El Cajon, 92019, 92002, 92021 also known as  – The Big Box Valley and The Corners.
In the early nineteenth century, the mission padres were exploring areas looking for pasture land. They chose El Cajon because the surrounding foothills offered a barrier for cattle that stray and rain water was easily captured for the grasslands on the valley floor.
In 1845, the Spanish Dons gained independence from Spain. With secularization, the California Governor, Pio Pico, confiscated the lands from the Mission padres and granted it  to Dona Maria Antonio Estudillo, wife of Don Miguel de Pedrorena, to repay a $500 government obligation. The Pedrorenas did not contribute to any economic development.
What were the key factors which shaped El Cajon’s destiny?

  • The transfer of title from the mission padres to the Pedrorenas and their successors.
  • Main and Magnolia become a corridor from San Diego to  Julian for gold mining.
  • Real estate developments following the Civil War, initiated by a San Francisco entrepreneur named Issac Lankershim  and a  New England emigrant, Amaziah L. Knox, for the economic value of the corner lot resulted in the erection of El Cajon’s first commercial building at Magnolia and Main in 1876.
  • “Direction of growth†laid a path of post World War ll’s exploding urbanization along Mission Valley, through La Mesa and El Cajon.

Following the American Civil War, settlers sought out homesteads on the public lands. Due to the poorly defined boundaries and legal confusion of Pio Pico’s Rancho Cajon land grant to the Pedrorenas, the homesteaders were referred to as “squatters.”In 1868 Lankershim bought the bulk of the Pedrorena’s land. It took seven years of litigation before title was cleared and settlements negotiated with the squatters.
Lankershim subdivided his land, selling large tracts for wheat ranching. Soon discovered, the soil and climate supported almost any crop. El Cajon started producing citrus, avocados, grapes, and raisins. In fact, the suitability of the clear sunny climate for drying raisins was a major real estate sale “pitch.”
The gold mining operations in Julian brought a steady trek of teamsters hauling equipment, supplies and ore between San Diego and Julian. Lankershim noted teamsters’ habit of camping overnight at the present site of Main and Magnolia so in 1876 he built a seven room building as a combination residence and hotel.
Referred to as Knox’s Corner, it became the center of El Cajon’s business district for the next seventy years. By the turn of the century the two blocks of Main Street, astride Magnolia, boasted two hotels, a general store, meat market, post office, pharmacy, harness shop, blacksmith shop, and sundry smaller shops and offices.
At the general elections held on November 12, 1912, resulted in:

  • Incorporation of a 1 1/4 square mile area centering on the historic corners of Main and Magnolia.
  • The board of five trustees met the following week to elect one of their number as president and appoint a city attorney.
  • Committees were appointed for Streets, Alleys, Water and Lights, Finance and Licenses, and Health, Morals, and Sanitation.
  • Treasurer and Clerk, Marshal and Tax Collector, Engineer, Recorder, Superintendent of Streets, two Deputy Marshals, and a Fire Chief were appointed.
  • Ordinances and resolutions were passed to fix salaries or other compensation, provide for the grading and sprinkling of streets, bridge construction and mapping the City, banning cattle and hogs from the central city, and outlawing horseracing down Main Street.
  • For the next thirty years El Cajon followed the pattern of orderly development. By 1940 the population had slightly more than doubled to a figure of 1471.
  • In the five years following World War II, the land area increased to 1.67 square miles, and the population grew to 5,600.
  • In 1949 the City Council began to study the feasibility of the council-manager form of government.
  • In1950 the office of City Manager was instituted to meet the most explosive decade of growth in El Cajon’s history.
  • By 1960 the incorporated area was to increase five-fold to 9.8 square miles and population six-fold to 37,618.

City of El Cajon
Cajon Valley Union School District
Grossmont Union High School District