Mission Valley

Please enjoy these photographs of early Mission Valley.

A Brief History:

Mission Valley was known to the Spanish as La Canada de San Diego (The Glen of San Diego). The first mention of the San Diego River was in the diary of explorer Sebastian Vizcaino. In 1602 he left San Diego Bay to investigate what he called False Bay (now Mission Bay) and he reported at that time that it was a "good port, although it had at its entrance a bar of little more than 2 fathoms depth, and there was a very large grove at an estuary which extended into the land, and many Indians.

When the Spanish returned in 1769 with the intent to settle the area, the San Diego River was found to be a "river with excellent water" by Captain Vicente Vila of the ship San Carlos. He also noted a village of thirty-five to forty families of Indians living along the river. A chart by Vila shows the changeable river entering into San Diego Bay. Father Juan Crespi told of the first exploration (by white men) of Mission Bay. When the group that had arrived by ship was joined by the land party of Father Junipero Serra, they moved their camp up to a bluff overlooking the river (both for safety and to be nearer the source of water) and on July 16, 1769 founded the Mission and military post that was known as the Presidio.

The first year they planted their crops near the river, and the river rose so high that it carried away all that was sown. The second year planting was done further back from the stream, but water was so scarce that most of the plants died.

The padres recommended that the Mission be moved further up the Valley in hopes of having better luck with the crops. Father Serra in his first report of the Mission for 1774 stated, "It is determined to move the Mission within the same canada of the port toward the northeast of the presidio, at a distance of a little less than two leagues. The place is much more suitable for a population, on account of the facility of obtaining the necessary water, and on account of the vicinity of good land for cultivation. The place is called Nipoguay." The move was accomplished in August of 1774 and Mission Valley had its first white inhabitants and California's first mission had its permanent home.


Historic Derby - Pendleton House: Liutenant George Horatio Derby

"There is No San Diego River": San Diego Reader Article Oct 2008