Fontana, CA and It’s History
Fontana, CA is a gorgeous city just west of San Bernardino in the southwestern part of California. It has an interesting history especially regarding its dramatic transformation from a largely agricultural society, to a manufacturing hub, and now a trucking and transportation center.
Early Beginnings in Fontana, CA
The land that would eventually become Fontana was originally part of the Rancho San Bernardino Land grant in 1813. The initial community of Rosena was bought by the Fontana Development Company in 1903. Eventually ten years later, its name was changed to Fontana by A.B. Miller, who wanted it to become an agriculture powerhouse especially in the products of poultry, pig, and fruit. Fontana means water or fountain in Italian, which makes sense because of its close location to the Santa Ana River. It is also situated on historic Route 66, which is now known in the area as Foothills Boulevard.
The Steel Transformation in CA
The area remained fairly small and rural until 1942 when Henry J. Kaiser established the first steel mill in the area. At the time, Kaiser’s mill was only one of two steel mills that were west of the Mississippi River. This mill proved to be extremely successful, and other manufacturing plants soon followed suit. This completely transformed the city’s economy from agricultural-based to industrial in a matter of just a few years.
Another very important component of the history of the city was its drag racing scene. In the 1950's and 1960's, the city was home to a track that functioned as a part of the National Hot Rod Association’s circuit. It was known as the Fontana International Dragway in addition to Fontana Drag City and the Fontana Drag Strip. Regardless of what people wanted to call it, it drew racing lovers from far and wide to see the events that took place there. While the original strip is long gone, the Auto Club Speedway moved to bring racing back to the city in 2006 with the opening of a new track, which honors this important part of the city’s heritage.
In the last seven years, the population has nearly doubled in size as new portions of the city are continually developed, and its northern border continues to expand. The city also made a move several years ago to annex several developed island areas that were part of San Bernardino County.
The area has cemented itself now as a trucking hub because of its ideal location at the cross-section of Interstate 10 and State Route 210. Interstate 15 also cuts through the area slightly further north. This preponderance of important highways makes shipping vitally important to the economy of this growing city.
Fontana, CA has a fascinating history that has helped it become the unique and multi-faceted city that it is today. The changes that it has undergone show that its people are adaptable, hardy, and ready for anything. This is a city that you won’t want to miss out on getting a chance to visit. Whether you like agricultural history, drag racing, industrial history, or anything in between, you will find something interesting about this beautiful city.
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