Heritage Ranch is located in the San Jacinto Valley. This valley is home primarily to two towns: San Jacinto and Hemet. The area, and Hemet in particular, has quite an interesting history as a destination for retirees and those wishing to escape the cold and snow (snow birds) of the more northern climes.
Originally, the Soboba band of the Luiseno Indians inhabited this valley. The Soboba Reservation, located at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains, presently offers golf and casino activities for residents of the area.
Early settlers to the San Jacinto Valley found the fertile soils, artesian wells, and a mild climate conducive to a variety of agricultural pursuits (grains, apricots, peaches, walnuts and citrus), ranching and dairy farms. The photo at the left shows the rural feel of the valley.
Then in the early 1960’s the character of Hemet began to change dramatically with the development of Sierra Dawn Estates, the country’s first “mobile home subdivision” in which individual lots were sold/owned. Other mobile home parks and retirement housing developments (R.V parks like Heritage Ranch!) followed and Hemet became well known as a retirement area. One important reason for this transformation was the marketing support of Art Linkletter, a television personality of the 1950s and ’60s (shows like “People Are Funny” and “House Party”). In addition to being “the face” of the Sierra Dawn marketing effort, Mr. Linkletter would sometimes have happy, Sierra Dawn residents on his TV program to show off a craft or perform on a musical instrument. Talk about spreading the word!
The main east-west street in Hemet is Florida Ave. (ironic that it is the name of another retirement area). The retirees that moved to Hemet brought with them their retirement savings. As a result, banks started popping up along Florida Ave to offer a place to “store” those funds. In fact at one time Florida Ave. was considered one of the wealthiest streets in the United States, due to its number of banks.
The 1970’s postcard to the right does an excellent job of depicting early Florida Ave. and early southern California living in general.