March 2011 home page

  olde Del Mar Revisited
by Larry Brooks, Past President of Del Mar Historical Society, (plagiarized from Nancy Hanks Ewing’s Del Mar Looking Back)


The California Southern train station was located on the southeast corner of 9th St and Railroad Ave (Stratford Court).
Photo Courtesy DMVA History Committee.



It was Monday morning, August 14, 1882. The California Southern Railroad steam engine chugged its way north through Soledad Valley to the Cordero stop. From there it turned west along the northern shore of Los Peñasquitos Creek and began a long, gradual climb, leaving behind farm and ranch land, to the top of the barren mesa, described as the home of only rattlesnakes, jackrabbits, and coyotes. Just before reaching the bluff, some 75 feet above the Pacific Ocean, the engine turned north and traversed this mesa until it began its descent to the San Dieguito River bridge.

Many of the place names remain today. Cordero remains only as a street name; however, it was a stage stop on El Camino Real and a mail stop for the California Southern Railroad near what is today the intersection of Carmel Valley Road and Portofino Drive. The long, gradual climb of the railroad was north of today’s Carmel Valley Road, through the developments of Sea Point and Torrey Point. Lastly, and more to the point of this story, the railroad’s traverse north across the mesa followed the full length of what is today Stratford Court.

And, thus the stage was set for Jacob Shell Taylor, owner of the large Los Peñasquitos Rancho (near the intersection of Rte. 56 and Black Mountain Road) and Theodore Loop, owner of the land west of the Rancho to the Pacific Ocean, to plan a grand resort community on the mesa. Soon Taylor bought out Loop and in 1885, began construction of homes and a luxury, 30-room hotel, Casa Del Mar, which opened in August 1886. Thus in one year, the mesa of rattlesnakes, jackrabbits and coyotes had grown into the village of Del Mar with 200-300 residents.

The center of Del Mar was 10th Street and Railroad Avenue (now Stratford Court). Taylor’s house was at 220 10th St, and Casa Del Mar was on the north side of 10th St. where it ended high above the Pacific. A saltwater natatorium was at the foot of a long wooden stairway from 10th St. to the beach, and a dance pavilion was on the beach between 11th and 12th Sts. Among the homes built was one at 144 10th Street which was sold to Don Diego Alvarado.

What became of the original Del Mar, and particularly Alvarado’s house, will be discussed in a future article.

Del Mar by the Sea.  Photo Courtesy DMVA History Committee.




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