By Ed Fletcher
One of the most visionary of all San Diego land developers was “Col.” Ed. Fletcher, who came to San Diego as a young man of 15 years in 1888 and soon became one of its most distinguished citizens. He was a real estate broker, a civic leader, a legislator, and a family man, who stamped upon the community the imprint of his personality. That imprint remains today in the influence of the Fletcher family.
His sense of values put beauty and usefulness on a par with financial gain. The things he remembered most from his long career were the parks he helped to create, the land made useful through dams and irrigation and the pleasant residential communities which he helped to establish.
When he died in 1955 at 82 years of age, over five hundred friends filed past his bier, paying tribute to the man who had contributed so much to his community.
To the end of his life he enjoyed open air activities. He loved cars and exploring the back country over undeveloped roads with congenial friends along for the ride. His narration of his trip in 1906 through San Diego’ s back country shows this.
Ed Fletcher had an ability to see the potentials that lay hidden in an undeveloped, unwatered isolated area. He also had the ability and the desire to make those areas useful and beautiful. Notice his comments on such places as the Santa María Valley, El Cajon Valley, and the Imperial Valley.
Mr. Fletcher’s original booklet on his trip and his autobiography are available in the museum research library. His article and his words of introduction appear below.
Mountains, valleys and mesas, all rich in Nature’s gifts, fertile, expansive and beautiful, yet practically unknown. This describes, in a measure, San Diego’s greatest asset, her back country?unless it be her valuable harbor, one of the deepest and best land-locked on the Pacific Coast. Owing to the lack of railroad transportation, not one-hundredth part of the country’s area is as yet properly developed.
The main participants in this narrative are two close business friends, “El Capitán” and “Short”. El Capitán is a Los Angeles capitalist who had hearkened to and likewise repeated sad tales of San Diego and her back country.
Shorty is a “dyed-in-the-wool” San Diegan, first, last, and all the time. He knows the entire country by heart, including its people, trails and roads.
After hearing all the damaging re-marks he could stand about San Diego and her back country, Shorty asked El Capitán if he had ever had the pleasure of seeing the San Diego back country referred to.
El Capitán answered: “No; what do I want to see a desert for? You have no tillable land, and water is so scarce that one is obliged to have it hauled in barrels for miles, even for domestic purposes. They say that even sage brush will not grow in your county! San Diego, in Los Angeles is called the ‘City of Grief,’ and her back country bears out the statement. I have had hundreds of my Los Angeles friends tell me so.”
Now, that settled it! Shorty was determined that a trip should be made, and persisted in it, until eventually it was mutually arranged that they would start from San Diego by automobile the morning of May fifth, 1906.
SAN DIEGO TO EL CAJON
The trip was made in a four-cylinder, twelve-horsepower touring car.
It was on a Saturday morning at eight-twenty that these two left San Diego, fully equipped for a week’s trip in the back country.
The road lay east over the La Mesa Boulevard. The machine behaved splendidly from the start, and in almost no time we were climbing the La Mesa grade, elevation at the top five hundred feet, from which point we looked westward over the beautiful bay and city of San Diego, with majestic Point Loma in the background?the like of which Los Angeles on bended knee would pray for, if there were the slightest hope that her prayers would ever be answered.
To the north and west lay Mission Valley and bay, Pacific Beach and the ocean, while south of us could be seen National City, Chula Vista and the Table Mountains of Mexico.
We passed the beautiful residence of Mrs. Barbee Hook, as well as other villas, also several small settlements, before reaching La Mesa, all of which showed energy and thrift.
From La Mesa we climbed several hundred feet elevation, until the summit eas reached before entering El Cajon Valley.
El Capitán was in good humor and pleasantly remarked that the county roads so far were in fine shape. In fact, he had never seen any better stretch for an auto run.
We descended gradually, and at a turn in the road, a new vista appeared. On our right rose Mt. Gross, a mass of jagged rocks, from whose summit can be enjoyed a most entertaining view of the surrounding country. Directly in front and north of us the beautiful valley of El Cajon lay, while beyond, forming a background, rose the entire coast range of mountains. Particularly noticeable was Cajon Mountain, rocky and absolutely bare, rising abruptly three thousand feet in the air, while still further beyond were the Cuyamaca Mountains, covered with pines, and at an elevation of sixty-five hundred feet.
