Where to Find Us
Wildomar is located along Interstate 15 in Riverside County, a growing community comfortably nestled in a valley bordered by a mountain range on the west and rolling hills to the east. Its boundaries take in some 24 square miles.
A Bit of History
Wildomar is a community of old and new, more mature homes and acreages with horses and other animals mixed with more modern housing tracts. Nestled between the cities of Murrieta and Lake Elsinore, Wildomar officially became a city on July 1, 2008, at that time home to about 28,000 residents.
The name Wildomar was coined from the names of its three founders - the WIL from
William Collier, the DO from Donald Graham and the MAR from Margaret Collier Graham.
Wildomar had been an outpost for the pony express for the Butterfield Stage, and in the early part of this century, a stop for the Southern California Railroad. After the tracks washed out, growth in the area slowed and Wildomar remained a farming and ranching area, including a large number of horse ranches. Wildomar had many prominent pioneer families.
Construction of the I-15 freeway brought urban-type growth to Wildomar, which led to the mixture of urban and rural.
Wildomar Incorporation Now, commonly known as WIN, led the effort to incorporate.
Its' office was in a small, unassuming historic building near the corner of Mission Trail and Corydon. It is one of the oldest public buildings in the area.
It once was leased by the Wildomar Chamber of Commerce before they merged with Murrieta to become the Murrieta/Wildomar Chamber of Commerce, the building served the community in one capacity or another for over 100 years before the merger. Originally on Lemon Street, the building was moved to its present location in 1895 - selected because the railroad tracks ran behind the building. The building was to be a stop for the railroad. Once the railroad no longer ran through Wildomar, the building found other uses. In 1993, the Animal Friends of the Valleys and the chamber brought the building back into a serviceable condition. These two agencies have shared the building ever since.
About the Bell & Wildomar School
One of the first items of business at the new town site of Wildomar in 1886 was to build a grammar school. The founders donated the land and Wildomar Elementary School was built in the downtown area. The present day school is still at this original location. A bell was installed in the tower to call the students to class.
As was typical of school bells in the 1880s, the bell, clapper and frame are made of cast iron. Legend has it that the bell was brought to Wildomar along the newly laid railroad tracks that passed by on Front Street a few blocks away. Once mounted in the tower, the bell was rung by a rope that passed inside the school room. Occasionally, the bell would hang up when pulled too vigorously. This happened often enough that a ladder was permanently nailed on the outside of the building along the slope of the roof.
When the old two-room schoolhouse was torn down, the bell was removed from the tower. Contributions from the community and school helped fund a monument to house the bell. Several pioneer families, among them representatives of the Howell, Turner, Wilks, Freeman, Brown and Hazard families, were present at the dedication. The structure was more than a replica of the old school tower; it was a shrine for the bell and an image of the community spirit and ideals that it represented.
Not much has changed in this regard. The bell, tower and monument were lovingly restored by community volunteers in 2006, and the bell was able to be rung again. Businesses, community organizations and residents donated the materials and labor.
The bell is located at the corner of Palomar and Central on the grounds of Wildomar Elementary School. It remains a landmark for Wildomar. Next time you hear someone say, "Meet you at the Bell" you can be assured that it is this bell they are talking about.
(Courtesy of the Wildomar Historical Society. The Society meets monthly at the Mission Trail Library. Call 951-285-9789 for information.)