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From Beth Wyman (AKA Sammie Dunham):

  I am reminded of our first days in California in the winter of 1940 when it rained every day from January to March.  We had come from Kansas and expected to find eternal sunshine in California, so we were extremely disappointed.  However, everyone told us the weather was very unusual and later we knew they were right.
  My most vivid recollection of that first wet season was the rising of the river that flowed nearby from it's source by the El Cap Mountain to the San Diego Bay.  As the banks overflowed the old-timers recalled previous floods, before the bridge, when farmers had been forced to float barges into town to obtain feed for their livestock.  They were amazed at the amount of debris the water took with it, whole trees, garbage, all sorts of timber, and even automobiles that had not been moved in time.  This was, of course, long before the river was dammed at El Capitan in an early effort to provide water for a thirsty and growing population.
  In the summertime, when the riverbed was dry, there were deep cold swimming holes created by the companies that mined the sand for concrete manufacture.  On hot days, Dad would take us to these sand pits to cool off and that is where my sisters and I learned to swim.  Once, a few years later, a friend and I missed our school bus home.  Usually, that meant walking two miles, but on this day, the river was running and there was no indication of where the holes were, so we both stripped down to underwear and swam across, holding our clothes above us.  Calling our parents to come and pick us up never ever crossed our minds.
    Until the dam was built, the river was an important resource for the county.  Further downstream, in Mission Valley, where the flood plain was at least a mile wide, farmers planted and harvested dozens of crops in the fertile soil.  I remember acres of flowers and row crops.  A family friend lived on a hillside above the valley and when we visited them we always stood at their picture window, entranced by the vast scene of production below.  Even in the earliest days of settlement, the Spanish padres erected Mission San Diego de Alcala along the riverbank. Of course, brand new "Padres" inhabit Mission Valley today, and hotels and shopping centers long replaced the farms.

From Pat Kuhner Ingalls:

 
  My family has been watching the river here in Lakeside since 1881.  My great grandparents first homesteaded on land now covered by El Capitan Reservoir.  My Grandparents both worked on the flume line which was built to bring water to El Cajon Valley and La Mesa.  My Dad and Aunt Marion were on hand also (probably three and four years old) as they had to remain quiet under the kitchen work table while my grandmother prepared food for the work crews.
  Our family lived near the present dry Moreno Creek meets the equally dry San Diego River since the 1920s.  Much of our land was river bottom or at least in the flood plain.  Finally we got tired of losing our possession to flood waters and took to the hills overlooking what is now Highway 67.  This was before either the El Capitan or San Vicente dams were built.  While my family still had our dairy farm on Moreno Avenue we granted an easement to the County to build a bridge across Moreno Creek.  This was a deal to insure that our milk would make it to market at all times.  The first year after completion it washed out in the 1916 flood.
  My grandparents granted a road easement to the County for the area where the latest bridge now crosses the river on Channel Road.  This was with the understanding that road would be named for Bill Kuhner.  The information must not have reached the ears of the naming committee.
  My brother, Ron, and I can recall when the San Diego River was actually a river flowing on its way to the sea.  Many hours were spent watching while the old bridge was built in the late 1930s.  For a child it was absolutely mesmerizing to watch the pile-driving machine at work.  In the 80's I was there to watch the wrecking crews demolish that bridge after the new sturdier bridge was built to better withstand any potential floods.
  We were old enough to be excited by a flood in the 30's when water covered the area all around what is now Willow Road and Moreno Avenue, threatening to wash a house or two down stream.  Of course we could not go to town until the water receded.  El Capitan Dam was completed shortly after this time.  That we live on the hill where the water would not flood us out has always been a comfort.  If one of the dams should give way the waters

(Continued on page 2)

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