This is Volunteer Appreciation Week. Thank you to all our volunteers!!!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our volunteers –


Carol Crafts, Carole Delozier, Ken Gallo, Irene Holstein, Don Hunsaker III, Larry O’Brien, Gary Strawn, Alan Thompson, Arli Wolfson, and Ken Yuritas,

Thank-you small


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on This is Volunteer Appreciation Week. Thank you to all our volunteers!!!

Damming Mission Gorge

One of the biggest hassles we had was trying to keep some of these idiots from building a dam in Mission Gorge . . . A lot of land would have been flooded—Santee, Lakeside, and about a third of El Cajon Valley would have been a shallow lake.
—Fred A. Heilbron, San Diego city councilman (1919–27)

The city fathers of San Diego were concerned about the water supply. After several years of quiet growth, the population began growing rapidly in the early 1920s—up to 10 percent annually. Would there be enough water to support a growing region? Heavy rainfall in 1921 and 1922 had filled local lakes, but city water engineer Hiram N. Savage sounded an alarm when he announced that the reservoirs had sufficient supply for no more than five years. “It is imperative,” he argued, “that the city of San Diego provide promptly, and accomplish not later than 1926, greatly increased reservoir storage.”

In August 1921, the city council directed Savage to study the water resources of the San Diego River and report back with recommendations. The engineer returned to the council six months later with a study that identified two “outstanding reservoir basins” on the river: El Capitan, twenty-five miles upstream, and—his strong first choice—Mission Gorge, only seven miles from the city limits.

Savage proposed a concrete dam located about a half mile below the historic Mission Dam. The dam would flood the gorge and the valley beyond, creating a reservoir of ten square miles. The reservoir water could be pumped to the University Heights filtration plant for distribution to the city.

Mission Gorge was perfect as a dam site. A narrow canyon and solid bedrock offered ideal building conditions—the same conditions Savage had used to build successful masonry dams at Lower Otay in 1919 and Barrett in 1922. The El Capitan site, on the other hand, lacked the hard granite foundations necessary for a conventional masonry dam. Only an expensive rock fill dam would do. El Capitan, judged Savage, would be “economically impossible.”

The city council was less certain. Mission Gorge may have been an ideal site for a dam, but the reservoir would be shallow and prone to severe evaporation losses. It would also drown a productive agricultural valley. The basin of El Capitan—its supporters argued—drained a massive watershed and would provide a much deeper and larger reservoir.

The chief advocate of the Mission Gorge dam had become a problematic figure, as well. Arrogant and opinionated, Hiram Savage was a difficult man to work with. Land baron Ed Fletcher described him as “old school,” a man “positive in his convictions, who would never yield an inch, under any conditions.” His refusal to consider alternatives to Mission Gorge infuriated the city council. On June 15, 1923, City Manager Fred Rhodes fired Savage and eliminated his position of hydraulic engineer. When given the news of his discharge in a council meeting, Savage simply replied, “Very well.”

With Savage out of the way, the council decided to put the Mission Gorge proposition before the voters. A $3.6 million bond issue was set for an election on September 10, 1924. Councilman Heilbron, City Manager Rhodes and the city attorney, Shelley Higgins, went to work to defeat the measure. “We called mass meetings and we made speeches,” recalled Higgins. “We let every San Diegan who would listen, know the disadvantages of the Mission Gorge location.”

On election day, the bonds for Mission Gorge were voted down 7,485 to 4,750. A second election held only a month later approved $4.5 million in bonds to build a dam at El Capitan. But even with the endorsement of voters, the project bogged down. For the remainder of the decade, the city fought a costly legal action in the courts to defend the municipality’s “paramount rights” to the headwaters of the San Diego River. The case was finally won in 1930.

Remarkably, in June 1929, the city council decided to rehire Hiram Savage(photo to the left). The engineer had always been respected for his expertise and was popular with the public. Deciding it needed Savage to spur progress on urgently needed projects, a new council awarded him a five-year contract.