We had by this time crossed the large water way of the San Diego Flume Company, which was running three hundred miners’ inches of mountain water. This water comes from the famous lake in the Cuyamaca Mountains and is used by the ranchers along the line.
El Capitán said he had not imagined there was such an amount of water in the whole county, and was surprised when Shorty explained that the lake was full, and water enough now impounded to supply all demands for two years to come.
The way led down through a beautiful grove of pines and then wound through a fine orange orchard, until the Villa Caro Rancho was reached, from which point one of the best views of the valley can be obtained.
Here the machine was stopped and the time taken. Eight fifty-five a.m.?thirty-five minutes?fourteen miles from San Diego.
EL CAJON VALLEY
This valley is well named, meaning in Spanish “The Box.” It is entirely surrounded by high plateaus and hills, from the top of which at any point a grand view can be secured of the valley below as well as the several ranges of mountains to the east, north and south.
The valley extends In the shape of a letter “U” for nearly twenty miles, and from one to four miles in width. It is cut up into numerous small ranches, including grape vineyards, orange, lemon, peach, pear and olive orchards. A large portion of the tillable land is devoted to alfalfa raising, together with thousands of acres of grain land.
The products from this valley, shipped in car lots, during a season figure about as follows, though this includes Lakeside and Santee as well: Grapes, one hundred and fifty cars; oranges, one hundred and fifty; lemons, one hundred and twenty; dried fruits, including raisins, one hundred; olives, fifty; honey, thirty-five; grain, two hundred; hay, three hundred; green fruits, not itemized, fifty; a total of twelve hundred and ten cars.
The valley is capable of great development, particularly as regards alfalfa, vegetable, and dairy products. The El Cajon Raisin Company, owned and controlled only by raisin growers, is able to stem, seed and sell its product in one pound packages direct to the eastern houses, making it as nearly as possible a California product direct from the grower to the consumer. The valley is well watered, the higher levels being reached by water from the San Diego Flume Company and the lower levels by pumping as the water level is only from four to twenty feet from the surface.
Large interests have purchased the available land plateaus surrounding El Cajon on the west and south, and will develop this land for homes in the near future. In Southern California, only Smiley Heights of Redlands can compare in view with the panorama to be seen at all times of the year from these plateaus.
In winter all of Southern California is beautiful, while the peculiar beauty of this spot is the valley at one’s feet and the snow-capped mountains beyond.
In summer the thousands of acres of vineyards and citrus orchards, together with patches of alfalfa, furnish enough color to make the whole scene one of rest, and dear to the memory, especially when one sees the lights and shadows among the mountains in the early morning and late evening.
EL CAJON TO RAMONA
The start was again made at nine a.m. and the town of El Cajon was reached at nine-five a.m. From El Cajon we again had splendid roads, passing orchards and vineyards as we just flew northwest through the valley, towards Santee, which was reached at nine-twelve, and there we turned east and arrived at Lakeside at nine-twenty, seven miles from El Cajon.
Here we found a beautiful spot and caught glimpses of the charming lake. It is here, too, that one finds the two-mile auto track, lately built by Mr. John R. Gay, the owner of the Lakeside Inn. We hurried on towards Foster’s and Ramona, but alas a complete surprise was in store for El Capitán, and it came with full force when a turn in the road brought us a new experience, the San Diego River, one hundred and fifty feet in width and too deep to cross.
After a loss of twenty minutes it was decided to attempt the crossing via the railroad trestle of the Cuyamaca Railroad, which is between three and four hundred feet in length, taut this dangerous feat was successfully accomplished in five minutes without mishap.
Leaving at nine forty-five we sped north through a pleasant valley and reached Foster’s at ten a.m., the present terminus of the Cuyamaca Railroad. The town is named after Joseph Foster?no, plain Joe?our popular supervisor, road overseer, postmaster and the owner of the stage line from Foster’s to Julian and Banner.
