The section of San Bernardino Valley known as Highland comprises a narrow belt of foothill slopes, skirting the southern base of the San Bernardino Mountains, and extending west over ten miles from the gorge of the Santa Ana River.

The Highland district is divided into three areas of Highland, East Highland, and West Highland. W. T. Noyes and W. H. Randall named it when the school district was organized in 1883.1 According to Ingersoll, Walter A. Shay, Sr., was probably the first white man to occupy the territory, when he built a small house near the mouth of the City Creek Canyon. City Creek, incidentally, was so called because the Mormons had at one time determined to put their city there, but changed their plans.

Image of East Highlands, 1906
East Highlands, 1906

In 1858, Louis and Henry Cram constructed an earth ditch three miles in length from the mouth of the Santa Ana Canyon to their homestead in what is now East Highlands. Frederick Van Leuven, another pioneer, was interested with the Crams in this ditch and it became know as the Cram-Van Leuven ditch. Other appropriations of water were made from the Santa Ana River and contentions over water rights sprang up, thus leading to the first water litigation in San Bernardino Valley. When the Bear Valley dam was built in 1884, part of the flow of the Santa Ana river was intercepted, and, as the bed of that stream was the only available channel by which water could be brought from the reservoir into the Valley, an agreement was reach between residents of Highland and those in Redlands, interested in the Bear Valley Company.

In 1891, a line of the Santa Fe Railway was constructed to serve the needs of the prosperous orange growers. Highland continues today as a separate entity in the Valley. Many of its institutions date from before the turn of the century. The Highland Library Club was an outgrowth of the Literary Club, organized in 1897; the Congregational Church was organized in 1884, the weekly newspaper in 1892.

1 Ingersol, op. cit., p. 608.

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