A Majestic Canopy
At the turn of the 20th century, the road leading into the Santa Maria Valley from the west consisted of a dirt wagon trail, rutted and muddy during the winter and dusty silt in the summer.
Because travelers could only find relief from the hot sun in the shady canyons and under the live oaks on Mussey Grade, land developer, D.C. “Charlie” Collier wanted to improve the appearance of the entrance to the valley by planting rows of eucalyptus shade trees along the road.
On April 28, 1909, the Cuyamaca News reported, “An adequate corps of Ramona citizens interested in the development and improvements of our valley set out approximately 2,000 sugar gum trees.”
The trees were arranged in a double row, “Bordering the stage road from the Earl School to the premises of James Booth.”
With the exception of a half-mile tract of adobe soil east of Etcheverry Street that was impractical for planting, the boulevard of young trees measured six miles.
According to the agreement at the time Collier donated the trees, the Ramona Improvement Company was to do the planting, and the County Board of Supervisors was to provide the care necessary for their growth.
In 1931, more trees were planted about two miles from town by members of the American Legion, but by the turn of the 21st century, the colonnade only extended to Etcheverry. All of the other trees had long since disappeared, either due to drought, poor soil, disease or the woodsman’s axe.
In recent years, dozens of eucalyptus saplings have been planted along Main Street to make up for those that have been lost, enhancing the town’s beauty and charm.
by Darrel Beck