More than 100 community members gathered at the Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery on Wednesday, May 22, for a ribbon-cutting and reopening ceremony featuring improvements that included driveway repairs, landscaping and beautification, an entrance monument, interpretive signage, gate replacement, and select headstone and gravestone conservation, as well as its official designation by the National Park Service as a certified partner on the Old Spanish Trail.

The ceremony included remarks from Fifth District Supervisor Joe Baca, Jr., Museum Director David Myers, and Nancy Melendez, president of the Agua Mansa Chapter of the Old Spanish Trail Associationand Spanish Town Heritage Foundation and 6th generation descendant of La Placita. The ribbon-cutting ceremony also included Colton Mayor Pro Tem John Echevarria, San Bernardino County Deputy Executive Officer Michael Jimenez, the San Bernardino County Project and Facilities Management team and the Colton Area Museum.

“We are thrilled to reopen the gates of the Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery and welcome back our community to this special place,” said Myers. “The renovations and improvements made during the closure have been completed with great care and respect for the memories of those who have passed. We look forward to continuing to serve our community and providing a place of solace, remembrance and education for generations to come.”

The rehabilitation project also included funding for ground penetrating radar mapping of the entire site. GPR surveys are non-intrusive and ideal for locating unmarked graves, resulting in a complete map of all burials, a valuable tool for future researchers.

The Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery is all that remains of the communities of Agua Mansa and La Placita. Situated across from each other along the Santa Ana River, they were the first non-native settlements in the San Bernardino Valley and the largest settlements between New Mexico and Los Angeles during the 1840s.

The Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery is located at 2001 Agua Mansa Rd. in Colton. The historic cemetery is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free to the public.

The San Bernardino County Museum’s exhibits of regional, cultural and natural history and the Museum’s other exciting events and programs reflect the effort by the Board of Supervisors to achieve the Countywide Vision by celebrating arts, culture and education in the county, creating quality of life for residents and visitors.

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