Spotlight - Scripps Ranch History

Scripps Bits of History

This article was first printed in the November 2010 SRCA Newsletter. It has so many interesting community facts, we thought residents might enjoy reading it again. Also, we wanted to honor our longtime features editor, Elinor Reiss, who is an amazing historian for our community and who devoted much of her “retirement” writing stories for the Newsletter.


Wonder why there are different kinds of streetlights in the Ranch? A facsimile of the Penny Press put out by E.W. Scripps in Cleveland in 1878 was published by Macco Corporation in the fall of 1969 to publicize the new area being developed, to be called Scripps Ranch.

One item was: “Ranch architects have shed light on yet another restoration. Inspired by an old lamp on the mansion patio, they have developed unique streetlights for Ranch neighborhoods. Of cast aluminum, the lamps have an antique epoxy finish. Because they are mounted on 16-foot tall posts, shorter than the standard streetlight poles, they’re placed closer together, giving better uniform lighting and lending a distinctive touch to the neighborhood.” These lovely lights still grace the original streets.

It was sometimes dangerous to be a Scripps Ranch “pioneer.” The October 1973 SRCA Newsletter reported a “near tragedy” when school children found several exploding devices of Navy issue in a canyon north of the Ranch. The San Diego Police Department said it was a common occurrence in the city because of “souvenirs” brought home by service personnel and later dumped. It was usually children who discovered them.

What’s in a name? Evans Pond, by the library, was named for the original family who farmed the area and built the earthen dam for the pond. Hendrix Pond, across from the Swim and Racquet Club, was named for the caretaker of the pond and park. Gordon Grove, on Pomerado Road, was named for the second caretaker of Hendrix Pond. The original name of Miramar Lake was Surr Dam. Scripps Ranch’s first park, Hoyt Park, used to supply water for the Ranch. A canal connected Surr Dam to Hoyt Park.

Street and school names (in italics):

  • Scripps commissioned Arthur Putnam to sculpt figures in bronze that would represent the history of California. The figures were an Indian, a padre, and a plowman, situated in the Courtyard.
  • Wild Grapes covered the Arboretum.
  • Aviary Drive took its name from the large aviary E.W. Scripps built for his daughter, Nackey.
  • Three turrets on the mansion gave a name to Turret Drive.
  • The ceiling of the 2,000-square-foot living room of the Scripps home was finished in hand-rubbed Red Cedar, Gumbark, and Ironwood, common eucalyptus species.
  • Red Rocks were used around the Scripps stables and mansion.
  • Kemah came from the 96-foot motor yacht the Scripps’ cruised in down the Atlantic Coast and through the Panama Canal to San Diego.
  • E.W.’s sister, Virginia, donated nine acres of land to be used for the Bishop’s School in La Jolla. The headmistress of the school from 1920 to 1953 was Miss Cummins.
  • Many residents know the origin of the name Jerabek—school, park, field, and drive. He was Scripps’ head gardener starting in 1911.
  • Negley D. Cochran was a friend and biographer of E.W. Scripps.
  • We know whom Dingeman Elementary was named for. Scripps Ranch residents supported the school be named after distinguished citizen Col. Robert E. Dingeman.

In 1989 Kevin Osgood became a Mouseketeer on the popular TV show, Mickey Mouse Club. He was a valedictorian when he graduated from the School of Creative and Performing Arts.

Ten-year-old Paul Murray was named San Diego County’s official LEGO ambassador to Denmark in 1993. The Carlsbad City Council consulted with Paul and his father when it was vying for the second LEGOLAND—the first is in Denmark—to be built in their city.

In February 1978 there were 50 “Child Watch” homes in Scripps Ranch. The Miramar Ranch Elementary School PTA (called that then) initiated the program to give young children en route to or from school or with no one at home, a safe place to go if they were lost, being followed, hurt, or threatened in any way. The safe homes were identified by a bright orange sign with a picture of Mickey Mouse and the words Scripps Ranch Child Watch.

In 1995 21-year-old Chris Richard was named the New Jersey Cardinals’ Most Valuable Player of the year. Chris’s baseball career started when he was very young, in T-Ball with the Scripps Ranch Little League.

Deborah and Ron Plotkin enjoyed Thanksgiving 1995 more than ever. They were safely at home after being stranded in the Himalayas for three days. Experienced mountain climbers, the couple had looked forward to their “dream vacation” at the height of trekking season. It hadn’t rained or snowed the first three weeks of November in 50 years.

They had reveled in 10 days of beautiful skies while hiking up the 20,423-foot Island Peak, but they awakened in the night to an unexpected snowstorm. Forty-five people were killed in the avalanche and storm.

Scripps Ranch was jubilant upon their return. They instantly became media celebrities. They both experienced severe injuries due to frostbite, especially Ron who lost part of both feet and fingers, which were later reattached!

In April the following year Ron inspired spectators as he carried the Olympic torch on part of its journey to Atlanta. Reacting to the audience, Ron himself became inspired and began running. Their harrowing adventure was recounted in a television movie.

Elinor Reiss