The history of Highway 94
is very interesting. The very
early settlers who pioneered these back county hills had a real sense of
adventure. In 1868 there were
no trucks, no cars and NO Highway 94.
In some parts there weren’t even trails. This is hard to imagine.
The first pioneers had a road of sorts which came up Otay Lake Road
to the creek. It followed the
creek and wound up the canyon to Dulzura, crossing and recrossing the
rocky stream bed many times before it reached the post office.
The road stopped at Dulzura at the Sheckler Ranch (across the
street from Bamboo Inn).
After an interview with
Mr. Donald Sheckler of Dulzura, (who currently lives there with his wife
Caroline) I obtained a great deal of information along with the photos.
His grandfather, Ben Sheckler, was an early settler originally at
Round Potrero Ranch for a short time.
In 1874 he moved to Barrett (where the Taylor ranch is now
located). Later he moving to
Engineer Springs in Dulzura. Donald
was born at Barrett and lived in and around Dulzura most of his life.
For 38 years he was a cowboy and has many stories to tell.
His father Claude was a prominent member of the community in the
Barrett/Dulzura area and his mother, Hazel, was an artist.
In the early years his
family would go into town about every 3 months and it was a long two day
trip. They would leave
Dulzura and stop the first night under the sycamore trees at the Daley
Ranch (near the Indian reservation) or if it was a good day they would
camp by Sweetwater River. The
next day cross they crossed the river and went on into San Diego.
At that time San Diego was considered a “one horse hitching
post” type of town.
The original road from
Dulzura to Barrett went south from Engineer Springs to behind Dulzura
Community Center then down Bee Canyon east.
It came up near Summit Road, then snaked its way down the grade to
Barrett. All this was done
about the year of 1880. It
was such a steep and curving trail going east down the hill to Barrett,
that on one curve they had to stop the team, lift the wagon, and go back
and forth several times to make the sharp curve on the road.
The big boulders were another problem.
Actually it was so steep in places it was necessary to chain the
back wheels and slide down the hill.
Mr. Sheckler told a story about his Grandfather Ben and Doc Wright of Round Potrero Ranch. They had been to San Diego and the Supervisor (who was up for election) had given them some whiskey and had asked them to stop along the way and campaign for him and serve refreshments. They did that and just before they started down the grade to Barrett there was a little whiskey left so they decided to drink it. It must have given them lots of courage as they made a bet that they could race down the grade without stopping. Doc Wright wouldn’t do it at first, but finally said “If you do it, I will too”. So off they went and miraculously made it to the bottom in one piece. The wagons suffered greatly, but they did not try that again.