Carlsbad Time Lines

Q1 2023                                                                Carlsbad, California, Historical Society

President’s Letter- 2023

After almost 3 years of limited social events our Holiday Open House was a fun way to end 2022. This well attended get together in early December allowed us to visit and catch up with old friends, and welcome new members, and visitors. Unfortunately, we were so busy enjoying ourselves we forgot to take any photos of the event! We are hoping to host another event in late spring.

In early January 2023, an invitation to tour the historic Ramsay House on Chuparosa Lane was extended to the Board of Directors by the current owner Ed Johnson. This was a great way to start the new year. Find out more about this interesting house and family in the stories below.

We are also highlighting some interesting historic discoveries and donations in Carlsbad. Please feel free to reach out to us with questions for research or other tidbits to include in future newsletters.


Carlsbad Magazine

The most recent Carlsbad Magazine publication featured a photo of Bressi Ranch and is from our Detwiler photo collection. Bressi Ranch was near the intersection of Palomar Airport Road and El Camino Real. It was a true working ranch and also the site of the Bressi Ranch Range Study conducted by the University of California in the mid 1950s.

Mr. Detwiler was the photographer in town whose work documents so much of our 1950-60s history collection. His work covered events, places, and people. We were so fortunate to receive a very generous large donation of his negatives from the Oceanside Historical Society. Many of his images are available for purchase from our website. Click on the links below for more information.

The current issue of the Carlsbad Magazine features “Open Spaces”.

Replica of 34 Million year old American Rhino Skull

Moving on to other Open Spaces and historic discoveries

Lucky for us, VP Ken Langen’s Carlsbad friend connections have hit the history jackpot this year and provided us with some unique donations and correspondence!

Late fall 2022 Marty Rombotis contacted Ken about a possible donation to the historical society, from his uncle Jerry. While Marty wasn’t sure what the fossil actually was, he knew it was a resin replica made and given to his dad Bob and uncle Jerry as a thank you for their donation of the original fossil found when grading one of the Rombotis’ developments near present day Kelly school.

A little detective work on our part by contacting Tom Demere, at the Balboa Park San Diego Natural History Museum, and subsequently Patricia A. Holroyd, Ph.D. Senior Museum Scientist at the Museum of Paleontology, University of California Berkeley,  gave us the historical context of the discovery and fossil. This resin replica is now on display at the Magee House Barn. (see the accompanying article)

Recently Ken received a newspaper clipping from his friend Jay Lamb, whose great grandfather was Thomas Metcalf (of very early La Costa land dealings). This clipping shows Jay and his sister examining an artifact found during excavation on their family property near the mouth of the Batiquitos Lagoon.

Jay now lives in Australia where he moved after marrying an Australian woman.

We’ve included a brief excerpt from Windows on the Past detailing Thomas Metcalf and the La Costa Land and Water Company.

La Costa Land and Water Company:

While the Carlsbad Land and Water Company was forming in the current northwest quadrant of the city, a similar enterprise was occurring in the coastal area just south of the Rancho Agua Hedionda borders. In 1886, Thomas E. Metcalf, one of the La Costa Land and Water Company founders, along with his brother Alfred, and Jacob Gruendike, purchased land from Oliver H. Borden, who settled in the Batiquitos area in 1874. Oliver H. Borden was the father of WW Borden who married Minnie Kelly (daughter of Matthew Kelly, homesteader of the current Carrillo Ranch). Borden sold 550 acres for $18-$20 an acre. The La Costa Land and Water Company bought an additional 160 acres from J. C. Peterson for $25 an acre. The total 710 acres stretched from the current La Costa Resort to the Pacific Ocean and both sides of Batiquitos Lagoon. The Land and Water Company failed due to lack of drinkable water, and remained sparsely populated until the La Costa Resort was developed in the 1960s.

Amynodontopsis bode -Eocene-age rhino-like mammal

It is estimated to be older than 33 Million years old. This puts it at the limit of the Eocene era, 56 to 34 Million years ago. Eocene means new dawn, and this was when most current fauna appeared. The Eocene-Oligocene extinction event occurred between 33.9 to 33.4 Million years ago, and it wiped out a large number of species around the world.

Amynodontopsis lived in North America and Eurasia. It is a Perissodactyl or hoofed mammal, having an odd number of toes: one or three. Horses, asses, zebras, tapirs and rhinoceros belong to this group.

What an Amydonon may have looked like

“ Before building began the original skull was found by a University of California crew in 1968 near the intersection of Hillside Drive and Cordoba Place, official records don’t specify who collected it.  In 1968, so many fossils were being found in the San Diego area that faculty and students from UC-Berkeley, UC-Riverside, and San Diego State University all worked together to collect fossils that were being exposed by construction.    The skull did likely go to SDSU for a while for study, as one of the lead researchers on the fossils was Jay Lillegraven, then a professor at SDSU. Jay Lillegraven went to the University of Wyoming after working in San Diego and is now retired. However, the fossils were assigned UCMP numbers, as SDSU did not have a museum, and UCMP also serves as the ultimate home of fossils collected by faculty on all the UC and Cal State campuses.

