Thursday, September 6, 2012

Visiting Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

July 9, 2011/August 11, 2012: Colton, CA: The Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery (AMPC) (Find A Grave) is well hidden by a solid gate and a row of closely aligned trees lining Agua Mansa Road in Colton, CA, between San Bernardino and Riverside.  If you are not careful, you will probably pass it.  I actually passed it twice (back and forth). 

The Cemetery is all that is left of Agua Mansa (considered a ghost town) and it is a desolate, dry location, partially surrounded by quarries and/or landfills.  Agua Mansa and La Placita were on opposite sides of the Santa Ana River, and, in the 1840's, formed the largest settlement between Los Angeles and New Mexico.  Both settlements were washed away by the Great Flood of 1862.

Desolate Location

The top of this tree is very strange (quarry or landfill in background).

It was triple-digit hot when I was there in August, 2012, and despite a grass sprinkler here and there, there is very little grass and very much loosely packed dry dirt with burrow holes.

Most of the grave markers are very old and some damaged to a point preventing the ability to read the name or date of death of the buried.

Heavily Damaged Grave Sites


Some grave markers are surrounded by small gates.
The gate cross in detail

Every once in a while, a clearly readable marker is found.  While some of these have such early death-dates, I wonder whether they are replacement markers.

Readable Markers

Aside from all the civilian graves, there is a single military one.  While in no way is this burial site as scenic or pleasant to visit than Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, which I wrote about earlier, the lone soldier gets the honor of being the only person in this cemetery buried in the shade under a huge tree and with some nearby grass.  The grave is for Jose Gustamante, who died in 1912.

The marker says Mr. Gustamonte was a member of Company D, 1st California Native Cavalry.  Company D spent most of the US Civil War keeping the peace in LA County, where seccessionist sympathy was high, and later parts of the Civil War in Arizona Terriotry, which the Confederacy sought to annex. These are details of the Civil War which we are not taught about back east.


The Cemetery Chapel is an annex to a private residence

A more colorful marker

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