In 1967, the cemetery became a branch of the San Bernardino County Museum after its acquisition by San Bernardino County.[15] It has a museum and chapel, and tours are available.[15][6]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Agua Mansa, California
  2. ^ a b "NO. 121 AGUA MANSA". Office of Historical Preservation. Archived from the original on 17 November 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2010. 
  3. ^ "Agua Mansa". Retrieved 8 December 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Crafts, Eliza Persis Russell Robbins; McGehee, Fannie P. (1906). Pioneer days in the San Bernardino valley. Kingsley, Moles & Collins Co. p. 19. 
  5. ^ Dwyer, Jeff (2006). Ghost Hunter's Guide to Los Angeles. Pelican Publishing. p. 102. ISBN 1-58980-404-X. 
  6. ^ a b c d "The Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery". San Bernardino County Museum. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Mitchell, Patrick (2006). Santa Ana River Guide: From Crest to Coast – 110 Miles Along Southern California's Largest River System. 209. Santa Ana River Guide: From Crest to Coast – 110 Miles Along Southern California's Largest River System. ISBN 0-89997-411-2. 
  8. ^ a b Hiltner, Nita (30 January 2010). "Rich history found at Colton cemetery". The Press-Enterprise. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  9. ^ Hall, Gary. "The Lost City of the Inland Empire, Agua Mansa". Inside the Inland Empire. Retrieved 11 December 2010. 
  10. ^ Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (U.S.) (1919). Locomotive engineers journal 53. p. 244. 
  11. ^ Summons, Trevor (21 August 2010). "Ranch offers rich look at past". The Sun (San Bernardino Sun). Archived from the original on 4 December 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2010. 
  12. ^ Los Angeles County Pioneers of Southern California (1884). Southern California quarterly 1. Historical Society of Southern California. p. 37. 
  13. ^ Lewis, Hugh M. (2004). Robidoux Chronicles: Ethnohistory Of The French-american Fur Trade. Trafford Publishing. p. 301. ISBN 1-4120-2570-2. 
  14. ^ a b "Agua Mansa". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  15. ^ a b "Agua Mansa Cemetery". Retrieved 31 January 2014.