Is Pomerado Road a Historic Route?

Why all the new “Historic 395” signs on Pomerado Road? Who put them up and why? When E.W. Scripps showed up in San Diego in 1890, he was looking for a piece of land on the far outskirts of town, away from the public. He bought the land we call Scripps Ranch and named it Miramar. It was a day’s journey from downtown San Diego to Miramar back in those days via horse-drawn buggy along rutted and, at times, steep trails. The oldest detailed maps, which date from the 1850–1870s, do not show any trails in Scripps Ranch but rather give it the label “unsurveyable worthless brushy mountains.”

Before Scripps began to develop Miramar, your destination inland might have been Merton—now Poway—Rancho Bernardo, or even Escondido. To get there, you would have taken a stagecoach northeast up San Clemente Canyon, over the summit, and down into Poway’s Beeler Canyon. San Clemente Canyon is to the south of Scripps Ranch on east Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar land. Carroll Canyon is where Pomerado Road is today. Portions of the old San Clemente Canyon route, also known as Escondido Road, still exist today, tucked away in StoneBridge Estates.

The automobile made its way to the public in the early 1900s in California. It quickly became clear that autos and the old horse-buggy dirt roads were incompatible, and a San Diego County Road Commission was formed in 1908. Three millionaires were appointed to the commission: John D. Spreckels, A.C. Spaulding, and E.W. Scripps. Ed and Austin Fletcher also were involved with the commission.

These San Diego elites were tasked with creating 1,250 miles of new, better graded, less steep roads in San Diego County; many still exist today. Escondido Road—along San Clemente Canyon—was improved and completed in 1911. At some point between 1911 and 1925, probably soon after Camp Kearney (MCAS Miramar) was established in 1917, the main inland route, Escondido Road, was rerouted through Carroll Canyon.

In 1934 the American Association of State Highway officials decided U.S. 395 would be extended to San Diego County. In 1935 what we now call Pomerado Road became U.S. 395. This new inland route started where the University of San Diego is now, intersecting at Highway 101, and running north all the way to Canada! In 1949 U.S. 395 was rerouted along the path we now call Interstate 15 and the old 395 became Pomerado Road, getting its name by combining Poway Merton Bernardo.

Now to the who and why. In 2011 a health care corporation was looking to build a large hospital in Scripps Ranch along this two-lane historic route. I, being something of a local historian who has lived in Scripps Ranch nearly 40 years and not thinking this hospital would be a good fit for our community, decided to lend my local knowledge to the cause. I was looking for a way to protect the thoroughfare from more development. I thought having it designated an historic road would help our cause. I quickly discovered a bill in 2008 by the California State Assembly (ACR 98, Chap. 79) that recognizes old portions of U.S. 395 as historic and calls for the Department of Transportation to allow signage to be posted as such.

After repeated attempts to find the proper authorities in charge of putting up these signs, I finally found the Historic Route 395 Association, which led me to the San Diego Traffic Division. I prepared a report outlining the history of Pomerado Road, picked out signage locations, and submitted it all for review. The result is the Historic Route 395 signs you now see along Pomerado Road in Scripps Ranch.

The next time you find yourself cruising along Pomerado, take a moment to realize you are driving on one of the oldest roads in our county. Imagine how many horse-drawn buggies, steam-powered automobiles, and other types of vehicles have travelled along that old stretch of U.S. 395, which runs through the middle of our neighborhood.

Adam Grofcsik, Lifelong SR Resident and SR Historian