Wildomar, California

Nestled between the cities of Murrieta and Lake Elsinore, the area previously known as southern Rancho La Laguna officially became the city of Wildomar on July 1, 2008. At the time, it was home to about 28,000 residents.

The area of Wildomar started being developed in the 1880s with the expansion of the California Southern Railroad. Soon after the railroad was washed out in 1884 and replaced by the Santa Fe Railroad, the three founders after whom Wildomar is named would record the Wildomar town site with San Diego County. 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. Collier and the husband-and-wife Grahams were investors who along with land speculator Franklin Heald bought the portions of Rancho La Laguna that would become the city.

With the 1880s drawing to a close, growth began right away with a post office, railroad depot, large hotel, livery stable, blacksmith shop, lumber yard, a park, a Methodist-Episcopalian church, and numerous stores built within three years. Wildomar remained a farming and horse ranching area through most of the 20th century, with railroad expansions being held up constantly due to periodic washouts from epic rains.

Construction of the I-15 freeway in the ‘80s brought urban-type growth to largely rural Wildomar, leading to the population doubling in the first decade of the 20th century. The town becoming Riverside County’s 25th city in 2008, comprising a total area of 23.7 square miles. As of the latest census, Wildomar’s population is now 36,042.