TO MOUNTAIN SPRINGS
In the early years the
road from Campo to Boulevard and down the grade to the desert was quite a
stretch of road. In
1852, this road was only an Indian trail.
Several people who have studied or have been around here for some
years indicate the current route between Campo and Boulevard has not
changed that much, except some variations via LaPosta Road or up Cameron Corners
existed. The mode of travel
determined the route. On
horseback you could take the shortest route, but via wagon, one needed to
take the route of least resistance, even if it was longer.
Other purposes of this road were for driving cattle down to the
desert for the winter months and return them back to the mountains for the
summer. There was a report
that 500 hogs at one time came up the mountain for market.
Mr. Carl Calvert (15)
owns the old mill at Campo, where the
“Motor Transport Museum” is currently located.
It is open the second Saturday of each month for the entire day and
a great place to see old vehicles.
He also owns the cluster of buildings across the street and just
south of the old mill. On
this property was the oldest school in Campo, an old garage, and out
buildings. He has put
historical plaques on these buildings.
Just south of this
property is a white house that used to be the “Warren Hotel." .
It was a main stop for travelers on the stage for rest and food
when traveling from Imperial Valley to San Diego.
There were 2 rooms for rent. When
they were working on the train in this area they served up to 100 chicken
dinners a day at this hotel. Bob
Harris said its nickname was “Bloody Bucket."
The Warrens pioneered this property.
They ran the hotel and garage and received a patent deed for this
property. The original building burned
about 1942. The only
exception was the kitchen area, around which the present structure is
The road followed the old
Highway 80 from Boulevard to Jacumba before starting down the mountain at
the lookout tower. Jacumba
Hot Springs was very popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s and attracted a
lot of people. This was a thriving town at that time, with a hotel, drug
store, garage and grocery store.
There used to be a
popular stop at Mountain Springs, owned
by Peter Larkin (11). This
was the first place settled in that area and all
travelers stopped, whether going up or down the mountain, for rest
and food. There was a stop also at In-ko-Pah. Mr. Larkin later moved to Jacumba and had a big cattle ranch
and finally settled in Potrero.
From the top of the grade
down to the desert floor was a terrible road.
Mr. Sheckler says sometimes they had to resort to dismantling a
wagon to get down the steep rocky areas and put it back together when it
was safe. Two roads are still visible (to the north) when driving
on Interstate 8 near the top of the grade.
One is the old immigrant road that the wagons, stage coach and
settlers used in the early years the lower one is old Highway 80.
Even when reaching the
desert, with the soft sand and heavy load, sometimes it was impossible to
pull the wagon. There was a plank road built eventually in 1912 and this
helped. I have found some
articles from the San Diego Historical Society regarding the trip down the
mountain. There are also
articles about the plant road which are interesting.
A brief background
history (1) on the very early routes between San Diego and Yuma:
In 1848, a military mail
service started between San Diego to Yuma.
The route proceeded south from San Diego to the TiaJuana River,
thence entirely in Mexico. It
then entered USA near Campo, and continued east down Walker Canyon, past
Mountain Springs into the valley. The
route ran entirely by horseback.
Nathaniel Lyon laid out a route for the Army that was north of the
old route. It ran
across Barrett Lake Basin, up to Hauser Creek and it came out north of
Campo before descending into the steep rocky
side of the mountains east of Jacumba.
This route was shorter than going through Warner’s, and proved to
be the best pack mule trail of all. This
trail was used by sheep men and cattle drovers coming west, but the dream
of a practical low-level route over the mountain barrier, to San Diego,
In 1869 a new route was
laid out by surveyors, under the leadership of John Capron, who wanted to
start a stage coach line. This
is the route up Otay River, thru Jamul Ranchos, Dulzura Creek, Potrero,
Campo and Jacumba. The road down the Mountain Springs grade was blasted and
improved in 1869 and at Potrero Grade in 1870.
These improvements further shortened the route and opened the route
to wagons and stages. This is
the approximate route of the present Highway 94 and old highway 80.
Imperial County and Riverside County were all considered part of San Diego County. The separation of these counties occurring in 1907.