Alpine Historical


J. A. Love Ranch. Taken from Resort Brochure prepared in late 1800’s. From the Alpine Historical Society Document Archives.

1,000 Years Ago – The first people to enjoy Alpine’s climate were the Kumeyaay Indians. The history of Alpine is filled with stories of the Kumeyaay and there are examples of our Indian culture throughout the region. Metates, used by the Kumeyaay to grind seeds and acorns from which they made flour, are a common sight in present-day Alpine and clearly depict our connection with the past.

1846 – All of present Alpine (17,000 acres) was granted to Ramon and Leandro Osuna. It was called “Rancho Valle de las Viejas y Mesa del Arroz” (Valley of the Old Ones and Grassy Mesa).

1848 – The Osunas sold the easterly 4,300 acres to “Cockney” Bill Williams and, two years later, sold the rest of the 8,877 acres to wealthy Spanish merchant Jose Antonio Aguirre. Trains of ox carts transported grain to San Diego and Fort Yuma. More grain was produced here than anywhere else in the county. Today, adobe ruins and remnants of stone walls remain in “Mesa del Arroz” which is now called Wright’s Field and is owned by the Back Country Land Trust for public use.

1857 – The San Antonio and San Diego Mail LIne, carrying both passengers and mail, stopped at Williams’ Valle de las Viejas Rancho. This “Jackass Mail” ceased operations during the Civil War.

1870 – The Julian gold strike increased traffic along the route.

1871 – Nelson Overmier settled a homestead with house and barn just behind Alpine’s present post office.

1872 – George Washington Webb supervised construction of the Julian-San Diego toll road through Alpine after completing the Julian to Banner road. He petitioned to establish the Alpine School District and the first school was built next to his Alpine Ranch.

1874 – John Harbison kept 2,000 bee hives in what is now Harbison Canyon and shipped 70,000 pounds of select honey–mostly to eastern markets. Harbison’s success inspired others to try bee keeping, including Captain Adam Beaty, a school board trustee and homesteader, and Edward Foss, one of the first settlers. Mrs. Foss’ sister, Dr. Sophronia Nichols, was Alpine’s first doctor and held California Medical License #26.

1874 – 1885 – Homesteaders Foss, Perez, Field, Steil and Love settled fertile parcels.

1885 – Mail delivery began at the first Alpine Store, also a stage station, owned by H. J. Whitney. The small community of farmers and ranchers that had grown and prospered along this busy roadway took the Webb ranch name for their new post office and town–Alpine.

1890 – 1907 – Mount Pisgah was the town’s first burial place on land donated by Louise Alcott Snow Willett, who homesteaded 160 acres for 24 years without a spouse. She was the last of 14 people to be buried there.

1888 – Benjamin R. Arnold, a wealthy ivory importer, arrived in Alpine seeking a climate to relieve his asthma symptoms. He built a large house, a hotel, a school, the Town Hall (now the Alpine Woman’s Club), the Parsonage (now a retirement home) and donated the land for the Alpine Cemetery on West Victoria Drive. Mr. Arnold transformed a stagecoach stop with 35 families into a permanent town.

1890’s – 1940’s – Restaurants, overnight lodges and health facilities for respiratory diseases were the leading businesses in Alpine.

1962 – Public water became available.

1969 – Interstate 8 opened. With public water and a highway, Alpine began to grow and prosper.

1998 – Alpine was proclaimed American’s first Community Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.

2006 – U. S. 80 was designated by the State of California as an historic highway. A celebration commemorating the event was held on October 21, 2006. The celebration began at Seaport Village and culminated at Viejas Casino.

Alpine’s history reflects its continuing role as a refuge from today’s urban congestion!

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