It must not be forgotten that one of the early methods of reaching California was inland. Travelers came from Mexico, by way of Sonora, then crossed the Colorado River and reached San Gabriel and Monterey in the north, over practically the same route as that followed to-day by the Southern Pacific Railway, viz., crossing the river at Yuma, over the Colorado Desert, by way of the San Gorgonio Pass, and through the San Bernardino and San Gabriel valleys. It was in 1774 that Captain Juan Bautista de Anza, of the presidio of Tubac in Arizona, was detailed by the Viceroy of New Spain to open this road. He made quite an expedition of it,—240 men, women, and Indian scouts, and 1050 animals. They named the San Gorgonio Pass the Puerto de San Carlos, and the San Bernardino Valley the Valle de San Jose. Cucamonga they called the Arroyo de los Osos (Bear Ravine or Gulch).
As this road became frequented San Gabriel was the first stopping-place where supplies could be obtained after crossing the desert. This was soon found to be too far away, and for years it was desired that a station nearer to the desert be established, but not until 1810 was the decisive step taken. Then Padre Dumetz of San Gabriel, with a band of soldiers and Indian neophytes, set out, early in May, to find a location and establish such a station. They found a populous Indian rancheria, in a region well watered and luxuriant, and which bore a name significant of its desirability. The valley was Guachama, “the place of abundance of food and water,” and the Indians had the same name. A station was established near the place now known as Bunker Hill, between Urbita Springs and Colton, and a “capilla,” built, dedicated to San Bernardino, because it was on May 20, San Bernardino’s feast-day, that Padre Dumetz entered the valley. The trustworthiness of the Indians will be understood when it is recalled that this chapel, station, and the large quantity of supplies were left in their charge, under the command of one of their number named Hipolito. Soon the station became known, after this Indian, as Politana.
The destruction of Politana in 1810 by savage and hostile Indians, aided by earthquakes, was a source of great distress to the padres at San Gabriel, and they longed to rebuild. But the success of the attack of the unconverted Indians had reawakened the never long dormant predatory instincts of the desert Indians, and, for several years, these made frequent incursions into the valley, killing not only the whites, but such Indians as seemed to prefer the new faith to the old. But in 1819 the Guachamas sent a delegation to San Gabriel, requesting the padres to come again, rebuild the Mission chapel, and re-establish the supply station, and giving assurances of protection and good behavior. The padres gladly acceded to the requests made, and in 1820 solemn chants and earnest exhortations again resounded in the ears of the Guachamas in a new and larger building of adobe erected some eight miles from Politana.