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North County Milestones

The early years of North County are marked by its ranches and missions, many of which still stand today. When the California Southern Railway, a branch of the Santa Fe, arrived with stations in Oceanside, Fallbrook and Temecula, the region began to grow and prosper.

For more than a decade, North County has been experiencing a growth spurt. The area boasts seven of the 10 fastest growing cities in San Diego County -- Carlsbad, Encinitas, Escondido, Oceanside, Poway, San Marcos and Vista -- and a large percentage of new home sales in the county. While the bulk of technology companies are located in the northern part of the city of San Diego, North County continues to grow as a hub for high paying tech jobs, according to a report by the San Diego Economic Development Corp. released last year.

North County has much to look forward to. Much-anticipated transportation projects in North County include the 22-mile-long Sprinter light rail line between Escondido and Oceanside, and improvements to Interstate 15 between Rancho Penasquitos and Escondido. The opening of state Route 56 in 2004 brought about master-planned communities on the prime land surrounding what is now the SR-56-corridor, making North County and increasingly attractive place to live and work.

1872

Tourmaline is discovered near Pala. Fueled by the high price of tourmaline in China, mining is on the rise at the time. About 90 percent of the gem production in Southern California comes from five mines in inland San Diego County.

1883

California Southern Railway, a branch of the Santa Fe, completes railway linking San Bernardino and San Diego. Spurring growth in North County, it includes stations in Oceanside, Temecula and Fallbrook.

1888

Cities of Oceanside, with a population of about 1,000, and Escondido, with a population of around 800, are incorporated. Oceanside has a population of 175,085 today, while the population of Escondido is 141,350.

1895

Bear Valley (now Wohlford) Dam is constructed to provide Escondido with a reliable source of water.

1918

The Santa Fe Land & Improvement Company completes the Lake Hodges Dam and San Dieguito Dam.

1934

Oceanside-Carlsbad Junior College, the second community college in San Diego County, opens. Changed name to MiraCosta College and moved to Barnard Drive location in 1964.

1936

The 22nd District Agricultural Association uses a state grant to purchase land at the mouth of the San Dieguito River for a county fairgrounds. The site becomes the permanent home of the annual San Diego County Fair. About the same time, the Del Mar Turf Club leases the racetrack created in the 1930s to help fund the state’s agricultural fairs from the 22nd DAA to operate an annual live racing meet.

1942

Navy acquires Rancho Santa Margarita for Camp Pendleton Marine base on 126,000 acres north of Oceanside. The 9th Marine Regiment marches from Camp Elliot in San Diego to Camp Pendleton to become the first troops to occupy the new base. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicates the base on Sept. 25, 1942.

1946

Palomar College, a two-year community college, begins classes at Vista High School. Today, the school serves 27,000 students from its 200-acre main campus in San Marcos, its Escondido Center, and seven other sites in North County.

1948

Palomar Observatory opens in June. Construction on the 200-inch mirror began in 1934.

1952

Beginning as a spa and farming community in the 1880s with a population of about 300, the city of Carlsbad is incorporated in July 1952 with a population of 7,000. Its population today is 95,146.

1955

Oceanside Industrial Center is established. It is the first of 11 industrial parks now open in the city and is the second largest contiguously-zoned industrial area in Oceanside.

1959

City of Del Mar is incorporated. Originally formed as a seaside resort by Theodore M. Loop, a contractor and engineer for the California Southern Railroad project, and “Colonel” Jacob Taylor in 1882, Del Mar has a population of 4,500 today.

1960

La Costa Resort and Spa opens in Carlsbad.

1961

Tri-City Medical Center opens in Oceanside to serve the North County community.

1963

Cities of Vista and San Marcos are incorporated. By 1870, the Vista area had a population of about 40. Today its population is 94,109. From its roots as a small German and Dutch settlement established in the 1880s, San Marcos begins growing in 1956 with the arrival of water from the Colorado River. The city’s population is now 73,054.

1964

Oceanside-Carlsbad Junior College changes name to MiraCosta College and moves to its 121-acre Barnard Drive location in Oceanside. MiraCosta is Spanish for “behold the coast.”

