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Back to Yucaipa’s Days of Yore
By Michel Nolan   - 04/22/2007

San Bernardino Sun

More Info on This Book: Yucaipa

Construction of the Grandview Reservoir has begun. Homes, too, are under construction, and Yucaipa Apple Show is in full swing.

The year is 1912. William Howard Taft is the U.S. president and Hiram Johnson is the 23rd governor of California.

The emerging town of Yucaipa is starting to blossom, digging its roots into the soil, and developing the infrastructure for a thriving city of homes and businesses.

And now, the story of Yucaipa is told in a new book, "Yucaipa," part of the "Images of America" series by Arcadia Publishing.

Authors of the new book are members of the Yucaipa Valley Historical Society who have researched, written and gathered hundreds of photos for the pictorial history of the now-booming city in the rolling hills of the east San Bernardino Valley.

"We were faced with a collection of 7,000 photos and could only use 232 of them," says Claire Marie Teeters, one of the historical society's two acting presidents. "So we looked at the thousands of photos and said, `Wow,' we need a system. That's how our Decades chapters were born."

The huge project, according to Teeters, was a group effort. About 15 of the historical society's members researched and dated the pictures.

"That was the most difficult part," Teeters says. "People had been guessing at some of the dates, and we had to research every single photo and verify the year it was taken."

Teeters says, "The photos themselves belong to the community and were donated in order to preserve our history."

The project was joyful, she says, always full of surprises.

Many generous people came forward willing to share grandma's school mementos. There were lots of amazing stories - like Crafton Hills gold mining in the 1870s.

"Some of the old-timers remembered there were caves but didn't know the caves were left over from gold mining days," Teeters says.

"In today's world - when you can find history on eBay, it's exciting to capture it and bring it home."

Her favorite part of the project was the teamwork - working together to share the city's history.

"By capturing people's memories, we felt like we were keeping them alive by including them. These were people who did great things for Yucaipa," says Teeters, who wrote the text and detailed the page design.

"We've kept them alive in our memories and hearts."
In some cases, the group found history that had been lost for a while, says Teeters, who's actually the group's president of operations.

Harry Birkbeck, the society's president of administration, led the group's historical research team as they scrutinized old newspapers, calling people, talking to old-timers.

"If we couldn't identify the people or the year the photo was taken, we didn't use it," says Birkbeck, who at nearly 88, recognized a lot of people in the old photos.

There were a lot of farms, a lot of orchards back then, he says. Crops from apples and oranges, to peaches and plums.

A veritable fruit compote.

Because the dairies and beehives go way back, according to Birkbeck, the society refers to the area as the "Land of Milk and Honey."

The book's 128 pages recount history up to the early 1950s. A second book covering the '40s to this century is in the planning stages.

"We'll start that as soon as we recover from this book," Birkbeck says.

"Capturing history is an ever-evolving thing," Teeters says.

The members of the authoring team are Teeters and Birkbeck, Tom Ziech, Ann Whitlock, Char Lenz, Mike Gross, Steve Mauer, Dini Martz, Lori Young, Hank Cobb, David Stirdivant, Sigrid Martz, Jack Curtright, Judy Locke, Marge Ford, Caecilia Johns, and Doug and Marilyn Draeger.
"Yucaipa," the latest in Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series, will be available starting Wednesday at the Yucaipa Valley Historical Society Museum, the Yucaipa Chamber of Commerce, area book sellers and online.

The group will be promoting the new book at a variety of community events, including the annual Iris Festival May 21-23 and the FreedomFest on July 4.

"Celebrate Yucaipa" at 6 p.m. Monday includes a historical presentation on the book as well as music by the Yucaipa High School Band at Yucaipa City Hall, 34272 Yucaipa Blvd.

Buy It Now: Yucaipa $21.99

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