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at foot of Stone Grade approx. 6mi. east of Ramona on Old Julian Highway

photo courtesy of The Guy B. Woodward Museum and Ramona Historical Society

   The discovery of gold in Julian in 1870 brought a frenzy to the back-country.  Mining camps sprung up in Julian and Banner.  There was one way to get there, horseback or horse drawn wagon up the Mussey Grade from Lakeside through the little town of Nuevo (re-named Ramona in 1886).  

The San Diego Cuyamaca Railroad shortened the distance to the mines in 1895. Running twice a day from San Diego, passenger trains dropped off travelers to North County at Foster Station (now under the San Vicente Reservoir), on the outskirts of Lakeside, east of El Cajon. The stage would set off from Foster at 10 a.m., arriving first in Nuevo (Ramona) where passengers had dinner, then on to Ballena along Old Wagon Road for a change of horses.  

   Oftentimes, prior to the steep, switchback climb up Stone Grade to Ballena,  the stage would pull in at Luckett stage stop, operated by the Booth family. The Luckett Stage Stop was on the Surprise property. What is now Old Julian Highway was once called Old Wagon Road and came through this property until the historic floods of 1916. The road was rerouted to where it is today. How cool is that? 
Luckett Stage Stop c.1890 (Photo courtesy of the Guy B. Woodward Museum and Ramona Historical Society)
George Booth was a farrier and would tend to shoeing horses in need.   The stagecoach passed through Santa Ysabel then on to Julian after a 10-hour journey.

                                                                                                        Frary and Foster stage line                                        
   Concord Coach No. 158   carried passengers and mail between San Diego, El Cajon, Lakeside and Julian between 1886 and 1910. It carried 9 passengers in 3 rows. A broad leather strap served as the backrest for the middle row.

From: The Concord Stage By Bill Virden

   “A ride in a Concord, over rough and virtually unimproved mountain roads, was no pink-tea affair. Although those hardy drivers clung to the motto “The mail must go through!” there were times when the weather was far from being co-operative. A “norther” on November 17, 1879, slowed down the Campo stage, whose driver had difficulty in seeing the road, on account of the dust. At Ballena the Julian stage team balked, apparently a bit upset by the sight of three barns blown down. Frank Frary’s own troubles got into The San Diego Union on February 18, 1883:

Frank Frary, who drove the Julian stage in last evening, says that when he started yesterday morning the wind was blowing a perfect hurricane from the east and northeast. The stage swayed so violently in the gale, that fearful that it would capsize, he and the two passengers piled two or three hundred pounds of rocks into the vehicle as ballast, which they carried until the grade had been passed.”

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