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The History of Riverside County Road Names

The History of Riverside County Road Names
Marc Karlin

Riverside County has a rich history- and the naming of its roads is no exception. From Coyote Canyon to Neighbors Boulevard, here is a glimpse into the history of some of Riverside’s most notable roads.

California Avenue and Indiana Avenue

Located in Riverside, these two streets run adjacent to Magnolia Avenue. The names of these roads are representative of the home states of Riverside historical figure, Samuel Gary. Gary brought together three development proposals to the Riverside Land and Irrigating Company early in Riverside’s history, laying out Magnolia Avenue centrally in his land holdings for easy buyer access to the lands. California Avenue and Magnolia Avenue were equally spaced from Magnolia Avenue.

Coyote Canyon Road

Coyote Canyon is best known as the route taken by Spanish Explorer Juan Bautista de Anza on his mission to establish settlements in Northern California. Coyote Canyon Road, located in Anza, leads southeast from the Anza Valley into the Anza-Borrego Desert. The name of Coyote Canyon Road originates from Coyote Canyon, more specifically the Los Coyotes village that was located in the canyon for many years.

Dillon Road

Located in the Coachella Valley, Dillon road stretches from Highway 62 to Indio. Dillon road is known for being particularly isolated and dangerous, with 49 collisions between 2012 and 2016. Its namesake is Robert Dillon, an agent for the Standard Oil Company. Robert Dillon settled in Beaumont in 1917, going on to represent the 4th District as a county supervisor and eventually retiring as road improvements were made which led to the naming of Dillon Road in his honor.

Neighbors Boulevard

Neighbors Boulevard, located in the southern Palo Verde Valley, was named after the town of Neighbors that came and went quickly in the early 1900s. James Neighbors served as the postmaster and developer of the town that died out quickly when the railroad bypassed the town.

Ortega Highway

Ortega Highway links Orange and Riverside counties, an effort that began in 1924 as the “Riverside County-San Juan Capistrano Ocean Short Cut Highway.” Unsurprisingly, this mouthful of a name was shortened to “Ortega Highway” by the time it opened in 1934, named after Jose Francisco Ortega. Ortega was a Spanish army sergeant who served as a scout during the Portola Expedition in 1769.

Thomas Mountain Road

Located in what is now Garner Valley, Thomas Mountain Road was originally named after Charles Thomas, an early settler that farmed the aforementioned valley in the San Jacinto Mountains. In 1904, the valley was renamed after the Garner family, who purchased the land for a cattle ranch. Despite this transfer of ownership, Thomas Mountain Road kept its name.

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