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Mary Snyder’s Sea Mosses

Mary Stoddard Patchen was born in Ohio in 1838 and was teaching at the high school in Carlinville, Illinois, when she married fellow teacher Edward Snyder in 1869. Mr. Snyder had been an officer in the Austrian army before immigrating to America and serving in the Union army during the Civil War. In 1870 Mr. Snyder became a professor of German and military science at the University of Illinois at Champaign, the Snyders’ home for the next 25 years. For many of these years they spent their summer vacations at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where Mrs. Snyder developed an interest in botany and especially in the aquatic species that she found in and around the lake. As her interest in aquatic plants grew the Snyders’ vacation travels extended to the seacoast, where she began collecting specimens of marine algae, then known as sea mosses (and now as seaweed). She arranged her specimens in an organized collection, or herbarium, which eventually grew to include hundreds of species.    

When poor health compelled Prof. Snyder to take a leave of absence in 1894 the Snyders traveled to California, where they hoped his health would benefit from the milder climate. While visiting the San Diego area in September they stayed at the Hotel del Coronado and Mrs. Snyder explored tide pools and beaches from Coronado to La Jolla in search of sea mosses. Pleased with the San Diego area they purchased a lot on Prospect Street overlooking Seal Rock in La Jolla and also a larger plot of land in Pacific Beach.

When they returned to Illinois in September 1895 Prof. Snyder found that his health had not improved enough to resume his teaching duties at the University. Instead, the Snyders spent much of the winter of 1895-96 back in California where Mary Snyder collected specimens along the coast from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz. In June 1896 the Champaign Daily Gazette reported that Prof. Snyder had retired and that he and Mrs. Snyder had left for Pacific Beach, Cal., their new home, where he owned a small fruit farm and would devote much of his time to its care. In California, the Los Angeles Times also noted their arrival and added that Mrs. Snyder was a botanist of national reputation who made a special study of algae and marine vegetation. In September they moved into a two-story cottage built on their Pacific Beach property, a home that is still standing today at 1976 Hornblend Street.

In 1896 Pacific Beach was a small settlement clustered around the campus of the San Diego College of Letters, which opened there in 1888 but closed in 1891. Women of the former college community led by Rose Hartwick Thorpe, a world-renowned poet, had started the Pacific Beach Reading Club in 1895 and Mrs. Snyder became an active member, succeeding Mrs. Thorpe as president in 1898. She also started and served as president of a Shakespeare club. In addition to these cultural activities Mrs. Snyder spent plenty of time at the beach collecting sea mosses; from 1897 to 1902 she collected more than 150 specimens from Pacific Beach alone, plus over 40 from False (Mission) Bay.  

Although many types of marine vegetation washed ashore on the beaches or grew in the marshes near her home in Pacific Beach, the rocky coastline around La Jolla provided an even greater variety, particularly in the deeper waters that were only exposed during low tides. Mrs. Snyder made frequent collecting trips there, collecting nearly 450 specimens between 1897 and 1902, including 150 in 1898 alone. To accommodate her frequent expeditions to La Jolla the Snyders had a cottage built on their lot there in 1901. During unusually low tides in November 1901 the San Diego Evening Tribune reported that Prof. Snyder and wife were at their La Jolla cottage and that Mrs. Snyder had enjoyed every day of the Thanksgiving holiday at low tide; ‘The rocks hold secret treasures for her only to be discovered at extremely low tide’.

Many residents of La Jolla were also collectors of sea mosses and shells and some made the short trip to Pacific Beach to consult with Mrs. Snyder and view her collections. Miss Ellen Browning Scripps, a La Jolla resident since 1896 who went on to establish and support many of La Jolla enduring institutions, often visited the Snyders; according to a diary entry from 1898 she and her sister Virginia Scripps spent an hour at the Snyders ‘looking at Mrs. S.’s collection of algae’. Virginia had her own collection (she wrote in a poem ‘Many days have I spent on the seashore/Gathering sea mosses and shells galore’) and another entry in Ellen’s diary noted that Mrs. Snyder came to their home for lunch and ‘gave names to Jenny’s collection of sea mosses’.

After many years spent collecting and studying sea mosses Mary Snyder was an acknowledged authority on marine algae. In 1902 she was the featured speaker at a meeting of the San Diego Natural History Society headed by Dr. Fred Baker where, according to the San Diego Union, she presented an interesting paper on ‘sea weeds’ and exhibited a large and beautiful collection of these plants ‘collected by herself’. She explained that there were three types of sea weeds; green, olive-brown and red, with the colors associated with the depths at which they grow. Green weeds grow near the high tide line, olive-brown near the low tide line, and the more delicate red weeds in deeper water. Most marine algae are of the olive-brown type, larger and coarser, including the Macrocystis pyrifera or kelp, that ‘stretches in broad fields, miles in length, just off our coast’ and is ‘thrown in heaps upon our beaches’. Mrs. Snyder added that there were about 3500 known species of sea weeds, 600 found on our American coasts and about 250 on our Pacific coast, and of these 70 have been collected in the vicinity of San Diego (the reading was followed by an examination of the exhibits and led to an animated and interesting discussion).

In 1903 Dr. Baker invited Dr. William Ritter of the University of California’s Department of Zoology to San Diego for his summer marine biology research activities, offering a site for a laboratory (the boathouse at the Hotel del Coronado) with operating expenses to be funded by subscriptions raised from private citizens. One of the citizens Dr. Baker approached for a contribution was the wealthy newspaper publisher E. W. Scripps, Ellen and Virginia’s brother, who not only contributed a substantial sum but also suggested that he and Ellen would be interested in supporting a permanent biological research station in San Diego. A meeting in September 1903 established the Marine Biological Association of San Diego and Mrs. Edward Snyder was one of the charter members (along with E.W., Ellen and Virginia Scripps).

September 1903 was also the month that Prof. Edward Snyder died, and Mrs. Snyder soon sold their Pacific Beach home and moved to the cottage in La Jolla (following Rose Hartwick Thorpe and her husband, who had moved from Pacific Beach to La Jolla in 1901). At that time residences in La Jolla were identified with names instead of numbers and Mrs. Snyder’s cottage on Prospect Street was called the Corallina (Corallina is a genus of marine algae well represented in Mrs. Snyder’s herbarium collections). In November 1903 she purchased two lots between Fay Avenue and the alley now called Bishops Lane, just across Prospect from her residence, which included an existing cottage that dated to 1894. This cottage became known as Amphiroa Cottage (Amphiroa is also a genus of marine algae) and was rented to tenants until Mrs. Snyder moved there herself in 1910. In April 1904 Mrs. Snyder also purchased lots at the east corner of Prospect and Cuvier streets where she built a rental cottage named the Ceramium after another genus of marine algae. Other named residences in La Jolla included the Thorpes’ home Curfew Cottage, named for Mrs. Thorpe’s famous poem Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight (where Mrs. Snyder went for Christmas dinner in 1904) and the Scripps sisters’ mansion South Molton Villa, named for the street in London where Miss Ellen had grown up (and where Mrs. Snyder had lunch and named Miss Virginia’s sea mosses).

La Jolla had been the source of more than half of the specimens represented in Mrs. Snyder’s herbarium but after her move there she added few additional specimens to her collections (perhaps because there were few new species to be found). Instead, she turned her attention to mounting and arranging her specimens of sea moss into artistic displays. One such display won a gold medal at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904 and another won gold at the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland in 1905. Her collections were also credited with boosting tourism to La Jolla. In March 1904 the Tribune reported that increasing numbers of tourists were visiting, particularly during low tides, and that the gathering of sea moss and shells was becoming ‘more and more a fad with sojourners’. Tourists shown collections of pressed algae prepared by Mrs. Snyder were inspired to make collections of their very own. Mrs. Snyder also led collecting trips for other collectors; in January 1905 the Union reported that Mrs. Snyder and the Misses Scripps had driven to False Bay and had a highly successful search for specimens.

After a year living in La Jolla Mrs. Snyder traveled to Texas in early 1905 to be with her mother and sister, returning after her mother died in November 1905. On her return she was ‘warmly welcomed back’ into La Jolla social life by a circle of friends including Mrs. Olivia Mudgett, Capt. and Mrs. A. D. Griffin and the extended Mills family; Madame Ellen Mills, Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Mills, her son and daughter-in-law, and their daughter Miss Ellen. These families were all relatives from Maine (Mrs. Mudgett and Mrs. A. P. Mills were sisters and Mrs. Griffin was their cousin) and they had been among the first settlers in La Jolla. Mrs. Snyder joined these families at Kennebec Lodge, the Mills’ home, for Thanksgiving dinner and Mrs. Mudgett hosted the same group at her home, Villa Waldo, for Christmas (Villa Waldo, named for her home county in Maine, is still standing on Drury Lane).

Mrs. Snyder had also joined the La Jolla Woman’s Club and in March 1906 she was elected president, serving until 1908 (Ellen Browning Scripps was elected vice-president; Mrs. Mudgett was treasurer). In April the papers reported that Mesdames Snyder, Mudgett and Thorpe, the Misses Scripps and other members of the Woman’s Club went by tally-ho to Pacific Beach to attend the county federation of Women’s clubs (a tally-ho was a large open coach usually drawn by four horses). Mrs. Snyder was also a member of the Social Club, where in March 1906 the once-president of the Pacific Beach Shakespeare Club led a group of ladies in the trial scene from The Merchant of Venice (she was Lorenzo, Mrs. Mudgett was Antonio, Mrs. Thorpe was Shylock and Miss Mills was Gratiano).

The Marine Biological Association of San Diego had hosted Dr. Ritter and his summer research projects in Coronado in 1904 but for 1905 they arranged for a research station to be built at the Cove in La Jolla. A subscription by La Jolla residents raised nearly $1000 to build the station (Mr. Thorpe gave $25, Mrs. Mudgett $15, Mrs. Mills and Mrs. Snyder each gave $10), and scientists from Berkeley and other institutions came to La Jolla to work there. During one visit in 1906 Dr. and Mrs. Ritter were entertained by Mrs. Snyder at the Ceramium and spent the afternoon delightfully examining her beautiful collection of sea mosses.  In his history of the Marine Biological Station Dr. Ritter wrote that in addition to laboratory rooms the building included a public aquarium-museum with a fair exhibit of preserved specimens, including a collection of mounted specimens of the local sea-weeds, the gift of Mrs. Snyder, a resident of La Jolla. The biological station remained at the cove until 1912 when, after additional contributions from E.W. and Ellen Scripps, a new research facility that became the Scripps Institution of Oceanography was built at La Jolla Shores.

Since her return from her mother’s home in Texas in 1905 Mrs. Snyder had been living in her original La Jolla cottage, the Corallina, to which she reportedly added a room in May 1907. The Union’s weekly account of social life in La Jolla in 1907 noted that Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Mills and Mrs. Mudgett were dinner guests of Mrs. Snyder at the Corallina and the Ladies’ Aid of the Union church had another pleasant social at the Corallina, home of Mrs. Edward Snyder (delicious cocoa and cake were served by the hostess). In 1908 Mrs. Snyder sold the Corallina and moved to the Ceramium Cottage at Prospect and Cuvier before traveling to Texas again in 1909 to spend another year with her sister. After her return in November 1910 she also sold Ceramium Cottage to Dr. Edward and Eliza Howard. In 1914 the entire block east of Prospect and Cuvier was cleared to become the La Jolla Recreation Center (funded by Ellen Browning Scripps) and the Howards moved the cottage to property they owned at 830 Kline Street where it is still standing, a City of San Diego Historic Landmark with a plaque identifying it as ‘Geranium Cottage’. Mrs. Snyder then moved to her Fay Street property, Amphiroa Cottage. While repairing and enlarging Amphiroa Cottage she built an herbarium for her ‘splendid collection of sea mosses and for arranging and mounting new specimens’, according to the Union.

Mary Snyder moved one more time, although this time her house may have moved with her. When she purchased another pair of lots on the east side of Fay near the intersection with Kline Street in 1912 (from Charles Norris) the lots were vacant; city lot books showed no ‘value of improvements’. In 1914 and thereafter the lot books showed an improvement assessed at $160 on these lots, and also showed no value of improvements on the lots where Amphiroa Cottage had been, and which had been assessed at $250 a year earlier. This may have been because Amphiroa cottage, her home since 1910 (or at least a major portion of it) had been moved down the street, a fairly common practice in La Jolla at the time. Fay Street became an avenue in 1913 and La Jolla had adopted street addresses so her new home was listed at 7725 Fay Avenue. She sold the then-vacant lots on Fay near Prospect in 1914.

Mary Stoddard Snyder lived the rest of her life, until 1926, at 7725 Fay. She remained active in the Woman’s Club; a meeting in 1916 was ‘in the hands of’ Mrs. Mudgett and Mrs. Snyder and featured Dr. Ritter speaking about ‘Science vs. Nature’. Those years were also spent supplying more preserved specimens of sea mosses to the herbaria of prestigious institutions around the country, including the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and a number of universities, particularly the University of California at Berkeley. Her own herbarium was given to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is now housed at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Many of these institutions have made images of their collections available online and they can be accessed via the Macroalgal Herbarium Consortium portal. The home at 7725 Fay Avenue, where many of these specimens were arranged and mounted, was destroyed by fire in 1954.

Pacific Beach Notes – 1895

The community of Pacific Beach was founded on then-vacant land north of Mission Bay in 1887. In 1888 the San Diego College of Letters opened on a campus that is now the site of the Pacific Plaza shopping center and its faculty and students, and their families, became some of the first residents of Pacific Beach. When the college closed in 1891 a few of these families chose to remain and hoped to prosper through fruit cultivation, primarily lemons. The Pacific Beach Company, developers of the subdivision, encouraged the transition to an agricultural economy with a new subdivision map in which most of the area south of Reed Avenue and north of Diamond Street (then Alabama Avenue) was divided into ‘acre lots’ of about ten acres. After this map was recorded in early 1892 a number of these acre lots were acquired by ‘easterners’ and were ‘plowed, piped and planted’, mostly with lemon trees. By 1895 lemon ranching was well established in Pacific Beach.

Amended Pacific Beach subdivision map 697, filed Jan’y 8, 1892 at 9 AM, staked out much of the community as agricultural ‘acre lots’ of about 10 acres

During the 1890s and the early years of the twentieth century the San Diego Union featured periodic ‘notes’ or items of news from outlying suburbs like Pacific Beach. In 1895 the Union’s Pacific Beach Notes column appeared nearly every week, reporting notable events and activities in the seven-year-old community and among the few dozen families living there. Over the course of a year these news items provide a comprehensive record of life in early-day Pacific Beach.     

The first Pacific Beach column for 1895 appeared in the Union’s January 1 edition and noted some of the community’s leading residents as well as its main gathering place and favorite activities: The Christmas tree at the college building was an emphatic success and people had come all the way from La Jolla to ‘attend’ it, Mrs. R.H. Thorpe had issued invitations for a fancy dress party to be given her daughter on New Year’s evening, Dr. Havice was out on Christmas and the Scott brothers gave a marshmallow bake at the residence of F. Barnes. There were now two mails a day, easterners continued to buy property and the Gridley’s had moved into the Wilson house.

In 1895 the original College of Letters building from 1888 still stood on the former college campus, about where the FedEx office at 1834 Garnet Avenue is now located (Garnet was originally called College Avenue). Most of the community’s residents lived in the vicinity of the college (the ‘college settlement’) and the large unoccupied building was the perfect spot for community social activities, like a Christmas tree during the holiday season.

The former College of Letters building about 1895

Mrs. R.H. (Rose Hartwick) Thorpe was the community’s best-known resident; a world-renowned poet, author of Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight, perhaps the most popular poem of its time. She had originally come to Pacific Beach to assist with the college, where her daughter Lulo had also been a student. Franklin Barnes had also been attracted to Pacific Beach by the college, where his sons Edward (E.Y.) and Theodore had been students.

The Thorpe home at Lamont and Emerald

The Thorpe and Barnes families were among those who turned to lemon ranching after the college closed, although Mr. E.C. Thorpe was also a carpenter and contractor who built some of the early homes in Pacific Beach and La Jolla. The Thorpe and Barnes families lived on opposite sides of Lamont (then 11th) Street, just north of Emerald (then Vermont Avenue). The Thorpes lived on the east side of Lamont in a home that Mr. Thorpe had built himself on block 167, south of Diamond Street and west of Morrell (12th) Street. They had previously lived three blocks to the south, on Hornblend Street (then California Avenue), the ‘old place’ Mr. Maxwell was said to have purchased. The Barnes ranch was west of Lamont on acre lot 64, east of Jewell (10th), south of Diamond and across Emerald from the college campus (streets and avenues separated blocks and acre lots in Pacific Beach but were not graded or otherwise improved at the time).

Franklin and Phoebe Barnes in their yard across Emerald Street from the college campus, with the original college building and Stough Hall in the background

The Scott brothers (Theophilous, Frances, Harold and Henry) were recent arrivals who had been camping in Pacific Beach while considering the acquisition or development of a lemon ranch. They apparently socialized with their prospective neighbors by hosting activities like marshmallow bakes at their homes (marshmallows were a novel confection in the 1890s).

Mr. Havice was a member of the San Diego Board of Delegates and the brother-in-law of Harr Wagner, a director of the former college and the prime mover behind its establishment in Pacific Beach (Mrs. Jennie Havice was Harr Wagner’s sister). The Havices had been living in the Wagners’ former home in Pacific Beach, still standing at 2104 Diamond Street, and also owned a lemon ranch on block 213, between Garnet Avenue and Morrell, Hornblend and Noyes streets. He had apparently been ill but was able to be out Christmas night, presumably to attend the Christmas tree.

The Wilson house was the house built in 1893 for R.C. Wilson, co-owner of the largest lemon ranch in Pacific Beach. When acre lots first went on sale in 1892 Mr. Wilson and G.M.D. Bowers, business partners and brothers-in-law from Tennessee, had jointly purchased three adjacent lots, 33, 34, and 50, which met at the intersection of Lamont and Chalcedony streets (then Idaho Avenue). In 1893 they added another acre lot to their ranch; lot 51, east of lot 50, between Diamond and Chalcedony streets and west of Noyes (then 13th) Street. They had laid over 4000 feet of irrigation pipe, planted lemon trees and built ranch houses for their families, the Bowers family on acre lot 34 and Wilsons on acre lot 33. The Bowers home still exists, although in 1912 it was moved a short distance to its current location at 1860 Law Street; the Wilson house lasted until 1947 and is now marked by the Moreton Bay fig tree growing between 1904 and 1922 Law Street that once stood in its yard. In late 1894 Mr. Wilson had returned to Tennessee to ‘look after business interests’ and it had been ‘rumored’ that his family would follow for an extended visit.

The Gridleys, Orrin, Fannie and their children Ella, Frank and Kate, had a lemon ranch on the east half of acre lot 48, north of Diamond Street and the Barnes ranch and south of Chalcedony and the Scott ranch. In early 1895 Mr. Gridley was away in Buffalo, New York, where he had joined his brother for work, and Kate was a student at the Pacific Beach grammar school. The Gridley ranch still lacked a ranch house so Mrs. Gridley and the children stayed wherever they could until one was built (in March 1896). With the Wilson family in Tennessee on their rumored visit the Gridleys had moved into their vacant house.      

USGS map of Pacific Beach from 1903, with features existing in 1895 overlaid in red and green

‘Rain and roses!’ was the opening line of the next note from Pacific Beach, a week later on January 8 (it had rained over two inches in December 1894 and would rain another 7 inches by the end of January 1895). Possibly due to the rain ‘every lemon tree in the orchards resembled a huge bouquet, the older growth so richly dark tipped with the new leaves in tints of reddish brown’. Also, the Packards had visited their ranch on Thursday.

Ira and Mary Packard had been the first to record the purchase of a Pacific Beach acre lot, on the same day that the amended subdivision map creating the acre lots had been filed (January 8, 1892, at 9 a.m.). The Packards paid $930, $100 an acre, for acre lot 35, north of Chalcedony and south of Beryl (then Georgia Avenue) and between where Jewell and Kendall streets run today. On this Thursday the Packards may have been showing their ranch to the Scott brothers, who would purchase it for $2000 the following month (earning the Packards a 115% return).        

By January 15 students who had come home to Pacific Beach to spend the holidays with their families were on their way back to their schools. The Union reported that Theodore Barnes had left for San Francisco on the steamer Santa Rosa on Saturday evening, returning to the State University at Berkeley. Miss Mabel Rowe left for school in Los Angeles on Saturday and Miss Evangeline Rowe had returned to her school there the week before. The Rowe sisters had also been students at the College of Letters and when it closed their mother Mary had followed the lead of the Thorpe and Barnes families by developing a lemon ranch on acre lot 49, north of Diamond, south of Chalcedony and west of Lamont streets, between the Barnes and the Wilson and Bowers ranches.

Before their Saturday departures Theodore and Mabel had presumably been among the ‘young people’ who went to a ‘unique and very delightful’ party in La Jolla on Friday evening where, according to the Union’s note, all things had conspired to render their happiness complete; the winter air was balmy and the full moon made the ride most enjoyable (the moon was full on Friday, January 11, 1895, and the temperature in San Diego at 5 PM was 75 degrees). This note from Pacific Beach also added that there were maiden-hair ferns in the hollows, the Maxwells had moved into their new home (Mr. Thorpe’s ‘old place’ on Hornblend) and a number of strangers had been wandering about looking over the place and their verdict was the college settlement was one of the most delightful locations in Southern California.

January 15, 1895, was also the day that heavy rains led to devastating flooding in Southern California, including Pacific Beach. According to the Union’s storm report on January 17 all local railway lines and the Santa Fe line to Los Angeles had been ‘flood-bound’ since noon on the 16th and the 8:40 a.m. train to Los Angeles only got as far as Sorrento. In Pacific Beach, the ‘creek running into False Bay from Rose Canyon’ was a ‘roaring river’ and ‘large quantities of ties, lumber, building material and live chickens’, the remains of a chicken ranch, came down with the flood and were ‘swallowed up by the bay’. The country adjoining the Pacific Beach Driving Park, the racetrack near the mouth of Rose Creek, was a ‘vast lake’ and the tracks of the Pacific Beach railroad, which passed around the racetrack and crossed Rose Creek on what is now Garnet Avenue, were ‘nowhere to be seen’ and in many places were ‘wiped out of existence’.

A note from Pacific Beach on January 25 reported that the sun had come out ‘in all its splendor’ on Tuesday (January 22), a week after the storms began, and ‘several of our ladies improved the opportunity between showers to pay their calling debts’. Miss Thorpe had walked into Old Town and taken the train from there to the city in order to be at her school on Monday (Lulo Thorpe was a kindergarten teacher in Middletown). Mrs. Thresher had taken advantage of her enforced vacation to become better acquainted with her neighbors (Isabella Thresher, whose daughter Marian had also been a student at the College of Letters, apparently chose not to walk to Old Town to catch a train to her job as a stenographer at the courthouse downtown). Other residents of Pacific Beach were congratulating each other on their fortunate escape from loss during the recent heavy storms, other than the ‘inconvenience of interrupted transportation’ and the ‘shifting of soil from one ranch to another’.

On February 4, the Pacific Beach column in the Union noted that Mr. and Mrs. Raiter were out to look over their new ranch a few days ago; ‘Now that they have come to California it is hoped they will conclude to build and make their home on their fine lemon ranch’. C. H. Raiter was a bank director from Alexandria, Minnesota, who had spent the winter of 1891-1892 in the area and had purchased a ten-acre tract of land in Pacific Beach, acre lot 61, before returning home in April 1892. On a subsequent winter visit his wife Anna Raiter bought the adjoining acre lot 62 in February 1894. Together their property covered what is now the Pacific Pines subdivision, between Pacific Beach Drive, Reed Avenue, and Jewell and Lamont streets. They were apparently on another winter visit to inspect their ranch, but despite the hopes expressed in this note they never did build or make their home there. This note also mentioned that Mr. Bowers had sold a wagon-load of lemons in the city and ‘His returns for the first lemons marketed from this place are very satisfactory and other lemon growers are encouraged’. The Wilson and Bowers lemon ranch was one of the first to be developed on Pacific Beach acre lots, in 1892, and apparently the first to bring its product to market, in 1895.

On February 14 the Union’s note from Pacific Beach reported the rumor that Mr. Havice had bought the ‘boys’ dormitory’. The boys’ dormitory, at the northwest corner of Lamont and Hornblend, a block southeast of the college campus, was where male students had lived when the college was open (female students had boarded in the main college building). There was also the news that the Maxwells were building an addition to their cottage and the Marshalls, ‘who own twenty acres of fine lemon ranch at this place’, were preparing to come to California; ‘They intend to build on their ranch and make their home here’.

In March 1894 Frank Marshall of Kansas City had bought acre lots 30 and 53, between Diamond and Beryl and east of Olney (14th) streets and had set out 1400 lemon trees as well as prune, orange, peach, pear and apricot trees and a hedge of Monterrey cypress (as a windbreak). He had returned to Kansas City leaving Ed Barnes in charge of the ranch but planned to return in the fall with his brother, both of whom would build ‘handsome residences’. They had apparently missed their fall departure date but were still preparing to make the move. This note ended with the information that there was the highest tide on Saturday ever seen by the oldest residents of this place.

The Pacific Beach note from February 20 again alluded to the wet winter; ‘Poppies galore! Grain is looking fine.’ And the railroad, damaged during the recent storms, had been repaired; ‘This convenience will be fully appreciated by those who have been obliged to spend a whole day in the city or do their shopping by proxy’ (after circumventing the race track on today’s Garnet and Balboa avenues the railroad ran through Pacific Beach on Grand Avenue to a station near the beach where it turned north toward La Jolla). The Scott brothers, who had been ‘camping on the ridge for several months’, had bought the Packard ranch and would locate there.

There was also ‘some talk’ of moving the schoolhouse to the college settlement, a ‘more central location’ that would ‘better accommodate the children from Eureka and Rose Canyon’. In 1895 the one-room Pacific Beach school was located at the northeast corner of Hornblend and Everts (5th) streets, an area with few residents compared to the area around the former college campus and even more distant from the Eureka Lemon Tract, another lemon ranching area east of Rose Creek whose children attended the Pacific Beach school.

Mr. Raiter was piping his entire tract, the Ladies’ Aid Society met at Mrs. Frost’s, the Christian Endeavor society held a business meeting at the church and the young people attended a most enjoyable party at Mrs. Ash’s according to Pacific Beach notes from March 11, 1895. Mrs. Mary Frost and her husband Charles operated a grocery store at the southeast corner of Grand Avenue and Haines (8th) Street. Their store was also the post office and Mr. Frost was the postmaster. The Ash family, William, Rebecca, and their children Willie and Ruth, owned a lemon ranch on block 205, east of Lamont between Garnet Avenue, Felspar (then Massachusetts Avenue) and Morrell streets. Also, Mrs. Robertson made a birthday party for little Irene and 23 of her little school friends enjoyed the happy event (Irene Robertson was 9 years old in 1895 and the 23 guests must have included the entire student body of the Pacific Beach school, which had numbered 22 in 1892 and would be 17 in October 1895).

There had been a stereopticon exhibit of views of the Hawaiian Islands at Stough Hall for the benefit of the church, presented by the Hawaiian consul at San Diego, according to a note on March 14, 1895. The Union correspondent added that ‘through his kindness have we been permitted to enjoy this treat, and our people unite in thanking him for the courtesy’ (Queen Liliuokalani had been deposed in 1893 and in 1894 Hawaii became an independent republic under President Sanford Dole; it would be annexed to the United States in 1898). A stereopticon was essentially a slide projector with two lenses that could be used to ‘dissolve’ one photographic image into another; ‘fading out’ the first while ‘fading in’ the second, adding a sense of motion to a sequence of still images. Stough Hall was built in 1890 as an annex to the College of Letters. Next to the original college building, facing Kendall Street across Garnet Avenue, it was named for Oliver Stough, president of the Pacific Beach Company, who had funded its construction. It was also vacant and available for community activities after the college closed.  