I wish that I could spend more time writing about Foster. Ye travelers hereafter, take notice! It is a good place to stop for a meal or a night, and Mr. and Mrs. Foster will treat you well.
Without stopping we proceeded north and east through a narrow gorge and our road wended its way under a few beautiful oaks. We were about thirty miles from San Diego, the machine was working without a. hitch, and both of us felt inspired and enthusiastic as we looked ahead to a range of gigantic rocky mountains, whose innumeratale colors seemed to blend with our present surroundings.
After climbing a short hill we looked down into the beautiful little valley of Mussey’s with its stream of water and beautiful forest of live oaks, surrounded as it was with mountains, which made atypical California scene. The time of arrival, ten-ten a.m.
We stopped for a drink at the cold springs, and enjoyed drawing the water in the “old oaken bucket that hung in the well.” As we drank, out came Colonel Mussey himself, weather beaten and gray veteran that he is, but smiling, and as usual, happy. A good morning and talk on the weather was the first subject, then about the trees, horses and grain, topics on which the Colonel loves to dwell.
We left at ten-fifteen, with some reluctance, for the cozy little spot appealed to us, with its grand trees and picturesque location, tucked in as it were by Mother Nature among the hills.
After leaving Mussey’s the machine did noble work in crossing the two hundred feet of sand and water, six inches deep, without trouble. We then commenced to climb up grade in earnest for eight miles, towards Ramona?elevation about eighteen undred feet above the sea.
It was necessary to change from the high speed to the intermediate only once ot twice on the Mussey grade, and this will be appreciated by automobilists as good work on the part of the machine, as well as a compliment to Supervisor Foster for the condition of the road.
No finer view of massive rocks can be seen than is beheld as one climbs this grade. Words cannot express it, and one must make the trip to fully appreciate it. At the top of the first high bench, we opened into a beautiful narrow valley, with a running brook, large live oaks and an abundance of wild flowers.
Speeding along, we were over the last hill in short order. Down a gradual descent we went into the Santa María Valley, which will some day help to make San Diego famous. As we continued on our way its broad, rich acres, seven or eight miles in extent met our view. El Capitán was amazed and said he had no idea we had such a beautiful back country.
At a twenty-five mile an hour gait we continued, reaching the town of Ramona at eleven a.m., fifteen miles from Foster and about forty miles from San Diego.
This is practically an undeveloped territory. It is true it produces probably twelve to fifteen hundred cars of hay and grain, aside from being famous as a location particularly adapted to poultry raising, but all their products have to be hauled by team fifteen to twenty miles to Foster’s, the nearest railroad station, and no proper showing can be made under these conditions.
The valley and its tributaries is much larger in area than El Cajon Valley; probably one hundred square miles would not covet its tillable land. Elevation eighteen hundred feet; average rainfall twenty to twenty-five inches; soil rich and deep. It has a fine, dry climate, no crop failures and land suitable for oranges and olives, but all kinds of deciduous fruits will grow to perfection.
The higher valley lands can easily be covered with water from the mountain streams, but a railroad is absolutely necessary, and when it does come, Ramona Valley will be heard from.
San Diego capitalists, take notice! Wake up and develop your back county. The eastern railroad will take care of itself!
WARNER HOT SPRINGS
After a few moments stop at Ramona, we continued in an easterly direction towards Witch Creek, and as we gradually commenced climbing again to the north we could see the Ramona Tent Village with its forest of magnificent oaks.
Fording a small river and passing the Stokes Ranch on our left, we entered fine quail hunting grounds on both sides of the road for several miles, until the Mclntosh Valley was reached.
As we sped along we saw numerous mines of tourmaline, beryl and hyacinth in the adjoining hills, from which mines valuable stones are being taken every day.
The road remained good, and once in a while ran under a few oaks, which relieved the eye and brightened the trip. Passing the Julian stage, coming down, loaded with passengers, we were soon climbing towards Witch Creek, our destination for lunch. The grades were not bad, taut several miles in length. However, we were soon at the top, where, on looking back, we could see the Ramona Valley spread out like a great white sea with the mountain peaks around rising like sentinels to guard it.
