A new book featuring 200 vintage photographs traces Wildomar's history from its origins as from a small farming community to its modern state -- a city of 28,000.
Even longtime residents can learn something from the book, called "Wildomar" from Arcadia's "Images of America" series, said author Robert Cashman, president of the Wildomar Historical Society and a City Council member.
"The big thing is when you get through reading the book, you might be able to say to yourself, 'That's a great place,' " said Cashman, who will be signing the book from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall, 21180 Waite Street. The book is $21.99. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the historical society.
Cashman, a resident for more than 30 years, became intrigued with the town's active role as a war center during World War II. A ground observer corps spotted planes overhead and reported their direction back to a war information center. An air raid warden was responsible for alerting residents to a possible air attack, and a Wildomar-based bomb diffuser tested his skills when a bomb landed on the Santa Rosa Plateau.
"You run across these things and you say, 'What?' " Cashman said. "But that was life and a part of Wildomar in the past."
Through his research, Cashman pieced together stories he'd heard over the years into a comprehensive history of Wildomar. Current residents and former residents now living as far away as the East Coast supplied the historic images featured in the 128-page book.
In the early years, settlers traveled by railroad to Wildomar to farm and raise families. The Hotel Wildomar opened in 1887 to accommodate new settlers looking for farm land to purchase. Farmers grew apricots, walnuts, pecans, watermelons and strawberries.
Despite population growth and development, in many ways Wildomar has held on to its rural roots laid by its founders, Cashman said.
"They didn't want to have a big city and they never got one," he said.