history

History of La Quinta, California

 

The area known as La Quinta is almost completely surrounded by the colorful Santa Rosa Mountains and located on a high alluvial fan. The mountains were formed over time by major periodic upheavals causing some of these blocks of land to be fractured, tilted, and turned on end.

When the floor of the valley first began sinking, it was covered by the Pacific Ocean, and over a period of hundreds of years, as the Colorado River flowed into the Gulf of California, it deposited silt, forming a large delta fan. The silt deposits grew higher and wider until the sinking basin was gradually cut off from the ocean. The basin floor continued to sink as the mountains on both sides grew higher.

During one heavy flood season, 500 years ago, the Colorado River changed its course and flooded the west Coachella Valley, creating a fresh water lake, now known as Lake Cahuilla. This lake’s water line, as well as deposits from fresh water fish and mollusks, can be clearly seen today along the baseline of the Santa Rosa Mountains.

The first ancestors of the La Quinta Area were the Desert Cahuilla Indians. The Cahuillas were basically hunters and gatherers. They were one of the few American Indian tribes that dug actual wells. The Cahuilla Indians still exist today but it is hard to say whether they are pure Cahuilla or a mixture of all the neighboring tribes that bonded together in the 1920′s.

Not much changed in the valley until 1853 when the U.S. Government began surveying for a railroad route between Los Angeles and New Orleans. By 1876 the first scheduled trains began operating between Indio and Los Angeles. Indio became a major railroad center allowing early farmers to get their vegetables, melon, citrus and date crops to metropolitan markets. The Indio area was chosen because it had a plentiful water supply. The La Quinta climate was ideal for growing exotic dates, sweet corn, Bermuda onions and Thompson seedless grapes. Travel to the desert became much easier and many Los Angeles residents began making trips to the desert.

Although the City of La Quinta did not incorporate until May of 1982, it was not surprising that in 1959 the original developers of The La Quinta Country Club, would use La Quinta to distinguish itself with such a well developed reputation in the desert area. Today the City of La Quinta is booming with a growing population; a large winter/spring seasonal population; retail expansion along Highway 111; charming boutique shops and restaurants in its Village area; tourism; a variety of recreational opportunities; cultural activities; and amazing mountain views.