Potrero Valley History
"Potrero," meaning in Spanish a mountain meadow or pasturing place, is what the little town was named back in the late 1800. Prior to 1868 the valley was occupied by a mixture of Spanish and Indians. No settlers lived in Potrero and there where no wagon roads through it, only a trail from Tecate in Mexico, where Mexicans brought their horses over to have the benefit of the fine pasture grass.
Capt. Charles McAlmond, the first settler, was born in Maine and his wife Alfa in Indiana. He became a sailor and traveled around the world. When in Mazatlan, while loading a ship, a cable broke and his chest was crushed. He was told, in 1868 to move to Pine Valley for his health. He traveled via Tijuana and Tecate. When reaching Potrero he refused to go any further. "This," said Capt. McAlmond, "is a good enough for me."
He settled in upper Long Potrero before building an adobe home in Potrero Valley closest to Tecate, which was the first real house in Potrero. At one time McAlmonds owned property in Long Potrero Valley, Potrero Valley and Round Potrero Valley.
In the meantime settlers came from the east via wagon trails. The Williams, Pearsons and several others families came this way. It was a constant battle for the settlers to keep the roads in good enough repair to travel for supplies. Rough mountains were on both east and west of Potrero valley.
The school was originally in the Williams home until a school could be built. The first school was built in 1890 and in 1913 a bigger school was built across the street until it was torn down in 1968. The current school was built on the same site.
Several stores have come and gone in Potrero. The Thing Brothers had a store in Potrero as well as in Tecate. Williams built a store and Bergman's moved the store to their property on Highway 94.
This is just a brief look at Potrero's start. It's up to us to write it's future.
Compiled and written by Shirley Bowman Reider