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

Categories: News Roundups

Plat-of-Rancho-Muscupiabe_UCLA-Library-Special-Collections.jpg
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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27 comments
Otis Denim
Otis Denim

Matt Coker wrote - 10. Zzyzx(zie-zix) I could lay down some bullshit native-tongue explanation for this unincorporated community of San Bernardino County, whose Zzyzx Road exit off I-15 in the Mojave Desert has no doubt led to head scratching. But the truth is it had been known as the simpler to pronounce Camp Soda and Soda Springs until 1944, when Curtis Howe Springer, uh, sprang the name for his Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa. He wanted to create the last word in the English language. The government reclaimed the land from him in 1974, and there is now a desert research center and wildlife habitat there.

Ruben Cazessus
Ruben Cazessus

How did it get its name I cant read the article!!7

Nelson Mills
Nelson Mills

How about all those inland SD county towns? Jacumba, Jamul, Aguanga, the list goes on

Dusty Davis
Dusty Davis

if you think these are weird. look up towns in Australia

Dee Dee Walker Campbell
Dee Dee Walker Campbell

I grew up in San Berdoo. Ive always known the names and the correct pronunciation. Although I've never heard #2 & #9.

Victor Salas
Victor Salas

I'm sorry, but most of these names are heard frequently, especially if you hear the morning traffic reports, or the recent fires. If you've been living in Cali for the passed 5 - 10 yrs and still can't pronounce at least 8 of them, you seriously need to move up north. smh

Aaron Johnson
Aaron Johnson

I started getting jobs in some of these cities last year and I was like wtf. Where is this and how do I say it. LoL

Sara Gonzalez
Sara Gonzalez

I'm proud to say that I grew up in Yucaipa now living in the OC and these names are not strange at all.....some of the residents living there, well that's a different story ;)

TheRefriedMexican
TheRefriedMexican

Matt "The Chicken Choker" Coker. You forgot the world famous Fontucky. The armpit of So Cal.

GoodOlSomethin
GoodOlSomethin

I had to look twice to see that this was on a list of OCW Articles - I thought it was a song on a Country Station playlist!

Brainwashed_in_church
Brainwashed_in_church topcommenter

11. Norco: Comes from the Indian word Nohuco which means "Land of those who speak nothing but bull droppings"

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

Many to most (more so than other California counties? anyone?) are based on old indian place-names.

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

and many are mispronounced, ones that particularly hurt my ears: San Yuhsinto, Coch-ela, and others.

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