Two Views of El Cajon

A couple of views of El Cajon from the previous two centuries.

The 1890 book, Illustrated History of Southern California stated “The largest and most beautiful valley in San Diego County is the El Cajon, and, if not the best, it is certainly equal to any.”

The valley at the time was most famous for its raisins, which were being shipped by the railcar load across the country. Hay and grain were also being grown, and cultivation of other fruits and vegetables was taking hold.

Historian Samuel Black, writing in 1913, wrote that “El Cajon valley, beautiful and as yet not half developed, commands attention as the next in order in the march of progress eastward from San Diego city.”

“The level lands in the valley,” wrote Black, “are in use in grain fields, vineyards, deciduous and olive orchards and for dairying and stockraising. In the foothill lands around the edge of the valley are the citrus orchards and berry fields and there some of California’s finest showings in lemons and oranges can be seen. The citrus men, in addition to flume water, all have good wells.”

“From the Santee section milk and cream from the dairies and granite from the quarries are the main products…” The products of El Cajon valley can be greatly increased by closer settlement. There is much available land, both in the level section and in the foothills, and prices as yet have not reached to anything like those called for in similar districts elsewhere in the state.”


The Lewis Publishing Company, An Illustrated History of Southern California Embracing the Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the Peninsula of Lower California from the Earliest Period of Occupancy to the Present Time together with Glimpses of their Prospects, also Full-Page Portraits of some of their Eminent Men and Biographical Mention of Many of their Pioneers and of Prominent Citizens of to-day, Chicago, 1890.

Black, Samuel F., San Diego County, California: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement, Chicago, S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913.

Get Updates Automatically-Become A Follower of the San Diego History Seeker

You can get weekly updates of San Diego History Seeker automatically in your email by clicking on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner of the blog page. You’ll then get an email asking you to confirm. Once you confirm you’ll be an active follower.


Birth of the Lake Hodges Dam

A century ago in this county, in the fall and winter of 1918, the Lake Hodges Dam was nearing completion. The project was undertaken by the San Dieguito Mutual Water Company under the leadership of Ed Fletcher, William Henshaw and the Santa Fe Railroad Company. Its goal was to harness the waters of the San Dieguito River to promote the development of lands owned by the railroad, primarily in Rancho Santa Fe. But ultimately it would serve to promote the development of a good chunk of northern San Diego County as well as the city of San Diego, which would eventually become the owner of the Lake Hodges Reservoir.

The photo below was taken in December 1918 at the dam site. It’s from the privately published Memoir of Ed Fletcher. Fletcher is standing on the far right. The man farthest left is W. E. Hodges, who was then the vice president of the Santa Fe Railroad and the man for whom the dam and the lake would ultimately be named. Next to Mr. Hodges is E.P. Ripley, president of the railroad. To the immediate right of Ripley is Mrs. Mary Fletcher, wife of Ed. To her right stands Mrs. Caroline Hodges, followed by Mrs. Frances Ripley.

Sources for this post, in addition to the abovementioned Fletcher memoir, included historic San Diego city and county newspapers and the city of San Diego’s website.