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Redlands Historical Fun Facts

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If there is one thing Redlands has besides incredible local businesses, it's rich history! Redlands resident, Sam, took a little time out of his day to share some fun and historical Redlands facts with us. Did you know...

Fact No. 1

Redlands happens to be the birthplace of many of this nation's firsts. 

  • The Santa Ana River's first Hydro Electric Plant was built in 1890 and currently resides several miles behind the Seven Oaks Dam. When originally built in 1890 by the Redlands Electric Company (to later become Southern California Edison) the facility became the first in many respects and tested unproven theory at the time. 
  • SAR No. 1 was the longest transmission line in the US at the time, lighting street lights in downtown Los Angeles.  It was the highest voltage AC line in the country, and also was the country’s first AC generator and largest hydroelectric generator in the US.  To date, this facility along with other historic hydroelectric facilities along Greenspot Road near Bryant in Yucaipa all built between 1890 and 1900 are in use to this very day. That is a testament to ingenuity and early pioneering engineering!

Fact No. 2

The Redlands Hatfield Buick on Redlands Blvd. is the nation's first and oldest Buick Dealer. It was opened in 1913 by Bert Hatfield the business is still owned and operated by the Hatfield family today. A couple of fun facts about the current Hatfield Buick location...

  • Although recently renovated, you can see the reminiscence of the historic structure by looking at the service garage. This building was once the laydown and service yard for the Redlands Electric (Southern California Edison) Company. 
  • Further North of the Hatfield Buick location you’ll run into the train tracks that have been under construction to bring mass transit back to town. 
  • Hope you all had an opportunity to see the old locomotive steam engine water tower that was recently removed from this spot (a stone's throw from Hatfield Buick) to make way for the new construction. In my opinion, what a shame the old steam locomotive water tower was taken down. 

Fact No. 3

If you get a chance, take a drive to the Barton House, originally the Barton Villa in Redlands. Today the Barton House, located at 11245 Nevada Street, is a wedding and party venue, but it is thought to be the very first home built in Redlands in 1866. For a fact, it is the oldest standing home in Redlands. The simple square brick construction has been renovated a few times over the decades, but you can still see and enjoy the classic charm Redlands is all about. 

Similar brick construction can be seen in other historic buildings built by John Fisher including the Fisher Building on Orange and Citrus, the Trolly Building on Citrus next to the Redlands High School, and the other building that John Fisher built which is now the new home to Escape Brewery near the Redlands Train Depot.  That building was originally baggage storage and dry-goods mercantile. 

The Barton Villa 100 years ago!

The Barton Villa 100 years ago!

About the Author:

My name is Sam and I’m a long-time Redlands resident, born and raised. I currently live in South Redlands in the awesome community in the canyon called Sunset Hills. I really enjoy the History that the city has to offer and hope to bring to you many more fun facts and Redlands history.