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Canyon Lake Resident Pens a Pictorial History
By Meghan Lewit   - 02/19/2007

The Press-Enterprise

CANYON LAKE - In the seventh decade of her life, Elinor Martin has gone from amateur historian to published writer.

A lifelong resident of Menifee Valley and Canyon Lake, Martin is the author of a recently published pictorial history of the private, gated community.

Using 230 photos from her personal collection, Martin chronicles Canyon Lake's progress from the late 19th century when her grandfather first settled on the land, to the development of a master planned community and incorporated city around the lake.

"I've been here 70 years," Martin said. "I sort of lived the history."

Martin lives in a house built on the land that her grandfather, Henry Hartley Evans, owned. Some of the photos have been snapped from her property overlooking the lake as the city has grown around her.

Martin, then Elinor Evans, and her family moved to Canyon Lake before there were any permanent residents -- when the area was little more than an undeveloped weekend retreat and campground..

It was then called Railroad Canyon Lake, and the family ran the public fishing resort. They spent half the year in the Menifee area and the other half at the lake, Martin said.

In 1960, she and her husband, high school sweetheart Donald Martin, built their house at the end of the lake.

In 1968, development began on a private, master-planned, residential community around the lake.

The couple owned a boat and trailer storage facility adjacent to the community until they retired several years ago.

In the beginning, "there was nobody here but us," Elinor Martin said. "We could sit here and look out and there was one tree."

Canyon Lake is now both a city and a corporation of property owners. About 11,000 residents live in the recreation-oriented city. Despite the changes, Martin said the area has always been home to her.

"You stay where your roots are," she said.

Martin had previously co-authored a similar book about Menifee Valley for the Menifee Valley Historical Society.

After the book was published last August, Martin said she realized she had plenty of material for another book on Canyon Lake.

"I can fill the whole living room (with memorabilia)," she said.

The book was published last week, and will be available in local stores, Martin said. She will also be signing copies on Feb. 24 and 25 at Barnes & Noble in Temecula and Borders in Riverside.

"I mainly did it to have a record of (the history)," she said. "There aren't a lot of people left in the valley who remember it."





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