San Timoteo Canyon

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Orange groves in San Timoteo Canyon from Redlands, CA

San Timoteo Canyon is a river valley that runs from south of Banning, California, in Riverside County to a point just south of San Bernardino, California in San Bernardino County. San Timoteo Creek flows through it. The valley provided the Southern Pacific Railroad its entry route into the Southern California basin and for a time in the mid-1950s was considered as one of three possible alignments for the path of I-10 as part of the Interstate Highway System program, although the central route through Redlands, California, was ultimately selected.[1]

San Timoteo Canyon fight of 1851[edit]

In the summer of 1851, Juan Antonio, head chief of the Cahuilla, and a group of his fellow tribesmen pursued and destroyed the gang of John "Red" Irving and his San Francisco and Sydney outlaws in San Timoteo Canyon. This band of ruffians had stolen and robbed in the valley including at the Rancho San Bernardino, where Juan Antonio's Cahuilla also had their village at Politana. Acting on the orders of the local Justice of the Peace, one of the Californio proprietors of the rancho, whose house these brigands were looting at the time, the Cahuilla attacked and pursued them to the canyon and in a running fight killed eleven of them. Working on the ranchos and hunting down Indian raiders and bandits was a role they had played in the San Bernardino region from the time of Mexican rule, under the Mexican authorities. They believed themselves duly authorized to carry out their actions.

However the newly arrived American settlers in Southern California resented the killing of white men by Indians and took it to be the beginning of an Indian uprising, a company of militia from San Diego was sent against them.[2] The Cahuilla fled to the mountains and discovering the truth of the matter, the leader of the militia Major General Joshua H. Bean, restrained them from attacking the Cahuilla with difficulty preventing a war.[3]

Closely following the outcome of the Irving Gang incident, in late 1851, Juan Antonio, his warriors and their families, moved eastward from Politana, toward the San Gorgonio Pass and settled in a valley which branched off to the north from San Timoteo Canyon, at a village named Saahatpa. In November 1851, the Garra Revolt occurred, wherein the Cupeno leader Antonio Garra attempted to bring Juan Antonio into his Indian revolt. Juan Antonio friendly to the Americans was instrumental in capturing Antonio Garra ending that revolt.

Recent events[edit]

In 2001[4] a portion of the canyon came under management of the California State Parks. The park is not yet open, but is expected to provide hiking trails, horse riding trails, camping, and historic sites.[5]

In 2010, a construction crew found a deposit of animal fossils dating back 1.4 million years. The well-preserved cache contained nearly 1,500 bone fragments, including a giant cat that was the ancestor of the saber-toothed tiger, ground sloths the size of a modern-day grizzly bear, two types of camels and more than 1,200 bones from small rodents. Other finds include a new species of deer, horse and possibly llama.[6]


  1. ^ Moore, Frank Ensor, "Redlands Astride the Freeway", Chapter VIII - The Route Controversy: Through Redlands or San Timoteo Canyon?, pages 37-40, Moore Historical Foundation, Redlands, California, 1995, ISBN 0-914167-07-3.
  2. ^ All of what is now San Bernardino and Riverside Counties was part of San Diego County at that time.
  3. ^ The Native Americans of Southern California, 1852. Family Tree Legends Records Collection (Online Database). Pearl Street Software, 2004-2005. pp. 40-41 For description of Juan Antonio's campaign against John Irving and his gang of San Francisco and Sydney outlaws, as well as the subsequent repercussions, see Beattie, Heritage of the Valley, 84-89; History of San Bernardino County (San Francisco, Wallace W. Elliott and Company, 1883), 77-79; Los Angeles Star, June 7, 1851, and November 20, 1851, Hayes, Scrapbooks, XXXVIII, Bancroft Library.
  4. ^ Riverside Land Conservancey Newsletter, Fall 2006. Retrieved October 4, 2009.
  5. ^ *Google Books: McKinney, John. California's State Parks: A Day Hiker's Guide. Wilderness Press, June 2005. Retrieved October 4, 2009.
  6. ^ Calif. utility stumbles on 1.4M-year-old fossils

Further reading[edit]

Coordinates: 34°01′48″N 117°12′17″W / 34.03000°N 117.20472°W / 34.03000; -117.20472