A New Town in “the San Diego interior”

Lindo lake

View of Lindo Lake in 1887 from the book, Picturesque San Diego.

“The New Town of Lakeside” was the headline of a short item on page 3 of the San Diego Union on May 12, 1886.

“Messrs. Merrill & Dexter, managers of El Cajon Valley Company, are pushing the development of the noted Benedict Tract with commendable energy,” the story began. “The beautiful sheet of water upon the tract has been named Lindo Lake.”

The article went on to say that the new townsite “has been laid off upon the lake shore in an eligible part of which a neat hotel is nearly completed. The new mesa road to the Valley will be completed in a short time and this will bring this tract much nearer the city than by the present road.”

Maps of the new development would soon be available to prospective buyers, the article stated. It concluded by saying, “The capacities of this tract of land are second to none in the Valley or indeed in the county. Its soil is very fertile, adapted to every variety of agriculture and horticulture, and does not require irrigation. Lakeside and its environs will undoubtedly be one of the most prosperous and charming settlements in the San Diego interior.”

The “neat hotel” referred to was the Lakeside Inn. The inn and Lindo Lake would make the new town a destination for tourists as well as permanent residents.

A year after the Union article, Douglas Gunn, in his book Picturesque San Diego, saluted Lakeside and the surrounding El Cajon Valley. “It is one of the largest and richest valleys in the County,” wrote Gunn. “Population about 1,000. It is filling up rapidly with the best class of people.”

The book Illustrated History of Southern California, published in 1890, noted that the El Cajon Valley “has long been the largest wheat-producing valley in the county, owing to the exceptionally fine crops yielded in good years and its accessibility to market and export.” In addition to improved surface roads, the railroad had come through with a stop at nearby Foster.

While saluting the wheat crop, that same 1890 book hinted at the shape of things to come: “Experience has proved, however, that more profitable than wheat here is fruit and raisin growing.”

And that was just as of 1890!

Sources for this post included historic San Diego newspapers, the books Picturesque San Diego, and Illustrated History of Southern California, and the website of the Lakeside Historical Society, http://www.lakesidehistory.org/ .

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