Stough Hall about 1895

‘Lemon trees never looked finer nor made a better growth’ was the note from Pacific Beach on March 28, 1895. Mr. and Mrs. Honeycutt, whose residence was in the city, were spending a few days at their cottage on Eleventh Street, looking after the interests of their fine lemon ranch. E. Y. Barnes was building a $1,200 cottage on his five-acre tract north of the college campus and Mr. Holliday, of Oregon, had purchased ten acres north of the church and would move there in October, bringing with him thirty head of Jersey cows and some horses. The ladies of Pacific Beach met at Mrs. Thorpe’s and formed a reading club for the purpose of studying ancient history, the leading topics of the day and of receiving mutual benefit. The ‘normal excitement’ had attracted attention to this ‘loveliest spot in all California’ and several new settlers were ‘preparing to make their homes here between the ocean and the bay’, but the college buildings would ‘take another siesta’.

Sterling and Nancy Honeycutt had purchased their ‘fine lemon ranch’ in the summer of 1893 on the four blocks south of the college campus, surrounded by Grand and Garnet avenues and Lamont and Jewell streets. Before 1900 the streets in Pacific Beach, those running north and south, had been numbered beginning with 1st nearest the beach and extending to 17th near Rose Creek, with a somewhat wider street, Broadway (now Ingraham), between 8th and 9th. The numbered streets, as well as the avenues named after states, were renamed in 1900 to end the duplication of street names within San Diego, so the location of Honeycutt’s cottage is now Lamont Street, at the southeast corner of Garnet Avenue, across Lamont from their lemon ranch. At the time the Honeycutts were living in University Heights and staying at their Pacific Beach cottage while looking after the ranch, but a few months later they sold their other home and moved into the cottage.

E.Y. Barnes’ five-acre tract was the west half of his parents’ ten-acre lemon ranch on acre lot 64, across Emerald Street from the college campus. The elder Barnes’ home was at the southeast corner of this acre lot, the northwest corner of Lamont and Emerald streets. The younger Barnes’ $1,200 cottage was being built at the southwest corner of the lot, the northeast corner of Jewell and Emerald streets, a house he named El Nido.

El Nido, the home built for E.Y. Barnes in 1895

The ten acres north of the church acquired by J.L. Holliday in 1895 were Blocks 183 and 202, between Garnet Avenue and Ingraham, Emerald and Jewell streets (now a shopping center and parking lot with a Trader Joe’s, Staples and Rite Aid).  Although Mr. Holliday may have brought a herd of cows and horses with him from Oregon that property in Pacific Beach was turned into a lemon ranch. A year later, in September 1896, the Union’s El Cajon Notes column reported that J.L. Holliday of Pacific Beach, who came here from Halsey, Oregon, had leased a large stock ranch and would start an extensive dairy with about 100 head of cows.

The ladies’ meeting at Mrs. Thorpe’s home on March 23, 1895, was the origin of the Pacific Beach Reading Club, later the Pacific Beach Woman’s Club, which still exists and still honors its lemon ranch heritage with a lemon tree for a logo. The ‘normal excitement’ around Pacific Beach in 1895 was a visit by a committee who had come on a special train to inspect sites being offered for a state normal school, or teacher-training college. The committee got off the train at the ‘college station’ (at Grand and Lamont) and was transported to various points in the vicinity, then to the former College of Letters where they were offered the 16-acre campus and its buildings. The state declined the offer and opted instead for a site in Normal Heights (and later Montezuma Mesa) for what has become San Diego State University. The Union’s correspondent regretted that the college buildings would remain dormant but believed that excitement over the visit had attracted new settlers and ‘real estate continues to boom’.

The Pacific Beach Notes series resumed on April 18, 1895, with a report that Miss Nellora Rowe was visiting Los Angeles for fiesta week but that her sister Mabel had returned from Los Angeles to care for her sick mother. E.C. Thorpe had contracted to build several cottages at La Jolla and had taken with him every available carpenter from this place to speed the work along. C. H. Turner was piping his lemon tract and contemplated building and moving to Pacific Beach soon.

Nellora (Nellie) Rowe was the youngest of the Rowe sisters, 15 years old in 1895. Her sisters Evangeline and Mabel lived in Los Angeles where they attended school. The Fiesta de Los Angeles was a parade and festival held at Fiesta Park in downtown Los Angeles that had originated in April 1894 and continued until 1916 (Mabel Rowe may have had to skip the end of the fiesta when she returned to care for her sick mother). E.C. Thorpe had developed a thriving home construction business, primarily in La Jolla, and the cottages he contracted to build in 1895 may have been in addition to those he reportedly contracted for in November 1894.

Calvin H. Turner and his wife Eliza had acquired blocks 249 and 272, between Grand and Reed Avenues, Kendall and Lamont streets and between the Honeywell lemon ranch north of Grand and the Raiter ranch south of Reed. The Turners may have piped their property but they never did build on it or move from San Diego, where he was listed as manager of the Pacific Beach Land Co. with an office at Sixth and Broadway. Their son Marcus Turner, however, did become a major player in the Pacific Beach real estate scene after the turn of the twentieth century, along with Madie Arnott Barr, who later became his wife.

Pacific Beach Notes in the May 1 Union noted that the Scott brothers were completing the piping of their ten-acre ranch, Mrs. Rowe was having a good many new trees set out on her place, Mrs. Thresher was having a commodious barn built and hundreds of acres of grain were being harvested and the yield was good. Also the grounds about the building known as the boys’ dormitory had undergone great improvements since Mr. Havice purchased the property. Theodore Barnes would start for the east May 2 as one of the athletes of the state university at Berkeley.

While the Scott brothers, Mrs. Rowe and others were developing ten-acre lemon ranches in the area around the college campus ‘hundreds of acres’ in other parts of Pacific Beach were still vacant land suitable for growing grain and hay crops. Gangs of men and teams of horses seeded crops in the fall and harvested in the spring, and after a wet winter in 1894-1895 yields in April 1895 would have been good. The rumor that Mr. Havice had purchased the boys’ dormitory property at Lamont and Hornblend streets had turned out to be true. The Havices acquired the entire southwest quarter of block 214 in April and were already making improvements.

Theodore Barnes was a sprinter on the University of California track and field team. During their successful tour of Midwest and Eastern universities in 1895 the team displayed a banner with the state symbol, a golden grizzly bear, and Cal’s athletic teams have been known as the Golden Bears ever since.

More comings and goings of Pacific Beach residents were reported in a May 5 Notes column. F. W. Barnes was expected home from Nebraska (the Barnes family came from Madison, Nebraska, where F. W. Barnes had been a banker, and he occasionally returned to Nebraska on business). A church entertainment at Stough Hall was well attended and a decided success, in part because a ‘free train ran down from La Jolla bringing an enthusiastic audience from that charming resort’ (the railroad extension between Pacific Beach and La Jolla would be a year old on May 15). The receipts for the evening were over $12. Also, the Maxwell family moved into the city and would return to Iowa in the fall (the earlier note that the Maxwells had purchased the Thorpes’ former home turned out to be incorrect, and the Thorpes sold it to another newcomer shortly after the Maxwells left).

Also in the May 5 Note, Rose Hartwick Thorpe had been requested to write a patriotic song for the occasion of the dedication of a bronze and granite monument in Hillsdale, Michigan, to the memory of the soldiers who died during the war. Mrs. Thorpe had complied and the words would be sung to the tune of ‘Marching Through Georgia’. This would have been the Lorado Taft Statue of 1895 on the campus of Hillsdale College, recognizing the more than 500 Hillsdale College soldiers who answered the call of their country during the Civil War, said to be more than any college in America other than West Point. Mrs. Thorpe had lived in Hillsdale as a child and had received an honorary degree from the college in 1883.

The May 16, 1895, Pacific Beach Notes announced that the bathing season had opened, and ‘a stingaree was at the opening’ (i.e., a sting ray). The Sunday-school children were preparing for the Children’s Day exercises, Miss Evangeline Rowe was home from Los Angeles where she had been attending college and F. W. Barnes reached home having been in Nebraska on business. Also the Pacific Beach Reading Club met at Mrs. Robertson’s on the beach. This might have been the first regular meeting of the Reading Club after its founding a few weeks earlier. ‘Mrs. Robertson’s on the beach’ was presumably the Hotel del Pacific, near the beach at the foot of Grand Avenue. The Union had noted the Robertsons moving into the hotel building in October 1894.

Hotel del Pacific at the foot of Grand Avenue

Pacific Beach Notes on May 23 exulted (again) that ‘the orchards never looked finer, nor made a better growth’. Theodore Barnes, who was in the east as one of the athletes of California, was ‘winning laurels for himself and state’. Thorpe & Kennedy, contractors who had several cottages in course of erection at La Jolla expected to bring a part of their force of men to Pacific Beach to work on the Barnes’ cottage this week (the E.Y. Barnes cottage, El Nido, was being built at Jewell and Emerald streets; Mr. Thorpe may have been anxious to complete it in view of upcoming events). Also, Mrs. Johnson was contemplating building a two-story cottage on her block opposite the post office. Mrs. Allice Johnson owned the southwest quarter of block 218, the northeast corner of Hornblend and Haines streets. The post office, where Mr. Frost was postmaster, was a block south, on the other side of Grand Avenue and the railroad tracks that ran on Grand, but in 1895 there was only vacant land between Mrs. Johnson’s property and the post office (several years would pass before Mrs. Johnson built her cottage in 1898).  

The next Notes column, on May 28, announced that summer irrigation had commenced (the lemon groves were irrigated by water that originated in the mountains and flowed through a flume to San Diego, where it entered the municipal water system that included a water main to Pacific Beach). The P. B. Reading Club met at Mrs. Thorpe’s and Mrs. Fairchild contemplated a visit to Alpine in hopes that the climate away from the coast would be beneficial; ‘The heaviness of the coast atmosphere during the spring months had been detrimental to her health’. Also, the Marshalls were expected to have their arrangements completed for ‘removal to this place’ shortly. Their 20-acre ranch was ‘looking well’.

A lengthy Pacific Beach Notes column on June 7, 1895, reported that the Ladies’ Aid Society met at Mrs. Gleason’s, the Christian Endeavor Society was ‘progressing finely’ (and the young people at the Beach were ‘interested in the work’), and the P. B. Reading Club would meet at Mrs. Johnson’s. Rev. Furneaux had given a most eloquent and interesting sermon the previous Sunday. Miss M. Thresher, the ‘belle of the Beach’, had a sweet voice and charmed one with her singing. To see a beautiful place one should visit that of Mr. Barnes; ‘Everything shows careful management and prosperity’. Mrs. Rowe was daily improving her place and ‘the society of her daughters was much sought for on account of their many charming qualities’. Mrs. Thorpe was interested in arranging her beautiful selections of poems with the intention of giving them to a publishing house and Mr. Frost was contemplating the purchase of another tract of Pacific Beach property (this Mr. Frost was not the PB postmaster but real estate operator Abel H. Frost, who did buy the tracts that became the Congress Heights and North Shore Highlands subdivisions in 1896).

Pacific Beach lemon ranches and ranchers dominated the Notes from June 15, 1895. The Holliday tract was being piped, the Bowers family was going to the mountains for an outing during vacation, the Scott brothers gave a most enjoyable party at Mrs. Rowe’s home and Mr. Marshall and family would reach Pacific Beach about the 20th and would board with Mrs. Gridley while building.

The Scott brothers’ ranch on acre lot 35, next to Mrs. Rowe (lot 49) and the Wilson and Bowers ranches (33 and 34), did not have a ‘commodious’ ranch house like their neighbors (improvements on their lot were assessed at $60 compared with $450 for Mrs. Rowe and the Wilsons and $500 for the Bowers’ home), so when the Scotts hosted parties they were at their neighbors’ homes. Frank Marshall’s family was on the way from Kansas City and expected to be in Pacific Beach within a few days. They were expected to join the Gridley family in the Wilson ranch house on acre lot 33 while building on their own ranch on acre lot 30, a few blocks east.

In the June 26 edition of Pacific Beach Notes the ‘Red and White’ cream festival at Stough Hall on Friday evening under the auspices of the Ladies’ Aid society was a most enjoyable entertainment. A special train from La Jolla brought a large attendance from that charming resort and receipts of the entertainment were $19.20. On June 30 the news was that apricots had ripened earlier than anywhere in the state and ‘the flavor of those grown here is exceedingly fine’. It was vacation for the school children, and Charles Fairfield and Eddie Sue Bowers had graduated from the grammar grade and would attend the high school next term. Theodore Barnes had returned from his eastern trip as one of the athletes of the State University at Berkeley. And Mr. Marshall and family had reached Pacific Beach on Wednesday. They rented the Wilson house until they could build on their lemon ranch and had come fully equipped for business and pleasure, with no less than four vehicles and an abundance of home-making necessities. They would have the Wilson house to themselves in the meantime; it was also noted that Mrs. Gridley and family had moved into the ‘Thorpe cottage’ (presumably the Thorpes’ original home in Pacific Beach, on Hornblend Street, recently vacated by the Maxwells, not their home at Lamont and Emerald where the Thorpes would have been busy preparing for an event the following week).

During that week, the Union first reported on July 2 that a marriage license was issued to Edward Y. Barnes, age 22, and Lulo May Thorpe, aged 23. On the Fourth of July, two days later, the paper reported that the most interesting event at Pacific Beach was the marriage of Miss Lulo Thorpe and Edward Y. Barnes. The bride was the daughter of ex-Councilman E. C. Thorpe and Rose Hartwick Thorpe, the authoress. The groom was the son of Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Barnes of Pacific Beach. The ceremony was held at the home of the bride’s parents and a lovelier bride could hardly be imagined. The happy couple were escorted to their handsome home El Nido, recently built by the groom (and his new father-in-law’s construction crew), a block from the homes of both parents.

On July 14 it was the peaches’ turn to be ripe. Also the Holliday ranch north of the church was being set to trees and the young people’s school at Stough Hall on Friday evening was an enjoyable entertainment and well attended. A good program was given, after which cake, coffee and lemonade were served. Also Mrs. Weddican and daughter of National City were occupying the Rowe cottage on the beach for a few weeks (Mrs. Rowe’s beach cottage was at the west end of Felspar Street).  

The note on July 22 reported that Mr. Gandy had a fine garden at his place near the ocean (on Thomas Avenue between Bayard and Cass, then 2nd and 3rd streets, one of the few residences in Pacific Beach outside of the college settlement), the Saturday afternoon bathing parties were as popular as ever and Mrs. Fairfield and son Charles would start for the mountains in a few days to spend a week or two away from the coast. The note went on to explain that this was the time when the inhabitants of the ‘back country’ and those of the beach exchanged places; several of ‘our people’ were already ‘rusticating’ in the mountains. Those who started for a two-week ‘camp out’ on Saturday were Mrs. Frost and four children, Mr. and Mrs. Bowers and five children, Miss Jessie Fairfield, Miss Kate Gridley, Miss Nellie Rowe and Percy Rowe (the Rowe sisters’ younger brother). Mr. Frost, Frank Gridley and Ben Colvin took the party to their destination and would return for them at the end of their outing.

The schoolhouse would not be moved this year, according to Pacific Beach Notes from August 10. The school board had received a petition asking that the Pacific Beach schoolhouse be removed to a more central location (‘toward the race track’) but it had been referred to the building committee to act in conjunction with the judiciary committee, effectively ending the option of moving it before school resumed in a few weeks (the schoolhouse was moved in 1896 to a site on Garnet Avenue next to the community’s church, kitty-corner from the college campus). The ice cream party at Mrs. Barnes’ on Tuesday evening was a most enjoyable event. Mr. Mathewson, whose home was near the old club house in the Eureka lemon tract, died on Wednesday (the ‘old club house’ had been built eight years earlier, in 1887, for the Pacific Beach Driving Park, the race track east of Rose Creek; the Eureka Lemon Tract extended east of the race track site along Brandywine, Bunker Hill and Ticonderoga streets, and Mr. Mathewson had owned lot 29).

View from the Eureka Lemon Tract of the former race track, Rose Creek delta, Mission Bay and Crown Point from about 1906. The ‘old club house’ is the large ornate building in the center.

An entertainment would be given by the Roseville orchestra in Stough Hall on Saturday evening and the annual Pacific Beach picnic took place yesterday and as usual the destination was ‘The Pines’ near Del Mar (i.e., Torrey Pines). Mr. and Mrs. Honeycutt had sold their residence on University Heights and moved into their ‘cottage at this place’ (at the corner of Lamont Street and Garnet Avenue). The campers had returned and would endeavor to worry along through the rest of vacation with such amusements as picnics, surf bathing, parties, socials, etc.

On August 16 the notes from Pacific Beach were that Mr. Corey and family had gone to Hot Springs, Warner’s Ranch, our young people enjoyed ‘high tea’ at Mrs. Bowers’ on Thursday evening and Mr. Honeycutt was having his house painted and making other improvements. Mrs. Rowe contemplated renting her house and residing in Los Angeles during the winter in order to be with her daughters while attending school in that city.  

A lengthy note on August 25 mentioned that Mr. Corey and family had returned from their trip to Warner’s Ranch, Mr. Robertson would remove his family to La Jolla shortly, it was rumored that a private kindergarten would be opened for the little ones about the time that school commenced and the Ladies’ Aid society had finished paying the old church debt and had several dollars in the treasury towards necessary improvements on the building. Professor E. Snyder of Illinois, who had been stopping at La Jolla for several months, had purchased Mr. Thorpe’s place on California avenue (Hornblend Street, the place where the Gridleys were then living). He had arranged for improvements to be made on the place and expected eventually to make his home in ‘this charming locality’ (in the meantime the Snyders returned to Illinois and the Gridleys remained in the house). The ‘wave-jumpers’ had increased their membership to such an extent that extra bath houses were needed. On Wednesday and Saturday of each week every available vehicle was called into requisition for the purpose of conveying the ‘jumpers’ and those who watch the sport from the beach, to the scene of festivity. Mr. Marshall and Mr. Barnes paid a visit to the lemon orchards of Chula Vista on Tuesday for the purpose of comparing the prosperity and success in lemon culture of ‘that delightful settlement’ with ‘our own’. After exchanging experience and theory with lemon growers of that place they were very much encouraged with the prospects of Pacific Beach.

The September 15 Note confirmed that Mr. Robertson had moved his family to La Jolla (Mr. Robertson was an engineer for the San Diego, Pacific Beach & La Jolla railroad which had moved its base from Pacific Beach to La Jolla when the line was extended there in 1894; he was still working for the railroad in 1908 when he and his fireman were killed in a train wreck). Mr. Marshall’s new house ‘makes a fine showing against the hills’. Mr. Bowers took a load of lemons to the city on Thursday. The entire bathing party will be photographed on Saturday for an engraving for letter-heads and Gen. Stearns of Duluth, Minn., ex-United States senator, has purchased the Wilson place and will occupy it about the 1st of November. His family consists of a wife and two daughters. A son would remain in Minnesota.

Ozora P. Stearns had been a Union Army colonel during the civil war, leading a regiment of U.S. Colored Infantry at the Battle of the Crater in 1864. He had served about six weeks in the U.S. Senate in 1891, filling a vacancy caused by the death of the sitting senator, and had been appointed a judge in Duluth in 1874. His wife Sarah was a founder and the first president of the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association.

A Note on September 25 reported that Mr. Holliday’s family arrived from Oregon (Mr. Holliday had purchased the ten-acre tract north of the church and ‘set it to trees’ last spring). Franklin Barnes, E.Y. Barnes, E.C. Thorpe and F. J. Marshall went on a two days’ trip into the back country last week to obtain all possible information concerning orchards and fruit culture. Professor E. Snyder of the Illinois State university who had recently purchased property at this place writes that the weather is so hot and sultry in the east that he and his wife are sighing for a breath of ‘our cool ocean breezes’. They anticipate spending the remainder of their lives here. The Snyders had purchased most the east half of block 214, between Garnet and Hornblend streets west of Morrell, from the Thorpes on September 13. After his retirement from the University of Illinois in 1896 they did return to Pacific Beach and built the house that is still standing at the northwest corner of Hornblend and Morrell. And he did spend the rest of his life there, although his widow Mary Stoddard Snyder moved on to La Jolla after his death in 1903.

Pacific Beach Notes for October 3, 1895, again echoed the sentiment that ‘at no place are orchards looking finer or making a better growth than at Pacific Beach’. Judge Stearns was ‘domiciled at his new home’, Miss Evangeline Rowe returns to school at Los Angeles on Monday, and Mr. Marshall’s brother and brother-in-law were making arrangements to come to California and ‘will locate at this place’. The two families expected to reach Pacific Beach before winter (Frank Marshall’s brother was T.B. Marshall and his brother-in-law was Victor Hinkle; May Marshall and Carrie Hinkle were sisters). The Pacific Beach Reading Club met at Mrs. Barnes’ on Friday afternoon with a good attendance; ‘These meetings are becoming quite an important feature of our social life’.

Mr. Corey was having the Woods house moved to his ranch. It was his intention to use it as the foundation for a pleasant home; ‘It will occupy the most sightly location of any building at this place’. Lucia Powers Woods had been professor of Latin and Greek and her daughter Eulalie a student at the College of Letters, but in 1895 Mrs. Woods was a teacher at the Russ School, living on 17th Street downtown. Her Pacific Beach home had been on Thomas Avenue, between Jewell and Kendall streets, and would be moved to the Corey ranch on acre lot 19, the northwest corner of Beryl and Lamont streets, where it would command a sweeping view.

The Marshall lemon ranch on acre lots 53 and 30, seen from the east about 1906

The Marshalls were moving into their new house, Judge Stearns was having a barn built on his place and a number of other improvements made, and B. Colvin has bought the Bowers & Wilson peach orchard and would build upon it after the holidays, according to Pacific Beach Notes on October 13. The Marshalls’ new home on acre lot 30 is no longer there but a Moreton Bay fig tree from its yard is still growing near the intersection of Donaldson Drive and Chalcedony Street. The ‘peach orchard’ was the west five acres of acre lot 51, which Mr. Colvin purchased from Wilson and Bowers for $1000. In pioneer days this tract was a favorable environment for deciduous fruit trees because it was watered by runoff from Mount Soledad that now flows under Academy and Noyes streets in storm drains.

This note also stated that the benefits of windbreaks for lemon trees had been practically demonstrated by the remarkable growth of those thus sheltered; ‘The example of the few who led in this respect is being followed by others’. The young folks enjoyed a ‘strawride’ on Friday evening of last week and a pleasant surprise awaited them at La Jolla on the ‘rocks by the sea’. One of the largest of these they found lighted by Chinese lanterns, beneath which, on the natural table of the rock, was spread a feast of ice cream and cake.

The Note from October 20 included the news that Mr. Rutherford’s men and teams were at work putting in grain (Phil Rutherford leased much of the undeveloped acreage in Pacific Beach and hired a force of men to sow grain and hay crops in the fall to be harvested in the spring). Also, the Pacific Beach Reading Club met at Mrs. Furneaux’s in the college building on Friday. Mrs. Furneaux was the preacher’s wife and the Furneaux family was following the precedent of the church’s first preacher, Rev. C.S. Sprecher, who was also a founder and director of the college. Rev. Sprecher and his family had lived in the college building while it was open and his successors at the church continued the practice even after the college closed.

The October 20 note also reported that Mr. Bowers was disposing of his property here with the intention of returning to Tennessee in the spring. The 10-acre tract known as ‘block 50’ had been sold to Mr. Coffeen, ‘who is recently from Michigan’ (Lewis and Elizabeth Coffeen had paid Wilson and Bowers $3000 for acre lot 50 on October 19). ‘Mr. and Mrs. Coffeen will reside at this place while building a fine cottage on their new possession’. In other news, George Corey was having the Will Wagner place repaired. He had a tenant for it as soon as it was ready for occupancy (the ‘Will Wagner place’ was on Diamond Street between Noyes and Olney on property owned by Elizabeth Dunn, sister of his wife Martha Dunn Corey).

Mr. Honeycutt was having a cement walk laid about his home, according to the October 27 note. Mrs. M. Trumbauer and mother from University Heights spent Monday and Tuesday with friends at this place. Mr. Coffeen was out from the city on Thursday. He expects to move here as soon as the only available house can be made inhabitable. A village improvement society having for its object the welfare of the community in the supervision of sidewalks, street trees, graded streets and all matter of general interest is about to be formed by the land owners of this place.

On November 3 the news was that Judge Stearns’ family would arrive from Duluth on Monday, Mr. Coffeen and family moved out from the city Monday morning and the young people participated in the Halloween festivities at the home of Mr. and Mrs. E. Y. Barnes.

In a November 17 Note, Miss Mabel Rowe had returned from Los Angeles, surf bathing continued with unabated interest, and Mr. Coffeen had ordered the lumber for a very substantial and roomy barn to be built on his new tract. Harold Scott was building a neat little cottage on his lemon tract. Mr. Drury from the city was at work on it. It has either rained or sprinkled five Mondays in succession; ‘If this continues through the winter we may expect abundant wild flowers’ (again). Mr. Davis and family from Marquette, Mich., were out from the city on Thursday. They are very much pleased with this place and contemplate purchasing property here (the Davises did purchase acre lot 34 for $5500 from Wilson and Bowers on November 20).

Real estate activity was the main topic of the Union’s Pacific Beach Notes for December 10. B. Colvin was building a cottage on his five-acre tract (the western half of acre lot 51, the ‘peach orchard), Mr. and Mrs. Coffeen had moved into their new house on the adjoining acre lot 50 (still standing at 1932 Diamond Street), and Mr. and Mrs. Davis and sister were now residing in their new home (also still standing at 1860 Law). These three properties, and acre lot 33, acquired by Ozora Stearns, had been the Wilson and Bowers lemon ranch until Wilson and Bower sold them off over the preceding few months and returned to their former homes in Tennessee (the Stearns family moved into the home vacated by the Wilsons and the Davises moved into the former Bowers home). Also, Mr. and Mrs. Hinkle had moved into the Will Wagner cottage (recently renovated by George Corey). According to this note, Pacific Beach was also keeping step with the times in the way of societies for intellectual, social and philanthropic advancement; ‘There is in this small settlement four prosperous societies, viz.: The Ladies’ Aid society, the Pacific Beach Reading club, the Village Improvement Association and a new literary society composed of young people which promises to be an intellectual and entertaining factor of this place’.

In the final Note from Pacific Beach in 1895, on December 29, Mr. Davis was having a commodious barn built, the young folks had spent a very pleasant evening with Mr. and Mrs. E. Y. Barnes on Friday and Miss Evangeline Rowe was spending the holidays at home, although she would be returning to Los Angeles the next week. Also, the young people gave a most enjoyable Christmas entertainment on Tuesday evening, consisting of pantomimes in shadow, readings, recitations, music and a Christmas tree for the little folks. If history is any guide, the Christmas tree would have been in the college building and would be an emphatic success.

1895 had been a good year for Pacific Beach, and particularly for its emerging lemon industry. Three years after the groves were planted the first lemons were marketed in the city with ‘very satisfactory’ returns. More prospective lemon ranchers had arrived, some acquiring developed lemon ranches and others buying undeveloped tracts and planting new groves. More homes were built and more households established, including one uniting the scions of two pioneer families, both former students at the College of Letters.  

Good times continued in 1896, and news coverage from Pacific Beach was enhanced when the San Diego Evening Tribune also began featuring notes from Pacific Beach after its establishment in December 1895. The first telephone was installed at the home of Mr. Barnes, the college campus was sold (again), the schoolhouse moved, and even more houses were built, including some that have survived to the present day. And, even in these early days, the ‘young people’ enjoyed bicycle rides on Grand Avenue.

To be continued . . .

Pacific Beach Life – 1894

In 1894 the community of Pacific Beach had been in existence for six years and was home to a few dozen families (the 1895 San Diego City Directory listed 35 names with residences in Pacific Beach). Some of these families had first been attracted to Pacific Beach by the San Diego College of Letters, San Diego’s first college, which opened in 1888 on a campus near the community’s center that is now the site of Pacific Plaza. Rose Hartwick Thorpe was a world-renowned poet who had come to help establish the college (and whose daughter Lulo had been a student), and the Barnes, Rowe, Thresher and Cogswell families had also established residences near the college campus where their children studied.

