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Fontana History, California


A brief background of how the city came into being will bring alive the city for visitors and give them a perspective of why and how the city functions the way it does. Fontana can trace back its history to 1813 when Don Antonio Maria Lugo received a land grant. He was also the first recorded landowner of the Fontana area. The piece of land known as Rancho de San Bernardino was secured for his sons by a second land grant.

 A group of Mormon settlers bought a portion of this land (which included a piece of the current Fontana city) from the Lugo sons in 1851. After the Mormon settlers ultimately returned to Salt Lake City, the Rancho was taken over by the Semi-Tropical Land & Water Company. Full-fledged development of the area however did not begin until the early 1900s when the land came under the control of the Fontana Development Company.

A community called Rosena was started by this company which was changed to Fontana in 1913. The town of Fontana was thus founded in 1913 by A B, Miller who built an agricultural area with diversified products like citrus, grapes, grain, poultry and swine.


From an agricultural community, Fontana faced a transition to an industrial hub when it was chosen for a steel mill site in 1942. On June 25, 1952, with a population 13,695, the City of Fontana formally came into being and became Southern California’s leading producer of steel and steel-related products.

Ever since the mill had been built, the steel industry had dominated the economy of Fontana but towards the late 1970s, Kaiser Steel began to slow down its production and started reducing its manpower until eventually the steel mill closed down in 1984. The California Steel Company acquired the rights over the plate steel and rolling mill plant, started producing steel products once more, and is continuing doing so.

Fontana’s transition from an agricultural society to an industrial one was complete when many more industries were set up. Because of its convenient geographical lotion and superb transportation network it has become the Mecca of railroad and trucking operations and all big names in the auto industry have their factories based in Fontana. Warehousing distribution centers, medium to heavy industrial facilities; Fontana is home to all of them and has a large labor pool for factories coming into the area. Thus, it has a rich, progressive history to boast!

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Fontana City Ratings

  • Rating56%
    City Rank309
  • History & Culture: rated for 55%
  • Night Life & Entertainment: rated for 40%
  • Family & Fun: rated for 55%
  • Outdoors Activities: rated for 60%
  • Food: rated for 60%
  • Sightseeing: rated for 50%
  • Shopping: rated for 55%
  • Public Transportation: rated for 70%
  • Must visit this place: rated for 60%
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