A walkabout through Valley Center history
July 23, 2015This is the way it was around Valley Center and Palomar Country per the Valley Center History Museum with some national and world events thrown in for good measure.
And when you get the time and opportunity, why not visit the Valley Center Museum?
Here's a brief history provided by Robert Lerner and the museum for your edification:
The earliest known documented reference to the North American Indians living in the region is in a diary by a Franciscan missionary who explored the area for the San Diego Mission in 1795.
In 1845, Rancho Guejito was established. This historic site dates from the era when California was part of Mexico. It is the only rancho among 800 original ranchos still in existence with its boundaries intact.
In 1862, homesteaders came to VC after President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act permitting newcomers to claim 160 acres of land for a nominal filing fee.
The 'bear incident' of 1866
The name Bear Valley or Bear Valley Township was commonly used to describe the area from 1866 when the largest California Grizzly Bear ever captured was taken in the town. It weighed 2,200 pounds. Before that incident, the town had no official name. The town name was changed in 1874 to Valley; in 1878, to VC; and, in 1887, to Valley Center:
Additional historic information on VC, California, can be found in the archives maintained by the Valley Center History Museum in the Valley Center Room of the County Library branch at Valley Center, 29200 Cole Grade Road.
The library is open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The building is dark on Sunday and Monday. A book and a documentary film on Valley Center history are available at the library.
The book, "The History of VC, California: the Homestead Years, 1860-1900," was written by Peter McHenry in 1998. The film, available on video cassette, "Paradise Found: the Valley Center Story," was written by Robert Lerner in 1997.
VC History Museum Timeline
1845 Governor Pio Pico gives Mexican land grant to Jose Maria Orosco, establishing Rancho Guejito.
1846 U.S.-Mexican War begins.
1847 Mexicans surrender to Americans.
1848 Gold discovered at Sutter's Mill. California ceded to U.S.
1849 Gold Rush begins. State Constitution adopted.
1850 California admitted to Union.
1852 Land Commission surveys Valley Center, establishes first boundary lines.
1854 Sacramento becomes state capital.
1860 Pony Express brings mail to California.
1861 First transcontinental telegraph line opens.
1862 Civil War. Union militia is garrisoned around Valley Center to guard telegraph lines.
1862 President Lincoln signs Homestead Act, James Davis is Valley Center's first permanent settler.
1866 Largest California grizzly bear in history is killed in Valley Center; area becomes known as Bear Valley.
1869 Transcontinental railroad completed.
1873 First navel orange trees planted.
1874 Post office established in Valley Center; town name is Valley, California.
1876 First one-room schoolhouse opens in Valley Center.
1879 New constitution adopted.
1882 First church is built in Valley Center.
1883 Elizabeth Jane Wimmer, co-discoverer of gold at Sutter's Mill, moves to Valley Center.
1883 First burial at Valley Center Cemetery.
1886 First shipment of oranges leaves for east coast.
1887 Valley Center population reaches 1,000.
1888 California's pioneer cotton plantation planted in VC.
1896 First telephone in VC is installed in general store.
1906 Earthquake and fire devastate San Francisco.
1912 Rubber plantation established in Valley Center.
1913 Owens Valley Aqueduct opens.
1914-1918 World War I.
1920 Pioneer aviation flying field opens on Cool Valley Road.
1923 Union School and Community Hall completed in VC.
1929 Stock market collapses and Depression begins.
1930 Electricity comes to Valley Center.
1936 World's largest turkey farm operates in Valley Center.
1937 Golden Gate Bridge completed.
1941-45 World War II.
1945 United Nations dignitaries meet at Rancho Lilac home of Ambassador Irving Salomon.
1947 VC Road becomes the "highway to the stars" as world's largest telescope is trucked up to Palomar Mountain.
1955 Water service comes to Valley Center, agricultural expansion starts.
1979 Oldest commercial building (Valley Center Grocery, 1880s) is burned in fire training exercise.
2003 Oldest remaining commercial building (Valley Center General Store, aka Corral Liquor, 1923) is destroyed by fire.
2013 The Civilian Conservation Corps Camp is demolished by the VC Pauma Unified School District.