Franklin and Phoebe Barnes at their home overlooking the former college buildings in Pacific Beach where their sons had been students

The college closed in 1891 but these families chose to remain in Pacific Beach where they found that their land was well adapted to ‘fruit culture for profit’ and began planting groves of lemon trees on their properties. The Pacific Beach Company, which had founded the community in 1887, encouraged this effort with an updated subdivision map creating ‘acre lots’ of about ten acres, suitable for small farms or ranches, in much of its undeveloped territory. After this new map was recorded in 1892 a number of these acre lots were acquired by ‘easterners’ and developed into lemon ranches. The Wilson and Bowers families from Tennessee jointly owned three adjacent acre lots around the intersection of Lamont and Chalcedony streets (then 11th Street and Idaho Avenue) where they set out lemon trees and built homes, one of which is still standing. Other newcomers, including the Honeycutt, Dammond and Ash families, acquired undeveloped residential blocks near the former college campus and turned them into lemon ranches.

Amended subdivision map of Pacific Beach from 1892. The larger units numbered from 1 to 75 are the ‘acre lots’ introduced in this map

For the former college students wishing to continue their educations the only option at the time was the Russ School, now San Diego High School, which they could reach with a half-hour train ride from Pacific Beach and a mile walk from the downtown station of the San Diego, Old Town & Pacific Beach railway. Several of the former college students did commute to the Russ School and Theodore Barnes and Evangeline Rowe, who lived on neighboring lemon ranches in Pacific Beach, were in the graduating class in 1894. These students made the news on Washington’s birthday, February 22, 1894, when the San Diego Union reported on special exercises conducted at the high school under the direction of Professor Davidson (who had been one of the founders and a professor at the College of Letters and was then principal of the Russ School). The highlight of the program was a debate; Resolved, that Washington was a greater general than statesman, featuring Theo. Barnes for the affirmative and Evangeline Rowe for the negative. According to the Union, the arguments were well chosen, showing careful and accurate historical research, and were generally well delivered, reflecting much credit on the young speakers (the debate was decided in the affirmative). A second debate – Resolved, that George Washington did not cut down the cherry tree – being of a lighter nature and calculated rather to amuse than instruct, was also decided in the affirmative.

Russ School class of 1894, including Theodore Barnes and Evangeline Rowe of Pacific Beach

Grammar school students attended the Pacific Beach school, which was then located at the northeast corner of Hornblend Street (then California Avenue) and Everts (5th) Street. In June 1894 the Union reported that a fine large flag secured through the efforts of G.H. Corey and F.W. Barnes had been presented to the Pacific Beach school by Charles W. Fairchild and formally received by the school superintendent. Rose Hartwick Thorpe, ‘the famous poetess’, was present and read an original poem of five verses appropriate to the occasion (about 24 students of all ages attended the one-room schoolhouse where they were taught by Miss Ella Waitneight). In addition to being a student at the school Charles Fairfield, 12 years old at the time, may have been the school janitor, a position he had applied for the previous year. George H. Corey was the husband of Martha Dunn Corey, the first physician in Pacific Beach. She was the owner of acre lot 19, west of Lamont and north of Beryl Street (then Georgia Avenue), across Beryl from the Bowers ranch on acre lot 34. Franklin W. Barnes and his wife Phoebe lived on a lemon ranch on acre lot 64, between Emerald and Diamond (then Vermont and Alabama avenues), Jewell (9th) and Lamont streets. The Barnes family, which included sons Theodore and Edward (another former college student) and daughter Mary, lived in a home at the corner of Lamont and Emerald.

Pacific Beach acre lots were still selling in 1894 and the Union noted in March that Frank J. Marshall of Kansas City had bought two ten-acre lots. He had plowed, piped and planted 1400 lemon trees, 200 prune trees, also orange, peach, pear and apricot trees and a hedge of Monterrey cypress would also be set all around his land (as a windbreak). Mr. Marshall would return to Kansas City but planned to return to Pacific Beach in the fall with his brother and both would build a handsome residence. During his absence Ed Barnes would have charge of the ranch, which was on acre lots 30 and 53, between Diamond and Beryl and east of Olney (14th) streets.

Marshall lemon ranch on Pacific Beach acre lots 30 and 53, seen from the east about 1906

Another note from Pacific Beach in July 1894 reported that Mr. Thorpe and Mr. Honeycutt had their houses freshly painted, Mr. Rutherford had completed threshing his grain and would bale the straw for hay, Miss Pearl Wagner from the city was spending a few days with Miss Mabel Rowe, and there would be an entertainment at the college building under the auspices of the Woman’s Aid Society for the purpose of paying insurance on the church. Also, orchard owners were beginning to realize the benefit of windbreaks and some were building high lath fences and individual windbreaks as protection for their young trees while the cypress hedges were growing. Not all the trees in Pacific Beach were lemons; this note added that other trees were loaded with apricots, peaches, plums, etc. and it was thought that there would be all the deciduous fruit needed by the residents this year. And delegates from some families benefiting from the reservoir contributed two days’ work to stopping the leakage and otherwise protecting the water stored there.

The Thorpe home on Pacific Beach block 167

Mr. Thorpe was Rose Hartwick Thorpe’s husband Edmond C. Thorpe, a building contractor who had completed construction of their house on block 167, between Emerald, Lamont, Diamond, Morrell (13th) streets with a fresh coat of paint (the Thorpe house burned to the ground in 1957). Sterling and Nancy Honeycutt had turned the four blocks surrounded by Grand and Garnet avenues and Jewell and Lamont streets into a lemon ranch in 1893 and in February 1894 had purchased the northwest quarter of block 214, across Lamont from their lemon ranch. The Honeycutts lived in the University Heights area of San Diego but stayed at a house on this new property when visiting Pacific Beach to manage their lemon ranch. That house, at the southeast corner of Garnet and Lamont and painted in 1894, remained standing until 1954.

Honeycutt house at the southeast corner of Garnet and Lamont streets

Phil Rutherford did not own property in Pacific Beach at the time but he did rent large sections of the mostly vacant land to plant and harvest grain (the Union had reported in October 1893 that he also rented over 1000 acres in San Marcos and would put it in grain for the coming season). Pearl Wagner was the daughter of Harr Wagner, the prime mover behind the College of Letters. When the college closed the Wagner family had moved back to San Diego, where Mr. Wagner was elected Superintendent of Schools in 1891. Pearl was paying a visit to her former college classmate Mabel Rowe.

Stough Hall

Although the college had closed, the college buildings remained and were used for ‘entertainments’ and other community activities. The original college building built in 1888 was a three-story structure which included ‘sleeping rooms’ for faculty and female students as well as offices and classrooms (male students lived in the ‘boy’s dormitory’ at the northeast corner of Lamont and Hornblend streets). In 1890 a second building was built next to the first, at the head of Kendall (10th) Street. Financed by Oliver Stough, majority shareholder of the Pacific Beach Company, it was known as Stough Hall. The college campus property had been foreclosed on after the college failed but the deed had passed to Stough after a sheriff’s auction at the courthouse door in 1892 and he made the buildings available to the public (they were demolished in 1958 to make way for Pacific Plaza). The community church requiring insurance was kitty-corner from the college campus at the southwest corner of Garnet (then College) Avenue and Jewell Street, the same location as today’s Presbyterian church built in 1941, and the Ladies Aid Society sponsored events to raise money for it.

Pacific Beach Church (right) about 1904, with Garnet Avenue and a lemon grove in the foreground

In 1893 the Pacific Beach Company had run a four-inch pipeline from the end of city water main at about Lamont and Chalcedony streets further up the hill to its 2,200,000 gallon reservoir located at the highest point in the subdivision. ‘Those benefitting from the reservoir’ would have been residents living above the level of the city main who would have depended on the water stored in the reservoir (the Pacific Beach reservoir was replaced by the housing development on Gordon Lane off present-day Los Altos Road about 2020, after having been inactive for decades). In its early years, before it was lined with cement, the reservoir required frequent service to manage leakage, and apparently relied at times on volunteer labor.   

The Woman’s Aid Society’s entertainment at the college building had netted $12, more than the $9 required to pay the insurance on the church, according to the Union’s Pacific Beach notes for July 25, 1894. Trees were making a fine growth and it was hoped that the windbreaks in course of building would prevent a ‘repetition of last year’s discouragement’. In social news, a party of young people, accompanied by a few older ones, enjoyed bathing in the surf and there was an ice cream party at Mrs. Fairfield’s. In the health report Bennie Bowers was in Los Angeles receiving medical treatment and Rufus Martin was quite ill. Bennie Bowers was the 17-year-old son of G.M.D. Bowers of the Wilson and Bowers lemon ranch (the Bowers family home is still standing at 1860 Law Street). Twenty-two-year-old Rufus Martin’s father John T. Martin owned a lemon ranch in block 179, between Morrell, Emerald, Felspar and Noyes (14th) streets.

Ice cream and surf bathing were again topics of the August 13, 1894, notes from Pacific Beach. There was an ice cream party at Mrs. Rowe’s on Wednesday evening and on Friday the young people went to Rose Canyon on a picnic at which ice cream was served with lunch. On Monday evening an ice-cream party was given to Theodore Barnes’ young friends at his home. They parted with him with expressions of sincere regret and he would be sadly missed in their circle (he sailed for San Francisco Tuesday morning on the steamer Mexico to attend the university at Berkeley). On Saturday several wagon and carriage loads of young people, together with a few older ones, went surf bathing. Also, Mr. Haight and family, who had been ‘camping’ on their ten-acre ranch during the summer, were preparing to return to Redlands for the winter. The Haight ranch was on acre lot 36, between Chalcedony, Jewell, Beryl and Ingraham (then called Broadway; at 100 feet it was wider than the standard 80-foot width of Pacific Beach streets).

In other news, Mr. Corey was having the Will Wagner house repaired and an addition built. Will J. Wagner had been a ‘breeder of fancy chickens’ and his house was on the north side of Diamond Street between Noyes and Olney (the address would be 2162 Diamond today), down the block from the house built for his younger brother Harr while Harr Wagner was leading the effort to establish the College of Letters (and which is still standing at 2104 Diamond). When Harr Wagner moved back to San Diego in 1891 the Wagner brothers’ youngest sister Jennie Havice and her husband George had moved into his former home while the Havices developed a lemon ranch on block 213, between Garnet Avenue and Noyes, Hornblend and Morrell streets (in 1891 there was nothing but vacant land in the three blocks between Garnet and Diamond and their ranch was said to be ‘opposite the Harr Wagner place’).

US Geological Survey map of Pacific Beach showing cultural features (roads, railroads, buildings, etc.) as of 1903. Features existing in1894 are highlighted and identified

Will Wagner moved to Los Angeles about 1893, where the 1900 census listed him as a chicken dealer. Mr. Corey was maintaining the Will Wagner house because his wife’s sister Elizabeth Dunn had purchased most of that block (block 140), including the two houses, from Harr Wagner in April 1894. Elizabeth Dunn never did take up residence in Pacific Beach and in 1905 she transferred the property in block 140 to her sister Martha Dunn Corey (the Coreys had divorced in 1899). There was also another Wagner brother, Rev. Dr. E. R. Wagner, who had been professor of German at the College of Letters and then became pastor of the First Lutheran Church in San Diego. He made news in 1890 when he conducted a double wedding, first marrying Flora Hieber and Thomas Carrol while her mother Mrs. Ella Heiber and Will Wagner stood with them, then ‘the couples changed places’ with the newlyweds acting as bridesmaid and best man and Rev. Wagner married them too, with Harr Wagner and Jennie Havice also in attendance at the ceremony.

A note from Pacific Beach a week later, August 22, added that the trees were beginning to need irrigation, Mr. Fairfield went to Los Angeles, and the Christian Endeavor Society met at the church to arrange for a series of entertainments for the purpose of paying off the old church debt. Also, E. C. Thorpe was building a barn with four gables on his 5-acre tract and Mr. Ash was steadily improving his 5-acre tract east of the college grounds. On the map these ‘five-acre tracts’ were actually city blocks, two rows of 20 25-by-125-foot lots separated by a 20-foot alley and surrounded by 80-foot-wide streets, totaling about 2 1/3 acres. Counting public property in the central alley and the surrounding streets, which were generally unmarked and unused, the owner of a Pacific Beach block might have the use of about 5 acres. Mr. Thorpe’s four-gable barn appears in a photo taken a few years later which also shows his house (and his grand-daughter) in block 167. William Ash lived with his wife Rebecca and son William on block 205, between Garnet Avenue and Felspar Street (then Massachusetts Avenue), just across Lamont from the college campus.

Mr. Thorpe’s four-gable barn (on right, behind the Thorpes’ home and grand-daughter)

School opened on Monday with good attendance, according to the note from Pacific Beach on September 12; ‘Miss Waitneight has charge of the school again this year to the entire satisfaction of parents and pupils’. Dr. Martha Dunn Corey had several patients at La Jolla whom she had been visiting two or three times each week for some time. Dr. Cogswell and family contemplated moving into the city where they would remain during the rainy season and Mrs. Thresher was also looking for a house in the city; ‘The short days and anticipated rains made it unpleasant living so far from school and business’. Dr. Cogswell’s dental practice was in the Bon Ton Block at Sixth Avenue (then Sixth Street) and Broadway (then D Street) downtown, Mrs. Thresher was a stenographer at the county clerk’s office and her daughter Marian attended the Russ School; they would have taken the train to school and business.   

The Union noted on September 22, 1894, that George Havice and wife were rejoicing over the safe arrival of a son, and this new addition to the residents of Pacific Beach was heartily welcomed by all. Also, Mrs. Thresher was having repairs and improvements made on her place and the Woman’s Aid society held another entertainment after which cake and lemonade were served. All this for a dime to adults and five cents to children and the proceeds amounted to nearly seven dollars. And the people of this place, young and old, still kept up the practice of surf bathing every Saturday afternoon. The two or three who had unpleasant encounters with stingarees were as eager as any; ‘There is a fascination about surf bathing in large parties that is simply irresistible’. Capt. Wilson was about returning to Tennessee to look after business interests and it was rumored that his family would follow him some time in December for a protracted visit (the Wilsons lived on acre lot 33; their former ranch house was razed in 1947 but the Moreton Bay fig tree which once shaded it is still growing at 1922 Law Street).

More comings and goings of residents in Pacific Beach was noted on October 17, 1894. The Robertsons had moved into the hotel building and the Scott brothers took a ‘lively interest in whatever promotes the best welfare of the place’. Mr. Kyle’s mother and sister were coming from Scotland and Mrs. Ash’s parents and sister were contemplating coming to spend the winter with her. Rufus Martin was going to Los Angeles in search of employment and Misses Mabel and Evangeline Rowe were going there for the purpose of continuing their education. In addition, the reservoir was dry and those living on the higher lands were out of water a good part of the time. Mail delivery had changed from 9 o’clock to 2:30 and a good program was rendered at the young people’s entertainment held at Stough Hall on Friday evening where cake and lemonade were served at the conclusion of the literary exercises; ‘These entertainments are gaining in favor and reputation’.

Hotel del Pacific near the Pacific Beach railroad depot at the foot of Grand Avenue. The dance pavilion is also visible to the right and behind the hotel

Thomas Robertson was an engineer for the railroad which ran between San Diego and Pacific Beach, and which had been extended to La Jolla in the first months of 1894. The hotel was the Hotel del Pacific, built by the Pacific Beach Company in 1888 at the foot of Grand Avenue near the railroad’s depot and the beach. The hotel had not been a commercial success, especially since the newly extended San Diego, Pacific Beach & La Jolla railway allowed passengers to bypass it in favor of the fancier hotel further up the line. It was apparently being made available for longer term residents like Thomas and True Robertson and their two children, although the Robertsons soon moved on to La Jolla after the railway re-established its base of operations there. Mr. Robertson was still driving trains in 1908 when his engine derailed and overturned in Middletown, killing him and his fireman in what was the only fatal accident in the railroad’s history.

The Scott brothers, Theophilous, Frances, Harold and Henry were lemon ranchers on acre lot 35, between Chalcedony and Beryl streets, west of the Wilson and Bowers ranch and north of the Cogswell ranch. William Kyle’s mother and sister, both named Margaret, would return to Scotland but both later emigrated to Pacific Beach where his sister and her husband Alfred Roxburgh become lemon ranchers in 1899.

Another Pacific Beach Notes column arrived on November 6, 1894. Halloween had been celebrated by a party of young folks at Mr. Barnes’, Mr. Thorpe had contracted to build two or three cottages at La Jolla and Frank Hurlburt was at work on the cottages in course of erection there (Frank Hurlburt was a Pacific Beach carpenter who was employed building houses, presumably including some of those Mr. Thorpe had contracted to build). Theodore Barnes was interested in study and recreation at Berkeley university (i.e., the University of California); ‘He has already become favorably identified with some of the athletic sports connected with that institution’. A son was born to Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs (the San Diego city directory listed E. M. Gibbs as a laborer residing in Pacific Beach and in 1894 the  family already had a son and three daughters). There was also a meeting of the Woman’s Aid society at church and the young people had organized a dramatic club for the purpose of giving a series of entertainments.

In a note from Pacific Beach on November 15 the trees were making a fine growth, Mrs. Gridley had received word that her husband had been obliged to give up his employment on account of poor health (he had gone to join his brother in Buffalo, NY, in June), a number of young people were preparing for a moonlight ride to Roseville and the meeting at the Christian Endeavor on Sunday evening was very interesting. Best of all, the pumpkin social under the auspices of the Woman’s Aid Society at the college building on Friday evening had been a novel and most enjoyable entertainment. The maids and matrons who served the guests to generous triangles of golden pumpkin pie and English tea wore coquettish little head-dresses of orange puffs and bows of orange ribbon and white aprons decorated with orange ribbons. The literatary feature of the evening consisted of songs and recitations on ‘The Pumpkin’. The receipts of the evening lessened the church debt by several dollars.

On December 1 the Pacific Beach report was that Mrs. Gleason had the first olives grown at this place, Rev. Furneaux preached the Thanksgiving sermon on Sunday, Mrs. Dick at Eureka Lemon Tract had a little daughter born a few days ago, the young people met at Miss Thorpe’s home on Friday evening to arrange for a Christmas entertainment and Mr. Thorpe had a young pear tree, eighteen months from the nursery, that matured twenty-three large pears of excellent flavor this season. Also there was some talk of cementing the reservoir. There has been so much water wasted that is has been shut off from the reservoir for several weeks and trouble had been experienced in irrigating the high lands. Mr. Kyle had been employed by the new daily paper in San Diego and would reside in the city after the 1st of December. The notes added that he had been active in assisting at getting up entertainments, in the Christian Endeavor Society and in making the social gatherings among the young people pleasurable and all regret to lose him (a month earlier the Local Intelligence column of the San Diego Union had reported that William Kyle, a subject of Queen Victoria, had declared his intention of becoming a citizen of the United States).

Fannie Gleason lived in the house next to the lumber company on the north side of Balboa Avenue between Lamont and Morrell streets that is still standing and is now a restaurant, Mamma Mia’s. Rev. Hugh Furneaux was pastor of the Presbyterian Church, the community’s only church at the time, which met in a wooden building on the site of the present Pacific Beach Presbyterian Church which replaced it in 1941. The Eureka Lemon Tract was a subdivision east of what is now Mission Bay Drive, then the right of way of the Pacific Beach railway. It extended for about half a mile along what are now Brandywine, Bunker Hill and Ticonderoga streets. Robert and Christina Dick owned lots 6 and 28 of Eureka Lemon Tract, about 12 acres between the tracks of the Pacific Beach and California Southern (Santa Fe) railroads and south of what is now Garnet Avenue. Their little daughter, Mary Minerva Dick, was born on November 24 and delivered by Dr. Martha Dunn Corey.

Birth notice for Mary Minerva Dick, delivered by Martha Dunn Corey on November 24

The Union’s last note from Pacific Beach for 1894, published on December 22, announced that there was no Sunday mail and that the mail was now carried on the motor (i.e., the steam trains of the San Diego, Pacific Beach & La Jolla railway). Mrs. Ash’s father, mother and young sister had just arrived at her home from the east to spend the winter. Theodore Barnes, attending the State University at Berkeley, won a diamond-set medal valued at $75 at a foot race in San Francisco. The young people gave Miss Cogswell a surprise party on Thanksgiving evening and the next day participated in a candy pull at the Wilson’s. Mr. Shigley’s horses had become frightened while cultivating and ran away, up on the high trestle bridge near the old mail-catcher, where the cultivator catching in the rails threw the horses to the ground some twelve or fifteen feet below. They escaped serious injury.

Eureka Lemon Tract subdivision map, 1893

Jefferson Shigley was another rancher with property in the Eureka Lemon Tract. His ranch was on lot 5, south of the Dick ranch and between the Pacific Beach and the California Southern (Santa Fe) railway lines, about where Mossy Toyota is now. The high trestle would have been an early version of the bridge which now carries the Coaster over Garnet/Balboa Avenue at the foot of the grade leading up to Clairemont. Apparently there was still a ‘mail-catcher’ near the bridge, actually a ‘mail crane’, where the local postmaster could hang a ‘catcher pouch’ containing mail to be delivered up the line. A mail clerk on a passing train could deploy the train’s ‘mail-catcher’ arm to snatch the pouch hanging from the crane and swing it inside the mail car to begin sorting the mail (the clerk might also kick out a pouch of mail to be picked up and delivered by the local post office). Mr. Shigley’s property was adjacent to the ‘high trestle’ on the railway line and when his horses ran up on the bridge the cultivator they were pulling got tangled up with the rails and they fell off.        

1894 had been a good year in Pacific Beach; trees of all kinds were ‘making a fine growth’, including 1400 more lemon trees on two more lemon ranches established by another easterner on its acre lots. Windbreaks of cypress trees were going up around the acre lots to protect the young fruit trees. Families grew too, with the Havice, Gibbs and Dick families each adding a member. Two Pacific Beach residents (former students at the defunct college) were among the 28 graduates of San Diego’s high school in 1894. They departed at the end of summer to continue their education at out-of-town institutions, but not before enjoying surf bathing, ice cream parties and ‘entertainments’ in their hometown.

History would continue to be made in 1895; two prominent pioneer families would be united when one’s son and the other’s daughter, both former college students, got married and started a family (and lemon ranch) of their own. The easterners who had developed some of the first ranches would sell out (at a handsome profit) and return home, but more would arrive to take their places and continue to advance lemon ranching in Pacific Beach. And ‘cultured ladies’ meeting in their ranch houses would organize the Pacific Beach Reading Club, since renamed the Woman’s Club and still in operation.

To be continued. . .

Life in Pacific Beach – 1893

Pacific Beach had been founded in 1887 by the Pacific Beach Company, a syndicate of wealthy bankers and real estate operators from San Diego who purchased the vacant land north of what was then called False Bay, drew up a subdivision map and began selling lots. A four-block parcel near the center of the Pacific Beach subdivision, now the site of Pacific Plaza, was designated the ‘college campus’ and donated to the San Diego College of Letters, San Diego’s first college. The college was headed by Harr Wagner, editor of the San Diego literary magazine Golden Era, who attracted other literary figures including the world-renowned poet Rose Hartwick Thorpe to Pacific Beach to join him.

San Diego College of Letters and student body, Pacific Beach, 1888.

The college opened in 1888 but struggled financially and closed in 1891. Most of the academic community moved away, including Mr. Wagner, who moved back to the city. Those that remained, including Mrs. Thorpe and her family, found that their land was well adapted to ‘fruit culture for profit’ and began planting groves of lemon trees on their properties. To encourage this development the Pacific Beach Company issued a new subdivision map in January 1892 in which much of the tract was divided into ‘acre lots’ of about ten acres each, intended for agricultural uses. By the end of 1892 many of these lots, particularly those in the vicinity of the college campus, had been acquired by ‘easterners’ and developed as lemon ranches.

Portion of Pacific Beach subdivision map 697 from 1892 showing streets, avenues, blocks and acre lots in the vicinity of the college campus. The dotted line on Grand Avenue represents the right of way of the San Diego, Old Town & Pacific Beach railway.

The San Diego Union kept its readers informed about events in outlying suburbs like Pacific Beach with ‘notes’ about the comings and goings of prominent residents and their families, their health and, especially, their social activities. In 1893 these Pacific Beach notes began with an article in the March 12 edition about a ‘Double Birthday Party’, a social activity that brought together many of the families then living in the vicinity of the college campus, most of them lemon ranchers.

According to the Union, the young people of Pacific Beach had spent a most enjoyable evening at a party given by Mrs. Rowe and Mrs. Barnes to their daughters Miss Evangeline Rowe and Miss Mary Barnes on the occasion of their joint birthday party. The birthday party was at the residence of F. W. Barnes and the parlors and hallway were tastefully decorated with callas and ropes of smilax while maiden-hair ferns, roses and many other flowers filled the pleasant rooms with fragrance and beauty. Miss Rowe and Miss Barnes in their soft pink gowns with fern ornaments were like two rosebuds in their fresh girlish beauty. Miss Mary Cogswell, Miss Annie Bell Wilson and Miss Eddie Sue Bowers wore dainty costumes of cream color while Miss Jessie Fairfield was lovely in dark red and pale blue. Miss Lulo Thorpe and Miss Mabel Rowe were most becomingly dressed in black and Miss Marian Thresher in brown and white and Miss Nellie Rowe in pink. The gentlemen present included Messrs. E. Y. Barnes, Theodore Barnes, Fairfield, Rowe, Wilson, Bowers, and Colvin. ‘The daintiest of refreshments were served in an unconventional manner, after which several novel games were introduced, and the evening’s pleasures far excelled any social events occurring at Pacific Beach’.

U.S. Geological Survey map from 1903 showing cultural features surveyed in Pacific Beach, including the college buildings and ranch houses existing in 1893.

Mrs. Mary Rowe and Mrs. Phoebe Barnes were among those that the college had attracted to Pacific Beach and who remained after the college closed. The Barnes family owned a lemon ranch on acre lot 64, 9.3 acres north of the college campus between Emerald, Diamond, Jewell and Lamont streets (then Vermont and Alabama avenues and 9th and 11th streets). Franklin W. and Phoebe Barnes’ residence, the tastefully decorated setting for the party, was at the southeast corner of the ranch, the northwest corner of Lamont and Emerald (most of their former ranch is now occupied by the Plaza condominium community and the site of their former home is its parking structure off Lamont Street). Their sons Edward (E.Y.) and Theodore, 20 and 17 years old in 1893, had been students at the college while Mary Barnes, celebrating her fourteenth birthday, attended the grammar school.

1890s ranch houses in 1938 aerial photo of college campus neighborhood

Mrs. Rowe was also a lemon rancher, although her deed to acre lot 49, 8.6 acres north of the Barnes ranch between Diamond and Chalcedony streets (then Idaho Avenue) and west of Lamont, was not recorded until April 1893 (deeds were not necessarily recorded immediately after a property transfer). The Rowe family’s first home in Pacific Beach had been at the foot of College (now Garnet) Avenue but in 1893 that house was moved from its beachfront location to a spot near the center of her new ranch where it stood at 1828 Missouri Street until 1957 (a lone palm tree in front of the apartment buildings that replaced it is all that remains). The Rowe family included Evangeline, who was celebrating her seventeenth birthday and her sister Mabel, 19, both former students at the college, and their younger siblings Nellie (Nellore), 14, and Percy, 12 (their father, Rev. A. D. Rowe, had died of typhoid fever in 1882 in India, where he was serving as a missionary and where the three younger children had been born).

Other former students attending the birthday party included Lulo Thorpe, 20, Mary Cogswell, 15, and Marian Thresher, 15. Lulo was the daughter of Rose Hartwick Thorpe, who in 1892 had purchased block 167, across Lamont Street from the Barnes home, about 3 acres between Lamont, Diamond, Emerald and Morrell (12th) streets where Lulo’s father E.C. Thorpe, a building contractor, had built a house and planted an orchard (that house burned down in 1957 and the site is now Emerald Manor). Lulo had been appointed as a teacher by the school board in January 1893.

