Alpine lies on a relatively flat plateau in the Cuyamaca Mountain, therefore the abundant springs and the mild climate encouraged a diverse plant and animal food source, making the Alpine area particularly attractive for settlement. Archaeological evidence of the Kumeyaay villages can be found throughout Alpine.
The first documented Europeans to enter the Alpine area were a small group of Spanish soldiers who were returning to San Diego from Yuma in 1782.
In 1854, a semi-weekly horseback mail route ran through Valle de las Viejas from San Diego to Yuma. It is credited with being the first regular U. S. Mail Route in Southern California. In 1857, the San Antonio & San Diego Mail Line was established, carrying both passengers and mail.
In 1874, John Stewart Harbison was the premier apiarist and producer of honey in California. Harbison settled in Alpine and became by far this county’s leading beekeeper. He is credited with making San Diego County the leading honey-producing county in California and California the leading honey-producing state in the nation.
In 1875, in his home in Massachusetts, Edward Foss read about the huge and successful Harbison bee hives and moved to Alpine in 1876. The Fosses started a school in their home for their children and others. The Fosses also helped form the Alpine Community Church in 1894. Mrs. Foss’ sister, Dr. Sophronia Nichols, came to Alpine in 1888 and established a practice as Alpine’s first doctor. The Sophronia Nichols house is the main attraction of the Alpine Historical Society Museum, located at Tavern Road and Huey Lane.
Climate is Alpine’s claim to distinction. Looking for a health cure for their disabilities, many people migrated in the 1880’s to the city of San Diego. One such man was a wealthy ivory importer named Benjamin Arnold. Finding no relief from his asthma in San Diego, doctors suggested he and try Alpine. In 1887, The Arnold’s moved to Alpine and helped to transform a stagecoach stop with thirty-five families into a permanent town. He improved the “terrible road” to the Lakeside trains and established a regular stagecoach service. In 1890 he built a one-room school building that was used until 1953. The same year he built Ye Alpine Tavern. In 1893, he built The Parsonage, which is Kasitz Kastle Retirement Home today. In 1899, he donated the land for the cemetery on Victoria Drive and built the Town Hall, which today is owned by the Alpine Woman’s Club. After his death, his home became the Los Robles Hotel.
The slogan, “Best Climate in the U. S. A. by Government Report” was adopted by all. This slogan was established during World War I when a government survey determined that the Alpine climate was very well suited for the convalescence of soldiers with respiratory diseases. Dr. Lischner converted the Los Robles Hotel to a modern sanatorium which offered complete care for service men sent here from all over the country to recover. After the sanatorium burned down, in 1923, Dr. Lischner’s associate, Dr. Barkema, built the Alpine Sanatorium and General Hospital on Tavern Road. This facility closed in 1942. In 1963, a new and modern convalescent center opened for business on the hill on Alpine Boulevard.
1969 Interstate 8 was carved through the hills north of Highway 80. Alpine was now within a forty-five minute drive from San Diego. Old Highway 80 was renamed Alpine Boulevard from Dunbar Lane to Willows Road.
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