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History

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The Cahuilla Indians — who lived throughout the area for over 2,000 years — were the original inhabitants of the Cathedral City area and the area now known as Coachella Valley. Members of the Shoshone tribe, the Cahuilla Indians were industrious farmers, hunting local wildlife like deer and sheep when necessary to fulfill tribal needs. In 1876, the Agua Caliente Band, descendants of the Cahuilla tribe, established a 52,000-acre reservation, which encompasses 28 percent of the Cathedral City area.

The first Spaniards were thought to appear in the area in 1772, with the first settlers planting roots in approximately 1821. In 1850, Colonel Henry Washington of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discovered that the area’s canyons resembled the interior of a grand cathedral, and he named this canyon of majestic beauty Cathedral Canyon.

Cathedral City’s history as a fledgling community began in 1925 when four enterprising land developers (George Allen, M.V. Van Fleet, Glenn Plumley and Jack Grove) formed a partnership and purchased 320 acres of desert land from the Southern Pacific Railroad. That same year, they submitted their first subdivision map. Less than six months later, in January of 1926, Cathedral City (a name chosen to reflect Colonel Washington’s original observation) was born when the first lots were sold.

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