The Baileys Arrive
Theodore and Mary Bailey were some of the last of the western pioneers. Married in 1868 they traveled by covered wagon (kids and all) from Kentucky to San Diego County, settling in Mesa Grande below Palomar Mountain around 1884.
Trained as a surveyor, Theodore soon found work with the regional U.S. Geologic Survey group. In this capacity he traveled extensively through the undeveloped areas of San Diego County.
It was while setting survey markers on Palomar Mountain that he came upon a beautiful little valley just over the summit. It reminded him of his native Kentucky, with its dark cool forests and rich grassy flats. The valley was host to a series of clear artesian springs that still produce some of the best water to be found anywhere. He quickly filed a homestead claim for the valley and moved his young family up the mountain in the fall of 1887.
Log Cabin Days
Using mostly the resources around them, the family quickly built a log cabin and prepared for the winter to come. And it turned out to be quite a winter. They nearly had their shake roof cave in on them as the snow fall topped 60 inches. More than once the boys spent the entire night shoveling the falling snow off the little cabin’s roof.
The following spring of 1888 Theodore, Mary and their five young children were hard at work building the new family ranch house across the valley from their log cabin. With the help of the local Native Americans they dug clay from natural deposits near the building site. This material was formed into adobe bricks which were used to construct the single story home. The three vacated clay pits were then lined with rock. Quickly filling with water, these covered wells served the household for many years. Almost as soon as their home was constructed, Theodore assumed the role of post master for the mountain.
Baileys Palomar Resort
It was during this time that folks traveling up the steep mountain grade on horse back would stop by the Bailey place, and often be invited to stay over for a few days. Even in those early years, the Bailey place became a welcome rest stop for travelers in the back country.
Theodore was known for his hospitality just as Mary Bailey was becoming famous for her baked goods. Traveling 60 miles by wagon to the County Fair each year, her Palomar Rhubarb pie took the 1st place award in 1899.
Theodore, Mary and family eventually built up the place to a first rate back country resort destination. By the 1920s Bailey’s Palomar Resort had taken shape. In addition to Campo Contento – the original automobile camp- the resort now boasted furnished tents on wood decks and small cabins. The original adobe homestead was enlarged to three stories and called the Palomar Mountain Hotel. The township of Palomar Mountain was now at the Bailey Place. Visitors would find Bailey’s General Store and Soda Fountain, the Palomar Post Office, a hand crank gas station and the new Dance Hall building (these are all still alive and well at the resort over 80 years later).
Then and Now
For activities, the discerning resort guest could choose from lawn-tennis, an eighteen hole golf course (with nine holes out and nine holes back) horseback riding, hiking, shuffle board, or a dip in the swimming hole. Having then worked up an appetite, guests could partake of hardy back country meals at the resort restaurant. Fresh meats were kept on ice, home grown produce graced each plate, which was then topped off with fresh baked breads and pastries. As the sun set, the resort would begin to glow under soft electric lights (provided by a gasoline powered generator system). Guests would then attend the event of the evening – a Country Dance (with live music) or hay-ride and bonfire (before the days of burning permits).
From the 1890s right up to today folks have been enjoying our unique mountain environment – and have just kept coming back for more. We have had scores of weddings over the years, both in and out of doors. Our historic cottages, luxury campsites are world class and unique to SoCal. Plus our 125 year old, three story family homestead and Formally Palomar Hotel building is now a vacation rental home we call The Bailey House. It has been completely restored and we are quite proud of the new look in our rustic setting.
Enjoy Palomar Mountain
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