I've Got 909 Problems but 10 Unusual Inland Empire Place Names Ain't One

Categories: News Roundups

UCLA Library Special Collections
Plat of Rancho Muscupiabe that the Surveyor of the United States confirmed in 1867 to Michael White, known to Mexicans as Miguel Blanco.

The Inland Empire, known less broadly as the huge chunk of Southern California that includes the counties of Riverside and San Bernardino, is filled with some place names that sound funny to our Orange County ears. Take these, please ...

1. Muscupiabe
(pronounced muss-coo-bee-ah-bee) Not far from the original Casa de Coker, which was on Casa Loma in the city of San Bernardino, was Muscupiabe Drive, named after the 30,145-acre Muscupiabe Rancho, established (occupied?) in the 1800s to head off Indian stock thieves coming from the Mojave Desert through the Cajon (kuh-hone) Pass we pass through on the way to Las Vegas. The Serrano Indians had known the area as Amuscopiabit, but the Mexican rancheros who won independence from Spain found Muscupiabe easier to say.

2. Tequesquite
(ta-kees-kee-ta) It's a bastardization of tequisquite, the Spanish word for soap-soil. Large soap-soil deposits were found in a prehistoric river channel that was later named Tequesquite Arroyo, in what would later be named the city of Riverside. There's now Tequesquite Drive, too.

3. Hesperia
(hiss-pair-ee-uh) Named for the Greek god of the west Hesperus, this San Bernardino County city is in the Mojave Desert, 15 miles north of San Berdoo. Freshly ripped from the headlines is a bridge fire there that backed up traffic for 20 miles between Southern California and Vegas.

4. Cahuilla
(ca-wee-uh) This is the original name of the Agua Caliente (I'm trusting you can pronounce those) Band of Indians whose territory was the San Jacinto Mountains of Riverside County. The federally recognized tribe has a reservation, as does the Soboba Band of Cahuilla and Luiseño people. Cahuilla and Cahuilla Hills are unincorporated communities of Riverside County.

5. Yucaipa
(yew-kai-puh) Actually, "yucca pie" is what we called the town you start seeing signs for off the 10 freeway around Redlands as you're zipping over to Palm Springs. The name evolved from "yucaipat," the indigenous Serrano Indians' name for "green valley."

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