Historical Timeline for Fallbrook, CA Area

1798San Luis Rey Mission founded, which controlled vast grazing lands in what are now Orange, Riverside and San Diego Counties.
pre-1828The 133,000 acres of the Santa Margarita Rancho, a small portion of which was in Fallbrook district, granted to Pio and Andres Pico. Most of the Rancho is now Camp Pendleton.
1828Ranch House built for Rancho Santa Margarita, which is still in use as the traditional residence of Camp Pendleton commanders.
1846Monserate Rancho, which covered one-third of Fallbrook district, granted by Mexican Governor Pio Pico to Ysidro Maria Alvarado.
Rancho Santa Rosa land grant.
1847California became a U.S. territory.
1849California Gold Rush begins.
1850California became the 31st U.S. state on September 9.
1858Vital Reche arrives in site of Fallbrook. Names his brand of honey "Fallbrook", after his original home town of Fallbrook, PA.
pre-1860sAlvarado and Pico families raise cattle, with gardens and family orchards, on Rancho Monserate and Rancho Santa Margarita.
1860sProspective homesteaders settle on periphery of the Ranchos and raise bees.
1861-1865U.S. Civil War.
1869Vital Reche donates land at corner of Live Oak Park and Reche Road for first Fallbrook School, called "Fall Brook School". No bell tower, so classes began with teachers ringing a hand bell.
1870s?Second school built on Hill Street (now South Mission Road) between Elder and College.
Fallbrook Depot established on railroad connecting San Diego with points north. Fallbrook known as the lunch stop on the way to meet the Southern Pacific trains to L.A. or Yuma, AZ.
Town of "Mt. Fairview" changed to "Osgood", after the chief engineer in charge of the Southern Railway Survey in the 1870s. (Changed again in 1889 to "Bonsall".)
1870sNon-rancho land opened for homesteading. Bee raisers file claims, and plant grapes, family orchards and grain. Fallbrook label for honey begins to be known in the East and abroad?
1870Peter Larsen is the first homesteader in Rainbow.
1875First school district formed.
1879Present Constitution of California adopted.
1880s?Railroad enables homesteaders to market crops more efficiently, and brings in new settlers.
1880sEleven subdivisions added, lumberyards, two hotels and bank started.
"Bear Valley" renamed "Valley Center" by arriving homesteaders.
1880?Vital Reche obtains first post office in Fallbrook.
1882"Developer Bartlett purchased 160 acres and laid out most of present town of Fallbrook." (Source: S.D. County Place Names. See Dueling Source).
De Luz post office opened, with the name becoming official.
1883First real estate boom in Fallbrook.
1884Floods stimulate development of town of Fallbrook on higher ground.
1885Current school district formed, named Fallbrook School District.
"Owners of homesteads on the hill above the river plan the streets of the new town of Fallbrook and had it surveyed by the county." (Source: NCT articles) (See Dueling Source.) To advertise the new town, they persuade the son of another homesteader to leave the Sacramento Bee and start Fallbrook's first newspaper, the Fallbrook Review.
First church building by the Methodist Episcopal South congregation.
First lodge, the Good Templars (a temperance organization), which evolved into the Women's Christian Temperance Union, active through the 1930s.
First Fallbrook festival, a 2-3 hour Strawberry Festival in April.
1887Irrigation District organized to bring water from the Santa Margarita River. Fallbrook Water and Power Co. surveyed for a dam and an aqueduct.
Cates Hotel (later called The Naples, then Hotel Ellis) built, designed by the famous architect Stanford White, who also designed the Coronado Hotel. The hotel had 60 rooms, spacious porches and lobbies, 12' ceilings, with curving staircases of carved walnut. Hotel was demolished in 1958.
1888J.P.M. Rainbow and a partner purchase land for a townsite which included Larsen's homestead. Mr. Rainbow proposed "Larsen" for the town name; Mr. Larsen proposed "Rainbow", stating that the connotation of Rainbow included a pot of gold. "Rainbow" wins the coin flip.
1889Town of "Osgood" changed to "Bonsall" by Post Office headquarters in Washington, D.C., from a choice of "Bonsall", "Reed", or "Favorite". Named after James Bonsall, a retired Methodist minister who developed a fruit-tree nursery in 1889 there.
1890sSante Fe builds a new line along the coast due to repeated washouts of inland track. Fallbrook is now connected only by a spur line to Escondido. Economy declines from that, the national depression of the 90s, and the failure of the local irrigation district. The bank loses its charter. The newspaper editor moves away.
Rev. William Pittenger builds a country home as a family retreat, which is now the Fallbrook Historical House Museum.
Odd Fellows lodges organized.