We now entered and crossed the Ballena Valley, which is about two miles in length and nearly a mile in width. We were for the first time in the white oak country, and the beautiful stately trees shading the road were certainly attractive.
Leaving Dye Valley on the right and Sutherland on the left we climbed a short hill in a southeasterly direction, and from the summit to the south secured our first view of the Eagle Peak Canyon, Alpine mountains and a view of Mexico.
Continuing we soon reached Sawday’ s and our point of destination f or lunch, Witch Creek; time, twelve a,m., elevation thirty-two hundred and fifty feet, and distance about twelve miles from Ramona. Our actual running time, not including stops, from San Diego was three hours, distance fifty-one miles; our total running time, including stops, three hours and forty minutes.
We soon climbed several hundred feet elevation crossing two mountain brooks, the banks of which were covered with ferns and flowers, and an abundance of green grass was seen along the wayside. More white oaks, jagged rocks and peaks, all being a rolling, wild country, the memory of which will long be a pleasure. It is in this section of the country that the greatest amount and the best honey is made as compared with any other section of its size in the United States.
A short run of half a mile on the mesa and we found ourselves at the west line of the Santa Ysabel Rancho, looking down into Santa Ysabel Valley, with its beautiful green meadows, flowers and bunches of cattle scattered here and there, the whole scene having a certain charming wildness that one must see to appreciate.
To the east the Volcan Mountains, covered with pine, fir and oak, and rising sixty-five hundred feet in height seemed like guardians to this sleeping valley and protecting it from the great desert beyond.
We quickly descended into the valley and soon reached the only house in sight, the Santa Ysabel store. We turned directly north at the store, and at a good speed kept on down the valley, passing the Indian Reservation and the famous old Mission bells on the right, with the great Santa Ysabel ranch house and dairy on our left.
We successfully crossed the Santa Ysabel River, which was running swiftly and about fifty feet in width. Shorty proceeded to wade and found its depth to be about two feet with a hard bottom. It was decided to rush it, and rush it we certainly did! We simply ploughed through, taut without mishap. Water was everywhere, in the meadow, by the roadside and overflowing all the creeks.
Suddenly El Capitán asked, “Say, Shorty, is this the famous Santa Ysabel grant of approximately seventeen thousand acres?” Shorty replied, “Yes.”
“Well,” El Capitán continued, “I was offered this ranch for seventy thousand twelve years ago. I was interested, but everyone in Los Angeles reported that it was a dry ranch, so I turned it down. There must have been some mistake.”
“There certainly was,” Shorty answered. “The rainfall here averages thirty to forty inches annually, and on the Volcan Mountains the average is forty to fifty Inches. You have not commenced to see the Santa Ysabel Ranch yet, as further investigation will show.”
We continued climbing for two or three miles, through the same charming white oaks. The valleys were narrow and we certainly were inspired by the grand sloping mountains on either side, covered with green sward flowers of every hue in profusion, and no underbrush,
We again reached the summit after a stiff climb out of the Santa Ysabel Valley, having traveled five or six miles through the ranch itself.
Here we obtained our first view of the Warner’s Ranch, or Del Valle San José, while as a background rose the famous Palomar Mountain, well known as the camper’s paradise.
In a few moments, we were descending from a thirty-two hundred foot elevation over a regular mountain road to the Warner’s Ranch line, and turning east, headed by the nearest road for the famous Hot Springs.
We had no trouble in reaching the springs, via the upper right-hand road, after passing the ranch house. At four-thirty we were driving through the adobe village to the springs. El Capitán had capitulated.
“I will never run your county down again,” was his remark. “We certainly have seen God’s country today. I am amazed at your possibilities for development.”
Shorty replied that it only needed a railroad to open up San Diego’s back country and results would follow that would astonish the natives.
Friend Sandford met us at the gate and we were soon settled in a clean, refreshing adobe house. We naturally visited the springs first for a drink of the curative waters, the temperature of which ranges from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and fifty degrees. There are certainly twenty to twenty-five miners’ inches of this artesian water, perpetual flow, and furnishing an excessive amount for the new bath house and the present private houses below. So many people go to Warner’ s Hot Springs that Mr. Sandford said it was “impossible at times for them to care for all, and one should telephone ahead for reservations.” This will give the reader an idea of the popularity of the place.
