Did you know that San Diego County has a rich history dating back to the early 1800’s with homesteaders? We all know about the Gold Rush but what do you know about the homesteaders? Few families are left in the back country of San Diego County. Few books are published to tell of these families and their lives.
Recently I was gifted a loan of one such book, Pioneering in Dulzura by Dorothy Clark Shmed. The San Diego County Library has a copy if you wish to read it in detail. This book offers a view point of the area called San Diego County, from the ocean to the hills, the families who claimed their space and how they lived.
Pioneering in Dulzura begins with the first homesteaders in the 1880’s. Many came here by way of ship, others by land across the rough country to claim their homes and hopes of wealth. As mentioned earlier, few homesteads are left. Many have sold their land and moved on. Those who remain continue their lives. Few farms remain. Horses and wineries are most common.
The first train running from coast to coast brought homesteaders to claim land for cattle, farming, bee keeping, horse ranching and fruit groves. There were no big cities at that time. Dirt roads ran across the back country.
Another book that explores Highway 94 back country is “History of Highway 94,” written by Shirley Bowman Reider. The history covers the changes to the highway as well as the growth from early homesteading to the more recent years of 2000’s. This book offers stories and pics from some of the families that began their lives in the 1800’s here in San Diego County. This book is for sale at the cafe or you may find it at the San Diego County Library.
“Potrero Roots,” has seen a second volume, offering stories of it’s homesteading families and the growth of this small town located on Highway 94, past Barrett Junction and Tecate. There are many landmarks still available to visit and rich stories to read.
Taking a tour of the history of San Diego County can be fun and educational. Just imagine what it was like to live by candle light or kerosene lanterns, fire places and wood burning stoves to warm and cook, and no television. No computers, smart phones, or video games. What would you do?
I cannot imagine it, can you?