It is one of the more impressive specimens that was collected from that area. In case you are wondering why it is sort of two-tone, the parts that are in a lighter color were missing on the original skull and were reconstructed.” 

Patricia A. Holroyd, Ph.D.

A lot of Carlsbad paleontology is on display at the Museum of Natural History in Balboa Park. The is a room dedicated to the findings from this area.

Marty Rombotis holding the donated replica

Ramsay House and Family

In 1904, Edith Mary Shaw, a British expatriate who originally settled in San Luis Rey constructed what we now know as the Ramsay House on Chuparosa Lane.

According to the St. Michael's website:

"As a result of the advertisement campaign in England that promoted the American West, many English citizens formed expatriate communities in San Luis Rey, Carlsbad, and Encinitas.

The architect, who is believed to be Greene and Greene from Pasadena, California, designed many homes for the Southern California British expatriate community.

The house is a large bungalow with wide eaves originally used to collect rain water and a veranda on the east side facing away from the afternoon heat. All of the rooms, bedrooms, kitchen, living room and library opened onto the veranda.

It was continually occupied by the family from the time of it’s construction until the last family member, Betty Ramsay who was Edith Shaw’s granddaughter, passed away in 1988.

Chuparosa is hummingbird in Spanish and the name was selected by the last Shaw descendent in the house, Betty Ramsay. When Las Flores was opened it took a sliver of the Shaw/Ramsay property, and a new entrance road was needed to connect the home driveway to the new street. A cul-de-sac was made and Betty chose the name Chuparosa.

The Ramsay House

Betty’s parents were Edith Mary Dorothea Shaw who married Frederick Ramsay of Oceanside. Frederick Ramsay was the orphaned child of a British Naval Officer and born in Japan. When he was orphaned an aunt living in San Luis Rey offered him and his siblings a home.

Fred Ramsay was one of the founding organizers of the Carlsbad Vegetable Growers, those who engaged in dry farming before the Carlsbad Mutual Water Company piped water from Oceanside through redwood pipes.

This love of growing and gardening was passed to his daughter Betty, and a plot map of her extensive gardens was created by Marge Howard Jones

Local growers so valued her expertise and loamy soil that many experimental crops were grown on her property.

Fred also built a commercial building on State Street just north east of Elm or Carlsbad Village Drive as it is now known.

The Ramsay, Shaw and Shipley Families were founding members and instrumental in the establishment of Carlsbad’s first church, St. Michaels By-the-Sea. Mrs. Shaws’ sons acted as carpenters for the small chapel that is still in use, and located on the property of the larger building.


By Ginny Unanue

I am writing this from a personal perspective, and I grew up as a family friend of the Ramsay family, during the 50’s and very early 60’s.

Betty Ramsay

Mr. Ramsay was a contractor. He built the building downtown that houses the Italian restaurant, on the southwest corner of that intersection, opposite the fountain. It was the original post office in Carlsbad. He also built the original St. Michael’s church, with his brother-in-law. This, after a family member from England visited, and gave them the (then) magnificent sum of $500 with which to build a church in Carlsbad, instead of having to travel over to San Luis Rey Valley to attend Sunday services. He chose to build from redwood from northern California, as bugs find it toxic.

Mrs. Ramsay was a matriarch of that church. She’d been born in England and brought to this country as a young girl when her family moved here. I remember her as a beautiful, white-haired, wonderful lady, who loved children, and was a leading member of the parish. She taught me in a Sunday School class. She would tell us that she often thought of Jesus as a young child, sailing wooden boats in puddles and small streams, making him seem very real to us.

Their daughter, Betty, was my mother’s age, and a staunch, hard-working member of the church. At that time, the Ramsay’s had a large property behind their house, and Betty grew a huge number of plants and flowers there. She gave flowers to the ladies of St. Michael’s to use for the altar flowers on Sunday. I can remember going with my mother (Dorothy Krepps) to pick out flowers. Betty and my mom were both in the Altar Guild, and usually did the flowers for Sunday. Betty was the only child of the Ramsey’s still at home, never having married, and was taking care of her aged mother when I was a child. She was the dearest, nicest lady, working tirelessly with the women’s group at the church. She served on the Vestry at church several times and was one of our unsung heroes there.

The Ramsays were leaders in the community, in more ways than one, always working to help Carlsbad and its people.

Pictures from our recent visit to the Ramsay House

Entrance room and fireplace


Sitting room

Kitchen under renovation

Most rooms have doors to the veranda

The Ramsay House on sale in 1988

Marge Howad-Jones mapped out the location of trees and plants on the property

Carlsbad Historical Society

P.O. Box 252 Carlsbad CA 92018-0252

(760) 434-9189

Shipley-Magee House

258 Beech Avenue Carlsbad CA 92008

Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11 to 3 pm

Private Tours with Tea are given Monday through Thursday