It was magnificent land blessed with verdant open spaces dotted with towering oak trees, sycamores, a valley of rich grasses and natural hot springs. It reminded Esequial Murrieta of his native Spain, so he bought 52,000 acres, fully intending to move his sheep ranching operation here from central California.
But he never did, going back to the Santurtzi area of Spain to marry and turning his holdings over to younger brother Juan, who brought a flock of some 100,000 sheep to the valley. The year was 1873.
And that was the start of something that would grow to be very big.
In 1882, the Southern California Railroad laid tracks linking the valley to its southern transcontinental route. By 1890, Murrieta had experienced its first boom, the population reaching 800, big for those days.
The natural springs that proved a cleansing dip for Juan's flock later were instrumental in bringing international renown to the community as the Murrieta Hot Springs Resort flourished during the first half of the 1900s.
In 1935, the trains stopped running and the boom Murrieta had been enjoying went bust. The calm lasted for 50 years until a new community sprouted almost overnight and began a period of phenomenal growth. Extending Interstate 15 through the valley was the impetus for building what was at that time extremely affordable housing.
When Murrieta officially became a city on July 1, 1991, it was already home to more than 24,000 residents. Compare that to the 2,200 estimated to have been living here in 1980.
By 2005, more than 85,000 people had moved to the community, making it one of the five largest in Riverside County.
The natural scenic beauty of the area and what is still by California standards reasonably priced housing continues to attract significant numbers of residents and businesses who are finding Murrieta a great place to grow.
Those living in the community find distinguished schools, abundant recreation, excellent medical facilities expanding employment opportunities and one of the lowest crime rates in Southern California.
And entrepreneurs find a market growing larger by the day, above average household incomes, a skilled labor force and a business-friendly city hall.
It's a community with a past and vision for its future. One that welcomes challenges, takes risks, embraces opportunity.
More and more people are discovering what the Murrieta brothers envisioned more than a century ago: Murrieta is, indeed, a great place to grow.