Norco is one of the few California cities where horses are alternate modes of transportation. With over 95 miles of horse trails and 400 acres of parkland it is possible for residents and visitors to ride horseback to do Saturday errands or go out to dinner on the weekend. Most establishments have a hitching post located near the front door.
Norco was originally part of the large Mexican land grant given to Vicenta Sepulveda. The City of Norco covers just over 14 square miles in Western Riverside County adjacent to Corona on the South, Mira Loma on the north and the new booming city of Eastvale. Norco was incorporated in 1964 and has always been known as a animal oriented community. National rodeos are held in Norco several times a year.
Norco gains its name from its location North Corona or North Corona Land Company as it was termed by the city’s founder. In the early years the city was known by a variety of names including: Citrus Belt, and Orchard Heights. In the late 1920s, city father Rex B. Clark purchased a little over 5,000 acres with the hopes of subdividing it into land for chicken farmers. His original plans included leasing farmland on eight year leases. It was projected that a hard-working farmer could earn $1,500. a year. When irrigation began to yield water for farms, hidden underground mineral springs were discovered. That inspired Clark to build the posh Norconian Club Resort.
The Norconian Club was the favorite spot for the top movie stars and VIPs of the 1920s and 30s. The club was built on 900-acres in the center or town an included a 55-acre lake, a casino, Olympic size pools, mineral baths, golf course, tennis courts and a private landing field. Unfortunately the Norconian Club opened only eight months before the start of the Great Depression. In 1941, Clark sold the land and buildings to the federal government. During the war years the once regal hotel was used as a naval hospital Navy. After the Korean War the property was under utilized and was given to the State of California. In March 1962 the Federal Government donated the facility to the state of California for use as a correctional facility for narcotics offenders. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona Division is located on part of the property separated by a fence from the prison. It is responsible for assessing the reliability of naval weapon’s systems. The once elegant hotel has stood vacant for years waiting to be re-discovered.
Norco is also home to Riverside Community College’s western campus and the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies. Over the years Norco has grown larger but still has been able to keep its western flavor and charm.
By Marge Bitetti
Author: Norco, Images of Amercia Series
Arcadia Publishing, 2005
City of Norco Norco - Ace Hardware -
B&E Feed and Supply - Tiggy Winkles Gift Shop (Riverside) - Mary's
Hallmark - UCR/CA Museum of Photography (Riverside) - City Florist -Pharmco
Be sure to purchase an extra copy for your friends and family In Norco as this book makes a great gift and no Norco coffee table should be without one!