California became part of the United States at the end of the Mexican War in 1846, and American settlers began to arrive in California in large numbers with the California Gold Rush of 1849. The Cucamonga Rancho changed hands several times, but the area that present-day Upland occupies was little more than an uninhabited ranchland and a place to pass through until the arrival of George Chaffey in 1882. Chaffey, a Canadian shipbuilder from the province of Ontario, had already established the Etiwanda irrigation community in 1881, irrigating the land with a series of flumes carried water from the mountains to a reservoir from which water would then be sent to the relative land sites. In 1882, Chaffey purchased 6,216 acres of land in the Cucamonga Rancho, along with significant water rights from San Antonio Creek, for $60,000 Additional purchases brought the size of the land to over 8,000 acres of land for a total purchase price of $90,000 Chaffey’s master plan called for distributing the water over the whole tract to each farm lot in cement pipes, with each holder to share in the water proportionately to his holding irrespective of distance from the source. Chaffey also laid out the main thoroughfare which ran from one end of the settlement to the other. He also named the “main thoroughfare” Euclid in honor of his favorite mathematician. Euclid Avenue was seven miles long, stretching from the colony’s “southernmost boundaries to the mountains.” Euclid was planned as a “200-foot-wide double drive … [with a] center parkway to be flanked by a 65-foot-wide drive on each side. Chaffey also planned for electricity in Ontario with street lamps being placed a mile apart on Euclid and an electric streetcar that would travel up and down Euclid daily. Ontario was available for settlement on November 1, 1882. During the first week, Chaffey sold 190 acres for a total value of $28,500. To ensure the success of this irrigation plan and to appeal to potential land buyers, the Chaffey created a “mutual water company” in which each landowner became a stockholder. The San Antonio Water Company was incorporated on October 25, 1882. The Ontario colony eventually became known for its citrus groves, but in 1882, orange trees were too scarce and expensive at $100 an acre to turn to citrus, so at first other types of fruit were planted. By 1884, Ontario Nursery owner D.A. Shaw reported that there were “40,000 peach trees, 29,000 pear trees, 15,000 seedling apple trees, 16,000 grafted apple trees, 1,000 cherry trees, and 16,000 grape cuttings set out in orchards and vineyards.” However, by 1889, some 2,000 acres of citrus orchards had been planted on Ontario, and Ontario was rated as having the second largest citrus acreage in the state.
The present-day city of Upland was the originally northern part of Chaffee’s Ontario Model Colony, and was known as “North Upland” or was lovingly called “Magnolia” after a local hotel. There was another City in California with the same name so it was not meant to be. Many documents such as deeds and census refer to the area as Mongolia Township, but it was Magnolia Tract that was the correct reference . The name Upland was first used as the name of the “Upland Citrus Association.” However, by 1902, the name “Upland” was used to refer to the entire area of North Ontario.
The railway came to North Ontario in 1887. When the Ontario Colony was founded, downtown was located next to the Southern Pacific tracks. In 1887 the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe completed its connection adjacent to the newly founded Magnolia Tract in North Ontario. Subdivides of Magnolia, the Bedford Brothers, announced plans to erect a depot at the foot of Second Avenue, the primary business street. A notice in the December 1887 Ontario Record indicated that the cost of the station would be $7,000. In the next decades numerous packing houses were built close to the tracks on both sides of A Street. Used for commuting of residents and tourists as well as for freight, the railroad linked Upland to Los Angeles to the west and the rest of the Santa Fe network to the east. Ontario officially incorporated in 1891, but the size of incorporation was relatively small; a half-square mile bordered by the “Southern Pacific tract to the south, G Street to the north, Sultana Avenue to the east and Vine Avenue to the west.” In 1901, residents of Ontario learned that those living in North Ontario were also thinking of incorporation as their own city. In order to eliminate this possibility, the city expanded their half-square mile to over 10 square miles. When Ontario started to push for a larger area of incorporation, Upland residents expressed concern. The area of land that Ontario wanted included the Upland Post Office, the tracks for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, and the train depot. On March 12, 1906, the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors conducted a two-day hearing and agreed that a vote for incorporation should take place. On May 5, 1906 Upland approved their vote for incorporation with 183 in favor and 19 against. The city was officially created on May 15, 1906 by the Secretary of State in Sacramento. In 1935, Upland’s boundary lines were redrawn to include the land that was annexed in Ontario’s 1902 expansion.In 1906 there was a newspaper that wrote “With the magnificent hotel being christened Magnolia Villa, caused the town to be closely associated in the public mind with the floral name which, say some old timers, was slated to be the towns official designation. Name Changed , North Ontario was the name selected, however, and by this name the growing community was known for some years. Years before attainment of the city dignity, however, the community chose the better descriptive name which todays event is broadcasting over a continent. Upland could scarcely be designated by a more fitting name. Gentle Grade, it is, literally, the Upland of the gentle grade which begins west of Pomona and rises through that city and Claremont, growing gradually higher until at Upland, it approaches the foothills. Without steep hills, the upward trend continues into the city and environs, affording to home seekers and altitude range running about a 1000 feet up to the levels which nearly place it in a class with the Half Mile High cities. Indeed, one man can build a mountain home a mile high, or even higher, and still be with in five miles of the city. Municipal history of Upland begins with its incorporation in 1906″.