1890?Some Fallbrook landowners sued the Irrigation District, and a federal court declared the state irrigation law unconstitutional, invalidating irrigation districts all over California. Supreme Court reverses this decision, but Fallbrook's irrigation district declared null and void. Fallbrook's water developed individually henceforth for two decades.
1890J.P.M. Rainbow elected as San Diego County Supervisor. Soon afterward, Riverside County was carved out of San Diego County, moving Rainbow's house to Riverside County but leaving his barn in San Diego County. He resigned as Supervisor, stating he had no intention of living in his barn.
The second block on Main Street burns completely to the ground, and couldn't be saved by the volunteer bucket brigade, the only firefighting organization at the time.
1891Fallbrook Irrigation District organized.
1893Third school built at current location of Maie Ellis School on Elder Street. Three classrooms upstairs for the high school, three downstairs for the elementary classes. (Another source said 1891 for this date)
Fallbrook Masonic Lodge founded.
1894Frederick Fox built home in Live Oak Canyon, which remains as one of the oldest structures in Fallbrook.
1896Second school burns down, with all records of the school system lost. Reche School rebuilt same year.
Three local school districts exist: Monserate, Mt. Fairview (now known as Bonsall), and San Luis Rey.
1897Directors of Fallbrook Irrigation District vote to "disorganize" the company.
1898-1899Spanish-American War.
1900sFallbrook honey label continues to be widely known, but declines in importance as olives become most important crop.
1901Last California Grizzly Bear in San Diego County slain at the head of San Onofre Canyon.
1905First telephone service begins in October, with the central office in a residential building at Fig and Main Streets.
1907"Saturday Afternoon Club" established to provide a resting spot for farmers and family, especially wives, on their weekend trips to town. The club is known today as the Fallbrook Women's Club.
1908Fallbrook telephone directory lists 19 subscribers.
1910sCitrus Association builds lemon packing plant to take advantage of new rail line into town.
Newcomers with banking experience buy out the old bank.
Chamber of Commerce organized.
1911San Diego County builds an inland auto route to L.A. passing through Fallbrook, stimulating car-related businesses.
H.V. Alexander established The Enterprise newspaper.
1912Survey of avocado prospects in Fallbrook reported in Enterprise.
First avocados planted on one acre just north of the Winterwarm area.
1913First Fallbrook High School built on East Mission Road at Iowa and Juniper (now Ivy?) Streets. It had 6 rooms, and was called Iowa Street School. Now used as FUESD office.
Olives now most important crop grown in Fallbrook, but soon to be surpassed by lemons.
First library established at Woman's Saturday Afternoon Club, with San Diego County providing the books and the Club the room, lights and shelving.
1914Henry Ellis named Fire Warden of Fallbrook.
1914-1918World War I.
1915Olive Festival was planned by North San Diego County Chamber of Commerce but canceled.
1916Floods permanently close railroad station near De Luz .
1916-7Railroad train stranded in Temecula Canyon when tracks washed out. A Pasadena house mover salvaged the equipment and laid temporary track down Main Street for the train.
1917First burial in the Masonic Cemetery, following a severe flu epidemic.
First Girl Scout Troop west of the Rockies founded in Fallbrook, the White Rose Girl Scout Troop #1.
1919Unification of high school and elementary school districts proposed.
Successful campaign launched to get paved roads between Fallbrook and Oceanside, resulting in approval of $40 million highway bond issue.
Farm Bureau Center began in Fallbrook.
1920s?State of California takes over inland auto route, building bridges and paving roads. Fallbrook on the major north/south connector between Mexico and Canada, which was eventually named US 395.
1920sNew land companies formed, new neighborhoods developed, real estate business propered.
Live Oak Park dedicated as a County Park.
First white line painted on Main Street.
First sidewalks built on Main Street. Most were higher than building floor levels, so rainwater flowed into stores and offices.
Acreage devoted to avocados increases.
1920Road between Oceanside and Fallbrook paved.
1921John Clark became the first California Division of Forestry Fire Warden assigned to the Fallbrook area.
1921 or 1922Fallbrook Public Utility District formed, supplying water from a number of small, downtown wells.
1921 or 1922Road between Fallbrook and Bonsall paved.
1922First recorded Memorial Day Service by Fallbrook Veterans of Foreign Wars at the Masonic Cemetery
Order of the Eastern Star organized.
1922-1923Fallbrook Irrigation District revived.
1924Irrigation District announces plans for dam on the Santa Margarita River, 167' high, with the reservoir covering about 585 acres.
1925A tomato products cannery opens in Fallbrook.
1926Bonsall Bridge opens.
The first piece of firefighting equipment, a hose cart, was acquired, which was pulled to a fire by available manpower and used in conjunction with the newly installed water system on Main Street. Water for the new mainline came from a reservoir located on what is now the east end of Dougherty Street.
