Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce

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Borrego Springs History Timeline

Lieutenant Pedro Fages, of the Presidio in San Diego, is considered the first non-Indian to traverse this region, when he visited the area in pursuit of deserters.


Juan Bautista De Anza, the son and grandson of Spanish frontier captains, discovers one of the first land routes to California through the Borrego Valley.


Anza leads 240 soldiers and colonists, including 115 children, and about 1,000 horses, cattle and mules, on an epic march of American history 1,600 miles from Culiacan, Mexico, up through Borrego Valley, eventually founding the Pueblo of San Francisco.


The native palm tree is first noted in a written diary by Fages.


The Jackson party of American trappers, including J.T. Warner of Warner Ranch fame, enters California via the Borrego region.


Kit Carson (pictured here) and an escort of 15 men pass through the area guiding Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny on to what would become the battle of San Pasqual.


Gold is discovered in California and there is heavy migration from Baja, California and Sonora, Mexico via the Borrego region.


Judge Benjamin Hayes passes through area as he enters California to become first Judge of the Southern District of California from 1852-1864


Butterfield Overland Mail passes through Borrego on first overland mail delivery between St. Louis and San Francisco. The 2,812 mile trip takes 23 days, 23 hours, and 30 minutes.  Operations were suspended in 1861.


Gold is discovered and the mining towns of Julian and Banner are born to the west of Borrego Valley.


Cattleman bring cattle into lower parts of Borego Valley for winter grazing at current location of Borrego Springs.


Present day Salton Sea forms as a result of a break in the Colorado River.


First homesteaders begin to arrive in the valley and Borego becomes an agricultural area.

1913 Borego's most famous early settler - Alfred Armstrong "Doc" Beaty arrives in the valley.

Borrego has active Chamber of Commerce and the common acceptance of the spelling “Borrego” takes over from “Borego.” (except in Old Borego)


Eslie Wynn builds his home, which houses Borego's first post office. He is appointed Postmaster. Installed the valley's first gas pump. Borego's first school classes are held in the Harold Bemis cabin. First teacher is Addie Woosley and there are 20 students.  La Jollan Guy L. Fleming and Clinton Abbott of San Diego submit first plans for Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  “Beggars of Life,” a silent movie starring Wallace Beery and Louise Brooks is filmed.


Borego Valley Store and post officeEslie Wynn builds grocery store across the street from his home and moves the post office into the store. He also adds a county library.

Harry Oliver's first home on the desert was in the Borrego Valley. Harry and a group of Hollywood pals founded the Borego Valley Growers in 1929, and took up four adjoining homesteads in Section 24 in the northeast part of the Valley.

1932 Wynn takes over hauling the mail and James Thomson becomes Postmaster.  Palm Springs developer Dana Burks and other investors purchase 13,500 acres in the valley.
1933 A garage is added alongside the Borego Grocery Store.
1934 Thomson resigns as Postmaster and Glenn Duvall takes the position. First school house is built at current location of the Borrego Springs Elementary School.
1935 Wynn dies of a heart attack after getting into an argument over an unpaid burro rental fee. Glenn Duvall and brother Edward buy the store.

Eddie Duvall takes over the store, becomes Postmaster and operates the store into the late 1950's. 


One of the first structures in Borrego Valley, a simple adobe house at Burks Ranch is sold by Burks to Noel & Ruth Crickmer.  They begin adding cabins to the property.

1939 Dana Burks' original adobe ranch houseNoel & Ruth Crickmer who previously managed the Del Mar Hotel, opens the valley's first hotel, the Desert Lodge on Thanksgiving Day.  Dinner is served to 17 guests. The population of Borrego Springs zooms to 25 people.

There are still no paved roads or electric lines or telephone service in the valley. Post Office closes and does not re-open until 1949.  About 1940 Joseph Salvador Di Giorgio purchases 1700 acres and drills the first well.  The Di Giorgio Fruit Corporation would become the largest fruit producer in the world.


Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Borrego comes alive with Army and Marine units in training.


In May the San Diego Gas & Electric Company agreed to bring the first power line into Borrego Valley.  Electric service begins in October.

1947 The Crickmer's sell the Desert Lodge to George J. Kuhrts, III & Perry H Burnand.  Crickmer's purchase Fred Lanz homestead and open the valley's second resort, the Tub Canyon Guest Ranch.

On New Year's Day the Hoberg's Desert Resort opened.  Screen Star & local resident Frank Morgan (the wizard in the Wizard of Oz) was named the first Honorary Mayor of Borrego Springs.


