THE INLAND EMPIRE IS ONE FOR THE BOOKS

When I claim that the Inland Empire is one of the most interesting regions in the nation, as I am wont to do, given the fact that I am running for the job of Emperor, I sometimes will get an argument.

Not often, but sometimes.

I always reach for my trump card. It’s a piece of evidence that’s impossible to dispute, and guaranteed to win the debate.

Here it is:

Arcadia Publishing, a large and prestigious South Carolina company that produces local history books throughout the United States, spends an inordinate amount of time, attention and resources in the Inland Empire. The company has published almost 80 books here, and there are more in the works. It’s an astonishing number for a two-county region, and it speaks volumes about us.

Literally.

How many Arcadia volumes are there for Los Angeles County? About 50. How many for Orange County? Fewer than 40. How many for San Diego County? Not quite 20.

So, how can we explain the fact that there are 80 titles for the Inland Empire? Well, it probably has something to do with our size (San Bernardino County is the nation’s largest) and our population (there are more than 150 individual communities in San Bernardino and Riverside counties). Most of all, it has to do with our history and geography. We have a crazy wealth of Wild West towns, pioneer railroad towns, mining boom towns, citrus boom towns and Route 66 landmark towns. We have the state’s oldest wine country (the Cucamonga Valley) and its newest (the Temecula Valley). We have some of the nation’s most famous mountain resorts, and nearly all of the nation’s best-known desert resorts.

“The Inland Empire is an amazing place,” says Debbie Seracini, an Arcadia editor. “We’ve done so many books there already, and we plan to do a lot more.”

The most recent Inland Empire books in the Arcadia line are “Yucaipa: 1940s-1980s” by the Yucaipa Valley Historical Society, which offers a fascinating account of the city’s formative years; “The Cajon Pass” by Alice Eby Hall, which tells the story of our region’s most prominent gateway; and “Community Hospital of San Bernardino” by Joyce A. Hanson, Suzie Earp and Erin Shanks, a chronology full of great stories, including an account of the day in 1954 when entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. was admitted after a terrible car accident in north San Bernardino. His life was saved, as well as his eyesight in one eye, and he showed his gratitude later by returning to the city and putting on a gala fundraiser that featured co-stars such as Judy Garland, Sidney Poitier, Shirley MacLaine, Tony Curtis, Danny Thomas, Diahann Carroll, James Garner and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Upcoming titles in the Arcadia line, and I can share this information with you exclusively, include “Chino” by Nancy Sanders and Tom de Martino, “Edwards AFB” by Ted Huetter, “Hesperia” by Gary Drylie, “Needles” by Jim Conkle and Linda Fitzpatrick, and “Wildomar” by Bob Cashman. Also in the works: Books on Victorville, Barstow and Rancho Cucamonga.

And now, if you’re ready, I’m going to run by you the whole list of Arcadia’s currently-available Inland Empire list, and I’m going to remind you that this treasure trove of local history is a godsend at this time of year for hurried and harried holiday shoppers. The books, all affordably priced, are available at bookstores, from online booksellers and from the publisher at (888) 313-2665 or www.arcadiapublishing.com.

The list of authors includes myself, so there’s a tiny scrap of self-promotion here, but that’s OK. As future Emperor of the Inland Empire, I’m allowed to do it. Self-promotion is an essential part of my campaign. Besides, I am telling you about nearly 80 books, so I am giving you lots of choices, right?

East Valley: “The Cajon Pass” by Alice Eby Hall, “Colton” by Larry Sheffield, “Cherry Valley” by Kenneth M. Holtzclaw and Tom Chong, “Community Hospital of San Bernardino” by Joyce A. Hanson, Suzie Earp and Erin Shanks, “The Harris Company” by Aimmee L. Rodriguez, Richard A. Hanks and Robin S. Hanks, “Loma Linda” by the Loma Linda Historical Commission, “Redlands” by Larry E. Burgess and Nathan D. Gonzales, “Redlands Postcard History” by Randy Briggs and Fred Edwards, “Rialto” by John Anthony Adams, “San Bernardino” by Nick Cataldo, “San Bernardino Postcard History” by Steven Shaw, “San Bernardino Fire Department” by Steven Shaw, “San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department” by M. David DeSoucy, “San Timoteo Canyon” by Kenneth M. Holtzclaw and Peggy Christian, “Yucaipa” by the Yucaipa Valley Historical Society and “Yucaipa: 1940s-1980s” by the Yucaipa Valley Historical Society.

