As the story goes, a band of outlaw Indians stole sheep from one of the Mission’s ranches. The Spanish troops searched the hills for the sheep and the offenders.  They came upon a beautiful valley surrounded by emerald hills and named the valley the “Valley of Discovery.”  They also called it Los Vallecitos de San Marcos, little Valley of Saint Mark. The land in the valley and surrounding area changed hands many times over the next 90 years.

In 1883 John Barham founded the first town and promptly named it “Barham.” This first town had a blacksmith, a post office, feed store, and a weekly newspaper. In 1887 the San Marcos Land Company bought much of the land in the valley and started dividing it into large tracts for development and homes.

By 1896, the new area just became known as San Marcos. It then had its’ own black smith shop, a post office, general store, and a railroad depot.  The first school in the valley, Barham school, moved to the new San Marcos City and was soon joined by a second school, Richland School.  Most of the earlier settlers to the area were farmers and ranchers.  During the early 1900's, dairies and chicken ranches moved into the valley.  In the 1950s, the completion of the Colorado River project brought more water to the area resulting in more growth. The city  has continued to grow rapidly up through present day.

Next, A Bit of Lake San Marcos History

San Marcos Creek meandered through the Valley and runs just to the South of the City of San Marcos. In 1927 the Clemson and Wells families bought  land around the creek and in 1946, a dam was built at the south end, creating a 40 acre lake.  The lake was used primarily for irrigation. In 1962, Don, Bob, and Gordon Frazar purchased 1648 acres of San Marcos real estate from the Clemson and Wells families. The Frazar Brothers reshaped the shoreline and increased the size of the lake to 80 acres, its current day size. They then made plans to build the lakeside community currently referred to as Lake San Marcos.

First, A Bit of San Marcos City History

San Marcos  and the surrounding area is very rich in history.  Like Oceanside, its neighbor to the west, San Marcos history starts with the San Luis Rey Mission located along the San Luis Rey River valley northwest of what is now the city of San Marcos.

Lake San Marcos Climate

The Lake San Marcos area has as many as 347 sunny days a year, due in part to a stable high pressure system known as the "Pacific High" lying a few hundred miles West over the Pacific Ocean.  This accounts for a range of about 20 degrees between the day´s high and the night´s low. The uninterrupted Pacific breezes provide nature´s air conditioning with temperatures seldom above 80 degrees. The Cerro de Las Posas Mountain on Lake property and the San Marcos Mountains to the North, with an eastern exit, create a wind tunnel preventing smog from settling in our valley.

Things To Do In The Surrounding Area

Surrounded by natural beauty, the greater San Marcos  area also offers a myriad of diverse activities.   There are 3 immediately nearby golf courses, two at Lake San Marcos, and Twin Oaks in the City of San Marcos, 15 community parks, 16 "mini" parks and 15 recreational facilities, and many miles of carefully planned walking and bike trails. Overall, there are over 246 acres of developed parkland, plus 56 miles of trails throughout the San Marcos area.  Woodland Parkway, near the corner of Woodland and Rock Springs Road. There are 20 additional  golf courses within a 30 minute drive.  Large crowds attend the spring and summer festivals offered in April and August with over 300 vendors providing food and fun. San Marcos also features the American Muscle Classic Car Show, the largest in San Diego County, with over 250 classic cars and hot rods. The festival's beer gardens have food from Restaurant Row and brew from local microbreweries.

Cal State at San Marcos and Palomar Community College (both located within or adjacent to the City of San Marcos) have Performing Arts Centers showcasing professional as well as student productions. Nearby Escondido is home to the California Center for the Arts which attracts major national entertainers and reviews.   The Pacific Ocean, the city of San Diego, professional football and baseball, Legoland, Sea World and the renown Balboa Park Zoo are only minutes away.

In August 1962 the San Diego County Planning Commission approved a tentative Lake San Marcos Homes map. Citizens Development Corporation was the developer with Gordon Frazar serving as President, Don Frazar handling Lake San Marcos home sales, and Bob Frazar in charge of construction. Before coming to Lake San Marcos, the brothers had built about 6,000 homes in Riverside and San Bernardino. A master plan for the Lake San Marcos  area was designed by a San Bernardino engineering firm, Campbell and Miller.  Additionally, architects Blurock and Ellerbrock of Corona Del Mar had been hired to design the actual Lake San Marcos community. The best ideas of both firms were consolidated into a master plan. Campbell and Miller won a state-wide competition in 1966 honoring the Lake San Marcos homes design as "the best planned community in California".  In 1967, the National Home Builders Association Convention in Chicago awarded the Lake San Marcos design the title of "Best planned lakeside community in the nation".

Quail became the symbol of Lake San Marcos when artist Frank Vecchio, of the advertising firm of Hogan and Vecchio in Riverside, visited the site seeking inspiration for the first brochure. Hundreds of quail flushed up from the fields, and Vecchio designed three quails, which are now familiar as the symbol of the lovely lakeside community. When the city of San Marcos incorporated in 1963, Lake San Marcos remained in the unincorporated area of San Diego County.

Over the years, the individual blocks of development within the Lake San Marcos area have resulted in over 20 Homeowners Associations and nearly 2500 homes. The newest of these areas is Varadero Homes, a gated community of single family homes sitting above Lake San Marcos.

Things To Do At Lake San Marcos

Lake San Marcos boasts an 18 hole, par 58, public Executive Golf Course; a private 18 hole, par 72, 6500 yard championship golf course, pro shop, putting green, driving range and a fine Country Club with excellent restaurant and banquet facilities. Other amenities include a small Community Park with boat landing and resident fishing; a Community Recreational Complex with Director's office where resident use is scheduled for The Lodge, Club and Billiard Rooms, four Tennis Courts, three Paddle Tennis Courts, two Swimming Pools and a lake front area with boat docks and boat rentals. A  residents only picnic area, with boat dock, is located near the southern tip of the lake.   There is also the Lake San Marcos Resort Hotel and conference facility.