Source: Valley Roadrunner

Town name has historical significance

by Robert Lerner

January 15, 2014

Seeking a more harmonious name to replace Valley Center, a local real estate agent has penned a lengthy missive in which he offers several substitute monikers (Valley Roadrunner, Jan. 9) while presenting a history lesson on the town name.

The writer gets a bonus point for citing data from the local Historical Society, but a minus for not pointing out the significance of the name Valley Center and how it actually got its name.

Originally known as Bear Valley and later Valley, the town we know today as Valley Center has had that name since 1878. A look at a San Diego County map from that era sheds some light on the name change. The boundaries of the county 136 years ago included all of present-day Imperial County to the east and Riverside and most of San Bernardino counties to the north. In the “center” of this much larger San Diego County was the town of “Valley”; thus was born Valley Center. The town constable gets the credit for selecting the name.

The writer goes on to lament that one often hears the phrase, “Where’s Valley Center?” Obviously, many people have had no problem finding our town. Consider: some 25,000 people currently live in this community and hundreds more homes are in the planning stage at multiple developments; several thousand visitors find their way into Valley Center every day en route to three casinos and two hotels; Bates Nut Farm attracts huge crowds from throughout the Southland; and, until it closed, Bell Gardens Farm welcomed up to 100,000 guests annually. Even the local History Museum has been a tourist magnet, drawing visitors from most counties of California, most of the 50 states, and from each of the six populated continents.

Like many others, I, too, would have preferred a town name like Bear Valley, but it will not happen. In the long run, perhaps retaining a less polished name will help preserve the quiet, rural ambiance of our country town.

Robert Lerner

Valley Center Historical Society