The Famous Place to Celebrate Birthdays,
Wedding Days or even Tuesdays!

The Sycamore Inn, 8318 Foothill Blvd., Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Early in California history, the wide boulevard that fronts the Sycamore Inn was just a dirt path called the Santa Fe Trail. In March, 1774, it was this trail that brought Spanish explorer Captain Juan Batista de Anza to this lush oasis of giant Sycamore trees, situated next to a natural creek from the mountains above. The local Indians invited the Spanish soldiers to remain in the oasis for a while. This grove of Cottonwoods, Willows, Sycamores, and trickling creeks, joined by relatively friendly California bears was named by the Spaniards "Arroyo Los Osos", later translated to Bear Gulch, a name that continues to this day.

The Spaniards enjoyed this lush region of California and some decided to remain. Felipe Santiago Tapia, one of Anza's original soldiers, was one. His fortunes flourished and in March, 1839, the Spanish governor of California, Juan Alvarado granted Felipe's grandson, Tiburcio Tapia, a land-grant of over 13000 acres, named "Rancho Cucamonga", which lay between Rancho Santa Ana del Chino in the south to San Bernardino in the east. Don Tapia immediately began construction on an adobe ranch home on the crest of Red Hill, overlooking the oasis at Arroyo de Los Osos where his grandfather had camped with the Anza expedition.

When Don Tapia passed away, his daughter, Maria, and her new husband Leon Prudhomme inherited the Rancho. However, in 1858, the land passed on to an American, John Rains. He purchased the immense rancho for about $8500. John had recently married Maria Merced Williams, the daughter of the owner of the vast Chino Rancho, Isaac Williams. They immediately began construction of a fire-bricked home and planted over 125,000 vines for the production of wine. Maria became a strong force in the colorful history of the area.

William Rubottom

William Rubottom
By the mid-1800's, the dirt road that ran past the lush sycamore grove had become a main thoroughfare from San Bernardino to the growing areas of Los Angeles to the west. Horses, wagons, carriages, and stagecoaches dug deep ruts into the well-traveled road. Eventually William Rubottom, affectionately to be known as "Uncle Billy" recognized opportunity and saw value in a strategically placed inn and tavern that could provide warm hospitality to weary wayfarers and locals settlers, anxious to share an evening of relaxation with each other. Uncle Billy was a native of Missouri, so his Mountain View Inn became famous for corndodgers, buttermilk biscuits and good Southern fried chicken. Soon his stagecoach stop became a favorite meeting place for Southern sympathizers during the Civil War. A colorful local character, Uncle Billy can be credited for introducing slavery to the area, although the slaves in an act of independence, emancipated themselves, and became early California settlers. Uncle Billy's Southern politics came to be a problem for him in California and he endured many hardships including run-in's with the law in both California and in Arkansas. On one of his trips from Arkansas bringing settlers to the Rancho area, Uncle Billy decided to bring back a Southern delicacy to introduce to his Mountain View Inn, opossums. Whether the California locals enjoyed the delicacy is lost in history, however, the opossums thrived and rapidly spread through California...perhaps a processor to the urban sprawl of the next century.

Maria Merced Rains

Maria Merced Williams de Rains
Once Uncle Billy had settled his problems with the law, he settled down to running the Mountain View Inn. Being a natural host, he developed a good rapport with the local settlers. John and Maria Merced Rains, owners of the Rancho Cucamonga, were among them. One of the first of the Inn's colorful stories was to surface. A dramatic confrontation took place in the dining room of the local Inn late in 1862 and John Rains was murdered. Some locals felt that his wife, Maria Merced, was implicated. Supposedly she hid his pistols so that he could not defend himself. Twelve men arrived at the Inn for dinner and Uncle Billy heard enough of their conversation to conclude that they were intent on lynching Rains' widow. Always the Southern gentleman, Uncle Billy disarmed the men and continued to be her protector. In 1864, Maria's name would again become infamous when Ramon Carillo, her husband's Rancho manager and her assumed paramour was shot as he rode next to her carriage. Ramon managed to crawl to the steps of the Inn where he died. To this day, both murders remain unsolved and have become legend in the rich history of the Sycamore Inn.

Rubottom's Inn suffered fire, flood, rebuilding, and fire again. The modern history of the Sycamore Inn begins in 1920 when local citrus rancher and vintner, John Klusman, began construction on the current building. Klusman's goal was to create a "nice social place to gather" similar to the hospitable country inns of his native Germany. The Inn included a sweeping staircase to eight hotel rooms on the second floor, a friendly bar, and a dining room that became a favorite gather place for locals.

The Sycamore Inn

The Sycamore Inn, 8318 Foothill Blvd., Rancho Cucamonga, CA
In 1939, Danish immigrant Irl Hinrichsen acquired the Inn. With the help of his sons, he remodeled the Inn, discontinued use of the upstairs hotel rooms, and renamed it the Sycamore Inn. The Hinrichsen family, Irl and later his son Vern and his family, made the Sycamore Inn into one of the prime eateries of the Inland Empire.

That old dirt road that fronted the Inn became the fabled Route 66, the primary route from points east to the Pacific Ocean. During those colorful years of the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's, before freeways, the Inn hosted the rich and stars and notables, both the famous and the infamous, en route to Las Vegas and Palm Springs. The Inn is rich with folklore. Legend has it that both Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Short (the “Black Dahlia”) dined at the Sycamore in the weeks before their untimely demise.

A new generation of hospitality began in 2002. Proprietors, Linda and Chuck Keagle, Brady Main, and Executive Chef Louis Alvarez, long-time restaurateurs, became enthusiastic standard-bearers of the historic old Inn. With a renewed vitality, and an affectionate recognition for the rich tradition of the Inn, the new owners have continued the long tradition of hospitality and good food, excellent service, and a welcoming ambiance, the new Sycamore Inn honors its roots and welcomes new traditions.

The Sycamore Inn • 8318 Foothill Blvd., Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Telephone: Call 909.982.1104 • • Email:

Last update: 29 April, 2023

Copyright © 2002-2023 by The Sycamore Inn and CitiVU. Hot-links are welcome. All rights reserved.


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