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March 27 , 2008

Durham’s Place-Names of California’s Desert Counties

Includes Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties


     • The name Rancho Cucamonga, derived from an Indian word, suffered a number of bizarre spellings by early Americans including, Coco Mongo Ranch, Cocomouga’s Ranch, Qui-qual-mun-go Ranch, Kikal Mungo ranch and Rancho Cocoa-Mungo.

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     • A place called Indian Wells, about eight miles south and a little west of Seeley was a station on the Butterfield Overland stage route. It was destroyed by the flood of 1906. The town of Seeley was named for Henry Seeley, a pioneer in the development of Imperial Valley.

     • Lake Havasu was so named when a Mohave Indian chief viewed the lake and used the term “havasu” to describe it—havasu means “the water is blue” in the Mohave language.

     • The name for San Bernardino County’s Devil Canyon results from an incident in 1842 when an Indian workman was bitten by a rattlesnake and screamed “El Diablo” as he died.

     • The first Temecula post office was at John Magee’s store, located about three miles southeast of the present town of Temecula. The post office was reestablished at Louis Wolf’s store about a quarter mile north of Magee’s store, then moved to the nearby railroad track where it was called Temecula Station. This last site became the nucleus of the present town.

     ...just a taste from the scads of fascinating facts to be mined from Durham’s Place-Names of California’s Desert Counties.

     This gazetteer, one of fourteen volumes in the Durham’s Place-Names of California Series, is derived from California’s Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State, David L. Durham’s definitive gazetteer of California. Each volume of the series contains the complete body of entries contained in California’s Geographic Names for the counties covered.

     Thousands of topographic features, such as ridges, peaks, canyons and valleys; water features, such as streams, lakes, waterfalls, and springs; and cultural features, such as cities, towns, crossroads and railroad sidings are included. Many entries include information about who named the feature, when and why, as well as alternate or obsolete names. A complete bibliography of sources is included.

     Longitude and latitude are given for each feature, a boon to hikers wishing to use GPS devices to keep on track to their destinations.

     Guaranteed to provide addictively entertaining browsing for residents of Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, this book will also delight:

     • Tourists • Historians • Geographers • Students • Writers • Cartographers

     • Genealogists • Hikers and outdoor folks of all kinds

     • Great for browsing.

     • Indispensable for research.

     • Keep a copy in your car to use on trips!

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