Thorpe family home

The Cogswells were also neighbors of the Barnes family. They lived in a home at the northwest corner of Jewell and Diamond streets (the home survived until 1960 and the site is now Jewell Manor). The Cogswells also owned a lemon ranch across Jewell from their home, on the west half of acre lot 48, 5 acres between Diamond and Chalcedony. In addition to raising lemons, Dr. Thomas Cogswell commuted to his downtown dentist office on the San Diego, Old Town & Pacific Beach railway which ran on Grand Avenue from a depot near the beach, stopping at the ‘college station’ at Lamont Street on its way around the bay to San Diego. He may have shared the ride with Evangeline Rowe and Theodore Barnes who would also have taken the train to the Russ School, now San Diego High School, where they graduated in 1894. Theodore Barnes was fullback and captain of the Russ football team; he scored the first touchdown in a 16-0 defeat of the YMCA team on Thanksgiving Day, 1893.

The Cogswell home at the northwest corner of Diamond and Jewell streets (lower right) about 1945

Marian Thresher’s mother, Isabella, was a writer and contributor to Harr Wagner’s Golden Era magazine who worked as a stenographer for the county clerk. The Threshers lived in a cottage at the corner of Hornblend (then California Avenue) and Noyes (13th) streets and would also have commuted to San Diego for work and school.

Other party guests included the sons and daughters of Wilson and Bowers, business partners and brothers-in-law who had been among the purchasers of Pacific Beach acre lots in 1892. R.C. Wilson and G.M.D. Bowers, Confederate veterans from Henning, Tennessee, had jointly purchased acre lots 33, 34, and 50, installed 4000 feet of water pipe and put it in lemons. The ranch house of the Bowers family, his wife Edmonia, son Bennie, 16, and daughter Eddie Sue, 13, was built in 1892 on lot 34, 8.6 acres north of the Rowe ranch between Chalcedony and Beryl Street (then Georgia Avenue) and west of Lamont (that house is still standing at 1860 Law Street, although it was moved there in 1912 from its original location about 200 feet to the southeast). Mr. Wilson’s family, which included his wife (and Mr. Bowers’ sister) Susie and children Annie Bell, 12, and Joe, 6, built their ranch house on acre lot 33, 9.3 acres east of Lamont between Chalcedony and Beryl (that ranch house lasted until 1947, and a Moreton Bay fig tree which once stood over it is still growing at 1922 Law Street).

Acre lot 50, 9.9 acres east of Lamont between Diamond and Chalcedony and adjacent to the Rowe and the Thorpe ranches, was also part of the Wilson and Bowers lemon ranch and in 1892 they extended their ranch by purchased the adjoining acre lot 51, 8.3 acres west of Noyes Street between Diamond and Chalcedony. Benjamin F. Colvin, who was also from Henning, Tennessee and presumably came to Pacific Beach with the Wilson and Bowers families, was 23 years old in 1893 and was also one of the guests at the double birthday party at the Barnes residence. In 1895 he bought the west half of Acre Lot 51 from Wilson and Bowers and developed it as a peach and apricot orchard and market garden. He made news in 1896 when he delivered twelve watermelons totaling 600 pounds to a fruit dealer. According to the Union the largest tipped the scales at an even 75 pounds.

Party guests Jessie Fairfield, 13, and her brother Charles, 11, were the children of J.W. Fairfield, whose Pacific Beach Lumber Company on the northeast corner of Lamont Street and Balboa Avenue had provided building materials to the early settlers of Pacific Beach. Mr. Fairfield had since sold the lumber company and was often out of town on business but Mrs. Fairfield, Margaret or Maggie, and the children lived in a cottage he had built on the property. Charles Fairfield (still 11 years old) was an applicant for the position of janitor at the Pacific Beach school in July 1893.

Although much of Pacific Beach north of the college campus had been made into acre lots suitable for ranches in 1892 other property around the campus remained subdivided as residential blocks. Most of these blocks were also undeveloped and many were also turned into lemon ranches. In May 1893 four contiguous blocks south of the campus (215, 216, 237 and 238) surrounded by Garnet and Grand avenues and Lamont and Jewell streets were purchased by Sterling and Nancy Honeycutt. East of the campus, block 180, south of the Thorpes between Lamont, Emerald, Morrell and Felspar (then Massachusetts Avenue) was purchased by Robert and Lettie Dammond and block 205, south of the Dammond ranch, between Lamont, Felspar, Morrell and Garnet, was purchased by William and Rebecca Ash. Although each of these properties was planted with lemon groves, only the Ash family took up residence on their ranch in 1893. The Union reported that Mr. Honeycutt drove out from his University Heights home nearly every morning and spent the day cultivating his lemon tract. The Dammonds remained at their home in Iowa until moving to Pacific Beach in 1896.

In 1892 the Union had reported that the existing water main on Grand Avenue had been tapped two blocks below the College of Letters and four- and six-inch pipe laid running north past the east side of the college campus and on up the hill, i.e., up Lamont from Grand to the lemon ranches around Chalcedony Street where Wilson and Bowers were installing 4000 feet of irrigation pipe. In August 1893 the Union added that the Pacific Beach Company would extend a four-inch pipeline from that point to its reservoir, which would contain 2,200,000 gallons. The reservoir was located on acre lot 6, the highest elevation in the Pacific Beach subdivision, where it remained until about 2020, although it had been inactive for many years (the site is now residential development on Gordon Lane off Los Altos Road).

Pacific Beach Reservoir site on acre lot 6

In other news about Pacific Beach, the Board of Aldermen adopted a joint resolution ordering a water trough at Eleventh (Lamont) Street and Grand Avenue, Pacific Beach. This intersection, which was also the location of the ‘college station’ and a grade crossing of the Pacific Beach railroad (which ran on Grand), the lumber company and a general store and post office, would have been a hub of horse-drawn vehicle traffic at the time.

Pavilion and Engine House near the beach

The railroad also extended to a depot near the foot of Grand Avenue, where the Pacific Beach Company had built a hotel and a pavilion overlooking the beach. The pavilion was the destination for a series of ‘excursions’ on the railroad during the summer of 1893. On August 6 the Union reported that the pavilion at Pacific Beach presented an unusual scene of revelry last night as fifty-two couples from San Diego, Coronado, National City and other points enjoyed the ball until a late hour. Today two excursion trains would be run to Pacific Beach and among the attractions would be music by Boeckh’s orchestra and surf riding by the Hawaiian islanders. On August 8 four or five hundred persons, young and old, attended the Christian Endeavor picnic at Pacific Beach. A song service in the big pavilion, surf-bathing and other recreations made the time pass pleasantly. On August 22 the Fisher Opera House orchestra, consisting of twelve pieces under the directorship of Professor Boeckh, would give a moonlight excursion to Pacific Beach. The train would stop at Old Town to accommodate parties desiring to get on at that place. Round trip tickets, including the dance, were 25 cents.

The Elks held their first annual outing at Pacific Beach on August 26. About six hundred people attended and ‘all tastes were catered to’. Good music was rendered all day long, continuing during the dance in the evening. There was a street pageant, games, including climbing the greased pole and a tug of war, races, and a baseball game in which a ‘committee of nine’ representing city administrators met a like number of county officials ‘in the open air’ (the ‘court house boys’ beat the ‘city hall nine’ 16 to 8 in 5 innings). Prizes were awarded the contestants at 7:15 in the pavilion after which was held a ‘social session –  Good music. Good time. The password is Fun’.

The railroad depot at the foot of Grand Avenue was the end of the line for the San Diego, Old Town & Pacific Beach railway but in September 1893 the company was granted a franchise to extend the line to La Jolla. Several months would be spent securing rights of way and conducting engineering studies but construction would finally begin in March 1894 and the line would reach La Jolla by May. Back in Pacific Beach, 1894 would be noted for the continuing evolution of the lemon industry as well as surf bathing and ice cream parties. To be continued.

Railway to PB and LJ

When Pacific Beach was founded in 1887 its founders recognized that development of their new suburb would depend on reliable transportation to and from downtown San Diego. They formed the San Diego and Pacific Beach Railway Company and received a franchise from the San Diego city council granting them a right of way around the northeast corner of Mission Bay (then called False Bay) from a ‘point on the Pacific Ocean Beach’ to Old Town. At Old Town it would connect with the San Diego & Old Town Street Railroad, which began service between Old Town and a depot at the corner of Broadway and Kettner Boulevard (then D and Arctic streets) in October 1887. These two railroads would be consolidated to form the San Diego, Old Town & Pacific Beach Railway in April 1888.

The railway’s route in Pacific Beach was laid out in the original Pacific Beach subdivision map of October 1887, which shows the right of way following Grand Avenue from a depot near the beach to what is now Mission Bay Drive at the far eastern side of the community, where it turned south toward Old Town. Grand Avenue was made wider than other streets in Pacific Beach, 125 feet rather than 80 feet, to accommodate the railroad (the diagonal section of Grand Avenue on the 1887 map east of Eleventh Street, now Lamont, has since been reclassified as extensions of Balboa and Garnet avenues and Grand extended east of Lamont over what was then Ivy Avenue). The route over Balboa and Garnet avenues was necessary at the time to circumvent the Pacific Beach Driving Park, an oval racetrack with a one-mile course, which was also being built in 1887 north of Mission Bay and east of Rose Creek.

Construction of the Pacific Beach railroad began at Morena in December 1887 and progressed north and west around the racetrack as far as Lamont Street by January 1888. At Morena a temporary interchange was built to connect with the California Southern Railroad, a subsidiary of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway that ran along the east side of Mission Bay linking San Diego to its transcontinental railway system. The interchange allowed trains to run over the California Southern tracks from its station downtown, switch over to the newly laid Pacific Beach railroad track at Morena and continue on to Lamont and Grand. On January 28, 1888, two trains brought an estimated 2500 spectators there to celebrate the laying of the cornerstone for the first building constructed in Pacific Beach, the San Diego College of Letters at Lamont and Garnet (then College) Avenue, where Pacific Plaza is located today.

Laying the Cornerstone, San Diego College of Letters, January 28, 1888

Over the next few months the rails were extended west on Grand to a depot at the beach and south from Morena toward Old Town parallel to and west of the California Southern tracks, crossing the San Diego River over a newly built bridge. South of the river the Pacific Beach line passed to the east side of the California Southern tracks over a grade crossing and continued into Old Town, where it joined the existing line that connected Old Town to the San Diego depot at Broadway and Kettner. Through trains began running between the railroad’s San Diego and Pacific Beach depots on April 29, 1888.

S.D. & P.B. Ry. No. 1, the railway’s first locomotive.

The Old Town railroad had begun service in 1887 with a new steam ‘dummy’ locomotive, which became the San Diego, Old Town and Pacific Beach Railway No. 1 when the two railroads were consolidated in 1888 (dummy locomotives had an outer housing that hid much of their running gear so as not to frighten people and horses on street railways). This locomotive was joined by a pair of larger 24-ton dummies from the Baldwin Locomotive Works (Nos. 2 and 3) and passenger coaches ‘elegantly finished in hard woods’ before the railroad began service to and from Pacific Beach. Most of the trains were short, just a combination passenger/express car and a passenger coach or two in addition to the engine. Initially there were six round trips daily, with the first train leaving Pacific Beach at 6 AM and the last train returning at 9 PM, although the time card promised that on Sundays trains would run from San Diego to Pacific Beach hourly from 8 AM to 6 PM. The round trip fare was 25 cents.

S.D. P.B. & L.J. Ry. No. 3, one of the original Baldwin dummies.

After departure from the downtown depot and stops at Old Town and Morena, the first stop in Pacific Beach was the driving park (racetrack), followed by  stops for Rose Canyon and the asbestos works. The asbestos works, located about where Soledad Mountain Road intersects Garnet Avenue today, produced asbestos boiler coatings and asbestos paint and depended on the railroad for delivery of raw materials from a mine near Elsinore and for shipping finished goods, mostly to the port of San Diego. The asbestos works closed and the stop was removed from the railroad’s timetable in 1892.

Photo from about 1906 looking southwest showing the Pacific Beach and La Jolla railroad north of the race track (stables and portion of the track visible on the left) and along Grand Avenue (today’s Garnet and Balboa avenues) into Pacific Beach (the buildings and groves in the distance).

The next stop was the college station at Lamont Street, serving the College of Letters two blocks to the north. The college was the principal cultural and economic activity in Pacific Beach from its opening in 1888 until it closed in 1891. Although many students and faculty lived on campus or elsewhere in Pacific Beach others commuted from San Diego, and the railroad also brought crowds from San Diego for ‘elocution contests’ and other activities and ceremonies at the college. When the second college building, Stough Hall, was opened in January 1890 a special train carried several carloads of people from the city. The San Diego Union reported that the college buildings were brilliantly lighted and the avenue from the cars to the buildings illuminated with rows of Chinese lanterns on either side.

Near today’s Bayard Street at the western end of Grand the tracks turned south into the depot grounds, which included an engine house where locomotives could be parked and maintained. The equipment and crews were based at the depot grounds where the trains began and ended their daily runs, and crew members and their families lived in a row of houses on Reed Avenue adjacent to the depot grounds. A hotel and pavilion were built overlooking the beach near the end of the line as an attraction for passengers. During the summer of 1888 the railroad promoted band concerts featuring the Red Hussar Band on Sundays at the pavilion, where sports including surf bathing could also be indulged in.

Pavilion and engine house (visible behind and to the right of the pavilion) near the beach at the end of Grand Avenue in Pacific Beach

With two new Baldwin locomotives in service the general manager of the Pacific Beach railway claimed that the line could carry 20,000 passengers each day, but even on summer Sundays with the Red Hussar Band playing at the pavilion actual ridership was far less. The original schedule of six trains daily and hourly departures on Sundays was steadily cut back, to five trains daily and 8 on Sunday in September 1888, five daily and Sunday in May 1889, and four in October 1889. After August 1890 the timetable showed only three trains daily; the first train left Pacific Beach at 7:30 and the last train returned at 6. The round-trip fare was still 25¢.

The San Diego, Old Town & Pacific Beach Railway’s time cards also noted that a stage to La Jolla met the morning train and returned in time to connect with the evening train at Pacific Beach. However, La Jolla residents wanted a railroad connection of their own and in 1893 the railway’s owners obtained a franchise to extend the line from Pacific Beach to La Jolla. The extension ran from Grand Avenue in Pacific Beach north along what is now Mission Boulevard to about Wilbur Street, where it turned toward the northwest and followed a route that is now La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla Hermosa Avenue and Electric Avenue in La Jolla. Between today’s Bonair Street and Sea Lane the right of way crossed residential blocks, then continued over Cuvier to Prospect Street. Construction began in March 1894 and was completed in May.

At a ceremony on May 15 attended by a large crowd that had ridden excursion trains from the city, Mrs. Emma Harris, a guest at the La Jolla hotel, was invited to drive the last spike ‘which lay glittering like pure gold on the last tie with a silver sledge nearby’. The San Diego Union reported that ‘contrary to tradition’ she did not miss the mark and drove the spike to its last resting place while the assembly cheered and the band played. A month after the last spike ceremony the line was extended another 1400 feet along Prospect Street where a shed was put up to serve as a depot.

Mrs. Emma Harris drives the last spike in the railway to La Jolla on May 15, 1894. ‘Contrary to tradition she did not miss the mark and drove the spike to its last resting place while the assembly cheered and the band played.’

The new San Diego, Pacific Beach & La Jolla Railway timetable continued to list three trains daily, including Sunday, with morning, mid-day and late-afternoon departures. Since the railroad’s light dummy engines were not well suited to the longer distance and running time and the steeper grades of the new route one of the Baldwin dummies, No. 2, was exchanged with the Coronado Railroad for a more capable ‘saddle tank’ locomotive that had once operated on the New York elevated railroad. The new locomotive was also given the number 2 and both the new No. 2 and No. 3, the line’s other Baldwin dummy, were re-lettered S.D., P.B. & L.J. Ry. Engine No. 1, the dummy inherited from the Old Town railway, was retired and kept in the engine house as a back-up.

The second S.D. P.B. & L.J. R.R. engine No. 2, formerly with the New York elevated railway.

In Pacific Beach the college had closed in 1891 and the community adapted by becoming a center of lemon cultivation. Most of the lemon ranches were located in the vicinity of the former college station at Lamont and Grand, which was also close to the community’s stores, churches and school. In 1898 the hotel and pavilion were also moved from their original locations near the foot of Grand Avenue to this central area. In its new location at the corner of Hornblend and Morrell streets the pavilion was adjacent to the railway line, which then ran on Balboa Avenue. The pavilion building was converted to a lemon packing facility which cured and shipped carloads of lemons from a siding connected to the railway line.

The siding just east of Lamont Street serving the lumber company, the hay, grain and coal company and the lemon packing plant (formerly the pavilion at the beach).

In 1899 the Pacific Beach and La Jolla railroad was sold to E. S. Babcock, who also owned the San Diego, Cuyamaca & Eastern Railway which served Lemon Grove, La Mesa, El Cajon and Lakeside from a depot at the foot of Tenth Street in San Diego (following the route of today’s Orange Line trolley). In 1904 Babcock began construction of an electric street railway to connect the San Diego depots of his two railroads. The line ran from the depot of the Pacific Beach and La Jolla line at the foot of C Street (it had been moved a block north from Broadway), along C and Sixth streets to L Street (where it passed the National City & Otay Railway’s downtown depot, now the 207 Bar at Hard Rock Hotel), then over what is now the ‘Gaslamp Diagonal’ to the Cuyamaca depot at Tenth and Commercial. When this line opened in 1905 electric streetcars met trains at each depot and traveled through the downtown area to the other depots, where trains would be held for the cars’ arrival. Passengers could also board the electric cars at central locations downtown and transfer to steam trains at the depots.

When the electric cars appeared on the C and Sixth street line they were lettered ‘Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway’, and a notice appeared in the San Diego Union announcing the ‘Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway – Electric cars along C and Sixth streets connect with all incoming and out-bound trains on the N.C. & O. Ry., S.D.C. & E. Ry and S.D., P.B. & L.J. Ry. Day or night’. In 1906 Babcock officially incorporated the Los Angeles and San Diego Beach Railway Company, stating its intention to build a railroad connecting Los Angeles and La Jolla and to acquire the San Diego, Old Town & Pacific Beach, the San Diego, Pacific Beach & La Jolla and the National City & Otay steam railroads to make a line stretching from Los Angeles to Tijuana. The new company did acquire the Pacific Beach and the La Jolla railroad companies (which had never actually been merged) and they were absorbed along with the C and Sixth street electric line. The Otay railroad was never acquired and the line was never extended north of La Jolla but from then on the railroad between San Diego and La Jolla via Pacific Beach was officially the Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway, although it was generally known as the La Jolla line.

A Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway mixed freight and passenger train northbound in Old Town.

The new Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway updated its schedule to add two round trips daily, beginning and ending at La Jolla where the rolling stock and trainmen were then based. Two round trips, one in the morning and the other the last run of the day, were mixed trains that carried freight in addition to passengers. The mixed trains included a passenger/express car and even freight cars in addition to a passenger coach, and their schedules overlapped with the passenger trains, making it necessary to operate a separate train with a second engine and crew. The passenger-only trains were scheduled for a 40-minute run between San Diego and La Jolla. On Sundays only the three passenger trains operated, as before. The new schedule also continued an extra ‘theater train’ on Saturday night, introduced in November 1903, which left La Jolla at 7:10 PM and returned from San Diego at 11:10 PM.

L.A. & S.D.B. Ry No. 1

In addition to its new name and schedule, the Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway also undertook an upgrade of its motive power in 1906. The Baldwin dummy which had been S.D., P.B. & L.J. Ry. No. 3 was rebuilt, with its dummy housing cut back into a cab; it became L.A. & S.D.B. Ry. No. 1. The other original Baldwin dummy, which had been traded to the Coronado Railroad in 1894 and rebuilt there as a tender engine, was reacquired and became L.A. & S.D.B. Ry. No. 2 (the saddle tank former New York Elevated engine it had been traded for and had become the second S.D., P.B. & L.J. Ry No. 2, was disposed of).

Another Baldwin locomotive, an older tender engine named ‘Captain Jadwin’, was also transferred from the Coronado Railroad (E. S. Babcock owned the Coronado Railroad too) and became L.A. & S.D.B. Ry. No. 3. The coal-burning steam locomotives were also converted to burn fuel oil at about this time.

The ‘Captain Jadwin’, L.A. & S.D.B. Ry engine No. 3.

The Pacific Beach railroad’s right of way originally entered Pacific Beach from the east over what are now Mission Bay Drive and Garnet and Balboa avenues in order to avoid a race track at the northeast corner of Mission Bay. By 1906 the race track had been abandoned and the Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway proposed to shorten its route and eliminate the sharp curve around the race track by realigning the right of way across the former race track property following the route of today’s Grand Avenue (then called Ivy Avenue). The proposal was approved and work began at a point south of the former race track in January 1907. The ‘Captain Jadwin’, L.A. & S.D.B. Ry. No. 3, was used to haul the work train.

In La Jolla the Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway laid tracks on Silverado Street from its right of way on Prospect Street to Ivanhoe Avenue and established a new depot at the corner of Silverado and Ivanhoe in 1907. The line was then extended on Silverado, north on Exchange Place and west on Prospect where it joined the original line near the site of the old La Jolla depot at Prospect and Fay, forming a loop.

The La Jolla line depot at Silverado and Ivanhoe streets.

Further south, the railroad acquired the two blocks on either side of Rushville Street between railroad’s right of way and Draper Avenue (then Orange Street). The city closed that block of Rushville Street and the railroad used the property for an engine house and a  ‘wye’, tracks that entered the engine house from the main line in either direction and allowed engines to turn around by backing out in the other direction.

Aerial view of La Jolla in the early 1920s. Although the railway was dismantled in 1919 its route can still be seen angling through what was then vacant land toward Cuvier Street. The site of the railway’s engine house and ‘wye’ at Rushville Street can be seen in the middle right of the photo.

The construction projects in 1907 had improved certain sections of the line but in many places trains were operating over tracks originally laid twenty years earlier and not necessarily in the best condition. On January 16, 1908 the 1:55 train from the San Diego depot was steaming through Middletown ‘at a fair rate of speed’ when the former Baldwin dummy that had been rebuilt as L.A. & S.D.B. Ry. No. 1 derailed and turned over on its side. The engineer, Thomas Robertson, was pinned in the engine’s cab and scalded to death by steam and the fireman, Thomas Fitzgerald, was also badly burned and died 10 days later. The passenger cars remained upright on the tracks and no passengers were injured. The railroad blamed the accident on ‘spreading of the rails’, saying that the spikes that held one of the rails had come loose and the rail had shifted. The original 35-pound rails were in the process of being replaced by heavier 60-pound rails but that work had not yet occurred at the site of the accident.

Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway No. 1 after it derailed and rolled over at Winder Street in Middletown on January 16, 1908. The engineer and fireman were both killed.

In the week following the accident nearly 200 residents of Pacific Beach and La Jolla signed a petition asking the city council to investigate the ‘conditions and methods’ of the railroad since their ‘comforts and conveniences’ and even their lives were at risk when ‘forced to use’ the railroad. The petition claimed that railroad was in a ‘frightfully dangerous condition’; many of the ties were rotten and spikes could be extracted with the fingers. The engines and cars were old and small, out of date and without the safety equipment the law required. The petition added that ‘the convenience or wishes of the citizens are in no way considered’ as to train service or the time table and the trains were ‘too few in number and are run at inconvenient hours’. The council agreed to an inspection trip over the line after which a majority concluded that the statements in the petition were exaggerated and the line was safe for travel. One council member dissented, claiming that the railroad had used the time since the wreck to cover up its worst deficiencies.

The first McKeen car of the Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway (La Jolla line) making the turn from the railroad’s right of way on what is now Kettner Boulevard to C Street in San Diego in front of the La Jolla line depot.

In an effort to modernize its old and small and out of date equipment a new McKeen gasoline motor car was purchased from the Union Pacific shops in Omaha in April 1908. The McKeen car was powered by a 200 horsepower six-cylinder gasoline engine mounted transversely behind the engineer in the front of the car. It was 55 feet long with a sharp ‘wind splitter’ nose and round windows resembling portholes. An identical McKeen car had been delivered to Babcock’s Cuyamaca railroad a month earlier and had debuted by taking a party of dignitaries on a ride over the Cuyamaca line to its end at the Foster station then back and through the city to the La Jolla line and on to La Jolla for lunch. The San Diego Union reported that the car worked in ‘splendid form’ throughout the entire trip and was the forerunner of a large number which would quickly follow since it had been clearly demonstrated that it is most practical (this car, named ‘Cuyamaca’, was recently rediscovered and brought to Ramona where it is being restored).

A Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway motor car in front of Ravenscroft’s store at Grand Avenue and Lamont Street in Pacific Beach.

In a ‘Notice to the Public’ the La Jolla railroad announced that its new Union Pacific Gasoline Motor Car ‘La Jolla’ would begin operating between the ‘central loop’ in San Diego and La Jolla on Monday, April 20, 1908, making three round trips per day. The motor car would depart from the Brewster Hotel, corner of Fourth and C streets downtown, at 8:00 and 10:00 AM and 2:30 PM and return from the Cabrillo Hotel in La Jolla at 9:00 AM and 1:00 and 5:15 PM.

A McKeen motor car of the La Jolla line heading west on C Street in San Diego. The Savoy Theater was at the northwest corner of Third and C streets, a block west of the La Jolla line’s ticket office at Fourth and C.

The central loop had been added to the C and Sixth street line, running on F Street from Sixth to Fourth and on Fourth from F to C, where the Brewster Hotel stood at the corner of Fourth and C. From Fourth Street outside the Brewster the motor cars would turn west onto C Street, arriving at the depot at the foot of C five minutes later, then continuing to Pacific Beach and La Jolla. On their return they would turn east from the depot onto C street, then south on Sixth, west on F, and north on Fourth to the Brewster.

La Jolla line motor car at the Hotel Cabrillo in La Jolla.

In La Jolla the motor cars ran over the Silverado Street loop, east on Silverado to Exchange Place then west on Prospect, stopping in front of the Hotel Cabrillo across from Herschel Avenue. The loops at either end of the motor cars’ runs were necessary because the motor cars were ‘single ended’ and could only be driven in one direction. They did not have a reverse gear but could be backed up if necessary by stopping the engine, adjusting the camshaft and then restarting the engine in reverse.

A gasoline motor car at the Lamont Street station in Pacific Beach, met by cadets of the San Diego Army and Navy Academy, established in 1910 at the former College of Letters buildings two blocks to the north.

The railroad’s notice to the public added that the three daily round trips by steam trains from the terminal depots would continue as at present (at the time the railroad’s franchise did not allow steam engines to run over downtown streets). The timetable showed steam trains leaving the La Jolla depot at Silverado Street and Ivanhoe Avenue for the San Diego depot at the foot of C Street at 7:15 and 10:45 AM and 4:15 PM daily (plus 7:15 PM Saturdays) and returning at 9:00 AM and 12:30 and 5:30 PM daily (and 11:15 PM Saturdays). The steam engines could be driven in either direction and at the end of their runs they could uncouple from their trains, pass around them on a second track, couple to the other end of the train and head off in the other direction without turning around.

In December 1908 the railroad announced that due to the great popularity of the La Jolla line since the introduction of the new gasoline motor car it was opening an ‘uptown ticket office’ with a waiting room at the corner of Fourth and C streets, where most passengers boarded the car for its trip to Pacific Beach or La Jolla.

A second McKeen car, said to be capable of faster speeds and of negotiating steeper grades, was received in April 1909. According to the San Diego Union, it was ordered on account of increasing traffic over the line and to prepare for Sunday and summer travel. Both motor cars were painted ‘a rich Tuscan red’ and became known as ‘red devils’, or ‘submarines’ or ‘torpedoes’ because of their porthole-like windows. An ad in the Union advertising ‘Torpedo Flyers’ to La Jolla announced that steam trains would not operate on the La Jolla railway on Sundays. There would be eight gasoline motor cars each way and two of these trips each way (at 9:30 and 11:30 from San Diego and 3:00 and 6:15 from La Jolla) were ‘Flyers’; only 30 minutes between the Brewster Hotel, Fourth and C, and Cabrillo Hotel, La Jolla with no stops en route. The fare was 50 cents round trip.

