Arthur Thomas Franson
March 4, 1928 - January 5, 2023

Lake Elsinore Historical Society is saddened to learn of the passing of one of our own. Tom Franson passed away January 5, 2023. We send our deepest regrets to his wife Donna and his family. Tom was married to Donna for more than 74 years and together they lived a full and wonderful life. He is survived by his wife Donna, his daughter, Alicia (Jack) his son, Don (Marie), grandsons Matt (deceased), Brandon, Tony, Joe, and great grandchildren Michael, Natalie, Mikayla, Isabel, Gabriel, and Lucy.

We were informed that services will be held for Tom as follows: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 07, 2023 Viewing 9:00 am - 10:00 am ST. FRANCES OF ROME CATHOLIC CHURCH IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED BY THE FUNERAL MASS 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM ST. FRANCES OF ROME CATHOLIC CHURCH 21591 LEMON STREET WILDOMAR, CA 92595 COMMITTAL SERVICE 12:30 pm - 1:00 pm RIVERSIDE NATIONAL CEMETERY 22495 Van Buren Boulevard Riverside, CA 92518

For more information visit: Arthur Thomas Franson Obituary

Ruth Atkins

Ruth Atkins, our President Emeritus, and 2022 Woman of the Year, passed away in the early morning hours of Friday, December 2, 2022.

After moving to Lake Elsinore in the late 1980’s Ruth quickly became involved with building up the city. Active in the Lake Elsinore Historical Society, she fought to preserve our history and worked with Donna Morin and others to build the local history museum. She took on numerous projects such as advocating for the improvements to the city’s historic lamp posts along Lakeshore Avenue and overseeing the refurbishing of the historic fire truck which has led the city’s Winterfest parades. She served as treasurer for the Downtown Merchants Association and was named to the County’s Historic Commission.

Ruth was not one for a lot of fuss but she was a powerful force in our town. Her passion for Lake Elsinore and the surrounding region was well known and her commitment to the history of the area was unmatched. She was the keeper of all things Lake Elsinore in more ways than one. As a researcher, historian, political activist and mentor to many, she was a valuable resource. Her activities were endless and her impact on the people who knew her was significant. Well loved and well-respected by everyone, she remained a humble woman with a passion to serve. She leaves us with a greater awareness of our past on which to build our future.

We will miss you, Ruth.

Jack Golden

It is with sadness that I have to tell you that we have lost one of our favorite members and friends. Jack Golden passed away on 8/14/22. He was a treasure and an active member of the society until several years ago. We have missed his smile and his sense of humor. Hopefully, memories of his time with each of us will help us and his family through this difficult loss. He will be missed by many.

Museum Is Once Again Open!

Wednesday: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Located in the City of Lake Elsinore’s Cultural Center, 183 North Main Street (Use the Heald Avenue to enter museum)


March 18, 2022 @ 10:30 AM LEHS Museum

Some exciting news!

Ruth Atkins, our President Emeritus, has been chosen as the 2022 Woman of the Year honoree for this District by the California Assembly. The event is hosted by the California Legislative Women’s Caucus which encourages each California Assembly member to select one woman who resides in their district or who has significantly contributed to their district. This year Ruth was nominated and has been chosen as the one to receive this award. District Assemblyman Kelly Seyarto will formally present this honor to Ruth on March 18th at 10:30 am. Due to COVID, the award ceremony will not be held in Sacramento this year. Instead, they will be holding this ceremony locally at the LEHS History Museum!

We all get a chance to attend and watch our own special Woman of the Year receive this incredible award! Feel free to invite folks that would want to see this happen! The LEHS Museum is honored to provide the location for such a wonderful event.

Come and join us as we celebrate this incredible woman and her accomplishments.

Jean Hayman Home

The original home was named for a favorite teacher in the Lake Elsinore Unified School District, located at 310 East Pottery Street, Lake Elsinore. It is a rebuild of the original historic home and was made possible through the cooperation of the City of Lake Elsinore, County of Riverside, and Habitat for Humanity. The historic dedication by the County of Riverside dedication was held on February 22, 2020.

Super Bloom

The Poppy bloom in 2019 was spectacular! Lake Elsinore’s Walker Canyon is the site of the massive California poppy super bloom that drew hundreds of thousands of visitors. Long-time residents cannot remember such a gorgeous view in our community during the past 25 years.

U.S.S Lake Elsinore

The ship named for our natural lake was built in 1917 and hauled coal to England and France during World War I. The history of our replica is interesting and we hope you will appreciate learning, more than 100 years later, of its contribution.

Private Tours

Tours for students, boy scouts, girl scouts, cub scouts and special groups are available.
Please call 951-579-4952 to make arrangements.

"High Country" Issues For Sale!

Lake Elsinore Historical Society has received a donation of issues of "High Country" from Tom Hudson's family.  These publications were printed beginning in the 1960's and have many wonderful stories for your enjoyment.
The authors include Tom Hudson, Sam Hicks, Al Newhart, Erie Stanley Gardner and many others.
The covers have paintings by Ralph Love who lived and painted in Lake Elsinore before moving to Temecula and continuing his painting in "The Shack".
The issues are new issues and are collectors' items!

An 'old and tall' rose

(Before The Californian was sold to a new owner it printed "Roses and Raspberries" in one of their issues.
The article below appeared in the November 20, 2012 issue.)

A rose goes to the folks who raised private funds and worked collaboratively with the property owner to preserve Lake Elsinore's Tank House, an unusual building that is as tall as is is long and believed to date from the 1880's.  It was used to house equipment that pumped mineral water to locals spas from hot springs that once made the city famous.  When the owner wanted to demolish the building, members of the Lake Elsinore Historical Society, the Luiseno Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and others raised money and moved the building onto land donated for the purpose by the City.  Slapping a historical designation on a property can be a nightmare for the owner but this community made the process work like a dream.

Santa Fe Depot

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors, at their meeting on Tuesday, March 22, 2011, voted to approve the Santa Fe Depot, now the home of the Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce, as an historical landmark.  The train station was built in 1896 by the California Southern Railway Company.  The station was used by passengers and for freight shipments of farm products in its heyday.  The Riverside County Historical Commission, chaired by Joyce Hohenadl, recommended the designation in November

1925 American LaFrance Fire Engine

The first fire engine owned by the City of Lake Elsinore had a broken clutch and it has been repaired by the City of Lake Elsinore's Maintenance Crew.  It was restored by the Lake Elsinore Historical Society and a committee chaired by LEHS Member Russ Burns.  We are delighted it was in th e Put Unity in the Community Parade held on November 21, 2009 and was one of the parade's highlights.  Elsinore No. 1 is a beauty and we are very proud to have this treasure to show off to the community!

Historic Downtown Lake Elsinore Next Exit

California State Historic Brown Signs have been installed by the City of Lake Elsinore.  The signs were erected recently on Interstate 15 at the northbound and southbound exits to Main Street with arrows pointing to the City's nostalgic downtown district

Museum Hours

 Main Street Museum
183 North Main Street
(Use Heald Avenue Entrance)
Lake Elsinore, CA 92530

The Society was founded in 1996 to collect, protect, preserve, display and further the presentation of items and documents of historical value and significance from the Lake Elsinore Valley.

Wednesdays and Saturdays - 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Sundays - 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

If a group wishes to tour the Museum, please leave a message at (951) 579-4952