News from the Valley Center History Museum
Valley Center Road: a long and winding tale
February 26, 2014The community of Valley Center was settled by homesteaders 152 years ago, but its main thoroughfare, Valley Center Road, has had that name for only 54 years. Two previous names can be found on vintage maps.
According to documentation at the Valley Center Historical Society, the first mention of the road was in 1880 when early settlers James Brundsen and George Reed wrote about an old ox trail and the need to improve it. The pair made what was described as a crude grader and leveled the path through town into the Rincon Reservation. They placed stakes and flags along the road.
Three decades later, in 1909, the County Highway Commission officially recognized the road, paved most of it, and named it Rincon Road. For the most part, the new main road followed the stakes that had been set in place years earlier by Brundsen and Reed.
Rincon Road was to be the official name of the thoroughfare for the next 38 years until 1947 when the street adopted the poetic name, Highway to the Stars. The new name was selected to celebrate the path taken by the 20-ton mirror that made its way through town en route to the new Palomar Observatory.
For two days in November 1947, throngs of people crowded the road to witness the transport of the 200-inch looking glass. County crews created metal signs reading Highway to the Stars and posted them along the road. The name was immediately adopted by retail merchants who used that name as their official street address.
By 1960, the County created street numbers for most businesses and homes in Valley Center, and once again renamed the street, this time to Valley Center Road.
Robert Lerner is historian at the Valley Center History Museum which maintains an archive on the naming of many streets in Valley Center and Pauma Valley.