San Clemente Historical Timeline
Mar 20, 2018 12:30PM
By Don Kindred
Native American tribes Juañenos and Luiseños occupy the area for thousands of years in Acjachemen villages along San Mateo Creek Panhe and Sajayit.
1 AD - According to the New York Tribune of September 10, 1890, the reverend shaw discovered a manuscript in Si-Ngan-Foo, proving that regular trade existed between China and this coast in the year 1 AD.*
1542 – Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo landed in California
1602 – Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino names San Clemente Island for St. Clement, the third Pope.
1769 – Gaspar de Portola leads an expedition of Alta California for Spain scouting locations for missions and first Christian baptism in Alta California in Cristianitos Canyon.
1776 – Spanish missionary Father Junipero Serra establishes Mission San Juan Capistrano, builds El Camino Real as connector between the missions
1784 – King of Spain grants a 43,000 acre grazing permit to Juan José Dominguez in Souther California.
1812- The new mission church at San Juan Capistrano, destroyed by an earthquake. Forty Indian converts killed when the 120’ bell tower falls.
1821 – Mexico gains independence from Spain
1821-1845 – 700 land grants formalized in So Cal, most to military, but some to men who married into California families, including the Dominguez family
1833 – Act for the Secularization of the Missions of California passed by Mexican Congress – land taken from the Catholic Church by the Mexican government
1835 – Apprentice seaman Richard Henry Dana visits the Mission cove aboard the hide trading brig Pilgrim.
1837 – Don John Forster, an English sea captain, becomes Mexican citizen, Catholic and marries Ysadora Ygnacia Pico, Pio Pico’s sister.
1838 – Battle of Las Flores 10 miles south of current San Clemente, Governor Alvarado victor
1845 – Pio Pico becomes governor of California, Juan Forster acquires over 100,000 acres, including Mission San Juan Capistrano, which he purchased for $710, and moves in with family
1846 – US war with Mexico, John C. Fremont’s battalion marches El Camino Real from San Diego through San Clemente, Felipe Carrillo granted 4,000 acre Rancho Los Desechos
1847 – Commodore Stockton battles through San Clemente and retakes Los Angeles, Juan Forster joining the battle and contributing livestock, aiding both sides
1848 – Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed ending the war Mexican-American War. California, Texas and the SW becoming part of the US. Pio Pico escapes to Mexico, then retreats to his largest Rancho Santa Margarita.
1850 – California becomes the 31st state in the United States.
1864 – Pio Pico signs over deed to rancho to pay gambling debts to Forster. Juan Forster now owns over 225,000 acres and Santa Catalina Island making him the 2nd largest land owner in California
1865 – President Lincoln returns most of the missions to the Catholic Church. Don Juan Forster gives son Marcus Las Flores land, forced to leave Mission San Juan Capistrano.
1860-70s – California drought, entry of land barons O’Neill and Irvine
1873 – Fence Law passed requiring ranchos to fence their property. Forster City founded and Juan Forster travels to Europe to recruit settlers, offer of 20 acres to each citizen. Built a wharf and post office, help pay his taxes, lawsuit between Pio Pico and Forster disputing Gov. Alvardo grant, court grants total land rights to Don Juan Forster
1874 – Ole Hanson born in a log cabin in Racine, Wisconsin.
1875 – Don Juan Forster hands over reigns of Forster City to son Marcus, lives in adobe mansion which is now Camp Pendleton’s CO’s home (Rancho Santa Margarita), farming and grazing cattle and sheep
1882 – Don Juan Forster dies and his family sells lands to Charles Crocker of San Francisco, Forster City residents evicted and the city fades into oblivion
1883 – Crocker sells land to James L. Food and partner Richard O’Neill
1883 – Marcus Forster, son of John, purchased 3,000 acres of Los Desechos, (which includes San Clemente) disputing the Carillo grant, Spanish adventurer Cornelio Echenique married into Forster family and received land as gift
1884 – Judge Richard Egan secured the name Dana Point for the costal point.
1887-88 – Santa Fe RR completes the San Diego to San Juan Capistrano Line, Sale of lots began at the short-lived San Juan by the Sea. (now Capo Beach)
1889 – Orange County created, split from Los Angeles by overwhelming public vote
1894 – Pio Pico dies in Los Angeles, the last Mexican Governor of California
1880-1920 – US government claims land, ownership disputes proliferate
1906 – Cornelio Echenique partnership with the Goldschmidts, build prohibition distillery
1920 – Goldschmidts and Echenique partnership severed as Prohibition begins
1920s – Rum-running became a popular business off the coast of Rancho Los Desechos, Los Angeles elite use San Clemente as half way stop for trips to Mexico for gambling
1924 – H. Hamilton Cotton assembles syndicate to purchase 4,000 acres for $7 million, selects San Mateo Point for a vacation home.
1925 – Ole Hanson and Cotton join forces and announce the Spanish Village of San Clemente, sells first plots in December
1927 – Property went on sale at Dana Point, a master-planned community developed by Sidney Woodruff and Harry Chandler. (project originally started in 1923)
1928 – San Clemente incorporates as a city. All public amenities given to new city by Ole Hanson Organization.
1928 – Edward Doheny begins another master-planned community in Capistrano Beach, it included a section of the Palisades and an elaborate beach club below.
1929 – El Camino Real paved/Hwy 1 through San Clemente
1929 – Stock market crashes!
1930s – City of San Clemente population declines by 70% to 250.
1937 – Capitol Company reinvests in San Clemente adding the Casino and Miramar Theater.
1939 - Storm takes down half of Pier (rebuilt)
1942 – FDR dedicates Camp Pendleton Marine Base
1950s – Trestles and Cotton’s becomes one of the best surf breaks in California
1960 – Interstate 5 completed through San Clemente replacing El Camino Real
1966 – Construction of Dana Point Harbor begins
1968 – Purchase of Cotton’s Point property by Richard Nixon
San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant Unit I built
1969-1974 – Several heads of state visit La Casa Pacifica
1973 – Leonid Brezhnev visit and signing of Salt II Treaty
1974 – 1980 Nixons return to San Clemente after resignation
1983 - Another storm takes down the pier.
Rebuilt in 1985.
2000 -The Ranchlands east of the freeway begin development, Forster Ranch and Talega
2012 – San Onofre shut down after premature wear found in generator tubes
• Reprinted from Homer Bank’s “The Story of San Clemente”