The “All Saints River”

 Bernardo River

From the book, Picturesque San Diego, published in 1887. Caption reads, “San Pasqual Valley–Bernardo River.”

The above photo is interesting in part because it provides a view typical of a lot of northern San Diego County at the time it was taken. For today’s purposes, however, please focus on the caption, particularly the reference to the “Bernardo River.”

Now note this entry from a legal notices column in the San Diego Union on December 24, 1896: “William Roesling yesterday filed notice in the county recorder’s office appropriating 10,000 inches of water in the San Dieguito River, sometimes known as the Bernardo, to be used for irrigation purposes…”

That item pertained to irrigation needs in the area we know today as Rancho Bernardo, but if you peruse the local press of the period you find the San Dieguito River flowing under a number of “aliases,” depending on the particular area it happened to be passing through.

One man who summed it up nicely was Ed Fletcher, who knew something about rivers, especially exploiting them for irrigation and development purposes. Fletcher’s life and works could fuel many stories for the History Seeker, but for today’s purposes let’s just say that he, along with William Henshaw and the Santa Fe Railroad, had a hand in many if not most of the dams and irrigation systems built in San Diego County in the first two decades of the 20th century.

In his memoirs, published in 1952, Fletcher talks about a point early in his career as a land and water developer when he was surveying an area of the then Pamo Ranch near Ramona.

“The water in the mountains running through the Pamo Ranch was known as the Pamo River,” wrote Fletcher, “ and as the water continued running down hill and entered the San Pasqual Valley, it was known as the San Pasqual River; then as it continued to the sea it was known as the San Bernardo River, running through the San Bernardo Ranch; thence it entered the San Dieguito Spanish grant and again it was marked on the U. S. Topographical maps as the San Dieguito River until it entered the ocean just north of Del Mar—all one river and should have been named the ‘All Saints River.’”

Hmm, “All Saints River.” In addition to land and water, this guy knew something about marketing. Too bad the cartographers didn’t take him up on it.

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