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The rainfall until 1893 was greater than normal, and the lake remained high and overflowed naturally on three or four occasions during that time.The lake water was purchased by the Temescal Water Company for the irrigation of land in Corona, California.As a result of the Great Flood of 1862, the level of the lake was very high, so the Union Army created a post at the lake to graze and water their horses.

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From the beginning, the mineral springs near the lake attracted visitors seeking therapeutic treatments.In 1887, the Crescent Bath House, now known as "The Chimes", was built; it still stands in historic downtown and is a registered national historic site.Augustin Machado built a seven-room adobe ranch house and an outbuilding on the southwest side of the lake.Soon after, Rancho La Laguna became a regular stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail route between Temecula 20 mi (32 km) to the south and the Temescal station 10 mi (16 km) to the north.This indicated the high water of the 1860s and 1870s must have been of a very short duration. Heald and his partners Donald Graham and William Collier bought the remaining rancho, intending to start a new town.

In 1884, the California Southern Railroad built a line from Colton through the Cañon de Rio San Jacinto (now Railroad Canyon) to link with San Diego, and a rail station La Laguna appeared near the corner of what is now Mission Trail Road and Diamond Drive.Later in the early 19th century, the lake grew larger, providing a spot to camp and water their animals for Mexican rancheros, American trappers, the expedition of John C.Frémont, and the immigrants during the California Gold Rush as they traveled along the southern shore of the lake on what later became the Southern Emigrant Trail and the route of the Butterfield Overland Mail.On January 7, 1844, Julian Manriquez acquired the land grant to Rancho La Laguna, a tract of almost 20,000 acres (8,100 ha) which included the lake and an adobe being built near the lake on its south shore at its western corner that was described by Benjamin Ignatius Hayes, who stayed there overnight January 27, 1850.In 1851, Abel Stearns acquired the rancho and sold it in 1858 to Augustin Machado.Overlooked by the expedition of Juan Bautista de Anza, the largest natural lake in Southern California was first seen by the Spanish Franciscan padre Juan Santiago, exploring eastward from the Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1797.