El Cajon Timeline

Thank you to Bonnie Fredensborg for creating this timeline and the El Cajon Historical society for providing their assistance

City History Through the Decades

1912 to 1921

-El Cajon is incorporated and five men are appointed to serve on the Board of Trustees. They are: James A. Harris, George W.  French, Dr. Charles R. Knox, J. B. Rumsey, William Stell.

-Population in El Cajon is approximately 200.

-First poultry raising begins in El Cajon with two chicken ranches in 1913

-First “Big Freeze” occurred January 5, 1913 when El Cajon residents awoke to a chilly 11 degrees, an all-time low for the Valley.

-First street lights were established by the Board of Trustees, with 19 lights in 1914.

-First cement sidewalks and curbs are installed on Main Street in 1917.

-Fourteen inches of rain fell and flooded much of El Cajon.

Women with El Cajon Valley Flag 1910’s


1922 to 1931

-The first Fire Chief is Rexford I Hall who served from 1924 to 1933.

-First El Cajon movie theater at 120 E. Main opens May 18, 1927 built by Roy L. Fuller.

-Population: 1,050 in 1930.

-First Chief of Police appointment is Edward W. Menke in 1931.

Movie theater

Movie Theater on Main Street in the 20’s


 1932 to 1941

-Main Street is widened in 1935.

-First meat packing and processing plant is started by Aubrey Sears on W. Main St in 1940.

-Population: 1,471 in 1940.

-Fletcher Hills becomes an army training camp with 5,000 soldiers in 1941.

-El Cajon’s First Presbyterian Church.

First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church


1942 to 1951

-1942 El Cajon Police Car

-First City Mail delivery is started in 1942.

-New firehouse is completed on South Orange Ave in 1942.

-Sunshine Street is declared a major street by the City Council in 1944.

-Olaf Wieghorst retires to El Cajon. He is known as the Dean of Western Painting in 1944.

-El Cajon Theatre burns down in 1945.

-First Mother Goose Parade takes place in 1947.

-Colorado River’s water first started to flow through the City’s water system in 1947.

-Ray Halgren becomes first full-time paid fire chief in 1948.

-Curfew of 9:00 is passed for minors in 1949.

-Fletcher Hills booms with 600 homes in 1951.

-El Cajon has the most explosive decade growth in its history, and in the history of any comparable community in the nation. Population: 5,600.

Mother Goose Parade

One of the first Mother Goose Parades


1952 to 1961

-New Police and Fire Department erected at the corner of East Douglas and Highland Avenue in 1952.

-First Mother Goose Ball is held in 1953.

-33-foot tower is built atop the First Baptist Church on Prescott & Douglas and is the highest point in El Cajon in 1953.

-Rex Hall is named Citizen of the Year. He is considered “Son of El Cajon” in 1956.

-J. C. Penney relocates to new building built by Mr. Ballantyne to the east of the present location in 1959.

-Population: 37,618 in 1960.

-There is one stoplight in El Cajon at Main and Magnolia in 1960.

-Cajon Speedway at 1888 Wing Avenue opens on July 15, 1961.

-Interstate -8 opens as first interstate in El Cajon in 1961.

El Cajon Speedway

Year: 1976
Photographer: Marty Wells
Left to right: Lance Onnen (President of El Cajon Valley Jaycees), Pat McIntyre (1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977 El Cajon Stock Car Racing Assn super stock champion, Warren Norris (1976 El Cajon Stock Car Racing Assn President), Earle Brucker Jr. (Cajon Speedway track promoter).


1962 to 1971

-Official City of El Cajon seal is adopted in 1962.

-El Cajon celebrates 50th Anniversary in 1962.

-Population nearly 40,000 in 1962.

-Average cost of a new house is $12,650, a new car is $3,233, bread is 22 cents, and the average income is $5,807 in 1963.

-St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center for the developmentally disabled opens at 2119 E. Madison in 1966.

-Population: 52,273 in 1970.

-City purchases W. D. Hall property, now City Hall in 1971.

City Hall in the 70's

City Hall in the 70’s


1972 to 1981

-City purchases the Knox Hotel and moves it to 280 North Magnolia to become the historical focus of the City of El Cajon in 1972.

-First meeting of the El Cajon Historical Society in 1973.

-Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug establish world famous Taylor Guitars in 1974.

-Jimmie Johnson, well-known racecar driver is born on September 17, 1975.

-East County Performing Arts Center opens with a crowd of 667 attendees in 1977.

-AYSO boys and girls soccer league is formed in 1977.

-Population: 73,892 in 1980.


East County Performing Arts in the 70’s


1982 to 1991

-Local florist, Jenny Irey, is invited to the White House to decorate for Christmas in 1982.

-John Reber carries Olympic Torch through the City on its way to L.A in 1984.

-El Cajon celebrates the 75th year of incorporation in 1987.

-Trolley Transit Service begins in El Cajon in 1989.

-Population: 88,693 in 1990.

-International Friendship Festival held in downtown El Cajon in 1991.

Trolley Station

El Cajon Trolley Station in the 80’s


1992 to 2001

-In-N-Out burger opens at 1541 N. Magnolia in 1992.

-Concerts on the Green at Prescott Promenade begin in 1996.

-Mark Lewis elected Mayor in 1998.

-Olaf Weighorst Museum opens at 131 Rea Street in 1999.

-El Cajon resident, Carol Sing, age 57, swims the English Channel in 1999.

-Sophie’s Gallery opens on Rea St in 2000.

-Cajon Classic Cruise Car Shows begin in downtown each Wednesday evening in 2000.

-El Cajon Cemetery closes on July 1 to new burials, due to lack of room for expansion in 2000.

-Population: 94,869 in 2000.

Cajon Classic Cruise Car Show

Cajon Classic Cruise 2005


2002 to 2012

-Cedar Fire breaks out and surpasses largest fire in California history, burning 280,278 acres in 2003.

-Wieghorst Museum holds first Wieghorst Western Heritage Days on Rea Street in 2003.

-Cajon Speedway closes in 2004.

-New Police Station opens at 100 Civic Center Way in 2011.

-Population: 100,116 in 2012.

New Police Station

Police Station Opening 2011