1927The Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce appoints a committee to organized a volunteer fire company.
1928First Safeway grocery store opens.
1929Hotel Ellis ceases operation after new owner J.B. Smarr dies.
1929-1939"Great Depression". Civilian Conservation Corps created the rock channel for the stream in Live Oak Park.
1930San Diego County stations a Model "A" Ford Fire truck at "Tex" Maze's Fallbrook Garage.
1931Survey by high school of 111 families. Average house had 5 rooms. There were a total of 38 electric ranges, 26 gas stoves, 48 oil burners and 75 wood stoves. 96 homes had running water; 32 had refrigerators. The 111 families owned 114 autos, 42 trucks, 83 radios and 60 pianos.
Fallbrook Garden Club began.
1932Santa Margarita Rancho agreed to let Utility District pump water from the river sands.
1933Fallbrook School District changed named to Reche School District. River School District lapses and is divided into Delpy (Vista Union), Mt. Fairview (Bonsall) and West Fallbrook.
The CDF replaces the Model "A" fire truck by a 1932 Chevrolet fire truck.
1934Fallbrook Irrigation District votes to go ahead with proposed Lippicott Dam on the Santa Margarita River, and asks the feds for $2,366,701.
Reche Community Service Club organized.
1936Irrigation water bonds approved via local election, 305 to 23.
Public Works Administration rejected a loan for construction of a dam on the Santa Margarita River.
First Fallbrook Hospital opened in what had been the Appleford home.
The fire truck was moved to a new C.D.F. station at Red Mountain.
1937Two-story school building with cafeteria and auditorium built at Maie Ellis Site.
First San Diego County Fair.
Water pumped from Santa Margarita River by FPUD.
19383rd Annual Future Farmers Day parade held on June 11, 10 a.m., followed by judging of animals and a dance.
FPUD takes over Fallbrook Irrigation District, which had spent at least $100,000 for surveys and plans, delivering not a drop of water, but owning a permit for 2,500 acre-feet of water from the San Luis Rey River.
Reche School District joins West Fallbrook School District.
1939Last classes at Reche schoolhouse (maximum students at one time: 39).
Water bond issue passed to install pumps in San Luis Rey River, bringing water via a 9-mile-long pipeline to the Martin reservoir, overlooking Mission Road.
1939-1945World War II.
1940sAcreage devoted to avocados increases dramatically.
1941MWD completes Colorado River Aqueduct.
County Water Authority Act passed by California Legislature.
Two rooms added to new school building on Maie Ellis Site. Main building replaced by a U-shaped structure.
Dial telephone service introduced, bypassing the operator.
A new Safeway grocery store replaces the previous one.
The Office of Civil Defense gives Fallbrook a pumper trailer, fire hose, ladders and a pump kit, which was housed at the High School bus barn on Hawthorne and Orange Streets.
1942U.S. Government purchased 132,000 acres of Rancho Santa Margarita for Camp Pendleton.
1944San Diego County Water Authority reorganized in June 1944.
U.S. decides to construct aqueduct connecting with the Colorado River aqueduct near San Jacinto extending to San Vicente Reservoir north of Lakeside.
1945First Pioneers Day celebration, May 26. This Festival continued into the early 1960s.
Water bond approved for Lang Reservoir, Gird booster plant and conversion of Santa Margarita River water pumps from diesel to electric.
Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce incorporated.
Volunteer Fire Department disbanded for ~ one year after Fire Chief Bill Thurber left for military service.
1946County voters approve annexation of County Water Authority to MWD.
Reche/West Fallbrook School District changes name to Fallbrook Union School District.
County Library branch moves to separate quarters.
Rotary Club organized.
American Association of University Women (AAUW) organized.
1947San Diego Aqueduct operational.
The Fallbrook Volunteer Fire Department officially organized so that it could operate under San Diego County auspices. A War Surplus General Detroit Fire Truck was purchased. A group of volunteers purchased an airplane to spot brush fires and drop water sometime in 1947-1951.
1948Fallbrook-Oceanside and La Mesa-Sweetwater Aqueduct extensions approved and built.
U.S. 395 moved inland by 1948 and Fallbrook no longer on the "Inland Route".
Permit for 1,800 acre-feet of water from the Santa Margarita River granted.
First Fallbrook Hospital threatens to close, having trouble getting nurses and raising money.
Oceanside-Vista-Fallbrook Board of Realtors organized.
First Fallbrook High School (Iowa Street School) condemned as structurally unsafe to earthquakes.
1949Fallbrook Street School built with 5 rooms.
First Fallbrook High School building replaced after being condemned.
1950Fallbrook Community Hospital (pre-district) established, raising funds to keep hospital alive.
