GEORGE ARNOLD ATWOOD (1853-1935)


More than anyone else, George A. Atwood was responsible for initiating Yucaipa Valley’s development.  He was the son of Danford and Jane (Garner) Atwood, born December 3, 1853 in Harrison County, Iowa.  The family moved overland by oxen and cart to the San Bernardino area in 1860 and acquired a farm nearby.

George left the farm in the late 1860s, first working as a supplier of timber for the mines in Pioche, Nevada, remaining until the summer of 1872.  He returned to San Bernardino by train to San Francisco, by boat to Los Angeles, then home by stage.  Later he purchased 360 head of cattle in Salt Lake City and drove them back to San Bernardino and sold them.  He was able to hire out as a harvester, which he did successfully for some time.  When the Southern Pacific Railroad began building its line to San Bernardino, he went into the lumber business for several months supplying wood for them.

Atwood lived in San Bernardino at a time when the only known route into the valley was to follow the Santa Ana River, cross the Redlands plain to Reservoir Canyon, then up the hill to Dunlap Ranch. He first saw the valley in 1869 and returned many times during the next seventeen years.  In 1884 he came to Yucaipa with twelve six-mule teams, and attempted farming, the first settler in the valley to do so.  He worked on a tract of 5,000 acres owned by the Houghton Estate of San Francisco, on and off, until 1909 when the owners decided to sell.  Atwood then approached James N. Neeland of the Pan-American Railroad, a close personal friend, and M. N. Newmark of Newmark Grain Co., Los Angeles, to suggest that they buy the tract.  They had been investing there since 1906. The first purchase was 1,600 acres on the north side of the boulevard owned by the Dunlap brothers. In 1909 Atwood, Neeland and Newmark formed the Redlands and Yucaipa Land Company, and began acquiring more land. On June 5, 1909, they purchased a large amount of land totaling approximately 10,400 acres.  Andrew N. Dike and John H. Logie of Redlands were the real estate agents that laid out the town site and began selling lots the next year.  On February 8, 1910 they made their first sale, marking the beginning of large scale land development in Yucaipa Valley. The original town site was four-by-seven blocks, centered roughly on the intersection of Yucaipa Boulevard and California Street.

Mr. Atwood married Alice Frederick, a native of Ohio and a daughter of Aaron Frederick. They had two children, one of whom died in infancy. The other child was Leon, one of the most popular and brilliant young men of the city.