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From the Archives: A view of La Mesa 125 years ago

Amid advertisements for California Fig Syrup and Hood’s Sarsaparilla, a glowing 1898 profile of the community of La Mesa by a writer using the initials, “J.W.” The City of La Mesa was incorporated in February 1912, with a population of 700.

From The Evening Tribune, Saturday, Feb. 5, 1898:


A Description of San Diego’s Model Colony Where Oranges and Lemons Grow to Perfection

This beautiful colony is situated on the line of San Diego, Cuyamaca and Eastern Railway, about eight miles northeast from the bay and city of San Diego, with which city it has communication by four daily trains. It is also on the line of the proposed Cajon boulevard, which, when completed, will be one of the finest drives int he state, being bordered on each side with orange and lemon groves.

As its name implies, it is a rolling plateau, having an elevation of about 500 feet, and commanding as it does a fine view of the ocean to the south and west, and the towering mountains to the north and east, is one of the finest places for a home to be found in California.

It is subdivided into five and ten-acre tracts, each one containing a fine building site. Water for domestic and irrigation purposes is piped under pressure to each tract. This water is the finest in the state, the source being high up in the mountains forty miles away, whence it is brought down for distribution in a large flume, which in itself is quiet a piece of engineering, the whole system costing over a million and a half of dollars.

“La Mesa,” The Evening Tribune, Saturday, Feb. 5, 1898.

(Evening Tribune)

The climate is unsurpassed, frosts being unknown, while the summers are cool and pleasant. The average temperature of the year round is about 65 degrees. From April to September the gentle breezes from the ocean blow inland, tempering the atmosphere and making these months the most enjoyable of the year. Fogs, which are sometimes prevalent along the coast, seldom reach this place.

Here the lemon and orange grow to perfection and almost all of the fruits and vegetables of the temperate and semi-tropic climes flourish, while experiments made by some of our growers show that the banana, pineapple and other tropical fruits will do well. Green peas and other vegetables were on the tables of many of our citizens on Christmas day. But it is for the growing of the lemon that it is most noted. This fruit grows here to greater perfection than in almost any other place in America. The trees bear fruit all the year round, and unlike the orange it can be cured and stored away until such a time as the markets are firm and the prices high, which is generally during the heated summer months in the interior.

It is only eight years since the water system was completed, and yet, in that time and in the immediate vicinity over 1,200 acres have been planted to lemons and oranges, and many more deciduous fruits, etc.

There is an excellent school under the management of a thoroughly competent teacher, a neat and commodious school building, a church (in which religious services are held regularly) also a store, telephone, bakery, etc. at La Mesa Springs.

It is rapidly being settled by a most desirable class of people. Land with water is held at from $90 to $150 an acre.


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