July 27, 2020 - Rialto

Region 19                                                               Rialto Adobe                                              

                                                       Rialto Adobe    


History of Rialto:  Ancient artifacts discovered by archaeologist suggest that what is now the city of Rialto was settled prior to 1500. The Serrano Indians lived in the area between 1500 and 1800AD.  In 1842, the Lugo family was granted the “Rancho San Bernardino”-a holding of 37,000 acres-which encompassed Rialto.  In 1887 a railroad connector line was built between San Bernardino and Pasadena by the Santa Fe Railroad, passing through Rialto. In the fall of 1888 the first school was built. The Rialto School District was formed in 1891. The staff consisted of two teachers and a principal with separate play areas for boys and girls.  In 1893 there were half a dozen business and 35 homes.  A fire in the 1920s swept through and destroyed many of the buildings in the downtown area. Today the city is situated between Interstate 10 and State Route 210. Rialto is served by the Metrolink regional rail service on the Metrolink San Bernardino Line and Rialto station.  Foothill Boulevard was repaired in 1913 and became U.S. Route 66, a section of the U. S. highway system which runs through the city. In 1914 Los Angels’ Pacific Electric Railway completed its San Bernardino Line through the City of Rialto. In the 1900s the growing of oranges was the largest industry in the city with over 10,000 orange trees.


Year Incorporated: Rialto was incorporated in 1911.


Population: 99,171 (2010 census)


                                                       Wigwam Motel    

Historical Landmarks: The historic Wigwam Motel, a legendary hotel on Route 66, though located in City of San Bernardino, it is just inside the City of San Bernardino border with the City of Rialto (1.16 miles east of N. Riverside Ave., Rialto).  Built in 1933, this teepee-shaped motel is full of family stories, unforgettable journeys and life-changing experiences.  It is one of the 3 remaining Wigwam Villages in the country. The Wigwam Motel has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2012. 


Special Place - The Rialto Historical Society’s headquarters and museum are located in a former church school building next door to the Old First Christian Church, now known as The Kristina Dana Hendrickson Cultural Center, on the corner of Riverside Avenue and 2nd Street. Built in 1906 the First Christian Church was the last built of the three original church buildings in Rialto. The other two (both now gone) were the First Methodist Church and the Congregational Church. When the congregation moved to a new location in 1964, Dr. Merlin Hendrickson bought the church to save it from destruction. He donated it to the Rialto Historical Society in 1972 and asked that it be named the �Kristina Dana Hendrickson Cultural Center� for his 11 year old daughter that died of Leukemia. The property is now owned by the City of Rialto and operated by the Rialto Historical Society.


The Oldest Known Building: The oldest known building in Rialto that is still standing is an adobe building from the early 19th century.  It sits restored in Bud Bender Park (formerly Lilac Park). 


                        Rialto Historical Society -  Kristina Dana Hendrickson Cultural Center                


Famous People That Have Lived or Visited Here: There is a stretch of the 210 freeway between Alder and Linden that has been used for scenes in various movies such as Transformers, Drive, The Hangover, Due Date and was even used for a stunt in Fear Factor!


If I only had one day to spend in this town, what should I make sure to see or do? Travel the stretch of Route 66 than runs through Rialto and visit some of the classic Route 66 hotels such as the Wigwam Motel,  El Rey Motel, Rex Motel and the Fiesta Motel!


Is there a best time/season to visit Rialto?

The best times to visit Rialto are between May and June or in October and November.


Interesting Story! The Rialto Historical Society President, Jean Morgan Randall, celebrated her 100 Birthday Saturday, February 8, 2020. She walks and docents the museum on a regular basis and can answer most any question relating to Rialto as she has lived here all of her life.


Content generously provided by John Lenau of the Rialto Historical Society and San Bernardino Historical Society.  If you would like your city or town featured here, please contact Christine Esser in our administrative office at [email protected]!


Comments from fellow history lovers welcome below!

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commented 2020-08-01 13:25:09 -0700 · Flag
Rialto has been a secret. Interesting article about the special city in Region 19 San Bernardino County.