There is an added charm to the surroundings, owing to the reverence in which the Indians have held the place for so many years during the time of their residence there.
It is certainly due to Mr. and Mrs. Sandford while speaking of Warner’s Hot Springs, to say that good meals and a desire to please, is what materially helps to draw the visitors.
We partook of an enjoyable dinner and on the invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Sandford, gathered around a large fire in their private sitting room and spent a very pleasant evening. It was decided that Mrs. Sandford, El Capitan and Shorty were to take an early start via horseback, in the morning for Eagle’s Peak, for a look at the country from a sixty-five hundred foot elevation. In view of this we thought it wise to retire early, which we did at ten p.m., fully convinced that we had enjoyed a continual round of pleasure for our first day out.
A TRIP ABOVE THE CLOUDS
Leaving the Springs at seven a.m. we were soon on the trail and climbing rapidly. We were well mounted, the air was bracing and a certain exhilaration could not help but be noticed among us all.
In a little while we were among the clouds, which hung low around the mountain tops. After a few moments we were in the clear atmosphere again and above the clouds. It was a weird sight to look off into space, as it were, for the clouds seemed like moving waves of the ocean, while here and there we could see the tops of the highest mountains, which resembled islands at sea.
We soon reached Eagle’s Nest, elevation five thousand feet?a beautiful little valley with its meadows and brook of mountain water from the springs above, together with its oaks and pines, making it withal a lovely spot for rest and solitude.
But “On” was the cry, and “the summit must tae reached!” and for more than two hours it was a continuous climb. Shorty lost the trail, and then it was up to El Capitán to lead us the best way possible. In a short time he was successful in guiding us to the top.
The trip was certainly one of interest, for we were continually riding under great pine, fir and oak trees, with little underbrush to bother. Such large acorns we had never seen and green sward everywhere.
It was now nearly noon. We had reached the top of the mountain. The sun had dispelled all of the low-hanging clouds, and, as far as the eye could see, a magnificent panorama met our gaze. All around us and at our feet the pine needles, six to eight inches in depth from the trees overhead, added their charm to the scene and made a natural carpet for our feet.
We all felt that our efforts were well repaid. As we threw ourselves on the deliciously perfumed pine needle carpet and gazed on the vista before us, words failed to express our feelings or to describe the impressions we received.
To the south lay the San Felipe Valley and the Volcan Mountains, while two thousand feet below, lay the Indian Reservation. East of us could tae seen the great Colorado Desert and the mountains of Arizona beyond, while the blue of the Salton Sea stood out in bold contrast with the dazzling white of the desert sands.
A glance down Lost Valley, as it stretched away eastward, convinced us that it was well named. To the north we could see the San Jacinto and San Bernardino Mountains, but it was towards the west that we were the most attracted. Before us lay the Warner’ s Ranch of forty-five thousand acres, spread out like an inland sea, Here and there appeared numerous indistinguishable black spots on the landscape, but which we knew to be bunches of cattle grazing on the ranch, while through it all ran several streams with numerous small lakes as well, all being the head waters of the great San Luis Rey River, probably the largest in Southern California.
We had a fine view of Palomar Mountain, with its forests of pine and oak. Tucked away at our feet lay what was just at that time one of the most interesting subjects, the Hot Springs and Hotel, for it was noon, and we were a long way from our base of supplies, having brought no lunch with us. We were able, however, to appreciate the wonderful sight which will long live in the memory of those present.
The pine cones from the trees overhead were the largest we had ever seen, being from ten to fifteen inches in length.
After a short rest we bade adieu to the scene with its many and indescribable charms, and started on our homeward trip by the proper trail, reaching the springs without incident.
Thus ended one of our most interesting side trips in connection with our outing, and although loth to go, our schedule compelled us to leave the Hot Springs at three p.m.
