The original settlers who came to Potrero, Campo and points east came up through Tijuana in Baja Mexico and went to Tecate.  This route was not as mountainous and an easier route to follow.   According to Dorothy Clark Schmid states in her book “Pioneering in Dulzura” (5), that a good trail from Dulzura ran up Tecate Creek from Marron Valley to the little village of Tecate.  It was the custom of Immigration men to use that route even though it was on Mexican territory.  At that time there were few Immigration men and only one US Customs man, Charles Cameron, who had the entire territory from the desert to the coast.   

From Tecate the road went up Thing Road to Emery Road and twist and turn down the canyon (crossing the present Highway 94) and up behind the old  McAlmond place to Potrero Valley.  There is still evidence of this road.

The road from Barrett to Potrero was another perilous road.  When originally built, the road went down the Barrett Dam Road to where the dump is now located and crossed the river.  It twisted, turned and curved up the Potrero grade to grapevine and there followed the river bed.  All of this road was north of our present Highway 94.  There again it was a hazardous climb, blazing a trail up the mountain with some very steep curves to encounter.    It almost seems impossible to imagine without our present day bulldozers that it could even have been created.   Carson’s gate on Stage Coach Road in Potrero is where the road joined up with the road from Tecate.   Ben Sheckler, Charles McAlmond, Dr. Wright and other pioneers got together to build these roads.  In view of this past years experience of having the huge boulders slide down onto Highway 94, it makes you wonder how this highway was ever completed.

At that time there was a road from Barrett Dam Road  which went up the back way to Round Potrero Road.  Ella McCain’s (4) account of that road states “Dr. Wright had made a road extending from the Higgins place (south side of the Round Potrero Valley)  via Barrett Dam to Cottonwood.  In some places the road was so steep the wagon brakes would not hold, so they cut an immense oak limb and fastened it to the back of the wagon to help keep it under control.”.  Also there was another old road from the top of  Round Potrero Rd. down through grapevine ranch. These roads were not used when better roads became available.

Between Potrero and Campo there had been a road built by the Gaskill’s of Campo and the Shecklers.  It was a very windy and steep trail out of Potrero and north of our present Highway 94.  But when leaving the top of the hill (near the Potrero Church) it twisted and turned between boulders to get to the river bed near Campo.  From Campo it took about 3 days to make the trip to downtown San Diego. 

In  the late 1800’s there was a tax levied for property owners of about $5.00 a year and this included road tax.  If anyone wanted to avoid paying the tax they could work a short period of time improving the road and the tax would be waived.   Sam Cameron (6) mentions in his diary on June 16, 1886, that he worked on the road between Motiquwhat Valley and Campo, in order to pay his road tax.

According to Dorothy Clark Schmid (5) in her book, the flood of 1895 washed out the section of road  along the creek west of Dulzura.  A temporary road high on the north side of the canyon was used while a better road was built.   Dulzura’s, Mr. Harry Small, in charge of road maintenance  told Mr. Swallow, Road Supervisor, that for $1000 he could build a grade automobiles could travel.  He got the contract at that price, surveyed the line himself, and built the road along Dulzura Grade which is still in use.  It has been widened and some of its corners softened but is still a tribute to Harry’s ability.

Roads are the main artery for this back country - it was then and still is.  The pioneers in this area did the best they could to provide a passable road and  it took a lot of hard work.  Without them we might not be living here, or at least it might be different. The road has been continually upgraded to meet the needs of the traveling public.

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