Thousand Palms was founded in 1876 as a railroad depot for the Yuma branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad.Railroad officials looked to the Bible for an appropriate name for this barren desert outpost and called it Edom.
Edom was situated 110 miles south of Los Angeles and just south of the current Ramon Road-Interstate 10-Varner Road crossing, but thirty-four years after its construction, the outpost remained nothing more than the depot with four houses where the section hands lived.
In 1904, two homesteaders arrived: Ned McKesson, who created a citrus ranch around a new well just north of the depot, and the August Strelow family who located their date garden and cobblestone ranch buildings just northwest of today’s Agua Caliente Casino. These two settlements became dual focal points for development.
In 1912, Route 99 was built and became the main route from Los Angeles and San Bernardino to the east. It passed within 100 feet of the date gardens, thereby deepening an economic rivalry that had arisen between the citrus and date ranch settlements.
In 1957, The United Parcel Service opened a station in Thousand Palms because of its central Valley location and easy access to the surrounding areas. In 1963 an ore reduction plant, a concrete plant and a bus garage located in the same area. By the end of the 1960s Thousand Palms had changed from a roadside town to a centrally located residential and small industrial community.
Prosperity was not to continue at a happy pace, however. The economic recession of the 1970s stifled growth substantially. The local residents began to seek employment and services in neighboring towns. Retail development almost ceased. By the beginning of the 1980s Thousand Palms sense of “community” was almost non-existent.
Over the last 20 years, thanks to a small core of dedicated citizens and the foresight of the business community, the will of this town to survive has been rekindled. In 2007, developers are renewing the residential areas and Thousand Palms is becoming the new frontier for those seeking a high quality lifestyle. While maintaining the freedom of its rural roots, Thousand Palms is seeing horse stables sprout up next to multi-million-dollar estates. A new community center features a beautiful library and park. And, the proud Della Lindley School, a newer version of the schoolhouse of old, celebrates the work of a pioneer schoolteacher who brought two settlements together and started the community now known as Thousand Palms.