WARNER HOT SPRINGS
TO MESA GRANDE
We took the lower road for Mesa Grande, via Monkey Hill, which was reached at three twenty-five. Monkey Hill was well named, owing to the fantastically shaped rocks which abound on the slight elevation. When the million-dollar dam at the head of the valley is built and water impounded, Monkey Hill will be an interesting little island in the center of a lake. This dam, when completed, will develop many thousand electric horse power, and the water will undoubtedly be afterwards used to develop the fertile lands on the Pacific Coast of San Diego County.
We were soon climbing the grade towards Mesa Grande, a rise of seven or eight hundred feet, among the oaks. The view of Warner’ s Ranch from here is grand. The writer considers it one of the best of its kind in Southern California. Words fail to express the beauty of the lights and shadows to be seen here about sunset. Let no one miss this part of the trip.
We reached the top of the grade at four forty-five and after a fifteen minutes’ ride reached Mesa Grande and Cereza Loma, the home of our friends, Mr. and Mrs. Ed. Davis, after seeing the Reservation, with its characteristic adobe houses and Indian huts. Time five p.m.
We secured gasoline at the store, and at five-fifteen left Cereza Loma for Forest Hill, owned by Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Detrick, who reside near Julian, which meant a run of eighteen or twenty miles before dark.
MESA GRANDE TO JULIAN
For the first five or six miles we made great time over the rolling mesa, with its rich farms and orchards, while here and there a few oaks dotted the landscape. We again crossed a part of the Santa Ysabel Ranch, and descending a hill soon found ourselves in the main valley and at the Santa Ysabel store. Time, six p.m., nine miles from Mesa Grande.
Continuing on our way we were soon ascending a long grade, towards Julian, but the road being good we enjoyed our ride immensely, a part of the time being under the same beautiful oaks which make that section so famous.
We reached Wynola, a beautiful valley, elevation thirty-seven hundred and fifty feet, at six-twenty, and found here a great many fine apple, peach and pear orchards, nearly all in blossom. Their fragrance filled the air, and as we sped on for a mile through the valley it seemed as though we were in a different country entirely.
THE JULIAN COUNTRY AND MOUNTAIN RESORTS
The writer includes under this head the following places of interest: Witch Creek, Santa Ysabel, Warner’s Hot Springs, Mesa Grade, Wynola and Julian.
This covers an area of over eight hundred square miles and justice can not be given the delightful country in the small space allotted. The one thing needful to make it one of the richest and most populous sections of Southern California is a railroad from San Diego to the Imperial Valley and Colorado River, via Warner’s Ranch and San Felipe Pass, to connect with a direct eastern railroad.
The average wagon haul is about thirty-five or forty miles to the nearest railroad station, which is Foster’s, yet in spite of this the country is developing and rapidly becoming noted for its fine apples and deciduous fruits, honey, vegetables, timber, mines of gold and precious stones, cattle, horses, wool, and last, but not least, numerous mineral springs. Warner’s Hot Springs is by far the greatest of all mineral springs to be found in California, if not in the United States.
This section is all a rolling mountainous country, with numerous large valleys, giving a varied climate and scenery. This attracts thousands of tourists and campers, the result being the opening of numerous resorts and hotels, each of which has its own attraction, and all are enjoyable places to visit At Witch Creek and Santa Ysabel the delightful drives one can take and the horseback rides over the mountain trails pleases the writer most.
Warner’s Hot Springs, however, is the star attraction of the country. There one can enjoy the baths, sleep in the clean, well cared for adobe houses made by the Indians, and dream of the olden days when they had possession of the entire country. Many relics are continually being found in this section. One should not make the trip to San Diego without visiting Warner’s Hot Springs, for aside from the enjoyment of a trip there is the greatest value in the springs themselves in the life-giving health of its curative waters. The Indians of many tribes came from all parts of the country to drink of and bathe in these wonderful medicinal springs, which modern science bas found to be far superior to any other waters, because of the perfect combination of the ingredients, nearly all of which are disinfectants.
In Mesa Grande we find a perfect place for rest at Cereza Loma. Mr. Ed. Davis is the owner and host here of the inn and camp. One can sleep in the tents under great oaks with perfect safety, if desired, and the elevation of thirty-five hundred feet is sufficient to furnish a complete change for those living on the seacoast.
