Located between Orange and San Diego counties along the I-15 corridor, the Temecula Valley has a long and storied past. Murrieta takes its name from Don Juan Murrieta, a young Spaniard who purchased some 52,000 acres of land in the valley to raise his 100,000 sheep in 1873. The sheep did well, feeding on the valley's rich grasses, and the natural hot springs found in the area proved a cleansing sheep dip.
Don Juan eventually sold his holdings and moved to Los Angeles, where he worked 30 years in the sheriff's office. When Don Juan died in 1936 at the age of 91, the valley that came to bear his name had already experienced its first boom and its first bust.
The railroad came, and a town was built. By 1890, some 800 people populated the area. In 1935, trains stopped running this route and the boom went bust.
Not much was to change until 1987, when a period of explosive growth began. Sleepy little Murrieta, totaling only 542 residents in 1970 and little more than 2,250 a decade later, grew up almost overnight. When it became a city officially on July 1, 1991, it was home to some 29,000 folks, many of them drawn to the area by the same virtues young Don Juan Murrieta found so attractive more than 100 years earlier. Today, the population of Murrieta exceeds 100,000, with natural beauty and so practical a choice, Murrieta truly is a real "gem of the valley."
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