1951Permit for another 10,000 acre-feet of water from the Santa Margarita River granted.
U.S. sues FPUD over water rights on Santa Margarita River.
Voters approve formation of Fallbrook Hospital District.
1952Construction of Second Aqueduct approved.
Fallbrook Union School District annexes portions of Monserate School District.
Part of the Fallbrook School District moves into Bonsall Union School District.
1953San Onofre School District joins Fallbrook Union School District.
The Fallbrook Local Fire District was formed.
19545 more rooms added to Fallbrook Street School.
Mary Fay Pendleton School built.
Fallbrook Board of Realtors formed separately from Oceanside-Vista-Fallbrook Board.
Fallbrook voters approve taxes for the Local Fire District by 700 to 129. The Volunteers disband and give the equipment to the Fire District.
19559 more rooms added to Fallbrook Street School.
De Luz post office closed.
Fallbrook Little League organized.
1956Elementary district buys Iowa Street School from High School District.
Optomist Club established.
1957Fallbrook Union High School built on the ranch of Tom and Maie Ellis.
Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society (FGMS) founded.
1958Hotel Ellis demolished.
Fallbrook Hospital District granted $257,000 in federal and state funds, to pay two-thirds of the cost of a 20 bed hospital.
1960Fallbrook Hospital opens on Elder Street.
1961James E. Potter School built.
Fallbrook Local Fire District was reorganized as the Fallbrook Fire Protection District under the Fire Protection District Act of 1961.
1962Boys & Girls Club incorporated.
Additions to Potter School.
1963First Avocado Festival on Oct 1-6. Art show, country fair day competition, fashion show luncheon, walking race, youngster parade, pancake breakfasts, Art Mart, garden displays, book fair, pigeon display and competition, bbq, street dance, Model A Day and Antique Auto Exhibition. The Avocado Festival Excursion Train brought attendees from L.A. to Fallbrook Depot.
Friends of the Fallbrook Library formed, sponsored by the AAUW.
Art Club began.
Fire Department builds a new headquarters at 315 E. Ivy Street and a new substation at 2180 Winterwarm Drive.
1964Additions to Potter School.
Pala Mesa Golf Course built.
Fallbrook Airpark opened with dirt landing strip.
Boys Club received its official affiliation papers from Boys Clubs of America.
Another new Safeway grocery store replaces the previous one.
1967Construction begins for hangars at Airpark.
One of the longest, most involved and most expensive water rights litigations ends with an agreement between FPUD and the U.S. Navy giving FPUD 40% of the water from the Santa Margarita River and the Navy 60%.
1969New building built for Library.
1973State of California assigns permits for Fallbrook and De Luz Reservoirs to the Bureau of Reclamation due to delays in construction.
1976Fallbrook Historical Society formed.
Olive Hill Fire Station opens.
1979Monserate Mobile Home Park Fire Station opens.
1981Historical Society buys the Pittenger / Davies / Griffin (Rocky Crest Ranch) house for headquarters until the 1994 building opened.
1982Bonsall Fire Station opens.
~1986Fallbrook Radio Telescope Built.
1987Fallbrook Fire Protection District reorganized with the Rainbow Volunteer Fire Department (CSA-7) to form the North County Fire Protection District.
1988Fallbrook Land Conservancy formed.
1989North County Fire implemented the Emergency Medical Defibrillator Program.
1990Los Jilgueros Preserve created.
1994Fallbrook Historical Society and Gem and Mineral Museum Building opens.
~1996Fallbrook Art & Cultural Center opens in Harrison Drug Store building.
FPUD building at 990 E. Mission Road built.
1997First murals in Fallbrook.
1999$30 million remodeling of Fallbrook High School completed (we hope).
2000Mission Road widened to 4 lanes between Peppertree and Winterhaven.(we hope).

Most of this information comes from the wonderful columns in the NCT and Ent by Elizabeth Yamaguchi (NCT 6/8/97, B1, B6), and Tom Cooper (NCT 6/22/97, B1, B4), among other articles by them, as well as Fallbrook 1869-1977, published by the Fallbrook Historical Society. Other sources: VN 10/22/98, 6,7; Ent 9/7/97, C3; NCT 4/12/98, B1, B6; San Diego County Place-Names by Lon Stein; VN 2/19/98, 1, 23; History of North County Fire Protection District; NCT 3/23/00, B5; VN 5/18/00, 33, 34 (fire).

See also:

Historical sources sometimes conflict, such as for the "dueling sources" facts noted above. If you know of the correct information for this or other items, please let me know.

Go to Fallbrook Area Information: History

Copyright © 1997-2000 by Tom Chester.
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Last update: 27 October 2000.