There is enough of interest here to satisfy anyone. The ever changing lights and shadows among the mountains, pleasant drives, Indian reservations, and mines of tourmaline, topaz, beryl, and hyacinth, together with the opportunity of picking and eating in their season the delicious cherries, apples, grapes and other fruits that abound on the mesa, make this section not easily forgotten.
FOREST HILL?THE DETRICKS
A successful country trip to any place for rest depends upon where you go, to a great extent, the surroundings, board and congenial friends. As at Witch Creek, and Warner’s so here at the Detricks we found everything to make life worth living. The house is situated among the gigantic oaks and pines, yet so located as to enable one to secure a panoramic view of the rolling hills over an area of seventy-five to a hundred square miles. A pleasant valley is just in front and below us, while to the right and left around the house is a fine apple orchard, the products of which have made the country famous. When one realizes that this section has had about fifty inches of rain for the season and the average is about forty inches, one can appreciate how pleased we both were with the running brooks the year round in this section, together with the wild brakes of fern, wild strawberries and nearly everything as found in the New England States during the summer months.
After a hearty dinner we spent a pleasant evening with music and tales of experience. We were up bright and early Monday morning, and with Mr. Detrick, El Capitán and Shorty started about seven o’ clock for a stroll, first through the apple orchard and then among the pines and oaks further up the mountain. This is a hunter’s paradise, with plenty of gray squirrels, mountain and valley quail, while wild cats, deer and mountain lions can easily be secured by experienced hunters.
JULIAN TO CUYAMACA AND DESCANSO
The automobile had been overhauled by El Capitán and an early start was made. The last adieus were said and we were off.
Julian is certainly interesting, with its apple orchards, mines and stock farms, taut as we had to be in San Diego by night, and were late in getting off for our seventy-two mile trip, only a ten minute stop was made for gasoline and a light lunch from the store to be eaten later.
At eleven a.m. exactly we left for Cuyamaca Lake. Julian is about forty-three hundred feet elevation and Cuyamaca about forty-three hundred, so it meant a further climb of one thousand feet. The road was good for several miles, but later, owing to the steep grades and numerous ruts, we had to go slowly for six or eight miles, stopping under a clump of pines for a last view of San Felipe Valley, the Colorado Desert and Salton Sea. It is customary to say “Colorado Desert” for the eastern part of San Diego County, yet how great is the injustice to that section.
The silt of ages, rich in plant food, as is the soil of the Valley of the Nile, is found by the thousands of acres in this so-called desert. All it needs is water, and two million dollars are now being spent to control and put the water of the great Colorado river on this land. One hundred and fifty thousand acres are now under cultivation, and when the system of canals is completed, probably five or six hundred thousand acres will be reclaimed. This Imperial Valley will some day, without a question of a doubt, outstrip in fame and products any valley of its size in the world.
After a few moments of pleasure partakaing of this beautiful view, we resumed our journey and crossed many small brooks and muddy places without mishap. It was up and down, but mostly up, as we passed through valleys and under spreading oak, fir and cedar trees.
At twelve-thirty we came in sight of the lake and beheld a beautiful strip of clear, blue water, in length about two miles and averaging about one mile in width. Water was everywhere. The county road was overflowed and all teams, like ourselves, had to take to the side hill.
El Capitán was informed that Cuyamaca had received sixty-five inches of rain during the season. By his special request, however, we agreed that the question of San Diego County’ s rainfall would not be again discussed. He was firmly convinced that we had a wet, instead of a dry country, and the following events continually remind him of that fact.
Passing the Stonewall Mine we were soon on a down grade and traveling fast, directly at the foot of the famous Cuyamaca Mountains, which are covered with pine timber. It was one continuous change from sunshine to shade as we passed under and out from the lovely trees, clear to the Twin Pines and Cold Springs, in fact all the way to Descanso.
DESCANSO TO SAN DIEGO
Our trip from Descanso in to San Diego was short, swift and sweet. We left at three fifty-five p.m. For an mile or more we ascended on a good winding road, in a westerly direction, through beautiful oaks and acres of wild lilacs.