West Valley: “Early Pomona” by Mickey Gallivan and the Historical Society of Pomona Valley, “Fontana” by John Charles Anicic Jr., “Kaiser Steel: Fontana” by John Charles Anicic Jr., “Lordsburg and La Verne” by Marlin L. Heckman, “Montclair” by the City of Montclair, “University of La Verne” by Marlin L. Heckman and “Upland” by Donald Laine Clucas with Marilyn Anderson and the Cooper Museum.

Riverside County: “Arlington” by Georgia Gordon Sercl, “Around Anza Valley” by Margaret Wellman Jaenke, Tony Mauricio and the Hamilton Museum, “Canyon Lake” by Elinor Martin, “Corona” by Mary Bryner Winn, “Corona Postcard History” by Mary Bryner Winn, “Jurupa” by Kim Jarrell Johnson, “Lake Elsinore” by Edythe J. Greene, Elizabeth Hepler and Mary Louise Rowden, “Lake Elsinore Postcard History” by the Lake Elsinore Historical Society, “Lake Mathews and Gavilan Hills” by Kathleen Dever and Judy Whitson, “March Air Force Base” by William J. Butler, “Menifee Valley” by Elinor Martin and Betty Bouris, “Moreno Valley” by Kenneth M. Holtzclaw and the Moreno Valley Historical Society, “Murrieta” by Marvin Curran, Loretta Barnett and Rebecca Farnbach, “Murrieta Hot Springs” by Rebecca Farnbach, Loretta Barnett and Marvin Curran, “Native Americans of Riverside County” by Clifford Trafzer and Jeffrey Smith, “Norco” by Marge Bitetti, “The Norconian Resort” by Kevin Bash and Brigette Jouxtel, “Resorts of Riverside County” by Steve Lech, “Riverside Postcard History” by Steve Lech, “Riverside: 1870-1940″ by Steve Lech, “Riverside: Then & Now” by Glenn Edward Freeman, “Riverside’s Camp Anza and Arlanza” by Frank Teurlay, “Riverside’s Mission Inn” by Steve Lech and Kim Jarrell Johnson, “Rubidoux” by Kim Jarrell Johnson and “Temecula” by Loretta Barnett, Rebecca Farnbach and the Vail Ranch Resoration Association.

Mountains: “Big Bear” by Stanley E. Bellamy and Russell L. Keller, “Big Bear Postcard History” by Russell L. Keller, “Crestline” by Rhea-Frances Tetley, “Idyllwild and the High San Jacintos” by Robert B. Smith and the Idyllwild Area Historical Society, “Lake Arrowhead” by Rhea-Frances Tetley, “Lake Arrowhead Postcard History” by Roger G. Hatheway and Russell L. Keller, “Mt. Baldy” by Kimberly J. Creighton, “Oak Glen and Los Rios Rancho” by J.R. Sanders, “Rim of the World Drive” by Roger G. Hatheway, “Running Springs” by Stanley E. Bellamy and “Wrightwood and Big Pines” by Pat Krig and Barbara Van Houten.

Deserts: “Apple Valley” by Michelle Lovato, “Banning” by Kenneth M. Holtzclaw, “Beaumont” by Kenneth M. Holtzclaw and Jeff Fox, “Death Valley” by Robert P. Palazzo, “Hemet” by the Hemet Area Museum Association, “Indio” by Patricia Baker Laflin for the Coachella Valley Historical Society, “Lancaster” by Norma H. Gurba,
“The Marines at Twentynine Palms” by Thomas Q. O’Hara, “Palm Desert” by the Historical Society of Palm Desert, “Palm Springs Postcard History” by Judy Artunian and Mike Oldham, “San Gorgonio Pass” by Kenneth M. Holtzclaw and the San Gorgonio Pass Historical Society, “Twentynine Palms” by Vickie Waite, Al Gartner and Paul F. Smith.

General interest: “Cleveland National Forest” by James D. Newland, “Missions of Southern California” by James Osborne, “Native Sons of the Golden West” by Richard S. Kimball and Barney Noel, “Route 66 in California” by Glen Duncan, “Skiing in Southern California” by Ingrid P. Wicken.

Finally, there’s my own book in the series, “Inland Empire” by John Howard Weeks, which is a grand tour of the whole place.

The whole incredible, fascinating, amazing place.

I think we all can agree on that.

Read more John Weeks at http://sbsun.com/johnweeks. Contact him by email at john.weeks@inlandnewspapers.com.