The Moreno Valley area was originally inhabited by hunter-gatherer Native Americans of the Shoshone tribe. The first Europeans were Spanish scouts who were sent from Mexico to explore the area. These Spanish scouts blazed a number of trails in the area, including the Anza Trail, which runs through the Edgemont area of present-day Moreno Valley. The relatively dry portion of the city was largely ignored by these earliest settlers.
When California entered the United States as a state in 1850, Americans began to move into the area. The Tucson-to-San Francisco route of John Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company passed through. Some farmers began to occupy the area. They relied upon Frank E. Brown’s Bear Valley Land and Water Company to provide them water, which was collected and pumped from Bear Valley in the San Bernardino Mountains to the north. Brown began performing this service in 1883. In 1899, the city of Redlands won a lawsuit in which the city claimed eminent domain over the Bear Valley water; the resulting loss of service forced most of the area’s inhabitants to move. The area first acquired its current name, “Moreno Valley,” at this time; the name is derived from Frank Brown’s name. Brown’s name (“moreno” is Spanish for “Brown”).
The revival of the Moreno Valley area began in 1918, when the United States Air Force (then the United States Army Air Service) constructed March Field on the outskirts of Riverside as part of its World War I expansion. March Field was initially used to train fighter pilots. Although it was closed in 1922, it was reopened in 1927 and eventually became a full Air Force base. The presence of March caused the unincorporated communities of Sunnymead, Moreno, and Edgemont to develop and grow. In World War II, March again became a training ground for military pilots. On April 1, 1996, March Air Force Base (MAFB) became March Joint Air Reserve Base (MJARB) under Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC).
From 1957 to 1989, Riverside International Raceway occupied the current site of the Moreno Valley Mall. The Riverside International Raceway (Sometimes known as RIR or Riverside Raceway) race track was in operation from September 22, 1957, to July 3, 1989. Races held at the Riverside International Raceway included IMSA,NASCAR, Indycar, NHRA drag racing, Go Karts, and AMA motorcycle racing.
The area experienced explosive growth in the 1980s; by 1984, the population was 49,702 (contrasted with 18,871 residents in 1970). The state economic boom fueled the construction of new houses and businesses. This growth led to a push for incorporation. Although similar measures had failed in 1968 and 1983, a measure to form the city of Moreno Valley was approved by voters in 1984. On December 3, 1984, the communities of Edgemont, Sunnymead, and Moreno joined with nearby areas to form the general law city of Moreno Valley. The first City Council was also elected in 1984, composed of Bob Lynn, Judith A. Nieburger, Steven Webb, J. David Horspool (first Mayor Pro Tem), and Marshall C. Scott (first Mayor). The City Seal and Motto were adopted the following year.
Current Listings In Moreno Valley
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