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San Jacinto Valley

The San Jacinto Valley as seen from the San Jacinto Mountains. The bright street in the middle is Florida Avenue in Hemet

The San Jacinto Valley is a valley located in south western Hemet and the foot hills of the San Jacinto Mountains. It is home to two cities, Hemet and San Jacinto. The combined population of the valley is over 100,000 residents.[1] The valley is also where the story and play "Ramona" was set, the story was written after author Helen Hunt Jackson visited the valley in the 1880s. The valley is also known for being an area of agriculture, which has given way to more urbanized development as time goes on. The area has also experienced great growth recently, and is a fast-growing area of the Inland Empire.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
  • Cities 3
    • Hemet 3.1
    • San Jacinto 3.2
  • Unincorporated areas 4
    • Valle Vista 4.1
    • East Hemet 4.2
  • Education 5
    • School districts 5.1
      • Hemet Unified School District 5.1.1
      • San Jacinto Unified School District 5.1.2
    • Colleges 5.2
    • Museums 5.3
      • Hemet Museum 5.3.1
      • San Jacinto Museum 5.3.2
      • Western Science Center 5.3.3
      • Winchester Patterson House 5.3.4
  • Transportation 6
    • State highways 6.1
    • Airports 6.2
    • Mass transit 6.3
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The first native people settled in the San Jacinto Valley thousands of years ago.[2] Later, the Serrano and Cahuilla people arrived. Their villages were located along and near streams and springs. They were hunters and gatherers and they subsisted primarily on small game and acorns. The Soboba Indian Reservation, just east of San Jacinto, is now the home to the descendants of some of these people. The first Spanish explorers entered the San Jacinto Valley in the early 1770s. In 1774, and again in 1775, Col. Juan Bautista de Anza led two expeditions up from Mexico, crossing the Colorado River at Yuma and continuing across the Borrego Desert and up Coyote Canyon. For a few years, the Valley was on the main overland route to California.[2] In the early 19th century the area became a cattle ranch for the Spanish Mission San Luis Rey, which is located in the modern day city of Oceanside. The area was known as Rancho San Jacinto. When the missions were broken up by the Mexican government, the land was given to José Antonio Estudillo in 1842. This land grant eventually became the towns of San Jacinto and Hemet.[3]



There are two incorporated cities in the San Jacinto Valley, Hemet and San Jacinto. The two cities in the valley have experienced a lot of growth since the 1980s, and is one of the fast-growing areas in the state of California and Riverside County.


Hemet has an area of about 27.7 square miles (72 km2), and a population of 74,185. Hemet was founded in 1887 and was incorporated on January 20, 1910. It also makes up most of the valley population. The city is home to the Ramona Bowl which is where "Ramona", the official outdoor play of California is performed. Hemet is located at the southern end of the valley. The city is home to the Western Science Center, and Diamond Valley Lake. This city was also named a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation, and is home to the only hospital in the valley.

San Jacinto

The "S" on the mountains just north of San Jacinto

San Jacinto has an area of 25.3 square miles (66 km2), most of it being land. The population is 35,345 as of a 2007 estimate. It was named after Saint Hyacinth and is located at the north end of the valley. The city was founded in 1870, and was incorporated on April 9, 1888. Making it one of the oldest cities in the county. The city is also home to Mt. San Jacinto College, which serves as a community college and has served the valley and the Inland Empire since 1965. The city will also be home to part of the Mid County Parkway, a new major transportation corridor in Riverside County.[4]

Unincorporated areas

Valle Vista

Valle Vista is an unincorporated area east of Hemet, that extends south to Bautista Canyon and to the east to the base of the San Jacinto Mountains. Valle Vista has an area of 3.4 square miles (8.8 km2), of which 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2) is land. The population at the 2000 Census was 10,488. Fairview Avenue which runs from Bautista Canyon to the city of San Jacinto is part of the old historic Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail which was an old trail that went from Nogales, Arizona on the U.S. and Mexican Border, to a Presidio in San Francisco. This was one of the first overland routes to California.[2] The area will possibly be annexed by Hemet in the near future according to the proposed land use map on the City of Hemet's general plan website, the general plan is still under draft, so this may not necessarily happen.[5]

East Hemet

East Hemet is another unincorporated area just east of Hemet. Its population was 14,823 in the 2000 Census. It contains an area of 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2) of land. It is located in between Hemet, and Valle Vista.


School districts

Hemet Unified School District

Hemet Unified School District
Hemet Unified School District Headquarters, built in 2007

The Hemet unified school district has a total of 22,512 students. It serves the Hemet area including the unincorporated areas east of Hemet, as well as in the Aguanga area.[6] It has total of 15 elementary schools, 5 middle schools, 5 high schools, and one preschool. It also provides 3 alternative schools.[7] District headquarters are located on 1791 West Acacia Avenue in Hemet.

