Some Tidbits about Temecula~Tanya Hanson

I love Temecula, Southern California’s premiere Wine Country (think Napa up north), and I visit every month or two with a posse of gal-pal wine aficionados. Since Temecula is several hours from home, we manage to spend the weekend, and last time, we arrived just in time for the annual Western Days festival!  Temecula has a rich history which is preserved in “Old Town.”  Enjoy the fun re-enactors pix today!

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First off, the name of the valley comes from the Luiseño Indians and basically mean “where the sun breaks through the mist.” The  tribe has been in the area since at least 900 AD.

The first “white man” to set foot is believed to be Father Juan Norberto de Santiago while leading an expedition in 1797 to found a new mission.

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Forty years later, American fur trappers moved in, and not long after, provincial governors granted a large tract of land to Felix Valdez, and Rancho Temecula was born in 1845.  The “rancho” era of California bloomed with a romantic aura that lingers still.

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In addition to romance, the area saw its own historic violence.  A nearby canyon was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Mexican War in 1847.

The local tribe captured and executed eleven Mexican soldiers. However, the Mexicans conspired with an enemy tribe, the Cahuilla, to settle some scores with them. In short, the common grave of the dead Temeculans is still visible from a major highway.

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And true to legends of the wild west, Temecula had run-ins with bandits and bad guys. In 1857, outlaw Juan Flores killed a shopkeeper (his second in the area) and with his gang, hid out on a nearby peak, eventually killing a Los Angeles sheriff. These events sparked California’s greatest manhunt. (Flores was finally captured in Simi Pass 110 miles north, and hanged.)

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Stagecoaches began to arrive that same year (1857) and an alleged hold-up occurred. In 1858,the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach Line scheduled stops there its route from St. Louis and San Francisco.

California’s second-ever post office soon followed.

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January 1882 brought the first railroad service, but tracks washed out in an 1883 flood, and the train station became a barn. Not to worry. Temecula started quarrying granite in the 1890’s (although the industry died out about 1915–cement was easier). Many curbs and fences built of this stone are still extant today, even in San Francisco some 470 miles away.

By the turn of the century, Temecula became Cowboy Town–the shipping point for cattle!


By the 1970’s, the Long Branch Saloon had become a meetinghouse, and the Stables Bar, retail boutiques.

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Test vineyards were planted in 1966, leading to a dozen wineries by 1990 and at least 35 today. The “microclimate” caused by good soil, seabreezes from 65 miles away, and 11,000-feet high mountains is perfect for wine grapes. Yay.

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Two notable authors resided in the valley. Erle Stanley Gardner, of Perry Mason fame, lived at Rancho Del Paisano from 1937 until his death in 1970; a model of his ranch can be seen at Temecula’s History Museum.


Massachusetts native Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885), long an activist against federal mistreatment of the native peoples, stayed in the area around 1880 and became friends with Temecula merchant Louis Wolf–a mixed-race/half Indian, and his wife Ramona. Their store inspired a setting in Jackson’s novel Ramona. Although  the 1884 book–romantic and realistic both–was written mostly in New York, it’s a California classic.

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I hope you enjoyed these tidbits today. Anybody else ever visited Temecula or like wine tasting?

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Sixteen months since the foolish death of her husband, attorney Rachel Martin aches to move on as much as she fears the future. Cutting back on her practice and moving back to her childhood ranch means her three-year old son has all the attention he needs. Finding love again is the last thing on her mind…until she meets Brayton Metcalf.

After ten year’s of self-blame for his wife’s death in a plane crash, successful businessman Brayton Metcalf is instantly drawn to Rachel when he brings his his daughter to Hearts Crossing Ranch for therapy riding lessons. But Rachel backs off at his impetuous personality. He whittles away at her doubts…until he jumps head-fist into a business decision that will affect her family. Rachel, her trust in Brayton endangered, turns to trusting in God. Can the couple’s shared grief and guilt permit them to see daylight once again?


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18 thoughts on “Some Tidbits about Temecula~Tanya Hanson”

  1. Wow! I’m a Native Californian (transplanted to Indiana 14 years ago) and remember stopping at a restaurant in Temecula every time we went down to San Diego (we lived in Riverside then Anaheim). The restaurant was more like a diner that was built on such a hill that even inside the diner you had to walk uphill and downhill. I never knew anything else about the history of the city though. Thank you for sharing.

    Cindy W.

  2. Thanks for stopping by today, Cindy. That’s a restaurant I don’t know yet so I’ll be on the search! One of my favorite’s is “The Bank,” indeed a former bank which still has the vault, but now serves Mexican food!

  3. Tanya, excellent post! I love those old west towns. I never pass up a chance to visit one and soak up the atmosphere that drips with history and lore. And when you can combine that with wine….oh man! I envy you living out there with all the wineries. And the old west towns!! They’re getting harder to find because it seems people have lost interest in history.

    Congratulations on the new book! It sounds great and that woman on the cover is really sexy. Love it!

  4. Hi Linda, I so appreciate you stopping by today, filly sister. Temecula is an enjoyable place and a beautiful setting. And besides wine LOL, my favorite aspect is the history. I want to research outlaw Juan Flores a bit more! Hugs…

    • Hi Kim, it was great fun, and the costumes so authentic. I shoulda included one of women’s dresses but so little room. We had a ball…the “shooters” took a lady from the audience for a trick-shot and her little toddler son just started sobbing inconsolably. Thanks for posting today.

  5. Hi Tanya,
    Wow, you have some impressive pics there. Would you believe I’ve never been to Temecula? It’s going to be on our To Do List. Looks like a great place and they have a casino there, don’t they? Ha!

    • Hi Charlene, yes, Pechanga, named for another important near-by tribe, is very close. There is so much more I could have included, but I wanted to keep the post shortish LOL. You will really enjoy it there. I thought of you because Tim McGraw music was often playing around town that day! xoxox

    • Hi Janine, thanks kindly. It was a fun day and I’m glad we stumbled upon it. The re-enactors really looked authentic, as the antique guns definitely were!

    • Hi Nancy, thanks for the comment. I almost included a picture of us but wanted to keep things short-ish. Wasn’t it fun? And I just loved learning more of the historical part. Definitely gotta hit the museum next time.

  6. Great overview Tanya. Helen actually wrote the novel in a hotel room in New York over an 8 month period. (I’m a fan and portray Helen and have for over 15 years).

    What rich history this region has, makes you want to head out there. How lucky you are to be so close. Enjoy a glass of wine for me. Doris McCraw/Angela Raines.

    • Hi Doris, thanks so much for stopping by today! Yes, Helen did write in a hotel room. What a remarkable story she told. I do intend to feature Ramona some day here in a post.i will definitely enjoy that glass, and offer a toast to you, my friend!

  7. You have inspired me to visit Temecula the next time I’m visiting my family in San Diego. Last time I was in Temecula was at least 30 years ago when it was still a dusty little stop by the side of the road. We would stop at Rainbow Gardens, a small restaurant, on our way through. Ramona was one of the first historical romances I ever read and has been a favorite of mine.

    The town has really changed and grown since I was there!

  8. Hi Kathryn, so happy you could stop by! Yes, the town’s growth really took off with the wine industry. I am so glad they preserved the wild-west history. I have never been to the outdoor Ramona play (it’s usually at a very hot time of the year and I don’t do heat well LOL) but I’ll suck it up some year and get there. We enjoy San Diego, too and just spent a week there recently. Hmmmm. “Old Town” San Diego just might be my next blog theme. Hugs…

  9. Thank you, Melanie, for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed it. We had fun and Temecula is a very interesting place. So glad they preserved a lot of the wild west history.

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