The Wide Open Spaces of Old San Diego County

It may be hard to imagine San Diego County as a sparsely populated rural district. But a good illustration can be found in the following excerpt from a report in the San Diego Union of July 25, 1872 about a meeting the previous day of the county board of supervisors.

Among the items passed by the board that day was this: “Ordered that a new school district, to be known as “Bear Valley School District,” be formed…”

Some readers may recognize “Bear Valley” as the original name of today’s Valley Center. But check out the boundary lines for the Bear Valley district laid out by the supervisors back then: “Commencing at the N. W. corner of Wolfskill’s Ranch, then East to the dividing line between Wolfskill’s and San Bernardo Ranches until the same reaches San Bernardo River, thence up said river through San Pasqual Valley to the mouth of Pama canyon, thence up the canyon to the head of Pama Valley, thence in a westerly course taking in the whole of Smith’s mountain west of said line, thence south to the place of beginning.”

Then and now, that’s a pretty big chunk of real estate. “Wolfskill’s Ranch” is today the city of Escondido, “San Bernardo” is Rancho Bernardo.” The “Pama” refers to Pamo Valley, which is today part of Ramona. And “Smith Mountain” later became Palomar Mountain.

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