March 2, 2007





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California Southern Railroad built a line from Perris to Elsinore in 1882; but it was washed out so often by the force of heavy winter rains flowing through the San Jacinto River, it was eventually abandoned. After Temescal Canyon Water Company of Corona bought the right-of-way, it built the dam that created Railroad Canyon Reservoir.
Elinor's history of Canyon Lake – the early years

     The following information and photos are provided by Canyon Lake resident Elinor Martin, whose family ranched in the area of Canyon Lake and Menifee Valley since the late 1800s. Elinor’s pictorial book, “Images of America: Canyon Lake,” is on sale for $19.99 at the Canyon Lake Market, Pepe’s Restaurant and Pack, Wrap and Post, as well as at the POA Member Services desk.
     Elinor also has copies of the book for those who would like to call her at 244-9497. She will be signing books tomorrow, March 3, from 2 to 4 p.m., at Pepe’s Restaurant in the Towne Center.

The early years
     Elinor writes about “The Early Years” after her grandfather, Henry Evans, moved to the Menifee Valley in 1890, eight years after California Southern Railroad built a line from Perris to Elsinore through what became known as Railroad Canyon. The railroad’s first station was at Pinacate St., now the location of the Orange Empire Railway Museum and home to the Perris Valley Historical and Museum Association.
     The railroad line was later sold to the Santa Fe Railroad and became part of its transcontinental line. Troubles with flooding beset the railroad almost from the beginning. On February 16, 1927, the railroad experienced its third washout since it was built. Pictures in Elinor’s book show how the bridge washed out from under the tracks at the southern end, where I-15 meets Railroad Canyon Rd.
     “In the narrow canyon north of the bridge the force of the water ripped the tracks from their bed,” says Elinor. “The damage was great – this was the third washout the railroad had experienced since 1882, and the decision was made to abandon the line.”
     After Santa Fe Railroad abandoned the line, Temescal Water bought the right-of-way and construction of the dam for a reservoir began. The project faced opposition from the citizens in Elsinore, and eventually an agreement known as the Tilly Agreement was reached and construction continued.
     Dry winters followed the completion of the dam in 1929 and the resulting empty reservoir became a source of amusement among the Temescal Water Company’s board members. They called it “Jamison’s folly,” after Joy Jamison, then president of the company. Later, however, the reservoir became a lifeline for Temescal Canyon.


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