We soon crossed a divide, and a panorama met our gaze that is impossible to describe, beautiful in the extreme, yet so different from what we had just passed through. Stretching away westward forty-five miles was the grand old Pacific, plainly visible, whose waters combined with the rays of the afternoon sun, made a brilliant background for the rest of the picture. Point Loma and San Miguel were easily distinguished in the distance. We were at an elevation of thirty-five hundred feet and before us was a birdseye view of at least seven or eight square miles of the best of San Diego’s back country. We were on the top of a rugged rocky mountain and at our feet, seventeen hundred feet below, lay the Viejas Valley. Down the mountain and through the valley below we could see the winding road, while beyond was the Alpine and El Cajon valley, through which we must go.
El Capitan was anxious to be off for San Diego, as he said we must reach town by dark. Although he said nothing, Shorty knew that he wanted to end up the trip in a record breaking run, and this was surely done, as you may see from the following.
With a rush we started down that mountain grade, and to say that we were on two wheels the greater part of the time, just about expresses it, as we made those continual curves in the road.
The writer wishes it under stood that this is one of the most beautiful mountain roads of the country. We reached Brawley’s, at Viejas, at fifteen minutes past four; time twenty minutes; seven miles-and without stopping, continued on a gentle down grade towards Alpine.
A thirty-mile gait expresses the speed which we attained a number of times before Alpine was reached at four-forty, twelve miles from Descanso.
A ten-minute stop was made for gasoline, and then we started on our last run to San Diego, over, what El Capitán was pleased to say, was one of the best roads in the country.
Down hill we went at a tremendous speed and continued through broad valleys, across brooks and under lovely shade trees. Again we were in a canyon, and then, skipping along, soon reached other elevations that gave us beautiful views of new scenes near at hand.
We were continually descending, yet all the time passing through a green, rolling country. What an exhilaration to travel as we did, taking the small hills without apparent effort or loss of speed.
Passing Lakeside Road on our right we soon reached Bostonia and El Cajon. The roads through the valley were about as good as could be. Our time from Bostonia to El Cajon was seven minutes-three miles.
Without stopping we passed the El Cajon hotel at five-fifty and La Mesa at five minutes past six. The run in from there was the most sensational of our trip. It took us nineteen minutes to reach the Normal School from La Mesa and six minutes more to reach the heart of the city, via the park boulevard-fifty miles in two hours and thirty-five minutes, or twenty-five minutes for the last eleven miles of a one hundred and seventy-five mile run.
To sum it all up-the different climatic conditions naturally change the fruits of each section. In San Diego county in the winter you can get zero weather at Julian, with the snow and ice, where the best cherries and apples in the country are raised.
In and around San Diego on the coast, one gets a semi-tropical climate, where the oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits abound to perfection, while the tropical climate is found in the great Colorado desert, in the eastern part of the San Diego county. There one can raise dates, bananas, cotton and get sometimes a temperature of about one hundred and thirty in the shade during the summer months.
The writer has covered only a small portion of San Diego’s back country. At some future date he desires to describe to you other sections, particularly the growing Escondido valley, where there are thousands of acres of the best lemons, oranges, and raisins produced in the county! The Fallbrook country, noted for its unfailing crop of hay and grain, the San Luis Rey Valley, forty miles in length, the largest in San Diego county, and which will be one of the most productive in the state, particularly for deciduous fruits, farming and dairying; Palomar Mountain, the campers’ paradise, and the most interesting of all, the mountains in Southern California.
All of this country lies to the north of San Diego, while to the south, the Southern California Mountain Water Company will develop thousands of acres of our best land.
A trip well worth the taking would be via the lower and upper Otay dams through the Jamul country to Barrett’ s Dam, and last, but not least, the great Morena Dam, all of which are a part of the Southern California Water Company system. Anyone taking this trip will be convinced that the water question of San Diego is solved. The city of San Diego now purchases all it needs from the last named company, at four cents per thousands gallons. This is as low as water is furnished any Southern California city.
In closing, take notice that hereafter El Capitán will tell the truth regarding our back country and her rainfall. He has solemnly pledged himself on all proper occasions, to put in a good word for San Diego county and always see that we get a “square deal.”
Long may San Diego prosper!