carlsbad history

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depotCarlsbad’s original inhabitants were the Luiseño people, who are in the Shoshonean linguistic group. One of their rancherias (villages) was Palamai, which was located near present downtown Carlsbad. Today, the Luiseño live on one of several Indian Reservations inland near Palomar Mountain.

Much of greater Carlsbad was part of Rancho Agua Hedionda (which means Stinking Water). This 13,311-acre ranch was granted to Don Juan María Marrón in 1842. Some of the original ranch houses are now incorporated in modern buildings.

Twin InnsCarlsbad started as a whistle stop on the new California Southern Railroad. In the 1880s, John Frazier, a former ship's captain, dug a fresh-water well that came to be used for thirsty locomotives. The stop became known as Frazier's Station. Frazier dug another well that produced mineral water. The water was analyzed and found equal in mineral content to one of Europe's most popular health spas, Karlsbad, Bohemia (now Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic). Later, Carlsbad was renamed State St.Carl for a time because of confusion with Carlsbad, New Mexico, on train schedules and because of hysteria during World War I. Popular demand restored the former name.

Carlsbad Historic Points of Interest

Carlsbad is an old village dating from the 1880s. The Carlsbad Historical Society produced a self-guiding walking tour map available at the Visitor's Center in the Old Santa Fe Train Depot.

  • Frazier's Mineral Well (2802 Carlsbad Boulevard), site of the original well dug in the 1880s. The discovery of mineral water led to a small bottling works and the 100-room Mineral Springs Hotel. The well is in front of Alt Karlsbad Hanse House, a three-story, half-timbered turreted home. A memorabilia museum and art gallery are in the basement.
  • Old Santa Fe Depot (400 Carlsbad Village Dr. on the National Register of Historic Places). The depot was built in 1907 (replacing the first built in 1887) by the Arizona Eastern Railway, and also served as a telegraph office, a Post Office, a Wells Fargo Express Office and a general store. It served in later years as a shipping point for local fruit, vegetables and flowers. Closed in 1960, it is now the home of the Visitor's Information Center.
  • Twin Inns (2978 Carlsbad Blvd.), built in 1887. This is the former mansion of Gerhard Schutte, a co-founder of Carlsbad. Built in the Queen Anne architectural style, this distinctive building is now Ocean House Restaurant.
  • Magee House, built in 1887. Home of Samuel Church Smith. On Carlsbad Boulevard (old Highway 101) and Beech Avenue, it is operated by the Carlsbad Historical Society.
  • Carrillo Ranch (Rancho de Los Quiotes) (Operated by the Friends of Carrillo Ranch, Inc. On the National Register of Historic Places), in La Costa, is an historic ranch that has become an extraordinary, passive community park.
  • St. Michael's Episcopal Church, built in 1896, is a small red chapel on the northwest corner of Christianson Way and Carlsbad Boulevard.
  • Heritage Hall (St. Patrick's Church), built in 1926, served as Carlsbad's first City Hall when Carlsbad was incorporated in 1952. It is located on the corner of Cypress and Garfield Streets next to Magee Park, off of Carlsbad Boulevard.
  • Magee Park. Once an old home and barn, Magee Park — on Beech Avenue between Carlsbad Boulevard and Garfield Street — the park is named for Florence Shipley Magee who willed it to the city.

  • Carlsbad History-Based Organizations

    Carlsbad is served by two history-based organizations:

  • Carlsbad Historical Society
  • Friends of Carrillo Ranch, Inc.

  • Both of these groups are very well known, active and effective. The Society conducts school tours of Magee Park each year in May. The Friends has an extensive outreach program throughout the school year for California history students in the fourth grade, an educational service offered free of charge in the Carlsbad, Encinitas, Oceanside, San Marcos and Vista School Districts.

    Additional Resources

  • History of Carlsbad (on the municipal Web site)
  • History of Carlsbad, California by Charles Wesley Orton (1987, 1998)
  • Carlsbad History (
  • Carlsbad History Room
  • Stranger than Fiction: Frazier's Mineral Well
  • Georgina Cole Library (old library), 1250 Carlsbad Village Dr., has genealogy and local resources in the History Room (open by appointment).
  • Rancho Buena Vista Adobe is at 651 E. Vista Way in neighboring Vista (c. 1850).
  • Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, Oceanside, founded 1798

  • The history of Carlsbad was provided by the Carlsbad Historical Society:
    P.O. Box 252, Carlsbad, CA 92018-0252