A shaded trail into the past
Even as Upland’s population surpasses 70,000, this San Bernardino County suburb remains steeped in tradition with century-old homes and the occasional horseback rider. Tract homes replaced groves in the 1970s and ‘80s, but the citrus-scented past lingers with a Lemon Festival set in the historic downtown.
Brothers George and William Chaffey bought more than 6,000 acres of land in 1882 and quickly went to work on their irrigated “model colony” to be named Ontario, after the province in their native Canada.
But the Chaffeys didn’t stick around long. An Australian water supply official visited the new colony in 1885. Impressed with the brothers’ irrigation system for agriculture, Alfred Deacon persuaded the Chaffeys to come to Australia and develop farming towns there.
Other developers carried on and the new town thrived. Residents of north Ontario broke away and in 1906 formed their own city, called Upland.
Upland’s most distinctive feature is 200-foot-wide Euclid Avenue, which runs the length of the city from north to south. Fascinated with geometry, George Chaffey designed Euclid with cross streets planned precisely one-quarter mile apart from each other.
In the early days, Euclid was home to a trolley called the “gravity mule car.” Mules hauled passengers uphill, then rode downhill on a platform behind the car. An electric trolley replaced the mules in 1895.
Euclid’s broad center median is popular today for jogging and walking dogs under the shade of pepper trees. It’s like an elongated park running the length of the city. The stretch of Euclid’s median north of Foothill Boulevard is the most used. Popular with horseback riders, it is known as the Bridle Path.
Homes lining Euclid includes bungalows, Victorians and gated estates. “Once you pass Foothill and go north, that’s the elite,” said Phil Duran, who has worked at a hair salon on Euclid for 27 years and jogs along the median.
The city’s best-known monument is the Madonna of the Trail statue at the intersection of Euclid and Foothill Boulevard, also known as Route 66. The 75-year-old statue depicts a hearty pioneer woman clutching a child -- and a rifle -- and marks the location of trails early settlers followed west.
“For a sleepy little community, we’re steeped in history,” said Virginia Shannon, who lives in a century-old home on Euclid and is a member of Upland Heritage, a preservation group.
The city has eight other historic districts, said Dave Stevens, a former city councilman and founder of Upland Heritage. Some homes date back to the late 1800s.
The San Gabriel Mountains provide an imposing backdrop for the city, rising sharply to about 10,000 feet and offering views of snow-capped peaks on clear winter days.
Hiking, camping and winter skiing at the Mt. Baldy resort are only a short drive north into the mountains.
John and Joan Kruse moved here in 1968, and they find the biggest change is the loss of the lemon groves.
“The fragrance was just overpowering,” Joan Kruse recalled.
Though Upland has lost its scent, memories of the citrus heyday are rekindled every spring at the annual festival.
Bad news, good news
Although there’s no shortage of grocery stores, eateries or other basic amenities, Upland has fewer retailers than such neighboring cities as Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga.
The lack of sales tax revenue means Upland struggles with its city budget, which pays for such services as firefighting.
However, the 210 Freeway was extended through north Upland in 2002, spurring development. New stores planned or under construction near the freeway should help the city’s finances, said City Councilman Tom Thomas.
At the beginning of September, there were about 200 single-family homes on the market in Upland. The least expensive was a 672-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bath home listed at $259,900. At the other end of the spectrum was a six-bedroom, six-bathroom, 7,101-square-foot house on an acre listed for $1,695,000.
Most homes sell in the $350,000 to $850,000 range, said Randy Horowitz of Century 21 Prestige Properties. Larger properties tend to be in the northern end of town, closer to the mountains.
Students attend Upland High School, which scored 713 of a possible 1,000 on the 2003 Academic Performance Index. Pioneer Junior High scored 780, while Upland Junior High earned 685. Elementary school scores ranged from 718 at Upland Elementary to 875 at Valencia Elementary.
Single-family detached resales:
*Year to date
Sources: DataQuick Information Systems, api.cde.ca.gov; www .chaffey.org; Randy Horowitz, Century 21 Prestige Properties; City of Ontario, and Upland Heritage.