A year later the timetable still showed four motor cars arriving and departing from Fourth and C daily. Four steam trains arrived and departed from the depot at the foot of C, plus the Saturday night theater train. The steam trains still did not run at all on Sundays, when they were replaced by four additional round trips by motor cars. After June 19, 1910, the steam trains also began departing from Fourth and C with four round trips daily, except Sundays, apparently due to a change in the railway’s franchise agreement. In addition to the steam trains there were five daily round trips by the gasoline cars, plus a late-night run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and three additional cars on Sundays when the steam trains did not run at all. In June 1912 the timetable was expanded to ten departures daily and Sundays, plus the late train on Saturday nights. Four of the trains were steam trains (three on Sundays) and the others gasoline motor cars. The same schedule with minor variations continued into 1913 and 1914.

The increased traffic on the La Jolla line in these years was due in large part to the growing number of residents served by the line. The 1910 United States census had counted about 1000 residents in Pacific Beach and La Jolla combined, up from about 300 in 1900, and the 1920 census would count about 600 in Pacific Beach and 900 in La Jolla. The railroad encouraged this growth with advertisements in the San Diego Union.

La Jolla was also growing in popularity as a tourist destination, and the railway did its part with advertisements promoting ‘the most beautiful spot in the vicinity of San Diego’.

Although the number of potential passengers kept rising during these years, the number who had the choice of a new and more convenient way to reach the beaches was growing at an even faster pace. The first automobile arrived in San Diego In 1900 and in 1903 there were still only about twenty cars on the streets (including two Cadillac runabouts in Pacific Beach). In 1910 the number of automobile registrations in San Diego was estimated at 750 and by 1915 it had risen to about 3000, about one for every 18 residents. The main highway from San Diego to the north passed through Pacific Beach and La Jolla, paralleling the La Jolla railroad, and by 1919 it would be fully paved. The growing number and improved quality of automobiles accompanied by expansion of the city’s road system eventually made cars the first choice for travel to Pacific Beach and La Jolla. ‘Those who do not go in their own machines can take the 2:30 La Jolla car from Fourth and C streets’ was the advice of the San Diego Floral Association for a tour of the gardens of Miss Kate Sessions in Pacific Beach in 1915. By 1920 more than 12,000 automobiles would be in use by San Diego’s 75,000 residents.

The growing number of automobiles on public streets also presented conflicts with the La Jolla line’s right of way in those streets. In 1913 the La Jolla Chamber of Commerce filed a complaint with the city clerk asking that the railroad be compelled to cease stopping its cars on the street in such a manner as to hold up traffic and make the operation of automobiles dangerous. The operation of automobiles was particularly dangerous at railroad crossings; five people were killed and three injured in 1916 when a Los Angeles – San Diego automobile stage was hit by a northbound La Jolla train at Glendol, where the coast highway on La Jolla Boulevard crossed the tracks and became Turquoise Street in Pacific Beach. That collision was blamed on the undue speed and negligence of the driver of the automobile, who was among the fatalities, but in other cases drivers successfully sued the railway for damages resulting from collisions between cars and trains.

The railway’s acquisition of the McKeen cars in 1908 and 1909 had been an effort to upgrade and modernize its antiquated steam-powered equipment but the gasoline-powered motor cars turned out to be a poor choice for the La Jolla line. As their aerodynamic shape suggested they were designed for speed; they were geared for 90 miles per hour and the first car actually averaged 60 MPH under its own power when delivered to San Diego from Omaha. In San Diego, the cars would be operated at much lower speeds over a rough roadbed with many sharp turns, including miles on city streets (even the non-stop ‘Torpedo Flyers’ took 30 minutes for the 15-mile trip between San Diego and La Jolla, an average of 30 MPH). The La Jolla line also included steep grades, particularly the run from near sea level at the foot of Grand Avenue to over 100 feet at Bird Rock which averaged nearly 2%. The gear ratios were lowered before the cars were put into service but over time the slow speeds, steep grades and frequent starts and stops put excessive strain on their running gear, particularly their clutches. Within two months of the arrival of the first car in 1908 the San Diego Union reported that it was out of commission several days for clutch repairs. According to San Diego railway historian Richard V. Dodge the McKeen cars’ clutches had to be ‘pulled out’ every three weeks.

Ever since the first McKeen car debuted in 1908 the railroad’s time cards had noted which trains were steam trains and which were motor cars. A new time card on August 29, 1914, did not make that distinction and there was no further mention of the cars in the railroad’s time cards or in news stories about the railroad. Richard Dodge explained that the motor cars ‘lasted to about 1914’ and were ‘disposed of about 1916’. The railroad had acquired another steam locomotive about 1912, a 2-4-4 built in 1889 which became L.A. & S.D.B. Ry. No. 4, and it assumed some of the gasoline cars’ former workload. Another steam locomotive, built in 1881 and acquired in 1915, became L.A. & S.D.B. Ry. No. 15 and also saw service on the line. The steam locomotives required maintenance as well but according to R. P. Middlebrook in ‘High Iron to La Jolla’, their crews could often keep them running with simple repairs using the metal from Prince Albert tobacco tins and baling wire.

A Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway train behind engine No. 4 steams along the shore of Mission Bay toward Pacific Beach and La Jolla in 1914. The train has just crossed the bridge over Rose Creek where Mission Bay High School is now located.

In November 1916 E. S. Babcock announced that the La Jolla Railway would deploy a new fleet of gasoline motor cars intended to meet jitney bus competition. The new cars would be essentially automobiles designed to run on rails and would be ready within the next few months. The steam trains would not be abandoned but would be run at times of heavy loads.

The new type of gasoline motor car was constructed by the Ort Iron Works in San Diego. It was built on a Mack truck chassis with a coach body and could carry 30 people at a speed of 35 miles per hour, enough to maintain a fast schedule between San Diego and La Jolla. A trial trip of the ‘made in San Diego’ motor car in April 1917 carried a party of businessmen to La Jolla as guests of the Ort Iron Works, an event that was predicted to foreshadow the establishment in San Diego of the car-building industry. The car made the trip to the ‘cave suburb’ in 33 minutes and there was ‘an evident absence of disagreeable vibration from the engine’. It was soon put into service as L.A. & S.D.B. Ry. No. 51. However, the predicted car-building industry was never established and No. 51 was the only gasoline motor car of its type seen in San Diego.

In October 1917 the Saturday night train to La Jolla pulled by engine No. 15 was accidentally switched off the main line onto the ‘wye’ and into the engine house at Rushville Street where it ran into the No. 51 motor car and drove it through the back wall. No passengers were injured but the front of the motor car was crushed and both No. 15 and No. 51 were removed from service for repairs. K. Fritz Schumacher was a Pacific Beach resident who depended on the railway to arrive in San Diego in time for his first class at San Diego High School. He reported that after the incident that sidelined both No. 15 and No. 51, and since engine No. 2 was undergoing a major maintenance operation, the railroad pressed No. 4 into service in spite of its sad state of disrepair and that he was tardy for several days.

Engine No. 15, pulling the late night ‘theater train’ to La Jolla, was accidentally switched off the line and into the engine house at Rushville Street where it collided with gasoline motor car No. 51, pushing it through the back wall. Both had to removed from service for repairs.

The La Jolla line’s route from its San Diego depot to Old Town was east of the Santa Fe tracks, but just north of Old Town it crossed over the Santa Fe tracks and continued across the San Diego River toward Morena on a route west of the Santa Fe. The crossing outside of Old Town was a grade crossing and the Santa Fe had the right of way; the La Jolla train was supposed to stop and proceed only when there was no traffic on the Santa Fe line. On June 30, 1917, engine No. 4 (running backwards) was pulling a combination passenger/express car and an ordinary passenger car southbound to San Diego when it failed to stop at the crossing and was struck by a southbound Santa Fe freight train. Apparently No. 4’s brakes had failed and the crew was unable to bring it to a complete stop before it entered the crossing, but they were credited with stopping it within the crossing so that the Santa Fe engine struck the mostly empty baggage half of the combination car and not the passenger sections or the engine. The only injury was to a girl who was getting off at the upcoming Old Town stop and was standing near the door, but her injury was serious and she ended up losing a leg. The papers pointed out that the accident could have been much worse; one of the boxcars in the Santa Fe train was full of dynamite

What’s left of a southbound La Jolla line train after it was hit by a southbound Santa Fe freight train at the grade crossing near Old Town. The La Jolla train, pulled by engine No. 4 (running backward), failed to stop at the crossing. Fortunately the main impact was to the mostly empty express portion of the combination passenger/express car, which was demolished. A girl preparing to get off the train at Old Town was seriously injured. This photo looks north along the Santa Fe line.

In August 1917 the state railroad commission gave the La Jolla railway permission to increase fares and reduce service to three trains in each direction on weekdays and four northbound and five southbound on Sundays. The changes were blamed on increased competition from privately owned automobiles, although jitneys were not considered an active item of competition at that time. The commission also told the railway that some other cheaper method of transportation must be substituted for the steam trains that the line still depended on for much of its service. Engine No. 1, the rebuilt Baldwin dummy that had derailed and turned over killing its crew in 1908 had been scrapped earlier in 1917 but the railway was still using one of the original Baldwin dummies from 1888, rebuilt as a tender engine and numbered No. 2, the ‘Captain Jadwin’, built in 1880 and acquired in 1906 (No. 3), engine No. 4, built in 1889 and acquired about 1912, and No. 15, built in 1881 and acquired in 1915. The equipment roster was further reduced when engine No. 2’s tender derailed and turned over at Bird Rock while pulling a northbound train in reverse with the tender leading. That tender was replaced by the tender from engine No. 3, the ‘Captain Jadwin’, and engine No. 3 was then sold for scrap.

In 1917 the federal government nationalized the railroad industry to ease the congestion and general dysfunction that resulted from numerous competing railroad companies attempting to work together to support the war effort during World War I. To clear the rails for freight service, particularly to ports on the east coast, the United States Railroad Administration required railroads to raise fares and eliminate discounts to discourage passengers and reduce the number of passenger trains. Although the Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway attempted to secure exemptions from this policy it was required to cancel round trip fares and increase the one-way fare by 10 percent in July 1918.

Continuing to lose money and with its equipment unreliable and ridership in decline the Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway company filed an application with the state railroad commission in September 1918 for permission to discontinue service and dismantle and dispose of its property.  The San Diego Union quoted E. S. Babcock as confirming that he was going to ‘scrap’ the railroad and sell the material to pay the debts of the company: ‘The road has cost me a great amount of money and I can no longer carry the burden’. The Union referred to a summary of the matter issued by the railroad commission in which the railroad stated that notwithstanding good service the traffic had steadily diminished and that this was due in great measure to the advent of the privately-owned automobile and more recently to the operation of a public stage line. The commission added that the railroad and equipment were old and in poor condition.

The railroad commission postponed its decision to allow the people of La Jolla time to formulate a plan for substitute service, with the provision that the La Jolla chamber of commerce would guarantee any deficit in the line’s operation. The plan for substitute service envisioned extending an existing electric line on Mission Boulevard in Mission Beach, the Bay Shore Railroad, from its terminus at Redondo Court to Grand Avenue and from there over the former La Jolla line right of way to La Jolla. The Bay Shore line, completed in 1915, connected with the Point Loma Railroad in Ocean Beach which provided electric service from downtown San Diego.

In December 1918, however, with no funds on hand to pay operating expenses, service was ‘altogether discontinued’ between San Diego and La Jolla. Most of the railroad’s locomotives and rolling stock had been sold for scrap earlier in 1918 and the railroad’s last working locomotive, No. 2, the original Baldwin dummy rebuilt as a tender engine by the Coronado Railroad, had broken down again. According to the report in the San Diego Union, the railway company had hired an auto stage over the last few months whenever the engine broke down but that even that expedient had become financially so burdensome that it had to be discontinued.

The application to discontinue service and dismantle and dispose of property was approved In January 1919 and the dismantling and disposition of the railroad was soon under way. The San Diego Union reported in November 1919 that six hundred tons of steel, part of the equipment of the disbanded La Jolla railroad, would be loaded aboard the steamship Colorado Springs to be shipped to Japan. The last working locomotive, Engine No. 2, was sold to a lumber company in the Los Angeles area.

Aerial photo looking east along Grand Avenue in the early 1920s. The railway was scrapped in 1919 but traces of its turns north toward La Jolla and south into the depot grounds at the end of Grand can still be seen in this photo.

The proposal to extend the Bay Shore electric line to La Jolla never happened but in 1923 the San Diego Electric Railroad built a new fast streetcar line from downtown to Mission Beach, continuing along Mission Boulevard to Grand and along the La Jolla line right of way as far as Bird Rock. At about Via del Norte the new electric line departed from the original right of way and turned toward the northeast, meeting Fay Avenue and continuing on Fay to a terminal at Prospect Street near to the location of the first La Jolla depot. This line also eventually succumbed to automobile traffic and was abandoned in 1940. By 1949 the entire system of electric railways in and around San Diego was gone.

Automobile traffic has continued to grow and has outpaced the expansion of roads and highways, leading to traffic congestion and gridlock. Additionally, emissions from automobiles, most of which are powered by gasoline engines, have been shown to be a major cause of air pollution and a major contributor to global climate change. A light rail system begun in the 1980s was intended to provide alternatives to automobile traffic in some areas around San Diego. One of these routes, the Orange Line between downtown San Diego and El Cajon, follows the route of the San Diego & Cuyamaca Eastern for much of its distance. The latest addition to this light rail system, opened in 2021, extends the Blue Line from downtown San Diego and Old Town to Pacific Beach and La Jolla, the same destinations reached by the Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway and its predecessors. But while the route from Old Town parallels the old La Jolla line along the east side of Mission Bay with stops at Morena and Balboa Avenue the remainder of the route is entirely different, continuing north through Rose Canyon to a terminus near the University of California campus. The  Balboa stop is miles from the beach at the eastern edge of the Pacific Beach and the university area is even further from Prospect and Silverado streets and the caves of La Jolla. The rail line that actually did ‘reach the beaches’ has been gone for over a century and is only remembered by the unusual width and alignment of certain streets that were once its right of way.

Holiday Hill and the Jacksons

The Jackson home, Holiday Hill, overlooking truck farms, former lemon ranch houses and Lamont and Diamond streets in 1938 (San Diego History Center #83:14603-1)

An expansive Spanish-style house on a bluff at the northern end of Noyes Street has overlooked Pacific Beach for more than 90 years. Now hemmed in by housing developments to the east and west, an elementary school to the north and multi-story condominiums to the south, it was originally at the farthest corner of the community, surrounded by vacant land that had once been lemon ranches. Enclosed behind a white plaster wall the house seems isolated and remote, but on a recent weekend the doors were open and throngs of people were attending an estate sale there. The estate agent explained that the house had been sold and added that the new owners intended to preserve it and to live there themselves.

The address on the fence outside the driveway says 4830 but for years the property was known simply as Holiday Hill. It was built in 1931 for Richmond and Ruth Jackson. Riley Richmond Jackson was born in Wisconsin in 1899 but moved to San Diego with his family about 1910 and lived at 3358 (now 3360) 4th Street. This home was directly across the street from the home of Edward (E.Y.) and Lulo Barnes, at 3361 4th, and the Jackson family and Barnes family became close. The Barnes family had been prominent among the early pioneers of Pacific Beach. Edward Barnes and Lulo Thorpe had been in the first class at the San Diego College of Letters there when it opened in 1888.  Edward and his father Franklin had been leaders in the lemon industry which sustained Pacific Beach after the college closed in 1891. Lulo’s mother, Rose Hartwick Thorpe, was a world-famous poet who claimed to be the first resident of Pacific Beach. They had relocated to the vicinity of 4th and Upas Streets in 1906 after the lemon business in Pacific Beach turned unprofitable. Apparently through their association with the Barnes family the Jacksons also became interested in Pacific Beach and on holidays they would take picnics to an elevated location on the outskirts of the community that they called Holiday Hill.

In 1918 Richmond Jackson was appointed to the Naval Academy at Annapolis. After graduation in 1922 he was commissioned an ensign in the navy and assigned to the destroyer USS Fuller, based in San Diego. In September 1923 the Fuller was part of a flotilla of 14 destroyers returning to San Diego from fleet week at San Francisco when, after dark and in dense fog, the entire formation turned east into what the navigator reckoned to be the entrance to the Santa Barbara channel, between Point Conception and San Miguel Island. Instead, the three columns of destroyers steamed at 20 knots into jagged rocks at Point Honda, the Devil’s Jaw, 15 miles to the north. The last ships in line managed to reverse course before reaching the rocks but seven of the destroyers, including the Fuller, were wrecked, and 23 sailors lost, in what is still considered the navy’s worst peacetime disaster. The Fuller grounded on a reef offshore and was nearly awash in the heavy seas. Its crew evacuated with great difficulty to a larger rock from which they were rescued by a fishing boat in the morning.

Scene after the Point Honda destroyer disaster of 1923. USS Fuller is in the foreground.

Richmond Jackson resigned from the navy later in the 1920s and in 1928 became a clerk with the law firm of Wright & McKee in San Diego. Also in 1928 he was married to Ruth Remington and the couple moved into an apartment at 306 Grape Street where they welcomed their first son, Remington, in 1929. By 1930 Richmond Jackson had become a lawyer with Wright & McKee; a second son, born in 1930, was named Dempster McKee in honor of a founding partner of the firm.

In Pacific Beach, the spot the Jackson’s called Holiday Hill was included in a new subdivision, Nettleship-Tye Tract No. 3, which was accepted by the city council and mayor in May 1930. A few weeks later, in June 1930, Richmond and Ruth Jackson purchased lots 13-23 of block 2 of Nettleship-Tye Tract No. 3 from the San Diego Beach Company. These lots included all the property between Academy and Noyes streets from Chalcedony Street north to where Law Street intersected Academy, approximately an acre and a half. The Jacksons began building a home in the northern section of this property in the Spanish style, double-studded so that the walls appeared to be adobe, and in June 1931 the San Diego Union reported that Mr. and Mrs. Richmond Jackson would move into their new Spanish home at Pacific Beach next week. The 1931 San Diego city directory listed Richmond and Ruth Jackson’s home address as “Holiday Hill” Pacific Beach. Two daughters, Marcia, born in 1932, and Lucia, in 1937, were born after they had moved there. Richmond Jackson became active in civic affairs in Pacific Beach; he was a member of the Pacific Beach Toastmaster’s Club and became a director of the Pacific Beach Chamber of Commerce.

E.Y. Barnes, the Jacksons’ neighbor on 4th Street and former Pacific Beach lemon rancher, had joined a wholesale produce company downtown but also continued his interest in farming by leasing and later purchasing a plot of land in Pine Hills, near Julian. Manzanita Ranch, as the property was called, produced pears and apples, and cider made there was sold in the popular Manzanita Ranch store on the Julian highway in Wynola. In 1922 his son Franklin moved to Pine Hills where he built a house and took over operation of the family fruit business. Franklin Barnes was about the same age as Richmond Jackson and the former neighbors from 4th Street became neighbors again when Richmond Jackson purchased the property across Pine Hills Road from Manzanita Ranch. His cabin there was known for its weekend getaways; the San Diego Union society page in 1939 noted that Richmond Jackson was host at another one of his jolly stag house parties at his Pine Hills place.

Richmond Jackson had retired from the navy in the 1920s but remained in the naval reserve and by 1940 he was a reserve lieutenant and commander of the first reserve division in San Diego, participating in weekly armory drills and an annual training cruise. The training cruise in August 1940 involved 25 officers and 420 enlisted men from the six naval reserve divisions in southern California. According to the San Diego Union these reservists spent two weeks aboard six recently recommissioned destroyers performing boat, signaling, and engineering drills, gunnery practice and tactical exercises. Two months later, in October 1940, the Union reported that the first division, commanded by Lt. Comdr. R. R. Jackson, U.S.N.R., had been called to active duty aboard destroyers performing coastal patrol duty between San Diego and San Pedro. In November 1940, the news was that Lt. Comdr. and Mrs. Jackson had leased the Williams ranch in Bonita Valley, where they would make their home after the first of December. They planned to rent their ‘rambling casa in Pacific Beach’ (Bonita was nearer to the destroyer base, now the site of Naval Base San Diego). In June 1941 the paper reported that Lt. Comdr. and Mrs. Richmond Jackson, who had been residing in Bonita, had returned to their ‘Pacific Beach hacienda’.

Later in 1941, as the navy continued to build up strength in the Pacific in anticipation of hostilities with Japan, Lt. Comdr. Jackson was transferred to Hawaii where he remained after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war in December 1941. In December 1942 the Union reported that he returned ‘by clipper’ from Honolulu to spend the holidays with Mrs. Jackson and their four children at Holiday Hill, Pacific Beach. In August 1943 the news was that Comdr. Richmond Jackson had returned after two years in Honolulu, and that he and Mrs. Jackson and their four children would leave for Miami, where he would report for duty. During their absence their ‘Pacific Beach hacienda on Holiday Hill’ would be occupied by Mrs. Jackson’s mother. In February 1944, Mrs. Jackson and the four children returned after an absence of several months to ‘reopen’ her Pacific Beach home.

In 1941, shortly after Lt. Comdr. Jackson had departed for Hawaii, the federal government acquired most of the land east of Olney and south of Chalcedony streets in Pacific Beach to be used for temporary housing for defense workers attracted to San Diego by the growth of Consolidated Aircraft and related defense industries. The Bayview Terrace housing project of 1000 ‘demountable’ plywood homes, extending to about a block south and east of the Jacksons’ property, was ready for occupancy in January 1942. In June 1942 another tract was acquired for an additional 127 homes. This tract, Bayview Heights, was located between Olney, Chalcedony, Noyes and Beryl streets, directly across Noyes from Holiday Hill.

Bayview Terrace and Bayview Heights housing projects in eastern Pacific Beach, 1946. Holiday Hill is at the extreme left across Noyes Street from the houses at the top left corner of the project (San Diego History Center #10356-2)

The western side of Holiday Hill sloped down to what appeared on the map as Academy Street, but which in the 1940s was just an intermittent creek draining a portion of Mount Soledad into Mission Bay. The bottom land around the creek was ideal for vegetable crops and had been cultivated by Japanese truck farmers, some of whom lived in the former lemon ranch houses along Lamont and Diamond streets. In 1942, after war was declared against Japan, these Japanese farmers (and their American-born children) were declared ‘enemy aliens’ and sent to internment camps, and the vegetable farms below Holiday Hill were left untended. By the time the war ended in 1945 the wartime boom in the population of Pacific Beach had made this land more valuable for housing than farming. In 1947, most of the property between Academy, Chalcedony, Lamont and Beryl streets, including the portion of Nettleship-Tye Tract No. 3 west of Academy, was subdivided as Lamont Terrace. The entire tract was cleared and the houses with the brick chimneys and shingle siding still there today were constructed. The streets, including Academy Street, were paved. In 1950 the south side of Chalcedony between Academy and Lamont streets was also subdivided, as Picard Terrace, and another row of houses encroached on the isolation of Holiday Hill.

Richmond Jackson had been promoted again by 1949 when Capt. and Mrs. Jackson announced the engagement of their daughter Marcia to Roger Mackey Jr., son of the commander of the Naval Hospital in San Diego; the Union wrote that the Jacksons would entertain friends of the betrothed couple that evening at Holiday Hill, their home in Pacific Beach. After the wedding a few weeks later at the Naval Hospital chapel the paper noted that the wedding reception also took place at the Jacksons’ Pacific Beach home, Holiday Hill. The Mackeys later moved into a house built on the southernmost lots of the Holiday Hill property, at 2060 Chalcedony Street. A daughter, Nancy, was born in 1950 and twin daughters Pamela and Patricia, in 1951.

From 1952 to 1976 Eileen Jackson (no relation to Richmond) wrote the ‘Straws in the Wind’ society column for the San Diego Union, informing readers about the lives of socially prominent San Diegans, including the residents of Holiday Hill (‘the straws caught here . . . will show which way the social winds are blowing’). In one of the first of these columns she reported that Roger and Marcia Mackey lost their most faithful sitters when Capt. and Mrs. Jackson, grandparents of Nancy and twins Pat and Pam, left for a couple of weeks to attend their son Dempster’s graduation (and Richmond’s 30th reunion) at Annapolis. A month later, she wrote that Holiday Hill, Pacific Beach, had become a ‘family colony’ now that Mr. and Mrs. Remington Jackson had moved there. They were occupying Remington’s former ‘bachelor quarters’ in the rose garden at the home of his parents, and his sister and family were closest neighbors (Remington Jackson had married Frances Wilson in 1951; they later moved to Del Mar). The births of the Mackeys’ younger daughters (‘pretty blond sorority grows’) were also announced in ‘Straws in the Wind’.

After heavy downpours large quantities of stormwater had flowed down the creek bed below Holiday Hill, inundating low-lying areas along Noyes Street further to the south. In 1953 the city proposed a storm drain under Academy and Noyes streets that would empty into Mission Bay at the foot of Olney Street. The project would be funded in part by an assessment on property owners bordering the route of the drain, including the Jacksons. Property owners at higher elevations objected to this plan, arguing that all the benefits would go to the owners of property at lower elevations that were being flooded. Richmond Jackson became the spokesman for those objecting to the plan, arguing that since Academy Street had been paved it had been successful at draining stormwater in that area. He also suggested that the drainage problem could be solved with settling basins, which could also be used for fishing. The project was abandoned in 1954 but revived in 1955 and completed in 1956, effectively solving drainage problems in this area (the settling basins or fishing ponds were never built).

Lamont Terrace, Picard Terrace, and the many other housing developments in Pacific Beach had attracted large numbers of families with school-aged children, and in 1954 the school board approved plans for a school on the north side of Beryl Street, a block north of Holiday Hill. Construction began on Kate Sessions Elementary School in 1955, the school opened in 1956 and Beryl Street was paved up the hill to the school. The increased availability of commercial housing also led to the closure of the federal housing projects in Pacific Beach. As residents moved out during the 1950s the temporary plywood homes were removed and the tract was redeveloped as housing for military families. The Admiral Hartman Community, across Noyes Street from Holiday Hill, was opened in 1961. The neighborhood surrounding Holiday Hill became even more crowded in 1969 when a pair of apartment buildings, the four-story 75-unit Villa Del Rey and two-story Pacific Heights, was built a block south on Noyes Street.

The Jackson and Barnes families had remained close and in 1958 ‘Straws in the Wind’ noted that Mrs. Richmond Jackson and daughter Lucia would give a pottery shower in honor of Miss Mary Alice Barnes, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Barnes of Julian. Miss Barnes married Carlyn Tuttle in the garden of her parents’ home, Manzanita Ranch, in August. Also in 1958, ‘Straws in the Wind’ reported that Lt. Dempster Jackson, married with two sons, had installed his family in a home in Chula Vista before leaving for Japan where he was in command of the LST Sumner County. The family soon moved again, to the ’family colony’ at Holiday Hill, taking up residence at 2060 Chalcedony. When Lt. and Mrs. Jackson moved again to make their home in Monterey in 1960, ‘Straws in the Wind’ noted that their home adjoining the Richmond Jackson hacienda would be occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Tuttle.

Google Maps screenshot of Holiday Hill today. The original ‘hacienda’ is at the center and the house at 2060 Chalcedony at bottom right. Academy Street is at the base of the slope on the left and a portion of the Admiral Hartman Community lies across Noyes Street at right

In 1962 the senior Jacksons found a second home in Kailua on the east coast of Oahu and their original Holiday Hill residence became the home of the Mackeys and their five daughters. When the Jacksons returned to the mainland in 1971 they took up residence in Coronado, where Richmond Jackson died in 1975. Ruth Jackson died in 1990 in Imperial Beach. Holiday Hill had been occupied by their daughter Marcia and her family since the early 1960s but in 1975 her husband, Roger Mackey Jr., also died. She married Robert Thaxton in 1978 and moved into a home in Point Loma. The Mackey family retained ownership of the Holiday Hill property and it has been home to other family members, most recently Marcia’s daughter Jeannette, or Bliss. When Marcia Thaxton died in early 2022 the northern section of Holiday Hill, including the 1931 ‘hacienda’, was sold. What remained inside after 90 years of occupation by the Jacksons and their descendants was offered to the public in a final estate sale.

