Merle – “An Enchanted City By The Sea”

Merle clippingPoway Progress, March 5, 1894, p. 1.

 A listing of short news items in the October 15, 1888 San Diego Union included this announcement: “’Merle’ is the name of the new post office just established at the home of E.B. Scott, two and a half miles from Encinitas.”

Sources indicate the name “Merle” belonged to a young son of Mr. Scott. The History Seeker’s research uncovered census records showing that E. B. Scott did indeed have a son named Merle.

“An Enchanted City by the Sea—Rain and Verdure,” was the headline of a glowing column appearing in the San Diego Union’s Christmas Day, 1888 edition.

“From Merle, the enchanted town by the sea, it looks favorable for plenty of rain this winter,” began the report by a correspondent identified only by the initials, “N. A. E.”

Barley, oats and grain were “growing with great rapidity, and in some places the grass and grain are over fifteen inches high,” the report said.

A family named Burns was preparing to move into the town within the week, stated the article. “This will increase Merle’s population by four, making nearly sixty inhabitants within three-quarters of a mile of Merle post office, and over fifteen houses.”

The town had a school “and over fifteen pupils, with Miss Baker as teacher,” wrote “N. A. E.”

But the article ended with a complaint: “It is the general opinion here that the railroad company does not deal justly with Merle. Encinitas, Escondido and other towns have had favors that have been denied to us.”

A few months later, the Union’s edition for March 13, 1889 carried another article datelined Merle by the same writer. Interestingly, he mentioned among other new improvements, that “N. A. Eaton has erected a good hotel, which is nearly finished…”

The writer of the article again signed it only with his initials, which just happened to be the same as those of the new hotel owner!

That same article again cited “the discrimination of the railroad company,” claiming that if the company “will give us one-fourth the accommodation they do other stations with half the merit we possess we will show them a large and prosperous seaside resort and business town in a few years.”

The listing for Merle in the Directory of San Diego City and County:1897 stated that the Southern California Railroad had a “flag station” there, meaning it wasn’t a regular stop. That may have been the source of Mr. Eaton’s and other residents’ complaints.

The directory also noted that “The nearest telegraph and express office is at Encinitas, a distance of two miles south.”

By 1897 Nathan Eaton had become Merle’s postmaster. He would hold that position for a few years into the early 1900s.

An August 1905 item in the Union referred to Eaton as “the most extensive advertiser in the county.” But his PR skills apparently weren’t enough to promote Merle.

The Merle school closed in 1903. Merle ceased to be listed as a separate community in county directories after 1909, the same year that the Merle post office closed.

Merle’s identity was essentially absorbed into that of nearby Leucadia.


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