“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Rancho Cucamonga in San Bernardino County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Isle House


— Restoration Project —

Isle House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, May 4, 2020
1. Isle House Marker
Inscription.  The Isle house origins date back to the founding of the Etiwanda Colony in the early 1880s by George and William Chaffey. George had been educated as an engineer, and his brother William had a background in agriculture. They formed a partnership with the intention of developing an irrigated agricultural colony. On Thanksgiving day, 1881, the brothers purchased 1,000 acres with existing water rights to four nearby mountain streams in Day, Middle, East and Young Canyons from Captain J. S. Garcia. Garcia was a retired Portuguese sea captain who had established a sheep ranch in the area. By January 1882, they had expanded their holdings to 7,600 acres and by May, had organized the Etiwanda Water Company.
The Chaffeys divided their holdings into 10-acre lots and named the new colony Etiwanda, after the Lake Michigan Indian Chief. Sales began in the spring of 1882, and a preliminary subdivision map was filed on December 22, 1883. By March of 1884, 46 individuals had purchased 1,024 acres. Crops included oranges, apricots, Muscrat grapes, and lemons.
The Colony was the location of many firsts in Southern California's history including:
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the site of the first development of the hydro-electric current; the first successful mutual water company; the first project to use underground concrete pipe, and the first long distance telephone. All of these first were the results of George Chaffey.
On November 30, 1882, electrical lights were turned on for the first time in Southern California, in Etiwanda. George Chaffey had rigged a small electric dynamo with a paddle wheel that could be run on an irrigation ditch. Wires from the dynamo lead to an arc lamp installed on the roof of Captain Garcia's former home, where George Chaffey then resided. The light could be seen as far away as Riverside. It was also said that ordinary print could be read at night a quarter mile away. In August 1883, Chaffey installed electric lights in his home.

As previously stated, the origins of the present day Isle House can be traced back to George Chaffey and the founding of Etiwanda. Following the death of his father, George built the structure presently known as the Isle house near his own dwelling. Annie and Emma, George's mother and sister, were to live in this home until the family eventually moved to Australia. According to local sources, this house was also wired for electricity.
After the Chaffey family's move to Australia, the house passed through a number of owners, finally coming to rest in the care of the
Isle House and Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, May 4, 2020
2. Isle House and Marker
Isle family. On February 20, 1902, James C. Isle purchased a lot at the corner of Etiwanda Avenue and Highland Avenue, as well as the Annie Chaffey Home. He then moved the house, using log rollers, approximately ½ mile to his newly purchased lot on Etiwanda and Highland Avenues, which is now the I-210 freeway.
James Isle became one of the largest citrus producers in Etiwanda and came to own 125 acres of land. In 1914, it is recorded that James C. Isle was one of the founding members of the Etiwanda Foothill Citrus Association, however, his tenure did not last long. He transferred all of his shares in the association to C. Newton Ross two years later.
By 1920, the census showed that among others, Isle's daughter and son-in law, George P McGuire, had moved into the house. James Christopher Isle died at the age of 77 on December 11, 1931. Martha Isle, his wife, continued to reside in the house and oversee the orchards until her death in the early 1940s. By 1945, James Isle's grandson, Alfred W. McGuire, and his wife, Antoinette, lived in the house and continued in the Citrus business.

However, by 1951, Alfred was no longer dependent solely on farming for his income and worked as the local constable. Alfred and Antoinette moved out of the house in the 1970s. Since that time, the property had served as a rental dwelling, and was eventually acquired by
Marker Detail image. Click for full size.
3. Marker Detail
SANBAG as part of the I-210 freeway construction. At the request of the Etiwanda Historical Society, the City of Rancho Cucamonga was able to acquire the structure, as well as another suitable site, and the house was moved to its current location.
The Isle House, a Historic Landmark, will be used as a community building in the same manner as the Chaffey Garcia House. The building will host events that promote the history of the Etiwanda area. In order to use the structure in this capacity, a complete and thorough rehabilitation and restoration is necessary. When completed, the structure will resemble its 1903 circa appearance.
Erected by City of Rancho Cucamonga, and Etiwanda Historical Society.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AgricultureIndustry & Commerce. A significant historical month for this entry is January 1882.
Location. 34° 7.502′ N, 117° 31.423′ W. Marker is in Rancho Cucamonga, California, in San Bernardino County. Marker is at the intersection of Etiwanda Avenue and Pacific Electric Trail, on the left when traveling north on Etiwanda Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7086 Etiwanda Avenue, Rancho Cucamonga CA 91739, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Johnston House & "Office" (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Etiwanda School District
Isle House image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, May 4, 2020
4. Isle House
(approx. 0.2 miles away); Frost Brothers General Store (approx. 0.2 miles away); Ellena/Regina Winery (Filippi Winery) (approx. ¾ mile away); A Tribute to the Rich History of Wine Making in Rancho Cucamonga (approx. 0.8 miles away); Garrett & Co. Winery (Virginia Dare Winery) (approx. 0.8 miles away); Etiwanda Grape Products Company Site (approx. 0.9 miles away); The Vintners Walk (approx. 1.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Rancho Cucamonga.
Etiwanda Depot image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, May 4, 2020
5. Etiwanda Depot
Across the street from the Isle House. Pacific Electric trolley station, built in 1914. National Register of Historic Places.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 9, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 6, 2020, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. This page has been viewed 856 times since then and 301 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 6, 2020, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 3, 2023