PB’s Founders

Signature page from Articles of Incorporation of the Pacific Beach Company, July 1887

In July 1887 the San Diego Union reported on a Great Enterprise, a New City About to be Built at False Bay by a Syndicate of Millionaires. Articles of incorporated had been filed at the county clerk’s office for the Pacific Beach Company, to be allied with the San Diego and Pacific Beach Railroad Company incorporated a few days earlier. The Union listed the principals of the Beach company as R. A. Thomas, J. R. Thomas, O. S. Hubbell, D. C. Reed, each of whom had subscribed $100,000, and D. P. Hale, Thomas E. Metcalf, W. W. Thomas, G. B. Hensley and Charles Collins, who had subscribed between $25,000 and $50,000 each. The subscribers to the railroad were the same.

According to the Union, the articles of incorporation showed little or nothing of the intentions of the company and the magnitude of the undertaking was only ascertained by conversation with the incorporators. It was learned from one of the gentlemen that the syndicate had obtained by purchase 1,663 acres of land fronting on False Bay for the purpose of laying out a town. The town would be christened Pacific Beach and the railroad would connect it to downtown San Diego. Behind these two corporations, ‘going hand in hand, so to speak’, was a College Company which intended to build and conduct an educational institution second to none in the United States on land near the center of Pacific Beach.

Original map of Pacific Beach, subdivided for the Pacific Beach Company by H. K. Wheeler, City Engineer, October 1887

The layout of the new town was established in October 1887 when City Engineer H. K. Wheeler produced a map of the Pacific Beach subdivision. A broad thoroughfare named Grand Avenue traversed the community from its western limit at the Pacific Ocean to its eastern edge near Rose Creek and would also serve as the right of way for the railroad between downtown San Diego and a depot near the beach. Other avenues (running east and west) and streets (north and south) divided the community into rectangular blocks. The streets were numbered, from First on the west to Seventeenth on the east, with a somewhat wider street named Broadway between Eighth and Ninth streets. The avenues north of Grand were named for states, except for College Avenue, where the college was to be built. South of Grand, the avenues were named after participants in the great enterprise; Thomas, Reed, Hubbell, Hensley, Metcalf, Hale and Collins. A. C. Platt, Hensley’s real estate partner, and A. G. Gassen and James Poiser, area landowners allied with the Pacific Beach Company, also had avenues named for them.

An opening sale of lots was held on December 12, 1887, and the Union reported the next morning that it was, all things considered, the most successful in the history of San Diego real estate transactions. According to the Union the Pacific Beach Company did not resort to the usual methods of ‘booming’ the sale and, notwithstanding the fact that no band was in attendance and there were no free carriages and no free lunch, over $200,000 worth of lots were disposed of. The buyers were all legitimate investors and many of them signified an intention of improving their lots. Many persons had been viewing the ground in the last few weeks and without doubt all purchasers bought intelligently. College Avenue was the favorite street with purchasers since there was no doubt that it would be the main business street.

The opening sale of lots in Pacific Beach took place at the height of San Diego’s ‘great boom’ of 1886-1888, when thousands of people arriving in town over the newly completed transcontinental railroad connection had set off a real estate bonanza. Unfortunately for the Pacific Beach Company, and for those intelligent and legitimate investors in Pacific Beach building lots, the boom faded in early 1888 and the market for residential real estate collapsed. The Pacific Beach Company responded by shrinking the community and eliminating many of the streets and avenues outside of a central area between Alabama and Reed avenues, converting them into agricultural ‘acre lots’.

Map 697, the amended map of the Pacific Beach subdivision, filed January 1892

An amended subdivision map filed in 1892 no longer included the avenues south of Thomas and Reed, erasing those named for the other Pacific Beach Company officials. Thomas and Reed avenues remained, however, even after every other street and avenue (except Grand) was renamed in 1900 in order to prevent duplication of street names throughout San Diego. Broadway became Ingraham Street, the numbered streets were renamed for statesmen, in alphabetical order, and the state-themed avenues north of Grand were renamed for gemstones, also in alphabetical order from Agate to Hornblend (Alabama Avenue became Diamond Street). College Avenue, north of Grand and no longer the site of the college (it closed in 1891), was also renamed for a gemstone and as predicted has become the main business street in Pacific Beach, Garnet Avenue.

With their names removed from the map most of PB’s founders have faded from memory, and while some residents are aware that Reed and Thomas avenues were named for people in their community’s past their histories are also little known. So who were these founders, what were their backgrounds, and what happened to them in the decades following the founding of Pacific Beach?

D. C. Reed

David C. Reed was born in New York but had been a resident of San Diego since about 1870, just a few years after what is now downtown San Diego was established by Alonzo Horton in 1867. Daily ads for D. C. Reed, attorney and real estate dealer, appeared in the San Diego Union beginning in 1872. In 1873 the Union reported the marriage of D. C. Reed and Juliet Guiou, both of San Diego, and in 1874 the news was that plans were complete for an elegant cottage residence for D. C. Reed, Esq., to be erected on D Street (now Broadway). He took an interest in politics and in 1875 became secretary of the Republican County Committee and ran as the Republican candidate for district attorney. In 1879 he was a candidate for lieutenant governor and in 1884 he was the delegate from the Sixth Congressional District to the Republican National Convention in Chicago (the party nominated James Blaine, who was defeated by Grover Cleveland in the presidential election).

Reed’s business interests also expanded. In 1876 he became an insurance agent, the local representative for the Firemen’s Fund and others, and by 1880 he no longer represented himself as an attorney. He ran daily ads in the San Diego Union; a Union Local Brevities column in 1881 noted that readers would observe that there was a live Real Estate man named D. C. Reed in these parts who believed in printer’s ink and advertised by the column (his ad in that issue of the Union indeed did take up an entire column). In 1885 the completion of a transcontinental railway link to San Diego and the arrival of thousands of newcomers from the east created new opportunities for real estate operators like Reed. He and T. J. Daley purchased Pueblo Lot 1159 in what is now Logan Heights and in 1885 subdivided a portion of it as Reed & Daley’s Addition. In 1886 Reed and O. S. Hubbell subdivided Reed & Hubbell’s Addition in Pueblo Lots 1162 and 1163, now part of Barrio Logan between 26th and 30th streets, Marcy Avenue and NASSCO. Reed and Hubbell were also involved in suburban real estate, Reed as president and Hubbell as secretary of the San Marcos Land Company in 1887, before both became directors of the Pacific Beach Company later in the year. Also in 1887, Reed and Aaron Pauly built the three-story Reed-Pauly building at the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and E Street. The Reed-Pauly building, later the Leland Hotel, is still standing, although without its original bay windows.

In the 1890s Reed again became active in politics, taking the side of the San Diego Flume Company, which delivered water from Lake Cuyamaca, against a plan backed by John D. Spreckels and E. S. Babcock to supply the city with water from a proposed Morena Dam on Cottonwood Creek. As a result, the Spreckels-owned San Diego Union campaigned against Reed and his Municipal Ownership Club when he ran for mayor of San Diego in 1896, labeling him Demon C. Reed, and endorsing his opponent. Reed won anyway and served a single term as mayor from 1897 to 1899.

Former Mayor D. C. Reed

In 1902 Reed was involved in a controversy involving Katherine Tingley’s Theosophical Institute on Point Loma. The Theosophists had recruited a group of children from Cuba to be educated at the institute but after the Los Angeles Times published articles criticizing conditions there the children were detained on arrival at Ellis Island pending an investigation. D. C. Reed became a member of the investigating committee and after concluding that the criticism was unwarranted he was sent to New York to escort the children to San Diego (Madame Tingley later sued the Times for libel and won). He also returned to the Pacific Beach real estate market, creating Reed’s Ocean Front Addition, a subdivision of the southeast 40 acres of Pueblo Lot 1783 between Bayard, Turquoise and Loring streets and a line about halfway between Dawes and Everts, in 1904.

In June 1919 D. C. Reed placed a final real estate ad in the San Diego Union, taking up nearly an entire page. ‘Read what one of San Diego’s most successful real estate merchants has to say’, he began. He continued that in years past his advertisements had been read by thousands because they were ‘snappy’ and offered good bargains, then presented his ‘best offer’, his own beautiful home and adjacent income property for sale. ‘I am 72 years of age, and I have quit. I am quitting the game I love – real estate’. Ever the Republican politician he blamed the poor real estate market at the time on ‘a democratic school teacher as president; one who desires to be dictator of the whole world’ (the president in 1919 was Woodrow Wilson). However, he predicted that things would improve now that we were ‘finally about to realize the sniffing of a little railroad smoke’ (the San Diego and Arizona Railroad was completed in November 1919). The ad described a beautiful modern home with 9 large rooms, complete in every detail, automatic hot water heater, bath room, two toilets, furnace, new garage with cement floor, everything in first class condition, and situated on an elevation possessing a most charming view. There was even a large painting of Yosemite Valley for which $1000 had been refused, but now the home, including the valuable painting, and the two-story four-flat and garage on the adjoining lot, were offered for sale at $25,000 (the ad claimed that $50,000 had been refused in 1913). Later in 1919 the Union reported that D. C. Reed, veteran real estate man and former mayor, had sold his fine residence at First and Elm streets for $20,000, but that he was not going to leave the city.

That prediction proved to be inaccurate. On the same day that D. C. Reed’s ad appeared in the Union the paper also reported that his daughter Mrs. Vida Reed Stone and her husband were now in charge of a music school in the foothills near Hollywood. Mrs. Ethel Reed Stanton, another daughter, was also an instructor there. The sisters each had homes on Glen Green Street in Hollywood, and after selling his home in San Diego Reed apparently joined them; the 1921 Los Angeles city directory listed David C. Reed at an address on N. Beachwood Drive, a few blocks away (Beachwood is directly below the Hollywood sign, although the sign, then reading “Hollywoodland’, wasn’t erected until 1923). This move might have been foreshadowed by an October 1920 report in the Los Angeles Times that Ethel Stanton had filed a petition to be appointed guardian of the estate of her father, a former mayor of San Diego, claiming that he had been mentally infirm for the past three years and was not competent to transact his business affairs. According to the Times the estate was valued at $140,000 and included property in San Diego and Los Angeles. D. C. Reed died in Los Angeles in July 1928 but his funeral was held in San Diego and he is buried at Mount Hope cemetery.

R. A., J. R., and W. W. Thomas

Thomas Avenue in Pacific Beach commemorates three brothers who were among its founders. Richard A., John R. and William W. Thomas were born in Wisconsin where their father Edward, an immigrant from England, was a farmer. By 1880 R. A. and J. R. Thomas had moved to Kansas where they became lumber merchants. In 1883 they were in San Diego and on the occasion of the completion of the new building of the First National Bank in February 1884 the San Diego Union wrote that a short account of the enterprise of the Messrs. Thomas and associates was in order. The short account was that the bank was organized in June 1883 with R. A. and J. R. Thomas, recent arrivals from Kansas, and a local capitalist Jacob Gruendike among the directors. Gruendike was elected president and R. A. Thomas vice president, and another Thomas brother, C. E. (Charles), was made cashier. R. A. Thomas later became president, and then vice president again, before the Thomas brother left to pursue other interests in the late 1880s. Gruendike and R. A. and J. R. Thomas were also directors and officers of the San Diego Lumber Company.

One other interest the Thomas brothers pursued was real estate. Jacob Gruendike had acquired the Rancho Rincon del Diablo, which covered over 12,000 acres around where Escondido is now located, and in 1885 R. A., J. R., C. E. and W. W. (William) Thomas joined Gruendike and others, including D. P. Hale and Thomas Metcalf, in forming the Escondido Land and Town Company to develop the property. A fifth Thomas brother, G. V. (George), a lumber merchant, was also associated with the Escondido company, although not an officer or director. W. W. Thomas was named superintendent and the company laid out the town of Escondido, built a hotel, and began selling lots in 1886. The Thomases were also involved in founding the neighboring North County town of San Marcos. An advertisement in the San Diego Union from September 1887 announcing that the San Marcos Land Company have now on sale lots in the new town of San Marcos was signed by J. R. Thomas, Secretary. Incorporation of the Pacific Beach Company and the Pacific Beach railroad and the opening sale of lots in Pacific Beach took place later in 1887.

Profits from their banking and real estate activities allowed the Thomas brothers to live in some of the city’s finest residences. The Union reported in 1887 that J. R. Thomas of the Escondido Land and Town Company was building a residence at Fifth and Maple streets that would be one of the handsomest buildings in that beautiful section of the city. It would cost $10,000 and be surmounted by a turret observatory (the Thomas house is no longer there but was comparable to the Britt – Scripps house still standing next door, at Fourth and Maple, built in the same year and with the same assessed value, and also with a turret observatory). In 1893 R. A. Thomas traded 300 acres of land in Escondido for the home of Henry Timken, the wealthy inventor of the Timken roller bearing, and moved in with his family. The Timken Mansion, at First and Laurel streets, is still standing and is another fine example of Victorian residential architecture in San Diego.

During the 1890s the Thomas brothers’ interests transitioned again, from San Diego real estate to the hardware business, and then to Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Herald reported in 1896 that articles of incorporation had been filed for the Consolidated Hardware Company; the directors included R. A., J. R. and W. W. Thomas, and Edward Beven (R. A. Thomas’ brother-in-law). The 1897 Los Angeles city directory had a listing for Thomas Bros., R. A. Thomas, prest.; J. R. Thomas, vice-prest. and mgr.; W. W. Thomas, secy., hardware, 230 S. Spring Street. John R. and William W. Thomas had Los Angeles addresses but Richard A. Thomas was listed as resident in San Diego, where he had remained and served as chairman of the chamber of commerce in 1898.

In San Diego, the Union reported in 1899 that R. A. Thomas, ex-president of the chamber of commerce, had traded his fine residence property at First and Laurel for a property with three houses owned by Col. A. G. Gassen at Eleventh and E streets. Both properties were valued at $20,000. The Union explained that Mr. Thomas had become interested in the mining business at Jerome, Arizona, and found it more convenient to reside in Los Angeles, where he would remove with his family. His fine residence could not be rented to advantage but the three houses at Eleventh and E brought in a good revenue. Col. Gassen had been living in the clubhouse at the Pacific Beach race-track but would take possession of the Thomas residence as soon as possible (another avenue on the original Pacific Beach map was named for Gassen).

In Los Angeles, the other Thomas brothers and Thomas Metcalf, who had also moved to Los Angeles in 1898, followed R. A. Thomas into the mining business. The 1901 Los Angeles directory showed John R. Thomas as president of the California Oil Co., Wm. W. Thomas as secretary of the Black Hills Copper Co., and Richard A. Thomas as president and Thomas Metcalf vice president of the Mingus Mountain Copper Co. (Mingus Mountain is a peak in the Black Hills, where Jerome is located). Their Jerome mining ventures were apparently unsuccessful, however, and in 1902 the Los Angeles Times reported that R. A., J. R. and W. W. Thomas, and Thomas Metcalf, were incorporators of the Choix Consolidated Mining Company, with mines in Sinaloa and Chihuahua, Mexico (Choix was a copper mining town in Sinaloa). In 1903 the city directory listed Thomas Brothers & Metcalf, R. A. Thomas president, Thomas Metcalf vice president, J. R. Thomas secretary and W. W. Thomas treasurer, investments, at an address on South Broadway in Los Angeles. The company remained listed at that address for decades, although its business changed from ‘investments’ to ‘mines and mining’ in 1908.

Thomas Metcalf died in 1911, after which Thomas Brothers & Metcalf ceased to exist and the South Broadway address became the office of Choix Consolidated Mining, R. A. Thomas president and J. R. Thomas secretary, until R. A. Thomas’ death in 1918. The South Broadway office then became the headquarters of El Fuerte Mining and Smelting Company, J. R. Thomas Secretary, which later merged with the Choix Consolidated company (the Fuerte River is near Choix in Sinaloa). W. W. Thomas also shared the office and was involved with mining, mostly in British Columbia, until his death in 1926. J. R. Thomas remained with the El Fuerte mining company until he also died, in 1929, the last of the founders of Pacific Beach.

O. S. Hubbell

Oren Sage (O. S.) Hubbell was born in 1858 in Iowa but his family had relocated to San Diego by 1874 and his father, Charles, was cashier at the Bank of San Diego. The 1880 census listed O. S. Hubbell as a ‘clerk in bank’ and by 1885 he had become assistant cashier of the First National Bank, the bank where the Thomas brothers were officers and directors. He joined D. C. Reed in subdividing Reed & Hubbell’s addition in what is now Logan Heights in 1886 and in 1887 became a director of the San Marcos Land Company, of which D. C. Reed was president. In addition to his participation in the Pacific Beach Company he was also involved with the Morena Company and the El Cajon Valley Company, developers of Lakeside, in 1887. Hubbell is credited with leading the negotiations with the San Diego College Company that resulted in the Pacific Beach Company granting four blocks in the center of Pacific Beach for a college campus. San Diego’s first college, the San Diego College of Letters, was built there and opened in September 1888. Although the college closed in 1891 the campus was reopened in 1910 as the San Diego Army and Navy Academy, later Brown Military Academy, before finally closing and being dismantled in 1959. The former campus is now the site of Pacific Plaza shopping center.

Like many of his associates in the real estate business, O. S. Hubbell exhibited his apparent success with an opulent home on a prominent view lot. In his case the property was at the corner of 7th and Ash streets downtown, the apex of what was then called Nob Hill. The home was said to have cost $92,000 to build, an astounding sum in 1888, and was ‘not excelled for comfort and elegance by any home in Southern California’. However, Hubbell had financed his holdings with debt and in the ‘bust’ that followed the great boom of 1886-1888 found himself unable to repay his obligations, including to the bank where he had been an officer. In early 1889 the First National Bank succeeded in obtaining a verdict from O. S. Hubbell for over $10,000 and in November of that year he ‘made over’ all of his holdings, estimated at $200,000 and including the Nob Hill mansion, to L. S. McLure, an officer of that bank, apparently to repay debts. By 1890 he was the defendant in a number of foreclosure cases in the San Diego superior court.

In October 1890 the Jacksonville (Alabama) Republican reported that Mr. O. S. Hubbell, of San Diego, Cal, had located in Jacksonville to participate in the prosperity of the town. The Republican added that Mr. Hubbell was formerly Secretary of the Coronado Beach Land Company, which built the celebrated Coronado hotel (Hubbell had been a director and officer of a number of land companies in the San Diego area, but not the Coronado Beach Company, which had built the Hotel del Coronado). The Jacksonville paper later reported that O. S. Hubbell had put up a corrugated iron building in town to serve as a real estate office. However, by 1892 the Hubbells had moved on again; the Jacksonville paper carried a legal notice to the effect that O. S. Hubbell and his wife Kate were defendants in a case but were thought to be non-residents and to reside in Chicago. His legal issues also continued in San Diego; in June 1893 he filed a petition for discharge as an insolvent debtor and was discharged from insolvency in July, although cases against Hubbell, ‘an insolvent debtor’, continued at least until 1903.

Also in 1893 his former San Diego home changed hands again. According to the San Diego Union, the magnificent residence at Seventh and Ash streets, built by Oren Hubbell, was sold to Mrs. U. S. Grant, Jr. for $25,000. U. S. Grant Jr. was the son of the former Union general and president, who had moved to San Diego and become a major player in the real estate industry. The U. S. Grant Hotel, built in 1910 and still standing on Broadway between 3rd and 4th avenues, was one of his real estate ventures. U. S. Grant Jr. lived at the former Hubbell home until 1915, after which it was turned into a rooming house, the Grant Terrace, an attractive room for adults with two meals, close in, exclusive surroundings, 718 Ash. In 1926 the property was sold to make room for a new hotel. Thirty rooms of good furniture, ‘much better than will be found in the average rooming house’, including antiques that had ‘been in the Grant family for ages’, were sold at auction. The house itself was to be ‘wrecked’ and the wrecking company advertised that the house was built at tremendous expense and only the highest grade materials obtainable were used in its construction. This well-seasoned, beautiful material would be available at much less than new low grade materials – sale starts Monday morning. With the house cleared from the site construction began on the El Cortez Hotel, completed in 1927 and still standing on what is now known as Cortez Hill.

Meanwhile, O. S. Hubbell had moved from Alabama to the Chicago area where he worked as an insurance agent. By 1910 he had moved again, this time to Portland, Oregon, where he was listed as a real estate dealer. He died in Portland in 1921.

D. P. Hale

There is no Hale Avenue in Pacific Beach today but there is one in Escondido, where Daniel P. Hale, one of PB’s founders, later became general manager of the Escondido Land and Town Company. D. P. Hale came to San Diego from Sioux City, Iowa, where he was president of the Sioux City Vinegar and Pickling Works. In February 1886 the San Diego Union reported that D. P. Hale had been elected secretary and treasurer (and Thomas E. Metcalf had been elected vice president) of the San Diego Savings Bank which was about to open in San Diego. The Union added that these gentlemen were among the ‘new blood that has in the recent past been infused into our business circles’, were ‘gentlemen of large business experience, thorough training and acute minds’, had ‘made honorable records in the communities from whence they came’ and would no doubt sustain those records in San Diego. There is no record that the savings bank ever did open, however, and instead Hale purchased an interest in an established real estate partnership as San Diego’s great real estate boom got underway. In 1887 he was one of the original partners of the Pacific Beach Company, subscribing $25,000 in paid-up capital for 250 shares.

One of the company’s early accomplishments had been attracting the San Diego College of Letters to build on a campus granted by the company in Pacific Beach. When the college opened in 1888 Hale’s daughters Della and Libba joined fellow founder D. C. Reed’s sons Bert and Oliver in its inaugural class, where Della assisted with the college paper The Rambler. Over time D. P. Hale became more involved with land companies in north San Diego County where he (along with Metcalf and the Thomas brothers) had been among the founders of the Escondido Land and Town Company in 1886. Hale served as vice president and general manager of both the San Marcos and Escondido land companies before his death in 1900.

Thomas Metcalf

Thomas E. Metcalf, originally from Delaware, had joined D. P. Hale in the 1886 savings bank venture and was later involved with Hale, Reed and the Thomas brothers in the Escondido and San Marcos as well as Pacific Beach companies. He was also a director of the San Diego, Old Town and Pacific Beach Railway Company, which built and operated the railroad link between San Diego and Pacific Beach. In 1897 he joined Jacob Gruendike in forming the La Costa Land and Town Company on property they owned around the La Costa station on the railroad line between Leucadia (then called Merle) and Carlsbad in San Diego’s North County. Although the station already served as a shipping point for the area’s farmers Metcalf and Gruendike also promoted the area as a promising oilfield and attempted to develop a salt production facility at the lagoon there. T. E. Metcalf remained president of the La Costa company even after moving to Los Angeles in 1898, where he again joined the Thomas brothers as Thomas Brothers & Metcalf, an investment and mining company. He died at his home in the Ocean Park section of Los Angeles in 1911. His obituary in the Los Angeles Times described him as one of the founders of Escondido and later of Pacific Beach who had moved to Los Angeles and taken an active interest in copper operations in Mexico and Arizona, in which he was a partner of the Thomas brothers.

George B. Hensley

George B. Hensley was a ‘delegate elect’ in the 1882 Republican primary election, representing the Monument precinct where he was deputy collector of customs at the Mexican border. In 1883 the Union reported that Mr. Henley and family had moved into town and taken up residence in the Switzer house in the east part of the city. In 1884 he was a ‘searcher of records’ at the courthouse and in 1885 was a founder and became secretary of the Building and Loan Association. An ad in the Union in 1886 said that Hensley & Platt, real estate, loan and insurance agents, had $10,000 to loan on real estate (in the original Pacific Beach subdivision map Platt Avenue was between Hensley and Metcalf avenues). In May 1888, a few months after lots in Pacific Beach first went on sale, Reed & Hensley, Managers, invited readers to buy a home at Pacific Beach, overlooking ocean, bay, San Diego and Coronado, and send your children to college, the only one now being built in Southern California and ready for occupancy September 1, 1888. In addition to his real estate interests, George Hensley was an incorporator and later superintendent of the cable railway that ran along Sixth and Fourth streets between the bay and Mission Cliff Gardens in University Heights in 1890 and 1891. Hensley was named receiver of the bankrupt cable railway in 1892. When he died in 1893 the San Diego Union wrote that he had been prominent in public affairs for years and was universally esteemed.

Charles Collins

When fellow Pacific Beach founder Charles Collins also died in 1893 the Union noted that he had been a notable character in the Missouri Valley from 1861 until his arrival in San Diego eight years earlier, a leader in the movement that opened the Black Hills of Dakota to settlement. A native of Ireland, Collins wrote and published directories for towns and mining districts in Colorado and Nevada in the early 1860s before moving to the Midwest, where he published newspapers as well as city directories in towns such as St. Joseph, Leavenworth and Omaha. In 1870 he was in Sioux City, Iowa, across the Missouri River from the Dakota Territory, where as publisher of the Weekly Times he promoted Sioux City as a base for the exploration and exploitation of Dakota’s Black Hills. In 1872 he formed the Black Hills Mining and Exploring Association to organize and outfit parties of pioneers prospecting for rumored deposits of gold there, but since the Black Hills were then part of the Great Sioux Reservation the army initially enforced treaty provisions by turning back or arresting trespassers. Collins and others continued their agitation and in 1874 a reconnaissance expedition under the command of Col. George Custer did enter the hills and confirmed the existence of gold. The government then attempted to acquire the mining region from the Indians but the Indians resisted and left their reservations. Another expedition led by Custer to force them to return encountered a large camp of hostile Indians at the Little Bighorn River in June 1876 and a battalion of the Seventh U. S. Cavalry including Custer himself were massacred.

The Indians were eventually rounded up and returned to new reservations and the Black Hills were opened to mining. Collins joined the settlers there, publishing another newspaper, the Black Hills Champion, in Central City, but after a few more years, according to an article in South Dakota Magazine, ‘Charlie Collins’ left for California, ‘where it is said that he made a fortune in real estate ventures before fading into the cobwebs of history’. Those real estate ventures included about 100 acres north of False Bay in San Diego which Collins acquired beginning in 1885, and which were presumably part of his subscription of $25,000 in paid-up capitol for 250 shares of Pacific Beach Company stock in 1887. This property was in the southwest section of what became Pacific Beach and in 1888 he regained a portion of it, Block 264, known as the Collins place and later the site of the De Luxe Trailer Court, Martha Farnum Elementary School and the Earl and Birdie Taylor Pacific Beach Branch Library. After Charles Collins died in 1893 his wife Annie continued to deal in real estate around Pacific Beach, including acreage in the foothills above Pacific Beach which she sold to Kate Sessions in 1912 and which Miss Sessions subdivided as Soledad Terrace in 1913.

When the Pacific Beach Company voted to dissolve in 1898 D. C. Reed was the only one of its founders whose name appeared on the dissolution petition submitted to the superior court. The company still owned a large amount of real estate in Pacific Beach and it was distributed to the current stockholders in proportion to their respective interests. The list of these stockholders submitted to the court did not include any of the founders, even Reed. A vast majority of the company’s stock, about 61%, was then owned by Oliver J. Stough and another 31% was held by the First National Bank of San Diego, the bank once associated with the Thomases. Six more individuals, none of them original stockholders of the company, divided the remaining 7-8%. When the company’s unsold property was finally distributed Stough ended up with over half of the property in Pacific Beach. It is thought that Oliver Avenue, the avenue south of Thomas and Reed, is named for him.

