Firsts in San Bernardino

1903 - First President of

the United States to visit

San Bernardino (Theodore


Click here for more Firsts.



Saturdays 10 AM - 3 PM

FREE Admission

FREE Parking

FREE Tours

1170 W. Third Street
San Bernardino, CA 92410

Map & Directions

San Bernardino
Historical &
Pioneer Society

P.O. Box 875
San Bernardino, CA 92402


(909) 888-3634 


Depot & Museum Tour

May 06, 2015

Tours will  be conducted

on  the  first Wednesday of

each month at 10:00 am.

Call (909)  888-3634  for

a reservation.  FREE


Group Tours

For a Group Tour on

Saturday or any other 

day call (909) 888-3634.


Virtual Museum Tour

Click here for visual tour

of the museum.


Photo Histories

Click here to view local San

Bernardino and railroad

photographic histories.


Newsletters of the

Western Archives of

the Santa Fe Railway

Click here for Newsletters 

of the Santa Fe Railway

Historical and Modeling

Society (Western Archives).


Norton AFB Museum

Now Open:

Thursday 10:00 to 2:00

Saturday  10:00 to 2:00



Next Meeting at Coco's

The next meeting of the

National Association of

Retired & Veteran Railway

Employees will be held

at Coco's Restaurant.





Upcoming Events:

The Museum is open Saturday from 10:00 to 3:00  (Virtual Museum Tour)

Jun 27, 2015 - The "Great Race" (Downtown San Bernardino)

Jul  15, 2015 - SANBAG Tour


May 7, 1903 - A Day to Remember

President Theodore Roosevelt and his wife Edith, San Bernardino Souvenir Photographs, 1903

"The date was May 7, 1903.  President Theodore Roosevelt (the first U.S. president to visit San Bernardino), 'addressed the remark quoted above to a train attendant in San Bernardino---and he meant it.  He was not talking for the public ear but simply stating his convictions' [Extracted from The Daily Sun].

"President Theodore Roosevelt stopped at the Santa Fe Depot and spoke in Lugo Park (now Pioneer Park) located between 5th and 6th Streets and E and F Streets.

"Theodore Roosevelt is remembered as a big game hunter and a Rough Rider leading the charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War.  With the assassination of President McKinley, Roosevelt, not quite 43, became the youngest President of the United States.  He won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the Russo-Japanese War."

(from the wrtings of Nicolas Cataldo)

Click here to see all of the Presidents who have visited San Bernardino.


No Railroad Days in San Bernardino This Year

The San Bernardino Railroad Days for 2015 have been CANCELLED because of major construction on the tracks and around the Santa Fe Depot.


May 4, 1860 - A Day to Remember

 William Francis "Billy" Holcomb (1831-1909)             Gold Rocker Box used by Billy Holcomb in his quest for gold

William F. Holcomb was a noted hunter and had been hired to supply meat for the Bear Valley miners.  On May 4, 1860, while tracking a grizzly bear that he had wounded the day before, he chipped off a piece of rock and discovered it contained sizable chunks of gold.

This discovery occurred five miles north of Bear Valley in what is now called Holcomb Valley and started the biggest gold rush southern California had seen.  Within six months there were over 2,000 men in the valley.  Soon the boom town of Belleville was filled with log cabins, stores, saloons and dance halls. 

William F. Holcomb in his adventures as a hunter and miner prospected over nearly all the country from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Arizona.  He was one of the discoverers of the famous Vulture Mine in Arizona, from which more than $8,000,000 were taken.

After working successfully in mining for several years Holcomb was elected as San Bernardino County Clerk, Treasurer and Assessor.  This office he filled for several terms.  His son, Grant, and grandson, W. R. "Bob" Holcomb, both became mayor of San Bernardino.

The rocker box seen in the above photo is in the San Bernardino History & Railroad Museum.


Western Archives Newsletter for Jan. - Feb. 2015

The Ed Van Nordeck Collection

In this issue of the newsletter, we see a sampling of Santa Fe materials donated by Ed Van Nordeck, a former Santa Fe employee.

The box contained promotional material, official Santa Fe forms, note pads and other assorted ephemeral items.

Two bound books that came from the Santa Fe station at Corona, California, were also found in the box.

One of the books is an employee attendance and payroll ledger dated from 1912 to 1919.

The other is a book of weather observations from 1924 to 1939.

Click here to view the entire newsletter.


1819 to 1820 - Dates to Remember


The Mill Creek Zanja (an irrigation ditch), shown here in a photograph from around 1890, was built by local Indians in 1819-1820.

For many years the padres at Mission San Gabriel (established in 1771) were interested in locating a ranch, and eventually a mission, in the San Bernardino Valley.  The opportunity did not arise until 1819, when the Indians at Guachama Rancheria asked the padres at Mission San Gabriel to teach them agriculture and stock raising.

Guachama Rancheria was an Indian village of 200-500 Native Americans located along what is now Mission Road, between California Street and Mountain View Avenue, in Loma Linda.  The area has also been referred to as Old San Bernardino or Cottonwood Row.

The first step in creating a thriving ranch was to bring water to the area.  This was done by digging a 12-mile zanja (an irrigation ditch) from Mill Creek, near what is now Mentone, down through Redlands and westward to Loma Linda.  

Construction of the zanja was done by Native Americans under the direction of Pedro Alvarez.  In 1820 a residence for a mayordomo (overseer) was built and Carlos Garcia became responsible for managing the flow of water and maintaining and repairing the zanja.

In his 1821 diary, Father Jose Sanchez writes that Rancho San Bernardino, "was well stocked, with a small cultivated area, and buildings used for storage and residence by the first mayor-domo".

Mill Creek Zanja is the oldest irrigation ditch in the county and for a long time supported San Gabriel Mission's ranch and estancia, as well as local farms and numerous industries that relied upon it's water.

Mill Creek Zanja is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is California Register Landmark No. 43.

The western half of the zanja has been covered over.  The Redlands Conservancy's Save the Zanja Committee plans to develop a natural-surface trail and greenway along or near the historic Zanja, from Ninth Street in downtown Redlands east to Mentone.  Completion is expected by 2019, in time for the Zanja's bicentennial.

Note:  For additional information see: Mill Creek Zanja, Driving Tour and Brief History by Tom Atchley, 2009.


June 27, 2015 - The "Great Race" 

*  The 2015 "Great Race" begins near St. Louis, Missouri, on June 20th and, following the historic Route 66, ends in Santa Monica, California, on June 28th.

*  It is a competition based on precision driving and navigational skills in classic, antique and vintage automobiles.  The event is a timed, controlled-speed, endurance rally, not a top-speed race.

*  "Great Race" vehicles must have been manufactured in 1972 or earlier.

*  Vehicle odometers must be covered or completely removed prior to the start of the race.

*  Top prize is $50,000; entry fees vary from $1,500 to $8,00 per car, depending on the category.

*  Vehicles will overnight at San Manuel Stadium in downtown San Bernardino on Saturday, June 27th.

*  The Santa Fe Depot won't be involved, but the San Bernardino Historical & Pioneer Society and the History & Railroad Museum will have a booth on Court Street starting at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, the 27th.  

Click here for more information about the "Great Race".