Coachella is now a word that is known all over the world. But, if not for a typo over 100 years ago, you might be going to Weekend One of the Conchilla Music Festival.
You see, Jason L. Rector was the first man to call what is currently the city of Coachella home. Rector, according to the city’s website, established a mesquite wood terminal on a Southern Pacific Railroad siding from where lumber was hauled to market in Los Angeles. This spur or siding was called “Woodspur.”
So, in the first few years of its existence, everyone called the town Woodspur.
After Rector dug a well at what is now the intersection of Grapefruit Avenue and Fifth Street, he laid out a plan for the town and a new name. Some suggested he call the town Rector, but he declined and suggested “Conchilla” – from the Spanish meaning of little shells, or “Land of the Little Shells” – because of all of the small white snail shells found in the area from a lake that was there 3,000 years prior.
When the name Conchilla was sent to printers in a prospectus announcing the new town to the world, the printers misread it as “Coachella” – seeing the “n” for an “a” and the “i” for an “e”.
Rather than fixing the mistake, Rector decided to just keep the name Coachella.
Coachella officially became a city in 1946.