PB’s First Family

The San Diego Union-Tribune recently published a Life Tribute for Franklin Lockwood ‘Woody’ Barnes, who had passed away in July 2021 at the age of 86. The tribute noted that Woody was born in San Diego but had lived most of his life in Julian, attending the Julian elementary and high schools. His family had operated an apple and pear orchard in Julian since 1906 and had built the Manzanita Ranch store in Wynola. He was very active in the agricultural life of Julian and believed that he was the only one who remembered most of that earlier era. He shared these memories in a 2020 book Woody Barnes – A Farmer’s Life in Julian, compiled by his son Scott.

Woody’s memories of earlier eras and the agricultural life also extended to another local community where his forebears had attended school, operated orchards, and had a store. In fact, his great-grandmother claimed to be the very first resident of that community — Pacific Beach – when she came to help start a new college that opened there in 1888. One great-grandfather was among its first lemon ranchers and owned the lemon packing plant at a time when lemons were the community’s main product. Another great-grandfather was a contractor who built many of the first homes there, including his own.

These pioneers came to Pacific Beach in part so that their children, Woody’s grandparents, could attend the new college. The college closed after a few years, but those former students married and started their own family in Pacific Beach, where Woody’s father was born and his grandfather became the community’s grocer and postmaster. Their days in Pacific Beach were limited, however, and by 1906 the family had relocated to uptown San Diego. Some, including Woody’s father, later moved on to Julian where Woody and his sister Jo grew up.

Although their family had left over a century earlier Woody and Jo were very conscious of their Pacific Beach roots. Both became members of the Pacific Beach Historical Society and have shared family photos and other memorabilia from those days that have enhanced our knowledge of PB’s early history, and their family’s prominent role in it.

Pacific Beach began in 1887 when a group of San Diego businessmen bought most of the land north of Mission Bay (then known as False Bay), drew up a subdivision map, and began selling lots. Their plan was to attract residents by making it the site of San Diego’s first college. The San Diego College of Letters opened in 1888 on a campus where the Pacific Plaza shopping center is now located. There were 37 students in the inaugural class, 15 young ladies and 22 young men, including Woody and Jo’s grandparents Lulo Thorpe and Edward Barnes.

San Diego College of Letters in Pacific Beach (San Diego History Center Photo #9800)

Lulo’s mother, Rose Hartwick Thorpe, was a poet, perhaps the most popular poet of her day, world-famous for the ballad Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight which she had written at the age of 16. The Thorpes had been living in Texas when the promoters of the college invited Mrs. Thorpe to come to Pacific Beach to assist with its creation. Lulo’s father, Edmund Carson (E. C.) Thorpe, had been a carriage maker but in San Diego he joined the real estate boom then underway by becoming a provider of small portable cottages, put together with removable pins rather than nails. Mrs. Thorpe later claimed they became the very first settlers in Pacific Beach when they set up their own portable house on a lot near where the college was being built.

Edward Young (E. Y.) Barnes had come from Nebraska, where his father Franklin Wile (F. W.) Barnes had been a banker before moving to California for his health. They settled in Pacific Beach where Edward and his brother Theodore enrolled in the college. The Barnes family was among the first to build a house in Pacific Beach, at the northwest corner of what are now Lamont and Emerald streets, just across Emerald from the college campus.

Phoebe and Franklin Barnes at their home, with the college buildings, Mission Bay and Point Loma in the background (Barnes family photo)

Pacific Beach, and the college, had been founded during San Diego’s ‘great boom’ when rapid population growth fueled an apparently limitless demand for residential real estate. The developers of Pacific Beach endowed the college with hundreds of building lots with the expectation that they could be sold to fund its operations, but the great boom collapsed in 1888 and despite several auctions complete with a free barbecue lunch few lots were sold and the college closed in 1891. Most of the academic community departed but the Thorpe and Barnes families remained and found that their property on the ‘sunny slope’ in the vicinity of the college campus was ideal for lemon cultivation. The developers of Pacific Beach encouraged this new industry by re-subdividing much of the area into ‘acre lots’ of about 10 acres which were sold to potential lemon ranchers.

The Barnes’ property was included in one of these acre lots, 9.32 acres surrounded by Emerald, Jewell, Diamond and Lamont streets, on which F. W. Barnes planted 600 lemon trees. By 1897 these trees were yielding 1400 boxes of lemons annually (a box contained about 40 lemons and sold for about one dollar). The Thorpes did not get an entire acre lot but did buy the city block across Lamont from the Barnes on which they planted lemons and other fruit trees, and in 1894 E. C. Thorpe built a house there that they named Rosemere Cottage in honor of Mrs. Thorpe. In 1895 E. Y. Barnes built a house at the southwestern corner of his father’s acre lot, the northeast corner of Emerald and Jewell, and named it El Nido, or the nest.

Edward and Lulo Barnes home – El Nido (Barnes family photo)

In July of that year the San Diego Union reported that the most interesting event at Pacific Beach was the marriage of Miss Lulo Thorpe and Edward Y. Barnes, impressively performed at the home of the bride’s parents. According to the Union a lovelier bride could hardly be imagined, and the happy couple were then escorted to their handsome home El Nido, recently built by the groom, which was but one block from both of their parents. A year later the western half of F. W. Barnes’ acre lot, including El Nido and several hundred lemon trees, was transferred to Edward Y. and Lulo Barnes.

E. Y. and Lulo Barnes’ children, Hartwick, Margaret and Franklin, at their Pacific Beach home El Nido. The former college buildings are in the background (Barnes family photo)

The Barnes not only grew lemons on their ranch but were also responsible for handling and shipping much of the local lemon crop. In 1897 a large building which had been built as a dance pavilion at the beach was moved to the corner of Hornblend and Morrell streets, adjacent to the railroad line that ran between San Diego and La Jolla over Balboa Avenue. The building was converted into a lemon curing and packing plant and the railroad company put in a new siding to allow fruit to be shipped directly from its rear doors. Later in the year F. W. Barnes and another rancher purchased the plant and E. Y. Barnes was put in charge of its operation. In December 1897 the Union reported that Barnes & Son had the most commodious packing and curing house in the county and were shipping between 75 and 100 boxes of lemons weekly.

F. W. Barnes was also an enthusiastic promoter of the local lemon business, describing Pacific Beach in an 1898 Union article as the natural home of the lemon, one of the few localities in the whole country where conditions were almost perfect for its successful culture. When the county horticultural society held its quarterly convention that year in Pacific Beach the stage was decorated with ‘festoons’ of lemons and F. W. Barnes gave the featured address on ‘How We Handle Our Lemons’. He was nominated for president of the society for the coming year and declared elected.

F. W. Barnes had also been elected to the San Diego Board of Delegates (a predecessor of San Diego’s city council) in 1897 and in 1900 he was the winning candidate for the 79th State Assembly district, representing the city of San Diego in Sacramento. With the added responsibilities of political office he divested his business interests in Pacific Beach, selling his share of the lemon packing plant in 1901. In 1904 he and Phoebe left Pacific Beach altogether, selling their home and lemon ranch and building a new home at 4th and Upas streets in the uptown area. After three terms as an assemblyman he resigned and was appointed Collector of Customs for the Port of San Diego by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905.

The E. C. and Rose Hartwick Thorpe home in Pacific Beach – Rosemere Cottage (Barnes family photo)

The Thorpes owned the city block between Diamond, Morrell, Emerald and Lamont streets in Pacific Beach, directly across Lamont from the Barnes’s ten-acre ranch. Although there were lemon trees on the property lemon ranching was not their primary occupation. The 1900 census listed E. C. Thorpe as ‘Contractor and Rancher’ and he had become one of the principal home builders in Pacific Beach and La Jolla. One home he built in 1896 was for the Gridley ranch, just across Diamond Street from the Barnes ranch and about a block from his own property. In an 1896 diary passed down to her great-grandchildren Mrs. Thorpe wrote that her husband ‘Ned’ had secured the contract and started building Mrs. Gridley’s house on January 13. There were rainy days when Ned couldn’t work but on March 11 she noted that house was finished and Ned had gone to San Diego to pay the bills. The Union’s Pacific Beach Notes confirmed on March 15, 1896, that Mrs. Gridley was moving into her new house. The Gridley house stood until 1968 at 1790 Diamond Street (next door to the house I grew up in).

The former Gridley ranch house, built by E. C. Thorpe in 1896, was still standing  in 1968

The Thorpes had also listed their own home for sale in 1896; Mrs. Thorpe’s diary entry for January 8 noted that the advertisement had appeared in the paper for several days. That day’s Union did include an ad for a home, ‘substantial and beautiful, for I built it for myself’, consisting of a 7-room house and the finest, best located 5-acre tract of lemons in the city. However, the house was not sold and the Thorpes remained there for several more years.

Rose Hartwick Thorpe continued to publish poems in literary magazines and to hold ‘recitations’ of her work. One poem, Mission Bay (‘now blue, now gray’), is often cited as the origin of the current name for what was then False Bay. Her husband often joined her performances, assuming the character of ‘Hans’ and affecting the ‘broken English of a Dutchman’ to recite his own poems such as ‘Dot Bacific Peach Flea’ (‘Vot schumps und viggles und bites . . . Und keepen me avake effry nights’). In 1896 the couple went on a six-month tour giving ‘entertainments’ in churches and other meeting halls around the country. Rose Hartwick Thorpe, Phoebe and Lulo Barnes and other local women started the Pacific Beach Reading Club in 1895 and Mrs. Thorpe was elected its first president. Before a clubhouse was built in 1911 meetings were held in members’ homes, often those of the Thorpe and Barnes families. The club, now known as the Pacific Beach Woman’s Club, is still active and its logo, a lemon branch, pays tribute to its lemon-ranching founders.

By 1901 most of Mr. Thorpe’s business was in La Jolla and the Thorpes purchased lots on Girard Avenue and built another home there, Curfew Cottage. In 1902 they transferred Rosemere Cottage and their block of land in Pacific Beach to their daughter Lulo and son-in-law Edward (E. Y.) Barnes. The Barnes and their three children, Hartwick Mitchell (1897), Franklin Lockwood (Woody and Jo’s father, born in 1899) and Margaret (1901), moved the two blocks from El Nido to Rosemere.

E. Y. Barnes had managed operations at the curing and packing plant for several years after its conversion in 1897, shipping carloads of lemons east. When his father sold his interest in the plant in 1901 it closed briefly but at the end of 1901 Barnes & Son rented and reopened it and were soon shipping more carloads to eastern destinations. Later that year E. Y. diversified his business interests by taking over the community’s general store at the northwest corner of Grand Avenue and Lamont Street, and in 1904 he sold the lemon ranch and exited the lemon business entirely. The San Diego Union reported that he would greatly enlarge his store and give his entire attention to it. The Barnes store also served as the community’s post office and E. Y. Barnes became postmaster. In addition, the polling place for municipal elections was Ed Barnes’ store and he was the inspector.

There were less than 200 people living in Pacific Beach at the turn of the twentieth century and their activities, particularly the activities of the prominent and popular Barnes and Thorpe families, were noted in weekly Pacific Beach Notes columns in the local papers. Some of the photos passed down from those days appear to illustrate items that also appeared in these columns. One family photo showed Mr. and Mrs. Thorpe and their daughter Lulo and her three children seated in a vintage automobile (with two other children standing in the back).

Thorpe and Barnes families in E. C. Thorpe’s new Cadillac (Barnes family photo)

Automobiles were making their first appearances in the early years of the century and the Union found it newsworthy to report in July 1903 that Assemblyman F. W. Barnes and E. C. Thorpe, of Pacific Beach, had each purchased a handsome French-make automobile in Los Angeles and rode down in them to their homes, covering the 125 miles in comparatively short time and without mishap. These latest arrivals brought the total number of cars in San Diego to 19. The Union later clarified that the two vehicles were actually Cadillacs and that in view of the popularity of these machines the San Diego Cycle and Arms company had secured the agency for them so that it would no longer be necessary to purchase them in Los Angeles. They cost only $950, were able to make almost any road or hill with perfect ease and could attain a speed of forty miles an hour (the car in the photo was indeed a 1903 Cadillac runabout, the very first Cadillac model, with a single cylinder engine and chain drive). In another photo Mr. Thorpe is apparently making repairs, probably to the chain, while Mrs. Thorpe holds an umbrella.

Although it was said these early Cadillacs could attain a speed of 40 MPH there were few improved roads in the vicinity where such a speed would actually be attainable. Pacific Beach provided an alternative, a hard, flat, miles-long beach which at low tide was hundreds of feet wide, and a September 1903 Pacific Beach Notes column reported that F. W. Barnes and E. C. Thorpe had ‘raced’ their automobiles on the beach. They made the entire length in eight minutes, about 30 miles per hour over the nearly 4-mile distance (in 1912 ‘Wild Bob’ Burman covered a mile course on the same beach in 28 seconds, nearly 130 MPH).

The Evening Tribune reported (in a ‘Newsy Letter from Pacific Beach’ in July 1903) that Mr. E. Y. Barnes had also ordered an automobile from the east, but apparently it hadn’t arrived when another of the Barnes family photos was taken, showing him and his children in a carriage on Emerald Street in front of Rosemere Cottage.

The Barnes and Thorpes may have been responsible for introducing automobiles to Pacific Beach, but cars were not necessarily welcomed there at the time. One Tribune dispatch from Pacific Beach in 1903 noted that the horses didn’t seem to fancy them. Another said that people had given up pleasure driving (i.e., horse and carriage) for fear of the automobile.

May pole celebration at the Barnes’ Pacific Beach home in 1906 (Barnes family photo)

Another century-old family photo captured of a group of children around a May pole in what appears to be the Barnes’ front yard, between Rosemere Cottage and Emerald Street. Although the photo is undated, the San Diego Union’s Pacific Beach Notes column reported on May 4, 1906, that Hartwick Barnes, the little son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Y. Barnes, had entertained sixteen friends with a party, the greatest enjoyment being found in weaving the many colored ribbons into a perfect braid around a May pole, singing appropriate songs while skipping and dancing in and out (the ‘artistic’ pole was then used to test the agility of the boys in climbing). The Union article included the names of those present, who in addition to the Barnes children were from the Hinkle, Richert, Dula, Scripps, Corey and other pioneer Pacific Beach families.

E. Y. and Lulo Barnes’ home at 4th and Upas streets (Barnes family photo)

Hartwick Barnes’ May Day party turned out to be one of the Barnes family’s last appearances in Pacific Beach. In September 1906 the Union reported that Mr. and Mrs. E. Y. Barnes and family had moved into San Diego to superintend the building of their new home there. The new home was just across Upas Street from his parents’ home, at the southeast corner of 4th and Upas, and the Barnes children continued to celebrate May Day there. After relinquishing his retail produce business in Pacific Beach E. Y. Barnes joined Jarvis Doyle to form the Doyle-Barnes wholesale produce company at 326-336 5th Avenue, a warehouse that is now Cerveza Jack’s Gaslamp. He also leased and later bought property in the Pine Hills area of Julian where his son Franklin moved in 1922 and where Franklin’s children Woody and Jo grew up. The home at 4th and Upas streets is still there, although extensively remodeled, and the family still owns Manzanita Ranch, the property in Pine Hills.

Doyle-Barnes wholesale produce warehouse (Barnes family photo)

Back in Pacific Beach, few of the landmarks seen in the Barnes photos are still in existence. The college which had originally attracted the families to the area and where E. Y. and Lulo Barnes had been students closed in 1891. In 1905 it was refurbished and reopened as a resort hotel, the Hotel Balboa. The hotel was also unsuccessful but in 1910 Thomas A. Davis acquired it and founded the San Diego Army and Navy Academy, later Brown Military Academy. In 1923 Davis expanded the academy campus by purchasing what had once been the Barnes lemon ranch on the other side of Emerald Street. The Barnes families’ former homes became residences for academy staff. Col. Davis’ brother, the academy commandant, also purchased the Thorpes’ former home at Lamont and Emerald in 1924 and the Davises’ mother lived there until 1954. That house burned down in 1957 and is now the site of the Lamont Emerald apartments. Two years later the academy itself relocated to a new campus in Glendora and the original college buildings and the former Barnes homes were demolished. The site of F. W. and Phoebe Barnes’ home is now a parking structure for the Plaza condominium complex and E. Y. and Lulo Barnes’ home, El Nido, is an employee parking lot for the Pacific Plaza shopping center.

1938 aerial view of Brown Military Academy in Pacific Beach. The original college buildings, the former homes of the Thorpe and Barnes families and the Gridley house built by E. C. Thorpe were all still standing at the time (San Diego History Center photo #83:14603-1)

Other landmarks associated with the Barnes are also gone. The former dance pavilion moved to Hornblend and Morrell streets and converted to a lemon packing plant, owned by F. W. Barnes and operated by E. Y. Barnes, underwent one more conversion in 1907, this time into a Methodist church. The church operated there until 1922 and the site was then cleared and is now covered with houses and apartments. Ed Barnes’ store and post office at Grand and Lamont was taken over by Clarence Pratt when the Barnes left Pacific Beach. In the mid-1920s Pratt opened a new store and post office two blocks north on Garnet Avenue and the former Barnes store was abandoned. The site of Ed Barnes’ store is now a strip mall.

PB’s Lemon Era 1892-1906

The Pacific Beach lemon packing plant, about 1900. The names of lemon ranchers C. F. Belser and S. Honeycutt (and Honeycutt’s initials, SH) can be seen on some of the boxes (San Diego History Center photo #89_17221)

In 1887 a group of San Diego businessmen acquired most of the property north of Mission Bay (then called False Bay) and founded a community they christened Pacific Beach. Their Pacific Beach Company’s original subdivision map platted the entire area into residential blocks separated by streets (running north and south) and avenues (running east and west), with the widest avenue, Grand, also the route of a railway between downtown San Diego and a depot near the beach. The founders also set aside space for a college campus on what is now Garnet (then College) Avenue, between Jewell and Lamont (then 9th and 11th) streets, which they hoped would attract a nucleus of refined and cultured residents.

Original 1887 map of Pacific Beach

The San Diego College of Letters opened in 1888 and college students and their families were some of the first residents of Pacific Beach. Among the students were Edward and Theodore Barnes, Mary Cogswell, Evangeline and Mabel Rowe and Lulo Thorpe. The Barnes brothers’ parents, Franklin and Phoebe, moved to Pacific Beach in 1889 and bought several lots at the northwest corner of Lamont and Emerald (Vermont) streets, across Emerald from the campus, where they built a house. Dr. Thomas Cogswell was a dentist with a practice in downtown San Diego. He and his wife Elizabeth lived at the northwest corner of today’s Jewell and Diamond (Alabama) streets, a short distance from the college. Mary Rowe, mother of the Rowe sisters, had recently returned from India after her husband, a missionary there, died of typhoid. The Rowes lived in a house on the ocean front at the foot of Garnet. Lulo Thorpe’s mother was the then-famous poet Rose Hartwick Thorpe who had come to Pacific Beach to help establish the college. Lulo’s father, E. C. Thorpe, was a carpenter and building contractor.

Phoebe and Franklin Barnes at home with the college buildings behind them and Mission Bay and Point Loma in the distance

As an inducement to locate in Pacific Beach the founders had endowed the college with a number of city lots to be sold to finance its construction and administration. However, 1888 turned out to be the end of San Diego’s ‘great boom’ and despite several auctions held on the college campus few lots were sold. Unable to pay the architect’s construction bill the college closed in 1891 and most of the faculty and students moved away. With the departure of many residents and downturn in the residential real estate market the Pacific Beach Company reoriented its sales toward larger plots of land suitable for agrarian uses. An amended subdivision map was drawn up which eliminated many of the streets and avenues north of Diamond Street and south of Reed Avenue and transformed the former city blocks in these areas into ‘acre lots’ of about 10 acres. The amended map was recorded in January 1892 as map 697 (the numbered streets and state-themed avenues were renamed in 1900 to avoid conflicts with other numbered and state-themed streets in the city).

Map 697 – Filed January 1892

Writing for the San Diego Union in 1896, E. C. Thorpe recalled that by 1891 only three or four families remained from the college community but that the tract had then been placed upon the market as acreage property and in a few weeks a force of workmen were clearing the first hundred acres preparatory to planting lemon orchards — ‘Rabbits and rattlesnakes were driven back to mesa and canyon and the sunny southern slopes were soon clothed in fragrant lemon foliage’. The acre lots were sold for $100 an acre and one of the first to be sold was purchased by Franklin Barnes. Map 697 had incorporated his 8 lots at the corner of Lamont and Emerald into a larger acre lot 64, 9.3 acres enclosed by Lamont, Emerald, Jewell and Diamond streets, and in January 1892 he acquired the entire acre lot for $930. Mary Rowe bought acre lot 49, 8.6 acres west of Lamont Street between Diamond and Chalcedony (Idaho) streets, in April 1892 for $860. In 1893 she had her house moved from the ocean front to a location on her lemon ranch later to become Missouri Street. The Cogswells also acquired property for a lemon ranch, purchasing the western half of acre lot 48, 5.45 acres across Jewell Street from their home, for $545.

Altogether about a dozen purchases of acre lots on the ‘sunny slopes’ north of the college campus were recorded in the first half of 1892. Ida Snyder acquired acre lot 20, north of Beryl (Georgia) and east of where Lamont runs today (streets did not extend north of Beryl on Map 697).  According to the Union Miss Snyder, of Omaha, immediately made arrangements to have her property put out to lemons. A contiguous group of 3 acre lots, lots 33, 34 and 50, which met at Chalcedony and Lamont streets, were sold to R. C. Wilson and G. M. D. Bowers from Tennessee in February. The Union reported that Wilson and Bowers, who had been business partners in Tennessee, were having 4,000 feet of water pipe laid over their thirty acre tract and that the property was to be put into lemons in the next few weeks. They also built houses on their properties, the Bowers family on acre lot 34, west of Lamont Street in 1892 and the Wilsons on lot 33, east of Lamont, in 1893. Wilson and Bowers also later purchased acre lot 51, north of Diamond and west of Noyes (13th) streets. Acre lots 19, 35, 36, 47 and the east half of acre lot 48, all north of Diamond Street, were also sold in the first half of 1892.

South of Reed Avenue, acre lot 61 was acquired in April 1892 by C. H. Raiter, a banker from Minnesota who had spent the winter in Pacific Beach. Mr. Raiter returned to Minnesota but left instructions to have his ten-acre tract put equally into lemons and oranges and to reserve a good building site. The property was to be piped, fenced and broken and planted as soon as possible. The Raiters never did build on their ranch but did add the adjoining acre lot 62 in 1894.

The acre lots were located in what were then undeveloped outlying areas of Pacific Beach but much of the land in more central areas of the community was also undeveloped and some city blocks in these areas were also turned into lemon ranches. The Thorpes purchased block 167, across Lamont Street from the Barnes ranch, in February 1892 for $466 or $150 an acre. Sterling and Nancy Honeycutt bought lot 205, across Lamont from the college buildings and the four blocks around the intersection of Hornblend and Kendall streets in 1893 for a lemon ranch. J. L. Holliday acquired a pair of adjacent blocks between Garnet Avenue and Ingraham (then Broadway), Emerald and Jewell streets, blocks 183 and 202, and set them to lemons in 1895. The Holliday lemon ranch was sold to Nathan Manning in 1898.

Lemon ranches in blocks 216 (left) and 202 (right) are at opposite corners of Garnet Avenue and Jewell Street about 1904 in this photo from the college buildings. The community’s church and schoolhouse (with bell tower) are just beyond the intersection. (San Diego History Center #266)

E. C. Thorpe reported from Pacific Beach in 1894 that ‘Lemons do nicely here, and Pacific Beach expects much from its future lemon culture’. He noted that Pacific Beach had a great diversity of soil and that the sandy soil nearer the bay was not considered as valuable as the heavier soil on higher lands where the trees make the best growth and require less water. In March 1894 Frank Marshall of Kansas City bought two ten-acre lots in these higher lands, paying $2150 or $150 an acre for acre lots 30 and 53, 8.6 acres each between Diamond and Beryl and east of Olney (14th) Street. According to the San Diego Union he had plowed, piped and planted 1400 lemon trees and a hedge of Monterey cypress would be set out all around his land as a windbreak. He had returned to Kansas City but would come back in the fall with his brother and each would build a handsome residence. In his absence the ranch would be managed by Edward Barnes.

The Marshall lemon ranch in acre lots 53 and 30, seen from the east (San Diego History Center photo #283)

Mr. Marshall did not come back in the fall of 1894 but did return in June 1895 and built a handsome residence on acre lot 30 where he lived with his wife May. His brother, T. B. Marshall, finally arrived in Pacific Beach in January 1895 and in April moved into a handsome residence on acre lot 53 that the Union’s correspondent called the ‘finest in our colony’. Frank Marshall’s brother-in-law Victor Hinkle also followed in December 1895 — Carrie Hinkle was May Marshall’s sister; the couples had been married on the same day in 1889. In February 1896 the Hinkles purchased acre lot 36, 10.2 acres lying between Chalcedony, Ingraham, Beryl and Jewell streets, paying Alzora Haight $2000 or nearly $200 an acre for what was then a developed lemon ranch. Although the Haights had owned acre lot 36 since 1892 they had ‘camped’ on the property rather than building a house and the Hinkles had another fine residence built there in 1896.

The Hinkle house, now at 1576 Law Street

In 1895 the Wilson and Bowers families decided to move back to Tennessee and put the four acre lots of their lemon ranch up for sale. The eastern 3.5 acres of lot 51 had been sold for $500 in 1894 but between September and November of 1895 they sold lot 33 to Ozora Stearns and lot 34 to William Davis for $5500 each, lot 50 to Lewis and Elizabeth Coffeen for $3000 and the western five acres of lot 51 to B. F. Colvin for $1000 (lots 33 and 34 each came with houses while lots 50 and 51 were unimproved). The Coffeens had a house built on acre lot 50 and had moved in by December but when they were compelled to return east for business reasons in 1897 their 10 acres in bearing lemons with water under pressure and a 6 room house was sold to Maj. William and Henrietta Hall.

The Franklin Barnes family lived in a house at Lamont and Emerald streets, at the southeast corner of their lemon ranch in acre lot 64. In 1895 their son Edward built another house at the southwest corner of lot 64, the corner of Jewell and Emerald, which he named El Nido (the nest). Also in 1895, E. C. Thorpe and his family moved into the house he built on block 167, across Lamont from the Barnes and named Rosemere Cottage for his wife Rose Hartwick Thorpe. In July 1895 the Thorpes’ daughter Lulo and Edward Barnes were married at Rosemere and moved the two blocks west to El Nido. In 1896 ownership of El Nido and the west half of acre lot 64, 4.5 acres, was transferred to Edward and Lulo Barnes.

Edward and Lulo Barnes home in acre lot 64 – El Nido

Also in 1896, Edward Barnes built the first lemon curing house in Pacific Beach. Tree-ripened lemons tended to be too large and were graded down by commercial buyers. Better grades and prices could be obtained by picking the lemons before they were fully grown, and still green, then ‘curing’ them for 30 – 60 days until they reached a lemon-yellow color. Cured lemons not only had a more acceptable and uniform appearance but also thinner rinds and better keeping qualities. In January 1897 the San Diego Union reported that Mr. Barnes had picked 72 boxes of lemons in December alone from 280 4-year-old trees and that for the year his yield had been 1,200 boxes, netting $1 per box (a box held about 40 pounds of lemons).

In 1888 the Pacific Beach Company had built a hotel and dance pavilion near the railroad depot at the foot of Grand Avenue but neither had been very successful. In 1896 they were sold to Sterling Honeycutt with the provision that they be moved to property he had purchased in block 239, the south side of Hornblend between Lamont and Morrell streets and adjacent to his lemon ranch. The move was completed in early 1897; the hotel was set down on the southeast corner of Hornblend and Lamont streets and the pavilion on the southwest corner of Hornblend and Morrell. At the time the railroad between Pacific Beach and downtown San Diego ran over Grand Avenue from the depot near the beach to Lamont Street, where it turned toward the northeast on what is now Balboa Avenue, passing close to the new location of the pavilion (the raised ‘island’ in the center of these streets was once the railroad right of way). Mr. Honeycutt and other lemon ranchers including Franklin Barnes and Frank Marshall turned the pavilion into a lemon curing and packing house and the railroad added a siding where boxcars could be parked while being loaded with boxes of lemons. On August 13, 1897, the Evening Tribune reported that Pacific Beach reached an important event in its history when the first full carload of lemons loaded in Pacific Beach was shipped east, directly to Duluth. Later in 1897 Honeycutt sold the property, with the ‘most commodious packing and curing house in the county’, to Barnes and Marshall. Edward Barnes was placed in charge of packing and shipping and initially shipped from 75 to 100 boxes of lemons weekly.

