San Carlos Branch Library
Friends of the Library

San Carlos Branch Library
7265 Jackson Dr
San Diego, CA 92119

From the blog

Welcome to San Carlos…Learn Its History

San Diego saw rapid expansion in the post-war 50s, and San Carlos was one of many new areas developed. Here are some insights into its history.  In 1958, Carlos Tavares gave his own name to San Diego’s San Carlos; he had given his wife’s name, Claire, to San Diego’s Clairemont.  Both areas were  developed by the Tavares Development Company. The San Carlos tract, located near San Diego State, is in the farthest northeast corner of San Diego, adjacent to Santee, La Mesa, and El Cajon. It was created out of the annexation of 4200 acres of land around Lake Murray, and included Del Cerro.

So what about Lake Murray? The San Diego Flume Co., formed in 1886, created the reservoir to serve the area’s need for a constant water supply following San Diego’s  severe drought conditions in the early 1800s. Photo courtesy of With the work of Chinese laborers and at a cost of over a million dollars, it took years to build the structures required to transport water down from the mountains and to create Lake Murray. The reservoir’s earthen dam was completed in 1895, but the cost proved to be too much for the Flume Co. In 1910, Ed Fletcher and James Murray purchased the Flume Co. for $150,000, changed its name to the (CWC) Cuyamaca Water Corp., and named the reservoir Lake Murray. The current dam was completed in 1918.  The CWC was sold in 1926 to the La Mesa-Lemon Grove-Spring Valley Irrigation District for 1.2 million, and  San Diego purchased the reservoir from the Helix Water District in 1961. As a State Senator, Ed Fletcher authored the law creating the San Diego County Water Authority.

San Carlos’ centerpiece is its 1592-foot Cowles Mountain named after pioneer rancher George Cowles (pronounced COALS).  It can be seen for miles, is the highest point in San Diego, and part of the greater than 8000-acre Mission Trails Regional Park, California’s largest. Fortuna Mountain and Lake Murray are also part of MTRP.   San Carlos homes sit in the middle of it all,   complete with its birds, coyotes and rattle snakes.  When available, acreage continues to be added to the MTRP.  The Park, San Carlos, Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, and Grantville are together referred to as the Navajo Community because Tavares chose to name the road that runs east to west down the middle of the area—Navajo Road.  The Kumeyaay Band of Indians are native to this region; the Navajo never lived here.

Mission Trails Golf Club opened in 1964 and many new homes had been built by 1965.  PJHM ArchitectsPatrick Henry High School (now San Diego’s largest) saw its first Patriots in 1968, and eleven San Diego City Schools now make up the preK-12 “Henry Cluster.” The area quickly filled in with fire-houses, churches, synagogues, private schools, pre-schools, professional buildings, and retail stores, as GAS STATIONS sprouted up on every prime corner lot, but NO LIBRARY.

In 2013, when the San Carlos Friends of the Library was planning the Branch’s 40th anniversary celebration, Life Member Toni Noel, a very active/early and current San Carlos resident/mom/writer and volunteer, told us the circumstances that led up to her involvement in finding the Branch’s current location and its opening in January, 1974.  STAY TUNED for the rest of Noel’s story.

During the 1990s, then SCFOL President Jack Winer, spearheaded the campaign to secure the Jackson/Golfcrest corner lot for the eventual expansion of the current library.  San Diego’s purchase this year of the lot opens the door for that dream to become a reality.  During the months ahead, STAY TUNED for more of Winer’s story and articles that highlight the accomplishments of each decade of SCFOL and community volunteers that Honored the Past and Planned for the Future of our new San Carlos Branch Library

Currently, San Carlos Branch Managing Librarian David Ege and SCFOL Board Member Dottie Vieira are coordinating the plans for the SCBL’s 50th Anniversary Celebration to be held in January, 2024.  Now is a great time to join the Friends and help San Carlos Build for the Future.