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By Miriam Raftery, Editor

October 31, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) -- With two cities (El Cajon and La Mesa) celebrating their centennials, much attention has been focused on our region’s past of late. But just how much do you know about East County’s colorful history? Take our quiz below to test your knowledge—and learn some fascinating facts.




  1. What did El Cajon outlaw when it become a city?
  1. Saloons
  2. Owning pigs
  3. Horseracing down Main Street
  4. All of the above


  1. Harbison Canyon was once famous for producing which of these delicacies?
  1. Honey
  2. Strawberry jam
  3. Moonshine whiskey
  4. Apple butter


  1. The Kumeyaay Indians trace their history in our region back at least 12,000 years. That’s older than:
  1. The Great Pyramid of Giza
  2. The reign of Julius Caesar
  3. The building of Macchu Picchu
  4. All of the above


  1. The Campo gunfight in 1875 lasted longer than the famed OK Corral shootout and killed more people. How did the residents learn that a band of ruthless banditos  planned to rob the entire town?
  1. A warning came by telegraph from Yuma
  2. A lawyer for the bandito spilled the beans
  3. The bandits were overheard  in a Tecate cantina
  4. San Diego’s sheriff sent a posse


  1. The Flying A gained fame in La Mesa during 1911-1912. What was it?
  1. An air show starring wing walkers
  2. A law firm specializing in the fledgling field of aviation law
  3. A troupe of acrobats
  4. A silent movie studio


  1. Suffrage leader Helen Stoddard of La Mesa led a successful effort to win the right for California women to vote in 1911. What did she do next? 
  1. Wrote a book
  2. Became a Hollywood star
  3. Ran for Mayor
  4. Ran for Congress


  1. Rainmaker Charles Hatfield sued the City of San Diego for refusing to pay his $10,000 fee. As he’d promised, heavy rains doused the area in 1916. Why wouldn’t Council approve his payment?
  1. 300 head of cattle washed out to sea and 20 people died
  2. Two dams overflowed
  3. Flooding destroyed bridges, marooned trains and cut phone lines
  4. All of the above


  1. In 1873, a stage coach out of Julian lost something important along the route to San Diego. Fortunately it was returned by a local resident. What was it?
  1. A barrel full of Julian apples
  2. A strong box full of gold
  3. A prisoner bound for the San Diego jail
  4. A horse


  1. In 1889, Albert Robinson and his wife founded the historic Julian Hotel. Robinson was also:
  1. A Civil War veteran
  2. A freed slave from Missouri
  3. A former mountain man
  4. A retired wagon train guide


  1. Which of the following delayed construction of the San Diego and Arizona Eastern railway?
  1. The Great Flood of 1916 washed away railroad lines
  2. Mexican revolutionaries attacked and conscripted railway workers into their army
  3. The U.S. government seized railroads for the war effort during World War II
  4. All of the above


  1. The Buffalo soldiers, a unit of all African-American cavalry soldiers famed for their valor, was last stationed at Fort Lockett In Campo. Who gave them the name Buffalo soldiers?
  1. Cheyenne warriors
  2. Mexican revolutionaries
  3. A Confederate officer
  4. President Theodore Roosevelt


  1. In the 1700s, Spanish missionaries found the El Cajon Valley an important place to grow which important crop?
  1. Wheat for their bread
  2. Cotton for their robes
  3. Grapes for sacramental wine
  4. Hemp for  rope and paper


  1.  Wool from sheep raised at the Warner Springs Ranch in the 1870s was highly prized. Why?
  1. The sheep were fed a special diet that made their coats lustrous
  2. The dry climate kept the wool clean and pure
  3. The high altitude resulted in thicker coats
  4. Washing sheep in soda springs made their wool coats whiter


  1. Grossmont High School, built in 1922, has the distinction of three alumni with this unusual achievement:
  1. Supreme Court justices
  2. NASA astronauts
  3. Olympic medalists
  4. Nobel Prize winners


  1. When the Cuyamaca Flume opened in 1889, Governor Waterman and prominent members of society celebrated by:
  1. Holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony
  2. Staging an outdoor picnic for all of East County
  3. Taking a ride down the 37-mile flume
  4. Hosting a gala ball


  1. After the flood of 1916, the  U.S. military sent these to bring supplies to starving citizens in Moreno, where a dam had burst:
  1. Automobiles
  2. Airplanes
  3. Parachutists
  4. Mules



1 d.  El Cajon outlawed vices and livestock when it became a city 100 years ago; the community celebrates its centennial this year.

2 a.  Beekeeper John Stewart Harbison brought hives here from Pennsylvania. By 1881, he operated 2,000 to 3,000 hives and was the largest producer of honey in the world.

3 d. The Kumeyaay Indian trace their ancestry back to the Neolithic (Stone) Age with a culture that also predates the great civilizations in Mesopotamia and ancient Greece!

4 c. The banditos, led by a brutal murderer,  were foiled after their plot was overhead by a Campo resident in a Tecate cantina. The Gaskill Brothers, sharpshooters who ran the Campo Store, helped foil the scheme in a shootout that lasted 15 minutes and resulted in the deaths of five bandits—including two who were lynched by angry townspeople. Fearing retaliation, the Gaskills fortified their store with stone walls. Today, the old store is a museum that you can visit in Campo.

5 d. The Flying A Studios in downtown La Mesa produced over 150 silent movies in San Diego, most shot on location in East County.

6 d. Helen Stoddard ran as a Temperance Party candidate for Congress in 1912, the first woman candidate in California.

7 d. Hatfield sued the city for refusing to pay the debt for his rainmaking services, but a judge threw the case out of court, ruling the rain to be an act of God. The deluge increased his fame, however, ultimately boosting his unusual career.

8 b. Wells Fargo rewarded the honest citizen who found a strongbox  filled with $10,000 worth of gold, giving him a solid gold pocket watch. Later his family donated the watch to the Wells Fargo museum in Old Town, where it remains on display to this day.

9 b. Albert Robinson, a freed slave, moved to Julian in 1880 with his former master. He met his wife, a cook and together they opened a bakery and later, a hotel which today is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Southern California. His spirit is said to still haunt Room 10, if you wish to come and visit.

10 d. The railway line was nicknamed the “Impossible Railway” due to the numerous catastrophies. When it was finally completed in 1919, sugar magnate John D. Spreckels drove in a solid golden spike. 

11 a. Cheyenne warriors gave the 10th cavalry the name “Wild Buffalos” out of respect for their fierce fighting skills. 

12 c. East County was the grape-growing capital of California, up until Prohibition, when farmers plowed under their fields. Today, grape-growing and winemaking are making a comeback, with more than 50 wineries in our region. Cheers!

13 d. Sheep were washed in soda springs before shearing and the minerals whitened the wool, making Warner Springs wool highly prized—and premium priced.

14 b. Grossmont has three astronauts among its illustrious alumni: William Anders (Apollo 8), Frederick Sturckow (Space Shuttle commander) and shuttle astronaut Ellen Ochoa, now deputy director of the Johnson Space Center.

15 c. Ladies with parasols accompanied Governor Waterman on the flume ride, which soon became such a popular pastime that up to four “cars” would be hooked together to accommodate all of the passengers. Particularly daring were the night rides for the young and the young at heart. 

16 d.  The U.S. Army Cavalry sent 51 mules to the rescue.  Five mules  were nearly swept away while forging  the Sweetwater River after a bridge washed out, saved after their packs were cut free. As it turned out, nobody was starving in Morena—but the soldiers were rewarded with a hot meal and later, a citation for their heroism from the San Diego City Council.

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