El Monte, California

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El Monte (pronounced /ɛl ˈmɒntiː/) is a residential, industrial, and commercial city [2] in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The city's slogan is "Welcome to Friendly El Monte," and historically is known as "The End of the Santa Fe Trail." As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 115,965. As of 2002, El Monte is the 191st largest city in the United States, and is the 44th largest city in California. El Monte Lies in the San Gabriel Valley region East of the city of Los Angeles.

Contents

Origin of name

El Monte was literally an oasis or island in the middle of the arid San Gabriel Valley. Between 1770 and 1830, Spanish soldiers and missionaries often stopped here for respite. They called the area, 'El Monte,' which in Spanish means 'meadow or marsh' or 'the wooded place. Most people assume the name refers to a mountain, but the word is an archaic Spanish translation of that era, there were no mountains in the valley. The explorers had found this oasis of rich, low altitude land, blanketed with thick growths of wispy willows, alders, and cattails, located between two rivers. They also found wild grapevines and watercress. The "Island" is approximately 7 miles long and 4 miles wide. [3] When the State Legislature organized California into more manageable designated townships in the 1850s, they called it the El Monte Township. In a short time the name returned to the original El Monte.[4]

History

Settlement began in 1849, though Spanish missionaries and soldiers passed through the area as early as the 1770s. The Old Spanish Trail, originating in Santa Fe became a continuation of the well-known Santa Fe Trail, that began in 1821, when the nation’s first major international commercial highway was estalihed stretching from Kansas City, Missouri to Santa Fe.[5] In the 1850s the village (renamed Lexington by American settlers) was the crossroad between Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Pedro. In the early days, it had a reputation as a rough town where men often settled disputes with knives and guns in its gambling saloons. Defense against Indian raids and the crimes of bandit gangs like that of Juan Flores and Pancho Daniel led to the formation of a local militia company called the Monte Rangers in February 1854.[6] After the Monte Rangers disbanded, local justice in the form of a lynching was often provided by the local vigilantes called the "El Monte Boys".

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