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This growing community had 6,551 households with a median income of $96,533 in 2010.
Alpine’s population of almost 18,000 has all types of business services, including retail, medical, food, lodging and recreational. It is also the home of the Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Indians and their Viejas Casino & Viejas Outlet Center. Industrial zoned property is available for development off the Tavern Road Exit of Interstate 8. Existing businesses are expanding and new businesses are being established to attract visitors to Alpine.
Alpine has a thriving economy powered by a dynamic business community. There are hundreds of small firms that offer professional services and a variety of retail shops. Businesses are primarily located within the town center, along Alpine Boulevard and Tavern Road. Just off Interstate 8 at the Tavern Road Exit are two shopping complexes, the Alpine Creek Shopping Center and the Country Side Center.
A wide variety of activities and amenities for everyone is offered at the Alpine Community Center, located on 7.5 acres in the middle of town. On site is Kids Corner, a licensed day care center for infants through teens; two equipped playgrounds for children; a lighted sports field and lighted tennis courts. The 9,000-square-foot center provides opportunities for a wide range of activities, from rooms for conferences and community meetings to community events, private parties and weddings. The Center Park is also used for a variety of activities, including Alpine Summer Concerts.
Alpine has one of the lowest crime rates in San Diego County. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has built a new station in the city. The Alpine Fire Protection District serves 27.5 square miles and operates one fully staffed station around the clock. American Medical Response provides paramedic and ambulance coverage 24 hours a day. A new fire station is now in operation.
Alpine is a community that is firmly committed to quality education. Parents play a very active role in schools through the PTAs and by volunteering in the classrooms. Special programs for the arts are offered through the Art Docent program and Alpine Optimist Foundation for Learning.
Three elementary schools, a middle school and an early education school comprise the Alpine Union School District. The district takes pride in the quality of its well-rounded academic program and its small class sizes. The elementary and middle schools have been recognized by the state for their academic excellence.
High School students may attend Steel Canyon High School or Granite Hills High School, both in the Grossmont High School District. A citizen committee for a high school to be located in Alpine continues to work toward that goal.
The Cuyamaca-Grossmont College District provides many opportunities for students wishing to attend a junior college. Those two campuses are located in El Cajon and La Mesa.
Ride an industrial 2-foot-gauge railway to yesteryear among 100-year-old Engelmann oaks in Alpine with LeRoy W. Athey, the owner railway’s owner and superintendent of operations. The train leaves Shade Depot and makes a half-mile round trip, climbing the 6.5 percent grade to High Pass/Lookout and crossing a spectacular 112-foot-long wooden trestle. The trip gives passengers magnificent views of the surrounding area. At Shade Depot and Freight Shed is a display of railroad artifacts, including those of the DA&P mail service. Mailer’s postmark permit canceling is available. Rides are free. Please call (619) 445-4781 for hours of operation.
The Alpine Historical Society was founded in 1950 to encourage the community in its efforts to retain structures and sites of historical significance and to conserve natural resources and parklands. The Society is in the process of developing Heritage Park at 2116 Tavern Road, where there are three buildings a century old. They are the house of Dr. Sophronia Nichols, the Carriage House, and the Captain Adam Beatty House. Dr. Nichols, a woman, was the first doctor in the Alpine area. Captain Beatty was the first school administrator. The John Dewitt Historic Museum and Library is housed in the former home of Dr. Nichols. The house also contains Alpine memorabilia and other antique items. For museum hours and Alpine Historical Society information call (619) 659-8740.
The Kumeyaay Indians were the first to enjoy Alpine’s wonderful climate about a thousand years ago. One of many tribes the early Catholic missionaries grouped together under the Diegueno name, descendants of the Kumeyaay remain a vital part of our present community.
By 1870 the Viejas Stage Stop, later known as Alpine, had a small general store, a feed barn, a well and a watering trough. The little “Viejas Stop” was a temporary oasis for stage coach travelers and wagon drivers. The drivers hauled supplies and gold along often risky trails between mines in the Cuyamaca Mountains and San Diego on the coast. Miners talked about the area’s beauty and the fresh water from the springs in front of the foothills village store. By 1885 there were 35 families living in the Alpine area. Most of the residents were farming and ranching.
It was Benjamin R. Arnold, a wealthy man who suffered from asthma, who turned Alpine into a full-fledged community. Seeking a cure for his chronic illness, Arnold came to Alpine in 1887. As his health got better, he built his family home at what is now the heart of town. It was Arnold who improved the rough roads that led to El Cajon and the trains in Lakeside. He established regular stagecoach services down the mountain to meet the trains, then haul people and supplies back up to Alpine.
At the turn of the century Arnold built a nice-looking hotel and a one-room school house in Alpine. He donated land for the first cemetery on Victoria Hill. Arnold established Alpine’s first corporation, advancing half the cost of the first Town Hall. Settlers paid for the rest of it by buying $600 worth of shares at $10 a share through the Hall Company, Inc. Now designated the Alpine Woman's Club, the building at Alpine Boulevard and Victoria Drive West is still popular for community activities.
A U.S. Government survey officially put Alpine on the map. The survey during World War I declared Alpine had the best climate in the nation. Spurred by worldwide publicity, the community quickly adopted the slogan “Best Climate in the U.S.A. by Government Report.”
In 1950 the Alpine Historical Society was founded at the start of a fairly tranquil decade in the community. There was little traffic, despite the main road running eastward.
Just over 1,000 residents led fairly peaceful lives, despite sharing a telephone party line. The only phone booth in town had an old-style telephone that had to be cranked by hand. With Alpine located 30 miles east of San Diego, the trip “down the hill” was still a far piece in those days. There were few roads and a shopping trek to the big city was an all-day event.
About the size of a Reader’s Digest magazine and proud to call itself “America’s Tiniest Newspaper,” The Alpine Sun newspaper premiered in 1952. It’s now a bustling weekly.
As the years passed, more people were lured to the picturesque foothill community with attractive homes and small ranches among the oaks, sycamores, eucalyptus and pepper trees in rolling hills dotted with chaparral and sage.
Public water was turned on in Alpine in 1962, bringing relief to those whose wells ran dry in summer. The Padre Dam Municipal Water District now serves the area.