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Community Profile: San Dimas

February 23, 1996|CECILIA RASMUSSEN

If you like local color, consider San Dimas. Named for the good thief crucified next to Christ, it has become known for the madcap excellent adventures of film land's Bill and Ted, houses the popular Raging Waters, boasts a Main Street with wooden sidewalks and recently saw its mayor plead no contest to stealing from Meals on Wheels, an unlikely source of illicit gain.

Long before the completed Foothill and Route 210 freeways acted as a funnel, spawning new development, came frontiersman Jedediah Strong Smith, who camped in 1826 at a swamp called Mud Springs.

Today, Smith is immortalized in a statue in front of City Hall and the long-dry springs are located on what is now Palomares Street. The street got its name from Ignacio Palomares, one of the two Spanish dons given immense land grants in the area in 1837.

Palomares was tormented by cattle rustlers, who hid out in a canyon. He cursed them by invoking the name of Dimas, the repentant thief on the cross, and the rustlers' canyon became known as San Dimas.

Like many foothill towns, San Dimas sprang up when the Santa Fe railroad completed its line in 1887. The same year, the railroad hotel--a 30-room, 14-fireplace, four-

bathroom extravaganza--was built, but never had a paying guest. Hopes of keeping it filled came with a land boom that became a bust. Today, the Queen Anne-style mansion, at San Dimas and Bonita avenues, is on the federal and state registers of historic places and is used for special events, including weddings.

After the turn of the century, San Dimas had the world's largest lemon packinghouse. Labels boasted that local citrus was "grown in frost-free San Dimas." A hard freeze in 1913 ended that slogan.

By 1960, when the town incorporated, many of the groves, weakened by "quick decline" disease, were giving way to housing tracts. More recently, before Mayor Terry Dipple resigned after pleading no contest to misdemeanor forgery charges, San Dimas was best known for its Raging Waters amusement park, hot tub baptisms and weddings at Puddingstone Reservoir, and as the fictional setting for the two cinematic dudes.

Little did Smith know that his true adventures would one day pave the way for Bill and Ted's bogus journey.



Pastoral Grounds: High in the hills, shielded by a deep canyon of old oak trees, is Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College.

The secluded training ground for ministers and church workers was built in 1928 as a home for underprivileged boys.

A decade later, the home closed and 150 acres and more than a dozen Spanish-style buildings were donated to the state for a Cal Poly campus.

When Cal Poly completed its move to Pomona in 1972, the Baptist Bible Fellowship made the San Dimas property the college's permanent home.

Nixon Link: The downtown Masonic Temple, although not considered a historic site, had a historic role in former President Richard M. Nixon's political career.

His first public campaign stop was at the meeting hall in 1946. Nixon's opponent was hometown boy Rep. Jerry Voorhis, whom he defeated.

Neither Snow . . . : The all-volunteer San Dimas Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team was founded in 1955 and has responded to thousands of calls for help, including one in 1979 when a small plane crashed in the snow-covered San Gabriel Mountains.

The team climbed 2,000 feet to find the downed craft and three people alive.


By the Numbers

City Business

Incorporated: Aug. 4, 1960

Square miles: 15

Number of parks: 14

City employees: 83

1995- 96 budget: $9 million



Population: 32, 397

Households: 11,099

Average household size: 2.82

Median age: 34.0


Money and Work

Median household income: $50,297

Median household income / L.A. County: $34,965

Median home value: $241,000

Employed workers (16 and older): 17,413

Percentage of women employed: 63.2%

Percentage of men employed: 81.8%

Self- employed: 1,754

Car- poolers: 2,346


Retail Stores

Number of stores: 263

Number of employees: 1,919

Annual sales: $214.4 million


Ethnic Breakdown

White: 70%

Black: 4%

Other: 1%

Asian: 8%

Latino: 17%



Married couples with children: 335

Married couples with no children: 31%

Non- family households: 23%

Other types of families: 13%

Source: Claritas Inc. All figures are for 1990. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

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