Did you know that Lakeside used to be a tourist attraction, so much so that a railroad was built to bring people in! Gary Mitrovich with the Lakeside Historical Society shares some interesting history with Kyle Whissel about Lakeside History, including the railroad, the old candy shop, and the Lakeside Inn.
Images provided by the Lakeside Historical Society
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Did you know that, did you know this used to be a tourist town? Hey guys it’s Kyle with Whissel Realty Group and Everything East County. Did you know that there used to be a train station right here in the heart of Lakeside? Ran all the way from Lakeside to downtown San Diego? We’re meeting with Gary with Lakeside Historical Society, we’re going to learn all about it. Gary, how are you my friend?
Good to meet you.
I’m excited to be out here because part of our new show, Everything East County, is we want to tell everybody everything about East County. Especially some fun little facts they maybe didn’t know. So we’re standing here, there’s a train behind us.
There is a train.
So what are you going to teach us about today.
Well, I’m going to teach ya that the train came to Lakeside because people wanted to come to Lakeside and they needed a better way to get here. Train got to town in 1889, few years after the town was established. It ran regular service from downtown San Diego to here. Up to eight trains a day. Cost 85 cents one way and it cut down the wagon trip from an entire day to about 90 minutes.
Wow, very cool.
Big improvement.[Kyle] And so talk to me about this building that we’re in front of right now. [Gary] This building was actually built in 1912. The builder was a train, the station agent for the train depot. And he bought this property, built the candy store and confectionery. So he also sold ice cream and then he built his house right behind here.
Okay very cool. It looks like the buildings been restored a little bit. I used to own a property right around the corner from here and I don’t remember it looking like this. So talk about some of the restoration that’s been done.
Yes it really fell into ruin and there was some kind of big plant overgrowin’ the front, the false front, which is pretty significant. So we got ahold of one of our artists in town, David Ebara, and contracted with him to fix this place up and paint it up really nice. Cause people always asked about this building. It’s obviously old and they want to know what it was about. So we decided to improve the look and give people an idea of what it used to look like.[Kyle] Yeah so lets go over to the candy shop. Let’s check it out. [Gary] Okay. Great.
Here’s the candy shop. Open in 1912, candy, ice cream, all that fun stuff. What else was it used for?
Well after the train stopped comin’ to town, they used it for a church for awhile. And then after that it was the office of the Lakeside Irrigation District. Which was dealing with all the water issues in town and it was that for quite a bit of time. And then it became vacant, just kind of fell into ruin. Nobody was using it for a long time.
All right very cool. And so then the train tracks were standing out here, 67s right in front of us. So the path kind of hugged where the 67 runs through right now.
Yes. In fact most of the 67 was railroad right of way until the railroad gave it to the state highway system. But the train used to come down here and then it would kind of, it moved off towards Moreno Valley. And went all the way to a little town called Foster that was at the base of what is now the San Vicente Dam.
And then people would get off there, cause it was the end of the road. They’d get on the stage and go to Ramona or Julian.
All right, so this is the old depot.
So tell me a little about the story behind the depot.
Okay this is actually the second depot for the area. It was built in 1912 to 1913. And Spreckels, John D. Spreckels, actually owned the railroad at this point. And he got one of his favorite architects, Eugene Hoffman, to design this and build it. And originally it was canted about 45 degrees away from this street, to be parallel with the railroad tracks. But once the tracks were eliminated they moved it to parallel this street. That was part of the design, the sculptures. And they were original part of the building. And the owners over the years have taken good care of them. And so they look just like they did in 1913 when the place opened.[Kyle] Do you know how many people on an average day came through the depot?
Well not exactly, but the numbers dwindled because as Lakeside grew fewer people were coming here. And the train was used more for freight.[Kyle] All right.
Because we had quite a few businesses here. Dairies, orchards, farms, and the train was a way to get the produce and other commodities out of Lakeside quickly.
Okay and then I know Mary’s Donuts is right behind us.[Gary] Yes. [Kyle] So the Lakeside Mary’s Donuts. And so there used to be a lumber yard there I hear.
Yes right behind there, there was a big lumber yard. Which was tied into the railroad. In fact, some tracks went right through there so they could get the lumber coming in and out directly to the storage areas.
Okay and then there was a big hotel in town too.
Yes actually at the South end of town it was built same time the town was created. Big, it was called the Lakeside Inn and it was built here so people would come to town and do something.
Tourists mostly, it was a resort town.
People would come out and the lake was right next to it. So they would hunt, fish, boat, hike, and that’s why people came to town. It’s interesting that you don’t think about those things about Lakeside anymore. That people came here just to have a vacation.
Right? See that’s why we’re doing the show.
Did you know that? Did you know this used to be a tourist town? And so Gary, if somebody wants to learn more about the history of Lakeside, you’re part of the Historical Society here. Where can they get more info?
Well they can call 619-561-1886 or they can stop by our offices. We’re open pretty much Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 to 2:00.
And we’re right in downtown Lakeside at the big ol’ church.
Hey guys, I’m Kyle Whissel with Whissel Realty Group and Everything East County. Hope you guys learned somethin’ today like I did about the train that used to run through East County here into Lakeside. Thanks so much for tuning in to this episode of Food for Thought.