The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Summer 1974, Volume 20, Number 3

By Orion Zink

In the Winter, 1972 issue of the Journal of San Diego History, Vol. XVIII, No. 1, an article was published entitled: “The Stage to El Centro,” by Orion Zink. The story covered the operation of one of the first automobile stage lines that ran from San Diego to Imperial Valley.

The owner of the Line was a San Diegan, Charles Wesley Grise, and the material for the story together with the accompanying illustrations were furnished by his daughter, Mrs. Vivian Grise Henderson. One of the illustrations was a close-up of the stage, the driver and passengers. Their names were unknown, and it was hoped that some reader would recognize and identify them. To date no one has provided a clue to their identity; however, a sharp-eyed reader, Mrs. Josephine Roberts, noted an error in the stage line’s schedule. Mrs. Roberts has provided two additional pictures and information regarding the stage stop.

The schedule which contained the error was found by the writer in the San Diego Public Library. It appeared in the San Diego Journal, an advertising magazine, and was printed in every issue during the year 1914. The exact wording of that stage schedule read:

 
IMPERIAL VALLEY AUTO STAGE
DAILY TIME TABLE
LEAVING PICKWICK THEATRE BLDG.
1027 4TH. BETWEEN C. & BROADWAY
 
Leave San Diego8.00 A.M.
Arrive Jamul9.00 A. M.
  ”   Dulzura9.30 A.M.
  ”   Cottonwood10.00 A.M.
  ”   Potrero10.30 A.M.
  ”   Campo11.00 A.M.
  ”   Warner’s Ranch12.30 P.M.
  ”   Boulevard1.00 P.M.
  ”   Jacumba1.15 P.M.
  ”   Mountain Spring1.45 P.M.
  ”   Dixieland3.15 P.M.
  ”   Seeley3.35 P.M.
  ”   El Centro4.00 P.M.
Stage also leaves San Diego for El Centro
at 4.00 P.M. daily.

The error noted by Mrs. Roberts was in the supposed stage stop at Warner’s Ranch. It should have been, “Warren’s.” Her enlightening letter is as follows:

Chula Vista, Calif. July 11, 1973 My dear Mr. Zink;

As I told you over the phone, I taught the Campo School during the school year 1912-13, boarded at Warren’s, so I remember the excitement over the “new” road to the Valley, as they spoke of it then. At that time I was Josephine Smith. Ed Fletcher drove in a road race, San Diego to El Centro, which he instituted for the purpose of advertising the road. A number of car owners, spoken of as “Stage Drivers,” even if entirely unorganized, carried passengers. I don’t know whether or not their charges were uniform. Independent drivers continued for some time, even after there was an organization.

Probably more meals were served at Warren’s than at Campo Hotel.

Warren Oakland of Chula Vista, is a grandson of the Warrens & can get the address of his aunt, Mrs. Dyson, the only living member of that particular family. Since in 1912, she was only 8 years old, I have no idea how much she remembers about the excitement over the road.

Your article in the Journal of San Diego History was very interesting to me.

With every good wish,
Josephine Roberts
(Mrs. Charles V. Roberts)

Enclosed with the letter were two pictures of Warren’s. On the back of the one showing only the Warren. Hotel, she noted:

‘Warren’s Hotel’, about 2 miles east of Campo, 1913. This was a popular meal stop for passengers between San Diego & El Centro. Meals were delicious, home cooked—always pie for dessert. They had about 2 rooms to rent, frequently rented to men on the way to the ‘Valley,’ as it was spoken of. As many, or more, of the travelers ate at Warren’s as at Campo Hotel.

On the back of the picture showing stages stopped in front of the building, she wrote:

Most of the drivers were independent. There was a price that most of them charged, but for a time there was no organization.

The trip, San Diego to El Centro took all day. In one sandy wash, they laid down ‘gunny sacks’ to drive over. Sometimes deflated their tires somewhat, then pumped them up by hand.


Orion M. Zink, a resident of San Diego since World War I, is Historian for San Diego Masonic Lodge No. 35, F. & A.M., which was founded at Old Town, San Diego in 1851.

In the 1940’s while gathering data for a history of San Diego Lodge, Zink interviewed many Old Town residents. The stories they told, the old homes they located and the pictures gathered at that time, proved so interesting, they are now in use as reference material at the San Diego History Center Library in Serra Museum and the San Diego Public Library. That material in manuscript form is entitled, “Places At Old Town San Diego.”

Mr. Zink, a past Director on the San Diego Historical Site Board, and member of the Historical Society, has contributed a number of articles to the San Diego Historical Society’s quarterly publication. Among these are “The Exchange Hotel,” October, 1962; “George Parrish Tebbetts,” April, 1963; “Places and People in Old Town,” and “The Machado-Stewart Family And Their Home,” both of which appeared in the Winter, 1969, issue, and “The Stage to El Centro,” Winter, 1972.