The return of Savage reignited the old controversy of where to site a dam and reservoir on the San Diego River. Savage strongly reiterated that Mission Gorge provided the quickest and most cost-efficient route to a new reservoir. But other water experts opposed him. Thomas H. King, a civil engineer for the Cuyamaca Water Company, decried the potential flooding of Santee and Lakeside, and M.M. O’Shaughnessy (picture to the right), builder of the dam at Hetch Hetchy in the Yosemite valley, emphasized that El Capitan was the one reservoir on the San Diego River that could store the greatest amount of water with the fewest impacts upon developed lands.

San Diego’s newspapers endorsed the Mission Gorge dam. Editorials from the Union urged the city to “bank on the engineering advice of Mr. Savage.” The Sun, claiming it had “never expressed any opinion whatever as to the relative merits” of either site, said the decision should be left to the engineers—namely, Hiram Savage.

The voters had the final word on August 12, 1931. By the narrow margin of 11,152 to 10,281, the people decided for the second time not to fund the Mission Gorge dam. Wiley V. Ambrose, head of a citizens’ committee that supported the project, was resigned: “Well, that’s that. Evidently the people thought we were wrong. But maybe events will show we were right after all.”

Construction of the El Capitan Dam began in December 1931. Hiram Savage would swallow his pride and design his first rock fill dam. He actively supervised the construction but would die of heart failure six months before the dam’s completion.

Little noticed in the last weeks of controversy was the fate of 150 Kumeyaay Indians who lived at Capitan Grande—property that would soon be submerged under the new reservoir. The evicted Indians received about $2,400 each for their parcels and moved to new reservation lands at Barona and Viejas.

Completed in 1935, El Capitan was 217 feet high and created a deep reservoir with a water surface up to 1,600 acres. Ironically, most credit for the achievement would go to Hiram Savage, the man who had fought the dam for a decade.

Originally published as “Mission Gorge nearly got a San Diego River dam,” by Richard Crawford, in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Nov 1, 2008.

Posted in Interesting items of a Historical Nature, Newspaper articles relevant to Santee, CA, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Damming Mission Gorge

Students of Santee School – Early 1900’s

Here is a photo of the students and teachers of Santee School in the early 1900’s.   If you look closely you can see that some students are wearing shoes and some are not.   There is also a big difference in the types of clothing the children are wearing.  Wish we could identify the people in this photo.  Does anyone see any relatives here in this photo?   Web marked B & W Santee School students

Posted in Santee School | Comments Off on Students of Santee School – Early 1900’s

For Our Military – Army Staff Sgt. Sean P. Fisher, 29, Santee Died Aug 14, 2007

Army Staff Sgt. Sean P. Fisher, 29, Santee; among 5 troops killed in helicopter crash


Sean Paul Fisher, of Santee, California, was a wonderful kid, a sibling hero to his sister Jennifer, and a good son. He was always protective of his sister and inspired her by his optimism and his drive to surmount any challenge. Sean graduated from Granite Hills High School in El Cajon, where he stood out in his American government class during his senior year, showing leadership and his ability to work with groups of people.

Before enlisting in the Army in 2002, Fisher held various jobs, including stints at a McDonald’s and a local casino. Everywhere he worked, he always gave it his best. His love was mechanics, and joining the Army gave him the opportunity to become skilled in helicopter mechanics.  He was fun. He loved life.

On leave just before his death, Sean had purchased a pair of black-and-white shoes, the type of classic footwear that used to be worn by entertainers such as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. He called them his dancing shoes, so his mother bought some Mexican music, and they danced and danced, with relatives videotaping the spectacle.

Army Staff Sergeant Sean P. Fisher, 29, was on his second deployment to Iraq when he was among 5 troops killed when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed during a post-maintenance test flight at the Taqaddum air base in central Iraq on August 14, 2007.  Sean died of his injuries on September 2, 2007.

He was assigned to the Army Active duty 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, Task Force 49, at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.  He was awarded a Bronze Star for meritorious service.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on For Our Military – Army Staff Sgt. Sean P. Fisher, 29, Santee Died Aug 14, 2007

Santee School Children Losing Their Marbles

Santee School marbles

This is a great photo from the early 1900s showing children playing MARBLES at the Santee School.   Have you ever played marbles?   What did you call your marbles? Share your stories on our Facebook page.

