“…virtually the home of alfalfa ..”

Escondido’s first commercial creamery went into operation around 1900.  Alan McGrew’s 1988 book, “Hidden Valley Heritage,” states that the creamery was located in a red wooden building “on Nutmeg Street [now Escondido Boulevard], about a block and a half north of Grand Avenue.”

Farmers would bring their fresh milk to the creamery, where cream would be separated and some of it churned into butter.

Here’s a photo of the creamery, taken around 1905, courtesy of the archive of the Escondido Public Library’s Pioneer Room:

The man standing by the doorway is creamery manager Arthur E. Watrous. Watrous took over as manager in 1905, and was actively soliciting more customers. Apparently the dairy business was a good one back then.

“More butter wanted,” was the title of an article in the Escondido Times of August 25, 1905. “The advertisement of A. E. Watrous of the Escondido Creamery should furnish food for reflection to the ranchers not only of the Escondido valley, but of this whole region of country.”

The article quoted Watrous that “twelve carloads of butter were shipped into Los Angeles since June 1.” Calling that “a very striking statement,” the Times said “It does not require any figuring to see that there is an opportunity to sell Los Angeles alone as much butter as can possibly be produced in this whole region of country.”

“It is now well known,” continued the Times article,” that this section of country is virtually the home of alfalfa, and it is equally well known that there is nothing better for cows, so the only question is, will the ranchers in Escondido, San Pasqual and other localities where the necessary water for irrigation is at hand put out a few more acres of alfalfa and keep a few more cows for milking purposes?”

If you’re interested in finding out more about the creamery, there’s a chapter on it in my book Valleys of Dreams, which can be ordered through the book tab on this website.

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