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How the first electricity reached Descanso


By Jenny Belle Bowman

(I’m sharing a family story about Descanso, therefore, please allow for some different versions even though the meat of anecdote is true.)

 Hulburd Grove was the fun resort to spend summers in the early nineteen hundreds. There were rental cabins, a grand dining hall, a country store, riding stables, huge swimming pool and many other structures as part of the Hulburd Grove Resort. The buildings that kept the place functioning were the laundry room, milk house, gift shop, the Hulburds' home, Mr.Smucker's house (the carpenters and maintenance man), equipment garage etc. After the automobile was traveling as far as the top of old Viejas Grade,  Ebenezer Hulburd added a gas station that had two seven foot tall round cylinders to pump the fuel.  Each pump’s top one-third was glass. When the pump was turned on the amber fuel and bubbles everyone watch swirling around and around.

Across the street south of the swimming pool, a stucco house was built up on the hill with a matching garage at street level.  It was called the Sharp House and Mrs. Sharp owned a local radio station.  Some remember the Sharps as Pineapple Kings in Hawaii.  Nevertheless, the Sharps were wealthy.  The story goes that Mrs. Sharp went to the San Diego Gas and Electric and told the clerk at the front desk she would like electricity brought up from Alpine to her house in Descanso.  After finding out how far it would take to bring electricity to her cabin the clerk told Mrs. Sharp, with a sarcastic smile on his face, “Well Lady, if you have twenty-five hundred dollars to pay us to bring electricity that far to Descanso we’ll get to it right away.”  Mrs. Sharp pulled out her checkbook, wrote out a check for two thousand five hundred dollars to SDG&E and handed it to the clerk.  It probably took ten times that amount of money to install electricity to Descanso.  She held SDG&E to the agreement and (needless to say) the clerk lost his job.  Once the power reached Hulburd Grove everyone there hooked on to the power!

Author: Jenny Belle Bowman

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