For thousands of years, people have been coming to
to enjoy its moderate climate and to take advantage of the abundant
supply of water in Lindo
Lake -- San Diego
County’s only natural lake.
first visitors were the Kumeyaay. They lived a
peaceful life of hunting, fishing, and gathering acorns, mesquite beans,
seeds and berries. They were
also skilled in making pottery, weaving baskets, and making jewelry from
shells, seeds, hollow bones and small stones. During the cold months of winter, the Kumeyaay migrated to the
desert side of the mountains for the warmth from their sacred “Great
Rocks.” As soon as the
cold weather ended, they moved west back towards the coast.
Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala c.1912
Soon after the San Diego Mission was established in 1769, the Padres
began to explore the country to the east seeking grazing lands for their
cattle, sheep and other livestock. Naturally
they followed the San Diego
upstream. About ten miles
from the mission, they discovered a broad valley with a luxuriant sea of
wild grasses. True to the
Spanish custom of giving descriptive place-names, they called this
El Cajon, “the box.” They named
it so because the valley is truly boxed in by high hills and mountains.
This name appears on maps as early as 1800. Here hundreds of head of cattle and sheep grazed, and in the low
hills on the east side of the valley (Lakeside) large numbers of swine were raised. This section became known as Caňada
de Los Coches, “Glen of the Pigs.”
de Los Coches/Ames Ranch c.1890
Around 1820, when the land was still
property, Jose Maria Estrudillo of
built his summer home. It
was the first known in
and was located near what is now Maine Avenue and
land grants, many ranchos were created under the Mexican flag between
1831 and 1848. In 1843 Apolinaria Lorenza was granted 28.39 acres, named
de Los Coches, in order to preserve the Mission
hog ranch for the Padres. And
in 1845 the 48,799.85 acre land grant, titled El Cajon Rancho, was made
to Maria Antonio Estudillo de
Pedrorena. The Los Coches Rancho was completely surrounded by the El Cajon
Rancho, but the two grants were at all times separate. Los Coches was the smallest
land grant, and El Cajon
was the largest. In 1859 the
little Los Coches Rancho was purchased from the Catholic Church by
Jessie Julian Ames. Then in
1869 the El Cajon Rancho was sold and opened for settlement.
Ed Fletcher overlooking El Cajon Valley c.1908
In the fall of 1870, Benjamin P. Hill came to the
and purchased 10,000 acres from the Pedrorena’s estate to start a
ranch. He built his first
at what is now
Canyon and Willow Roads. There he
raised thoroughbreds and had a training racetrack. This ranch was
described as being “twenty miles from the county seat and post office
. . . and from school and church seven miles.”
Joseph Foster, after his marriage to Martha Swycaffer in 1880, bought
the John B. Rea homestead at the foot of what is now San Vicente Dam.
“Uncle Joe,” as he was affectionately known, and Jim Frary
started a stage coach line from San Diego
to Julian. For 23 years Mr.
Foster was a County Supervisor
for the 3rd District, and served as chairman of the Board of
Supervisors for 14 years.
Benjamin P. Hill c.1880
Martha (Swycaffer) Foster, Joe Foster
& Beatrice Swycaffer c.1890
1886 the newly formed El Cajon Land Company purchased 6,600 acres from
Ben Hill, subdivided the town site, and set aside 45 acres around
for a public park. Immediately
the land company began to promote Lakeside
as a town. To attract people to
the new township, the El Cajon Land Company erected a large 80-room
Victorian-style inn with resort next to Lindo
construction was completed in 1887 at the cost of $50,000.
California c. 1894
Railroad in Lakeside c.1895
When the railroad came to Lakeside
1889, families from throughout the country came on the San Diego
Cuyamaca Eastern Railroad with all the joyous crowding and paraphernalia
appropriate to a school or church picnic. Not
much lake was apparent, and the decorations consisted mostly of sand and
eucalyptus trees, but the picnics were always highly exciting.
Beamer's Blacksmith Shop c.1900
Small businesses began to spring up – Beamer’s Stable and
Blacksmith’s shop, a boarding house which became a general store, a
butcher shop, and a school was started. And to take care of the spiritual needs of the new town, a church
was built in 1896. By the
turn of the century, Lakeside
had become a thriving community.
John H. Gay bought the Lakeside Inn in 1904 and fenced the park
claiming it as part of his estate. Then
he laid out a 60-foot wide racetrack that circled the lake which was
especially adapted for automobile and horse racing.
On this track in April of 1907, Barney Oldfield, driving his
“Green Dragon,” set a new land speed record of 70.3 mph.
The beautiful grounds of the
continued to be the scene of many parties where celebrities and
millionaires met for golf, boating, duck hunting or to attend the races.
Lakeside Inn c.1900.
Flood of 1916, bridges
crossing San Diego River.
In 1920, newcomers could hardly believe that
had such a good rail connection from
San Diego. There were excellent
passenger and freight services with many daily runs as well as a
Saturday Night Special to bring home the crowds who had enjoyed a day in
the country. Each time the
tracks had been destroyed by floods, they were immediately repaired to
Lakeside. But the line to Foster was
not replaced after the Flood of 1916. The tracks to
were repaired after the Flood of 1927, but by that time the line was no
longer as profitable. By 1938 the link from
had been removed, and the Santee
to El Cajon
portion was removed in 1942 when Gillespie Field was completed. This marked the end of the railroad era in the
Sadly in 1920, the
Demolition of the Lakeside Inn c.1920
July 5,1920, the first Lakeside Rodeo was organized by Bill Kuhner and held on the
Emil Klicka property south of Lindo
Lake. In 1933, the Lakeside
Rodeo Association was formed and the arena was moved to an area east of
Channel Road. A grandstand was built,
and chutes and fences were installed. Today, the annual rodeos are organized by the Lakeside Stadium
Association and are held at the new rodeo grounds on Mapleview Avenue.
As we move forward though the 21st century,
has far exceeded its founder’s visions of population and commerce. But, it still maintains a friendly small town atmosphere. By taking a leisurely stroll down
Lakeside’s revitalized historic Maine
Avenue; you will experience a piece of
the past and sense the pride that has been taken in our rich and diverse