The packing plant in the former dance pavilion building is the large structure in the center of this photo. The large structure on the right is the hotel building. Left of the packing plant is the Honeycutt home at the corner of Garnet and Lamont with his former lemon orchard in blocks 205 (left) and 215 (right) on either side. Taken from the college building about 1904 (SDHC #23535)

In February 1898 Franklin Barnes reported that there were about 25,000 lemon trees in bearing and that during 1897 he had picked 1,400 boxes from 600 trees and was then picking from the same trees 200 boxes per month. The leading varieties were Lisbon, Villa Franca and Eureka and about 7,000 boxes were shipped in the last year. Mr. Barnes was also a featured speaker when the County Horticultural Society met in October 1898 at Stough Hall, a former college building and then the principal meeting place in Pacific Beach (the front of the stage had been very prettily decorated with festoons of lemons). He told the delegates that his expenses for cultivation and water had averaged $200 a year for five years and that the orchard had paid over $1000 the previous year.

Many participants in the Pacific Beach lemon industry were women. Mary Rowe, Martha Dunn Corey and Ida Snyder had been among the first purchasers of acre lots in 1892. The San Diego Union noted in 1897 that Mrs. Rowe’s ranch had been developed from the raw condition to one now valued at $9000 and that the ladies of Pacific Beach were justly proud of their ranches. William Davis, who purchased the lemon ranch on acre lot 34 in 1895, was a mining engineer who spent much of his time at the Arizona mines leaving the ranch in the hands of his sister Louise. The Union reported in June 1896 that Miss Davis had shipped 84 boxes of choice lemons from Ondawa ranch (many ranchers in Pacific Beach gave their ranches names). Ozora Stearns had purchased the ranch in acre lot 33 in 1895 but he died in 1896 leaving it to his widow Sarah. Their eldest daughter married in 1897 and her husband John Esden took over operation of the lemon ranch, making improvements including what the Union called an ‘up-to-date curing house’. J. D. Esden & Co. became one of the largest lemon producers in Pacific Beach, shipping carloads of lemons in 1898. When acre lot 33 was sold again in 1899 the buyer was also a woman, Carrie Belser Linck, and her son Charles Belser assumed management of the ranch and the curing and packing operation.

Location of Pacific Beach lemon ranches in 1900. 2-digit numbers represent acre lots and 3-digit numbers are city blocks.

Maj. William Hall, who had acquired the lemon ranch in acre lot 50 in 1897, was the author of the San Diego Union’s New Year’s Day report from Pacific Beach in 1900. According to Maj. Hall about three hundred acres of lemon groves from three to seven years old and from 2 ½ to 10 acres were clustered at the center of this beautiful spot, dotted here and there with fine residences with well kept yards, beautiful with every variety of flowers and in bloom all year round. The Pacific Beach lemon groves were not only attractive but productive; during the past year thirty carloads of lemons (and two of oranges) had been raised and shipped (a carload was about 600 boxes, or twelve tons of lemons). A few months later, in July 1900, Maj. Hall profited by selling a portion of his investment in this beautiful spot, the north half of acre lot 50, ‘with 12 rows of trees running east and west’, to Alfred and Margaret Roxburgh for $2500. After a few years living in houses on neighboring lemon ranches the Roxburghs built a home on their own ranch in 1904, described by the Evening Tribune as both substantial and artistic looking, being built largely of stone.

An enumerator for the United States census visited Pacific Beach in June 1900 and counted a total of 54 dwellings and 185 residents. For the ‘head of the family’ in each of these dwellings the ‘occupation, trade or profession’ column listed twelve as ‘Lemon Rancher’ (or ‘L. Rancher’) and two more as ‘L. Packer and Rancher’ (F. W. and E. Y. Barnes). Lemon rancher Francis Manning was listed as ‘Carpenter and Rancher’ and E. C. Thorpe was a ‘Contractor and Rancher’. Dentist Thomas Cogswell and Dr. Martha Dunn Corey were both listed as ‘Physician’, but both also owned lemon ranches. Some family heads listed as ‘Rancher’ (Gridley), ‘Farmer’ (Williams) or ‘Farming’ (Hodges) and some with no occupation listed (Conover) were also actually lemon growers. Two other heads were listed as working in packing houses. Other family members and lodgers in these dwellings included a packing house laborer and farm laborers and farm help, some of whom presumably labored or helped on lemon ranches. Altogether at least 23 of the 54 households counted in the 1900 census in Pacific Beach were involved in the lemon business.

1900 may have been the lemon industry’s best year in Pacific Beach. Reports from Pacific Beach in the Evening Tribune invariably described the activities of lemon ranchers and packers in superlative terms. Belser and Co. lemon packers were doing a land office business, shipping cars east at the rate of two a week. F. W. Barnes and Son shipped two carloads of lemons one week. The price of lemons has reached a point where growers will soon be wearing diamonds and saying ‘ither and nither’. However, some growers apparently were not as convinced about the future of the lemon business. The Snyder lemon orchard was for sale at less than half cost, Maj. Hall had sold half of his ranch to the Roxburghs and Sterling Honeycutt sold one of his five-acre lemon ranches to Mr. McConnell. In December 1900 Frank Marshall sold his ranch in acre lot 30 and also his half interest in the packing house at the former pavilion to R. M. Baker.

Mr. Baker continued his acquisitions of lemon properties in 1901. In January he bought out Franklin Barnes’ half interest to become sole owner of the packing house (Barnes had been elected to the California state assembly and took office on January 1). In March 1901 the news was that the packing house had been running full handed since it changed ownership and was handling lemons by the ton as the lemon trees were bearing wonderfully; a dozen carloads were packed waiting for cars. Mr. Baker also bought the other Marshall lemon ranch on acre lot 53 and the southern half of Maj. Hall’s ranch in acre lot 50.

Although the lemon trees were ‘bearing wonderfully’ the Tribune also noted that the price of lemons stayed in the depth because of cold weather in the east and importation of foreign lemons which, in the words of its correspondent, were ‘loaded with the germs of bubonic plague and delirium tremens’. In July they were selling for 2¢ a pound, which would be about 80¢ for a 40 pound box, down from $1 a box in 1896. The turnover of the ownership in lemon ranches continued into 1902 as the Raiters sold their ranch in acre lots 61 and 62 in April and the Gridley five-acre lemon ranch on the east half of acre lot 48 was sold to ‘eastern people’ for $5500 in July. Still, the Baker packing house was shipping two cars a week and the Tribune added that a class in physical culture had been started that would get the muscles in fine shape for picking lemons. One grower was trying out a new market, paying $5 a box freight in advance to ship lemons to the Klondike. The papers speculated that he would need to get a good-sized nugget for every lemon shipped. Edward Barnes was trying out a new crop, putting out several thousand tomato plants on the old Snyder ranch on the hill.

The packing house was still running full-handed in 1903 and the February and March crop of lemons were said to be simply immense; Mr. Baker had picked from his lower ten-acre ranch 1600 boxes at 40 pounds a box or 64,000 pounds of lemons, which the Union called the record picking off a ten-acre ranch so far (Baker’s lower ranch, presumably meaning in elevation, was acre lot 53). Recent rains had made the fishing in False (Mission) Bay very good and ‘that attraction was keeping anglers busy when not employed in the orchards’. Still, ‘lemon prices not all that could be wished for’ and in November 1903 Mr. Baker sold the packing house to Sterling Honeycutt. The new packing house firm, Honeycutt & Pike, was doing business at the Honeycutt Hotel building and had shipped a carload of lemons to Kansas City.

The lemon business that had sustained Pacific Beach for the decade after the college failed in 1891 continued to decrease after 1903. Markets for lemons were mostly in the East where lemons from foreign sources, particularly Sicily, could often be delivered at lower cost and undercut growers on the west coast. In Pacific Beach the diminished profits from lemon cultivation also coincided with a resurgence of residential development, providing an incentive for lemon ranchers to turn their acreage property back into building lots or to sell it to real estate operators. One major operator, Folsom Bros. Co., had acquired much of Pacific Beach in 1903 and implemented improvements like grading streets and pouring concrete sidewalks to stimulate sales to potential home buyers. Folsom Bros. also purchased and refurbished the college and reopened it as a resort hotel, the Hotel Balboa. There were persistent rumors that the steam railroad would be upgraded to a fast electric line, improving access to downtown San Diego (in 1907 the route was shortened and straightened to run over today’s Grand instead of Balboa Avenue east of Lamont Street, but it was never electrified).

Sterling Honeycutt was one lemon rancher who made a successful transition into the real estate business. His lemon ranch had been located on the four city blocks around the intersection of Hornblend and Kendall streets. In 1901 he sold block 216, north of Hornblend and west of Kendall, and by 1904 several houses had been built on the north side of Hornblend Street in this block. In 1903 Honeycutt also sold block 238, south of Hornblend and east of Kendall, to William Pike and Pike built his home on the south side of Hornblend. In 1904 Honeycutt sold Pike block 237, south of Hornblend and west of Kendall, and also sold several lots in block 215, north of Hornblend and east of Kendall, where more houses were built along Hornblend. In less than five years Hornblend Street went from lemon ranch to the first residential neighborhood in Pacific Beach, and some of these first homes can still be seen. In 1905 Pike sold the western quarter of block 237 to Charles Boesch and in 1906 Boesch built the house at the southwest corner of his property, Grand Avenue and Jewell Street, that is still standing and was restored in 2021.

Honeycutt’s brother-in-law W. P. Parmenter and the Parmenters’ sons-in-law Charles and Frank McCrary moved to Pacific Beach in 1903 and were also involved in making former lemon ranches into residential homesites. In December 1903 Frank McCrary purchased Edward and Lulo Barnes’ lemon ranch and their home, El Nido, on the west half of acre lot 64. Edward Barnes had opened a store at the corner of Grand Avenue and Lamont Street and had transitioned from the lemon business to storekeeping; his family had moved into the Thorpes’ home on block 167 after the Thorpes moved to La Jolla where E. C. Thorpe was busy building houses (in 1906 the Edward Barnes family moved again, leaving Pacific Beach for 4th and Upas streets in San Diego where Assemblyman Franklin Barnes had moved the previous year).

Parmenter and Charles McCrary also acquired block 213, the lemon ranch of John Berkebile between Garnet Avenue and Noyes, Hornblend and Morrell streets. Parmenter sold the north half to Madie Arnott Barr, another major Pacific Beach real estate operator, and McCrary sold the south half to H. J. Breese, who in 1904 built the home still standing at the northeast corner of Morrell and Hornblend (in the 1920s this property became the site of H. K. W. Kumm’s passion fruit ranch). Also in 1904, Parmenter and Frank McCrary purchased acre lot 20, formerly the Snyder lemon ranch, northeast of Lamont and Beryl streets. They passed it on to Honeycutt who in 1906 had it subdivided, returning it to its original configuration as blocks 53 and 66 of Pacific Beach. In 1907 Andrew and Ella MacFarland bought corner lots in block 66, at Lamont and Beryl streets, and built the classical revival home still there today.

Former lemon ranches on acre lots 35 and 34 were also re-subdivided into city blocks with their original block numbers. The Scott brothers were from England and since 1895 had grown lemons on acre lot 35, between Chalcedony, Jewell, Beryl and Kendall streets (they also had a lemon ranch in Chula Vista) and they subdivided it as blocks 89 and 106 of Pacific Beach (and Kendall and Law streets) in 1904. Acre lot 34 had been part of WIlson and Bowers’ original lemon ranch and had since been owned by the Davis, Jowett and Boycott families and, since 1903 the Mannys. On New Year’s Day in 1907 an advertisement appeared in the San Diego Union for an elegant Pacific Beach residence and also lots in the choicest residential location of Pacific Beach, with fine fruit trees and water on each lot, all in acre lot 34. The entire acre lot was purchased four days later by Robert Ravenscroft and in October 1907 Ravenscroft had it subdivided as blocks 90 and 105 of Pacific Beach (and an 80-foot strip between them for Law Street). After Mary Rowe sold her lemon ranch on acre lot 49 to John and Julia Hauser in 1903 the Hausers also subdivided it into two blocks identical to what had appeared on the original 1887 Pacific Beach map. The street between the two blocks was even derived from the original map’s Missouri Avenue. However, their subdivision was officially recorded in 1904 as Hausers Subdivision of Acre Lot 49.

Other acre lots were not subdivided but instead were sold off piecemeal as homesites. In 1906 Sterling Honeycutt bought the east half of acre lot 48, excepting the southeastern corner where E. C. Thorpe had built a ranch house for Orrin and Fannie Gridley in 1896. The Gridleys had left in 1902 and their five-acre lemon ranch had since been owned by J. W. Stump. Strips of land were reserved and dedicated to the city for Missouri Street and two alleys and the remainder divided into parcels of various sizes for building lots. The southeast corner lot and house was offered for sale in 1907 for $4000. That house stood at 1790 Diamond Street (next door to where I grew up) until it was demolished in 1968.

The former Gridley ranch house on acre lot 48 in 1968

Most of acre lot 50 was also never subdivided and lots there are still described in terms like the east 50 feet of the west 150 feet of the south 135 feet of acre lot 50. A strip of land 52 feet wide between the northern and southern portions of the lot was granted to the city in 1916 for an extension of Missouri Street. The portion on the south side of Chalcedony Street was subdivided as Picard Terrace in 1950.

In 1904 Estes and Margaret Layman, from Des Moines, Iowa, paid $15,000 for the lemon ranch in acre lot 33 (and changed its name to Seniomsed, Des Moines spelled backwards). This ranch had always been one of the most productive in Pacific Beach and the Laymans continued that legacy, at least for a few more years. In 1906 the Union reported that Mrs. Layman was ‘busy as a bee in a tar barrel’, picking, packing and shipping a carload of lemons (to Des Moines). However, that carload of lemons may have been the last shipped from Pacific Beach, and later that year the landmark pavilion building which had been the main lemon packing plant since 1897 was closed. Many of the lemon ranchers were Methodists and their congregation had outgrown the ‘little chapel’ then in use. Sterling Honeycutt was a founding member of the Methodist church and he also owned the packing plant, which had been experiencing a decline in business. In August 1906 he donated the building and the five lots surrounding it to the church under the condition that $2000 should be raised to cover the necessary alterations. By September the news was that the great building known for so long as the packing house was rapidly assuming the graceful lines and sober colors of a church. The handsome new structure was dedicated in February 1907.

Transition of the former lemon ranches into housing developments occurred over many decades and was not complete until the 1950s, and a few continued with agrarian activities in intervening years. Victor Hinkle turned acre lot 36 into a general farm and also specialized in beekeeping. The former ranch houses in acre lots 33 and 50 were rented to Japanese families who operated truck farms on the fertile land there. Others were subdivided when Pacific Beach experienced periods of population growth in the 1920s and again in the 1940s. Kendrick’s subdivision of acre lot 47 occurred in 1925, and Pacific Pines on acre lots 61 and 62 and C. M. Doty’s Addition on acre lot 19 were subdivided in 1926. Portions of acre lot 36 became Chalcedony Terrace and Chalcedony Terrace Addition in 1947, although the portion that actually fronts on Chalcedony was not included and lots there are still described as portions of acre lot 36. 1947 was also the year that acre lot 33 became part of the Lamont Terrace development. In 1941 most of Pacific Beach east of Olney Street, including the former Marshall and Baker ranches in acre lots 30 and 53, was expropriated by the federal government for the Bayview Terrace housing project. Most of this property remains under government ownership, now known as the Admiral Hartman Community.

In 1910 the census enumerator again made the rounds of Pacific Beach. This time there were more than twice as many residents counted but none mentioned lemons in their occupation, trade or industry, or in the general nature of their industry or business. Instead, the pendulum had swung decidedly from lemon ranching toward residential development. Ten residents were described as real estate agents, including Sterling Honeycutt, eleven listed contractor, carpenter or stonemason as their trade, and building or houses as the general nature of their business, and another five were concrete or cement workers in the ‘street’ business. Of the few former lemon ranchers still living on their ranches Victor Hinkle was listed as a farmer and E. H. Layman as ‘own income’.

The 1910 census was held in April; just a few months later, in November 1910, Capt. Thomas A. Davis leased the Hotel Balboa and turned the former college campus back into an educational institution, this time as a military academy. Beginning with 13 cadets and himself as the only instructor Capt. Davis’ San Diego Army and Navy Academy grew steadily. In 1922 he expanded the campus into the former lemon ranches in acre lot 64 to the north and blocks 183 and 202 to the west for athletic fields and a parade ground. The former homes of the Franklin and Edward Barnes families were put to use as residences for academy staff. In 1924 Davis’ brother John also purchased the former Thorpe home across Lamont Street in block 167 and the Davis’ mother lived there into the 1950s. The academy, later called Brown Military Academy, also survived into the 1950s until it too declined and was turned into a shopping center.

Aerial view of Pacific Beach about 1938. The locations of former lemon ranches in acre lots (red) and city blocks (blue) are outlined. Arrows point to ranch houses still standing at the time. The former college campus was then occupied by Brown Military Academy. Houses line Hornblend Street, foreground, also a former lemon ranch (San Diego History Center photo #83:14603-1)

The lemon trees and packing plant have been gone for over a century but there are still signs of the lemon era to be found in Pacific Beach. On what was once Wilson and Bowers’ lemon ranch around the corner of Chalcedony and Lamont streets the Bowers’ original house on acre lot 34, built in 1892, is still standing at 1860 Law Street (although it was moved from its original location on the other side of Law in 1912). In acre lot 50, also once part of the Wilson and Bowers ranch, the house built by the Coffeens in 1895 remains at 1932 Diamond and the Roxburghs’ home from 1904 is on the alley at 4775 Lamont. When acre lot 33 was cleared in 1947 to make way for the Lamont Terrace development the only thing spared from the former Wilson ranch house there was the Moreton Bay fig tree still growing between 1904 and 1922 Law. A Moreton Bay fig spared by developers of the Bayview Terrace (1941) and Capehart (1960) housing projects is also the only sign of Frank Marshall’s ranch in acre lot 30, now the corner of Chalcedony and Donaldson Drive. A palm tree between apartments at 1828-1840½ Missouri once stood in front of Mrs. Rowe’s ranch house in acre lot 49. And the house built by the Hinkles on acre lot 36 in 1896 was moved in 1926 across Ingraham Street to where it now stands at 1576 Law Street.

The lemon era in Pacific Beach is also recalled in less tangible forms. In 1895 a group of women including Rose Hartwick Thorpe, Phoebe Barnes and Elizabeth Cogswell formed the Pacific Beach Reading Club. The club was initially led by Mrs. Thorpe and met at the homes of club members, most of which were lemon ranches at the time. After Sterling Honeycutt sold a portion of his lemon ranch to William Pike and Mr. Pike sold the western quarter of his portion to Charles Boesch, Mr. Pike and Mr. Boesch, whose wives were both Reading Club members, donated the two lots on Hornblend Street where their properties met for a clubhouse. Workers donated free labor, Mr. Pike, the former lemon packer, supervised construction, and the clubhouse had its formal ‘housewarming’ in October 1911. Club members had always been women and it became known as the Pacific Beach Woman’s Club, a name that was officially adopted in 1929. The club is still active, although the lemon-yellow clubhouse at 1721 Hornblend was sold in 2021, and the heritage of its lemon-ranching founders is commemorated in its lemon-themed website.


Railroads Through Del Mar

A recurring news story in recent years has been yet another bluff collapse where the railroad line passes above the beach in Del Mar. At the end of February 2021 it was a section of bluff just south of 4th Street that gave way. No-one was injured in this incident but as a precautionary measure trains have been required to pass through the area at reduced speeds. In November 2019 heavy rains and stormwater runoff caused a bluff collapse south of Seagrove Park that came within a few feet of the tracks. Trains continued to run under restricted speed limits then too but for months the line was shut down on weekends to allow construction crews to shore up the bluff with steel plates and a reinforced concrete wall. Before that, between August 2018 and February 2019, six bluff collapses had occurred in a two-mile section of the Del Mar bluffs causing short-term interruptions of passenger service on the railroad. After each of these incidents it was noted that the bluffs are eroding at an average rate of 6 inches annually and that San Diego’s only active railway connection to the outside will eventually have to be moved inland, away from the top of the bluffs, a move that will cost an estimated three billion dollars and require decades to complete. The potential alternative routes will all require tunnels or a deep trench under Del Mar and after the latest incident the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that a drilling rig was on the streets taking soil samples from 200 feet below.

Section of bluff south of 4th Street in Del Mar that collapsed in February 2021. The retaining wall that once supported the bluff was knocked down and fell onto the beach.

Ironically, this section of the railroad line has already been moved once before – from a safe inland route over the streets of Del Mar to the now precarious location on the ocean bluffs. In 1881 the California Southern Railroad began laying tracks north from a terminus on San Diego Bay to connect with the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, a transcontinental railroad then being built across northern Arizona. The California Southern line ran north through Rose Canyon and over the Miramar divide to Sorrento Valley, where it crossed the eastern edge of Los Penasquitos Lagoon on a causeway then climbed the ridge north of the lagoon toward Del Mar (portions of this right of way can still be seen south of Ocean View Avenue). It passed through Del Mar on Railroad Avenue, today’s Stratford Court, where a depot was located at about 9th Street. From the north end of Railroad Avenue the line descended towards a crossing of the San Dieguito River and continued along the coast to Oceanside.

Portion of the original California Southern railroad right of way south of Del Mar.

Beyond Oceanside the route originally went inland along the Santa Margarita River to Temecula and Colton, then through Cajon Pass to Barstow and a connection with the A & P. That line was abandoned after several washouts in the Santa Margarita valley and rail traffic from San Diego was switched to the ‘surf line’, the route between Oceanside and Los Angeles still in use today. The surf line was later incorporated into the Santa Fe Railroad and since 1992 the portion in San Diego County has been owned by the North County Transit District, which operates Coaster commuter trains between San Diego and Oceanside.

William Kerckhoff’s home in Del Mar.

The California Southern was still running over the streets of Del Mar in 1905 when the South Coast Land Company acquired much of the property in the community and in other coastal communities as far north as Oceanside and embarked on an ambitious program to develop the area. This company was headed by four wealthy businessmen from Los Angeles, Henry Huntington, William Kerckhoff, Henry Keller and Charles Canfield, and also Ed Fletcher, a San Diego real estate promoter. Huntington had consolidated regional rail lines in and around Los Angeles into the Pacific Electric interurban rail system in 1901 and since then had been expanding it into cities and towns surrounding Los Angeles. Huntington and Kerckhoff jointly owned of the Pacific Light and Power Company, which provided electric power in the Los Angeles area, including to the Pacific Electric. Keller and Canfield were financiers, having made fortunes in land (Keller had sold the Malibu ranch in 1892) and oil (Canfield and Edward Doheny drilled LA’s first ‘gusher’ in 1892). Fletcher was a land agent with extensive knowledge of San Diego’s rural back country.

Henry Keller’s home in Del Mar, also known as the Rockhouse.

The development plan was modeled on previous ventures in which many of the same businessmen had bought up tracts of land in undeveloped areas, extended the electric railroad and utilities they controlled into these areas and profited by selling building lots and water and power to the thousands of new residents they attracted. In San Diego County water and power were to be provided by a huge new power station on the San Luis Rey River for which Fletcher would arrange the purchase of dam sites and water rights.  Fletcher also mapped out the building lots in new subdivisions, beginning with Del Mar. For rail service, the plan was to build an electric line between Del Mar and San Diego that would eventually connect with Huntington’s Pacific Electric in Santa Ana.

In January 1907 Keller and Kerckhoff obtained a franchise to build and operate a railroad within the city of San Diego. San Diego’s city limits extend north as far as the Del Mar bluffs and the Keller-Kerckhoff railroad was intended to follow a route across the western side of Los Penasquitos lagoon toward these bluffs. In Del Mar the route would continue along the bluffs to where they end at about 15th Street, where a new station would be built close to the hotel the land company intended to build. Construction began at the San Diego end in mid-December 1907 and by May 1908 grading of a roadbed was underway north of the San Diego River. Fletcher proceeded to map and acquire property for the remainder of the right of way to Del Mar, which was initially expected to include a tunnel under Mount Soledad.

Charles Canfield’s home in Del Mar.

However, while an expansion of the Pacific Electric to San Diego may have appealed to Henry Huntington and the South Coast Land Company the prospect of new competition was not welcomed by the existing steam railroads and although Huntington was a founder and president he did not own a controlling interest in Pacific Electric. E. H. Harriman, president of the Southern Pacific railroad, also held a large position in Pacific Electric and made it known that he would oppose extending it to San Diego. With its future link to Pacific Electric effectively blocked by Harriman, interest in the Keller-Kerckhoff railroad to Del Mar faded and construction work was discontinued. It was never completed, and the power station on the San Luis Rey River was also never built, but the land company did succeed in developing Del Mar into a resort community. The company’s principals were among the first to acquire building lots and many built summer homes there.

The Keller-Kerckhoff railroad never arrived but its right of way in and around Del Mar offered lower elevations, more favorable grades and fewer curves than the original California Southern route followed by the Santa Fe. In 1909 the right of way was acquired by the Santa Fe and two steam shovels and a force of about 300 men were employed to grade a roadbed and lay tracks. The new route along the blufftop and on an embankment that sloped up from the lagoon to the southern end of the bluffs replaced the old route’s steep climb into Del Mar. When the first train passed over the completed line in August 1910 the Union reported that hundreds of citizens lined the tracks along the bluff for nearly two miles waving enthusiastically. The Santa Fe had built 8 ¼ miles of railroad, reducing the grade from 2.2 to 1.4 percent but adding only 87 feet to the actual distance. Three of the worst grade crossings on the line had also been eliminated.

Maps showing the original 1881 California Southern railroad route through Del Mar in 1903 and the 1910 blufftop route in 1943.

Del Mar historian Nancy Hanks Ewing also credits the South Coast Land Company for the building that served as the Del Mar station from 1910 to 1995. She wrote that W. G. Kerckhoff disliked the ornate two-story frame structures then in use by railroads and when designing a new depot on the proposed route of the new electric railroad he patterned it after Pacific Electric stations in the Los Angeles area – long, low, and of red brick. The Santa Fe completed the red brick station building to serve Del Mar after their new blufftop line opened and the original route and station on Stratford Court were abandoned. It is still standing at the side of the tracks near the beach at Del Mar but trains no longer stop there, stopping instead at the transit center in Solana Beach a few miles up the line.

The challenges to the blufftop route around Del Mar were apparent from the very beginning. In 1910 the San Diego Union wrote that construction of the new cut-off was ‘apparently an impossible engineering feat’. A particularly difficult area was nicknamed Devil’s Canyon because of its ‘habit of spitting an immense volume of water out at the new work at the wrong time’. The engineers addressed that difficulty by building a retaining wall 80 feet in length and 16 feet high with a drainage culvert at its base and an earthen embankment above the wall where the rails were laid. However, heavy rains in December 1940 softened the roadbed on the embankment and a northbound freight train ran off the rails. The engine and a number of empty boxcars slid down the slope toward the beach, the engineer and fireman in the engine’s cab were scalded to death by the steam, and a brakeman was crushed to death between two cars. The Union noted that a northbound passenger train bearing holiday crowds had passed the spot safely twenty minutes earlier. There have been no more actual train wrecks on the Del Mar bluffs but the constant erosion and increasingly frequent collapses of the bluffs affirm that the blufftop railroad ultimately is an impossible engineering feat and the railroad through Del Mar will be moved once again.

View from a train to the beach 65 feet below. The edge of the bluff is only a few feet from the roadbed and is eroding at an average of six inches annually.