1968

The Andy Williams San Diego Open golf tournament moves to Torrey Pines Golf Course. Today, the annual PGA Tour tournament is known as the Buick Invitational. Champion golfers who’ve played this course include Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and San Diego’s own Phil Mickelson.

1972

San Diego Wild Animal Park opens. Operated by the San Diego Zoological Society, it is one of the areas most popular tourist attractions. Depending on the season, the park employs between 400 and 600 people.

1975

Vista Foundation formed to construct an amphitheatre, consisting only of a small stage and grass seating tiers. The amphitheatre was built in Brengle Terrace Park as a gift to the citizens of Vista. The Vista Summer Theatre Festival is officially changed to the Moonlight Amphitheatre in 1984.

1980

City of Poway is incorporated. In its early days as a farming community, the area now known as Poway has about 800 residents by 1887. Significant growth begins with the arrival of water in the valley and the formation of the Poway Municipal Water District in 1954. Poway’s population today is 50,675.

1986

Cities of Encinitas and Solana Beach are incorporated. Founded by Jabez Pitcher in 1881, Encinitas has a current population of 62,774. The area around Solana Beach begins to develop quickly when Lake Hodges Dam is completed in 1918. The population of Solana Beach is now 13,400.

* North County Fair shopping center opens in Escondido.

1987

The 560-acre Carlsbad Research Center becomes the largest master-planned business park in San Diego County.

* Chart House, a Solana Beach-based restaurant chain with 85 locations, plans stock offering.

* Ashworth Inc., a golf apparel company opens in Carlsbad.

1989

Ely Callaway bought out his partners in Callaway Hickory Stick USA in Cathedral City, Calif., renames the company Callaway Golf and moves it to Carlsbad.

1990

California State University, San Marcos, opens. It is the first of a new generation of Cal State campuses and the first completely new campus in the United States in more than 20 years. In 1990, it accommodates 448 upper division students in temporary rented space. By fall of 2005, 7,502 students are enrolled at the university.

* Poway Center for the Performing Arts Foundation hosts its premier season. The foundation is a nonprofit organization responsible for booking professional artists in the city-owned Poway Center for the Performing Arts.

1994

California Center for the Arts, Escondido, opens.

1995

The San Diego Coast Express Rail, or Coaster, a commuter railway serving the central and northern coastal region of San Diego County begins operating. It stops at stations in Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Sorrento Valley, Old Town, and Downtown San Diego.

1997

Gemological Institute of America opens its doors in Carlsbad. The 18-acre campus, built by Koll Construction, houses 280,00 square feet of office and classroom space and hosts trainees for diamond and precious gem cutters and buyers from around the world.

1998

* Four Seasons Aviara, a luxury golf resort and the first 5-diamond resort in San Diego County, opens in Carlsbad.

* Gateway Inc., a PC company, moves its headquarters from North Sioux City, South Dakota to Poway.

1999

Legoland California opens in Carlsbad.

2001

Pala Casino Spa Resort opens.

2002

Carlsbad City Council approves the EIR, Master Plan, Master Tentative Map and related applications for Bressi Ranch, a master-planned community of 585 acres that has been subdivided into 21 lots for future industrial, residential, mixed use, community facilities and open space planning areas.

2003

Ocean Ranch Corporate Center, a 400-acre business and industrial park in Oceanside, welcomes its first tenants. Biogen Idec is among the high-profile businesses now calling the park home.

Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 2003

The largest wildfire in the history of the state begins in Ramona. Flames ripped through San Diego Country Estates and later reached Poway, El Cajon, Santee and the San Diego neighborhoods of Scripps Ranch, Tierrasanta and San Carlos. A couple days later, Julian is threatened.

2004

* State Route 56 opens, providing an east-west link between I-15 and I-5. Currently, the freeway accommodates about 20,000 vehicles per day. Between 84,000 and 120,000 vehicles per day are expected to use it by the year 2020.

* Gateway Inc. moves its headquarters from Poway to Irvine, Calif.

2005

Construction of the Sprinter, the Oceanside-Escondido Light Rail Project begins. Upon anticipated completion in 2006, it will serve 15 stations in Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos and Escondido and include stops at MiraCosta College, Palomar College and California State University, San Marcos.

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