San Jacinto Unified School District

San Jacinto Unified School District serves approximately 9,000 students in the city of San Jacinto. The district contains five elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, and also provides head start and preschool programs.[8]


The valley is served by one College. Mount San Jacinto College has served the valley since 1963. The college district was created in 1962 by a vote of the citizens of Banning, Beaumont, Hemet, and San Jacinto. The college enrolled its first students in the fall of 1963, holding classes in rented facilities. The San Jacinto Campus was opened in 1965 with two buildings and has grown into a full college campus serving the students and the community. In 1975, the residents of Temecula, Lake Elsinore, Perris and adjacent areas voted to join the Mt. San Jacinto Community College District, increasing the college’s area to the present 1,700 square miles (4,400 km2). The San Jacinto Campus has been master-planned and essentially will be rebuilt over the next 15 to 20 years to accommodate 12,000 to 15,000 students. In the fall of 1993, the Alice P. Cutting Business & Technology Center opened to students with new laboratories for Business, Computer Information Science, Engineering Technologies, Electronics and Photography. In the fall of 1995, a state-of-the-art music building opened on the San Jacinto Campus.[9][10]


Hemet Museum

The Hemet Museum is located in downtown, at the intersection of Florida avenue and State street. It is housed inside the historic Hemet depot. It contains exhibits of the area's history, Native American artifacts found in the area, and information about the valley's agricultural past. It also includes exhibits on the "Ramona" pageant, as well as railroad exhibits.[11]

San Jacinto Museum

The San Jacinto Museum was founded in 1939 by citizens of the city. It features exhibits on the natural and human history of San Jacinto and surrounding areas. Local Indians relics, artifacts from pioneer families, and material on the community, its businesses and institutions are featured. Special exhibits highlight the record-breaking 1937 Soviet transpolar flight which landed in San Jacinto, and the development of downtown.[12]

The Museum also maintains a large collection of historic photographs and memorabilia, which is available to researchers. Group tours are available by appointment.

Western Science Center

The Western Science Center is located in the southern area of Hemet. It features exhibits of Ice Age mammals, including 'Max', the largest mastodon found in the western United States, and as 'Xena', a Columbian Mammoth. It also has special exhibits that are a limited time only event. Recently it featured an exhibit called "The Music behind the Magic" which featured exhibits on the music in Walt Disney films.[13] The museum also features an Immersion Theater that has a 270 degree screen.[14]

Winchester Patterson House

The Patterson House is a museum in Winchester, and is the oldest building in the town. It is located just off Hwy 79/Winchester Road, on the southeast corner of Patterson Ave and East Grand. The residence was built by Winchester pioneer John Patterson, over the ruins of an adobe home that was the headquarters of a Mexican rancho before 1850. Some museum visitors have claimed to experience poltergeist activities including phantom knocking, doors opening, and objects moving. Some claim it is the spirit of Lloyd Patterson, who died in the house of tuberculosis as a young man in the early 1900s.[15][16]


State highways

Two state highways make their way through the valley. California State Route 74 which runs along Florida avenue in Hemet through the valley, makes its way from Palm Desert through the San Jacinto mountains to Orange county where it ends at Interstate 5 in Dana Point. California State Route 79 also makes its way through the valley, going south through San Jacinto until it meets Florida avenue at the intersection of San jacinto street. It then follows Florida Avenue through the valley until the intersection of Highway 74 and Winchester Road just west of Hemet, from there Highway 79 heads south to Temecula.


There is one airport located in the valley. Hemet-Ryan Airport is located 3 miles (5 km) southwest of Hemet, and serves as a municipal general aviation airport. Its elevation is 1,512 ft.(460.9m). It has two runways, one is 4,314 by 100 ft.(1315 by 30 m)and has an asphalt surface. The other is 2,045 by 25 ft.(623 x 8 m) and also has an asphalt surface. There are 236 airplanes based at the airport, 114 of which are single engine airplanes, 22 are multi-engine airplanes, 1 jet plane, and 9 helicopters. The airport is also home to a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Riverside Unit) joint Air Attack/Helitack base. It is statistically one of the most active in the nation. The airport is owned and operated by Riverside County.[17][18]
Airport IATA code ICAO code County
Hemet-Ryan Airport HMT KHMT Riverside

Mass transit

Mass Transit in the valley is provided by the RTA. The area is also served by an Amtrak bus stop near the corner of Sanderson Avenue and Florida Avenue in Hemet. The bus system provides a connection to other cities in the Inland Empire, including Riverside, Temecula, Winchester, Banning, Corona, as well as a new commuter link to Escondido in San Diego County.[19] RTA routes are 31, 32, 42, 74, 212, 217. A Metrolink station is also in the planning stages for downtown Hemet, with construction possibly beginning in 2012.[20]

See also


  1. ^ "San Jacinto Valley Information". November 21, 2009. Retrieved January 2, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "San Jacinto's History". City of San Jacinto. May 6, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  3. ^ "City of Hemet - History". City of Hemet. December 10, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
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External links

  • San Jacinto Valley information
  • San Jacinto Unified School District
  • Hemet Unified School District
  • San Jacinto Valley Eagles Youth Football and Cheer. — established 1963.

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