Sal Carson, Hoberg's resident orchestra leader, writes a hit tune entitled "Borrego". [1]  The Borrego Sun, the valley's only local newspaper, is published for the first time in March by Paul W. Strand.  The brand new Borrego Springs Airport is dedicated on May 1.  Master of Ceremonies is radio and screen star Leo CarrilloBorrego Air Ranch is constructed.


Borrego Desert Club is formally opened with a Luau attended by such notables as Di Giorgio, Kuhrts, Scripps, Chaney, Hoberg, Carrillo and others.  Di Giorgio Fruit Corporation ships 149,000 packages of grapes from Borrego Springs.


The Borrego Sun is sold to George J. "Bud" Kuhrts III and Jack Benson.  Joseph Di Giorgio dies and his nephew Robert Di Giorgio becomes chairman & president of the corporation with focus on land development in the valley.

1952 A.A. Burnand, Jr builds a $10,000 water fountain at Christmas Circle as a memorial to the agricultural pioneer, Joseph S. Di Giorgio.

James S. Copley purchases the Borrego Sun "as a lark" for the sum of $5000.  The Copley's would remain publishers of the Borrego Sun for the next 54 years.  Robert Di Giorgio, James Copley, William H. Black and A.A. Burnand, Jr develop the de Anza Country Club.  Later they go on to develop the De Anza Villas and Vista Villas.


“The Young Lions,” starring Marlon Brando, Dean Martin and Montgomery Clift, is filmed in Borrego.  On April 22, the redwood resort Borrego Palms (formerly the Hoberg's Desert Resort) is virtually destroyed by fire.  There was no Fire Dept in Borrego Valley at that time.


Hollywood celebrity Bing Crosby and others purchases 3,000 acres in the "Sleepy Hollow" area near the Borrego Air Ranch.  It was never developed.


The Copley family (newspaper empire) purchases The Desert Lodge and changes the name to La Casa del Zorro Desert Resort.  Crickmer's original adobe, the Desert Lodge, is now a part of the lobby.

1964 On the old Ensign Ranch construction of apartments at what is now Club Circle begins in April.  In December the Borrego Springs Park Clubhouse opens, now known as the Borrego Springs Resort & Spa.

The County Marshall, in a bankruptcy dispute, padlocks the Borrego Springs Park Clubhouse.  It would remain closed and vacant for the next 34 years.  Di Giorgio Development Company builds The Mall and the Villas Borrego on Palm Canyon Dr.


The Roadrunner Club Mobile Home Park on Palm Canyon Dr. is built by Robert Di Giorgio.

Mid 1970's

Robert Di Giorgio builds Indian Head Ranch estates at the north end of Borrego Valley.


At the south side of Borrego Springs Robert Di Giorgio begins construction on the 3,000 + acre resort Rams Hill Country Club.


Rams Hill County Club is sold to the Southmark Pacific Corporation / Borrego Springs Development Corporation.


Robert Di Giorgio dies.  “Bugsy,” starring Warren Beatty, is filmed in Borrego.  John & Bill Cameron (Cameron Brothers Construction) [2] purchase the Borrego Springs Park property and begin a $100 million project to restore the golf course and clubhouse, build a 100 room hotel and senior housing.


Larry Latham (Rams Hill LLC) purchases Rams Hill.


Legendary TV series "X-Files" began its eighth season with two segments set in the Anza-Borrego Desert.


Western United Life Assurance Company purchases Rams Hill.


September 8 GH Capital of Sherman Oaks, CA, buys Rams Hill Country Club and hires Tom Fazio to design an entirely new golf course to replace the existing one.  In addition to the new golf course GH renovates the clubhouse & redesigns the entrance at a total cost in excess of 65 million dollars.  The country club is renamed Montesoro Golf Club & Resort.  This is the most expensive and ambitious project in the history of Borrego Springs to date.


GH Capital purchases the Casa del Zorro in December from David Copley, spends more than 20 million dollars in renovations and changes the name to Borrego Ranch Resort & Spa.  Late in the year the Stock Market nearly collapses.


Huell Houser sheds the spotlight on Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the village of Borrego Springs in his "Road Trip" series.  GH Capital shuts down Montesoro Golf  and Borrego Ranch Resort & Spa and places them on the market for sale.


Montesoro re-opens in November as a public golf course.

For more information about Old Borego - the Heart of Borrego Springs, click here.

1.  More on Sal Carson.

2. More on the Camerons.

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