About the Community of Hemet
Hemet today retains much of its retirement orientation but is also becoming home to significant numbers of younger families who provide services to the senior population or who are simply fleeing the more urbanized areas of Southern California. The economy is based primarily on service to the senior community and ancillary services such as financial institutions and the health care professions.
The character of Hemet began to change dramatically in the early 1960’s with the development of Sierra Dawn, the country’s first “mobile home subdivision” in which individual lots were sold. Other mobile home parks and retirement housing developments followed, and Hemet became well known as a retirement community.
Hemet was also noted for the 46th Agricultural District Farmer’s Fair of Riverside County, which had its beginning in 1936 as the Hemet Turkey Show, and for the Ryan School of Aeronautics, which trained about 6,000 fliers for the Army Air Force between 1940 and 1944. Hemet Ryan Airport exists today at the site of the original Ryan Flight School.
Since 1923, one of the valley’s chief claims to fame has been the annual Ramona Pageant. The incident which inspired Helen Hunt Jackson to write Ramona occurred in the valley, and the production of a pageant based on the story was discussed for a number of years as a method of promoting the valley. From 1923 onward, with only brief interruptions during the Depression and during World War II, the people of Hemet and San Jacinto have joined to stage this outdoor pageant each spring.
The City of Hemet owes its inception and initial growth to two ironic events and the dedication of two wealthy men. The first event was the visit that Ramona author Helen Hunt Jackson made to the San Jacinto Valley in 1883 in order to gather material on the Sobobas, a group of Mission Indians living on the east side of the San Jacinto River. Mrs. Jackson was accompanied to the valley by her interpreter, Abbot Kinney.
From these two men and others, Kinney undoubtedly learned about the 1882 court case wherin the lands of the Rancho San Jacinto Viejo were partitioned to various individuals, some of whom envisioned making a profit from their holdings if a sufficient water supply could be developed. Kinney also learned about and saw a potential reservoir site in Hemet Valley if a dam was constructed across the South Fork of the San Jacinto River.
During 1887 plans were made to lay the first railroad tracks into the San Jacinto Valley. Mayberry and Whittier wanted the Santa Fe Company to run the tracks through the Estudillo tract, to the east line of the Hemet Land Company lands, and then north and west to the town of San Jacinto, thus providing railroad access to Hemet and South San Jacinto land buyers. Instead, the first official train into the valley came in April 1888 to Mayberry’s townsite and then turned north, ending at a spot one-half mile from the town of San Jacinto.
Located on 160 acres in the south hills of Hemet, California, the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre is home to RAMONA, America’s longest running drama est. 1923. The amphitheatre with its acoustical attributes and beautiful mountain views was discovered in 1922 by playwright Garnet Holme. He found the perfect location to produce his work and in 1923 people came from miles around to see the first production of RAMONA in what is now known as the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre.
The 5,400 seat capacity is made up of tiered cement bench seats with wooden backs accessible by stairs. Handicapped and wheelchair seating is available with minimal or no steps involved. The seating area is divided into 3 sections. The main entrance is between the lower and upper levels. Lower level seats offer a closer view with more visible facial expressions. Upper level seats offer a better panoramic view. At the top are the shaded box seats. While this area requires climbing 30 steps, it has shade cloth, padded chairs and offers waitress service.
All information about Hemet courtesy of City of Hemet.
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