Wikipedia lists some names as:

o Aggie – made of agate (aggie is short for agate) or glass resembling agate, with various patterns like in the alley

o Alley or real – made of marble or alabaster (alley is short for alabaster), streaked with wavy or other patterns with exotic names like corkscrew, spiral, snake, ribbon, onyx, swirl, bumblebee, and butterfly

o Ade – strands of opaque white and color, making lemon-ade, lime-ade, orange-ade, etc.

o Cat’s eye or catseye – central eye-shaped colored inserts or cores (injected inside the marble)

o Beachball – three colors and six vanes

o Devil’s eye – red with yellow eye

o Red devil’s – same color scheme as a devil’s eye but swirly.

o Clambroth – equally spaced opaque lines on a milk-white opaque base. Rare clams can have blue or black base glass. Medium-high value for antique marbles; rare base color valued much higher.

o Lutz – antique, handmade German swirl, containing bands of fine copper flakes that glitter like gold. Erroneously thought to have been invented by noted glassmaker Nicholas Lutz. Medium-high value for antique marbles, depending on specific sub-type of Lutz design.

o Oilie or oily – opaque with a rainbow, iridescent finish

o Onionskin – antique, handmade German swirl, with many closely packed surface streaks. Medium price range for antique marbles.

o Opaque – a popular marble that comes in many colors

o Oxblood – a streaky patch resembling blood

o Pearls – opaque with single color with mother of pearl finish

o Toothpaste – also known as plainsies in Canada. Wavy streaks usually with red, blue, black, white, orange.

o Turtle – wavy streaks containing green and yellow

o Bumblebee – modern, machine-made marble; mostly yellow with two black strips on each side

o China – glazed porcelain, with various patterns similar to an alley marble. Geometric patterns have low value; flowers or other identifiable objects can command high prices.

o Plaster – a form of china that is unglazed

o Commie or common – made of clay; natural color or monochrome coloration. Made in huge quantities during 19th and early 20th centuries.

o Bennington – clay fired in a kiln with salt glaze—usually brown, often blue. Other colorations fairly scarce. Fairly low value.

o Crock – made from crockery (earthenware) clay

o Croton alley or jasper – glazed and unglazed china marbled with blue

o Crystal or clearie or purie – any clear colored glass – including “opals,” “glimmers,” “bloods,” “rubies,” etc. These can have any number of descriptive names such as “deep blue sea”, “blue moon”, “green ghost”, “brass bottle”

o Princess – a tinted crystal

o Galaxy – modern, machine-made marble; lots of dots inserted to look like a sky of stars

o Indian – antique, handmade German marble; dark and opaque, usually black, with overlaid groups of color bands; usually white, and one or more other colors. Can also have many colors like blue, green and scarlet. Medium price range for antique marbles.

o Mica – antique, handmade German marble; glassy to translucent with streaks or patches of mica, ranging from clear to misty. Value depends on glass color.

o Steely – made of steel; a true steely (not just a ball-bearing) was made from a flat piece of steel folded into a sphere and shows a cross where the corners all come together.

o Sulphide – antique, handmade German marble; large (1.25 to 3+ inch) clear glass sphere with a small statuette or figure inside. Most common are domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, cows, etc.; then wild animals; human figures are scarce; inanimate objects such as a train or pocket watch are very rare and command high prices. The interior figures are made of white clay or kaolin, and appear a silvery color due to light refraction. A sulphide with a colored-glass sphere, or with a painted figure inside, is also very rare and brings a high price. Like other types of antique marbles, sulphides have been reproduced and faked in large quantities.

o Swirly – is a common marble made out of glass with one swirly color.

o Shooter- Any marble but in a bigger size.

o Tiger- clear with orange-yellow stripes

o Baby – white with colours visible on the outside

Posted in Santee School | Comments Off on Santee School Children Losing Their Marbles