Tag Archives: el cajon

Out & About—Marshal Scotty’s Playland Park

Out & About San Diego

When I’m out in the world and find books sitting around begging for eyes to look at them, well, I have those eyes. I could be at one of those restaurants that has shelves and shelves of old and tattered books on the wall, and I’ll be standing over the booth where YOU are eating, looking at the books on the shelves above your booth. I’m not stalking you. Really, I’m not….

Several years ago I found a book in such a fashion. I noted the title, went home and did a Google search, and found me a used copy. On January 1, 2017, I found the book and decided that it looked and sounded interesting enough to read. The book is “The Historic Backcountry” by Christopher Wray. As I was reading through it I was creating driving tours of the backcountry. Then I discovered that he already has done that, too, in his book “Highways to History.”U.S. 80 Historic Route

On January 26, 2017, I set out on one of the driving tours, “Highway 80, El Cajon to Ocotillo.” Highway 80 used to be the main thoroughfare from San Diego to Arizona. Then they built Interstate 8, and Highway 80 became an also-ran. Now it’s a “Historic Route.”

The route is about 86 miles but that’s only if you are successful in not having to do any switchbacks, wraprounds, or U-turns, and if you don’t take any of the short side trips. My trip wound up being 131 miles, one way.

One of the first stops on the tour is the ruins of Marshal Scotty’s Playland Park.

Marshal Scotty's Playland Park, El Cajon, California

Marshal Scotty's Playland Park, El Cajon, California

Marshal Scotty’s Playland Park was founded in the 1950s by Frank Hobbs as Scotty’s Kiddy Rides in National City. It was named for his wife, Scotty. He moved it to El Cajon (some sources say Lakeside; the two city boundaries are there) when he bought the small Wally Park amusement park that was there. Marshal Scotty’s Playland Park opened on January 1, 1967.

It grew into a western-themed 25-acre amusement park offering 15 carnival rides (Tilt-a-Whirl, a 20-foot Ferris wheel, bumper cars, mini-boat rides….), the River Canyon Raceway go-cart track, a miniature train, the Raging River Innertube Ride which snaked 500 feet down a hillside, a roller coaster, pony rides, an arcade, shops, and facilities for volleyball, horseshoes, softball, swimming, and picknicking under the California live oak trees.

Ownership of Marshal Scotty’s changed several times between 1967 and 1986 when Bill Lee bought it. Lee invested $500,000 with the intent of developing it into a world-class water park. He’s the one who added the go-cart track and the water slide, at the time the longest water slide in Southern California. Lee filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1990, from which Marshal Scotty’s Playland Park never recovered.

In 1995, the property and equipment were sold in foreclosure to United Leisure Corp. of Fountain Valley for $1.6 million. The company named the park Frasier’s Frontier ( some sources say “Frazier’s Frontier”) and established Camp Frasier, a day camp for children, on the property. In 1996 and 1997, Camp Frasier attracted about 200 campers each summer.

By 1998, United Leisure closed Frasier’s Frontier and Camp Frasier, and put the property up for sale. No buyers. It sat empty from 1998 to 2011. Rudy and Carrie Ludeke re-opened the the go-carts as Canyon Raceway on November 5, 2011, with operating hours scheduled as 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 2 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 to 7 p.m. Sundays. Canyon Raceway eventually closed but I could not find the date of closure.

What’s left of the amusement park is private property behind a chain-link fence, which is why I only have two pictures of it. However, in researching for this blog post, I found out that for the past two Halloweens the property has been open as “Marshal Scary Scotty’s Scare Trail.” The 2015 flyer said about the park that it is

“….haunted by past park employees! This year, see the Bumper Car carnage, try to stay in one piece through the Slaughter trailer and the hunted [sic] park offices, visit the frighting [sic] ferris wheel….and don’t forget to brace yourself as you walk through the remains of the death coaster. Marshal Scary Scotty’s Scare Trail is packed full of spine tingling, heart pounding effects that are so real they will keep you screaming for your life as you try to find your way out.”

Marshal Scary Scotty's Scare Trail

Notice that for 2015 the Scary Trail was “Sponsored By Saving Horses Inc.” Apparently they plan on donating proceeds to a charity each year because a post for 2016 said, “Our Charity this year is: Lyonhearted Foundation.”

I guess you know what I’ll be on the lookout for come Halloween 2017.

The movie, “Scavenger Hunt” was filmed here in San Diego, in the locker room of the San Diego Chargers, at the San Diego Zoo, downtown San Diego, Crown Point, La Mesa, Pacific Beach, the Embarcadero, and, of course, Marshal Scotty’s Playland Park. It had an all-star cast: Richard Benjamin, James Coco, Scatman Crothers, Ruth Gordon, Cloris Leachman, Cleavon Little, Roddy McDowall, Robert Morley, Richard Mulligan, Tony Randall, Dirk Benedict, Willie Aames, Stephanie Faracy, Stephen Furst, and Richard Masur. It was released on Christmas Day 1979 with its premiere right here in San Diego.

Here is the movie from YouTube, which I will be watching later today:

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Glad I could add some laughter to Mr. Agent’s day

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I went exploring yesterday in the boondocks of East San Diego County. Wow. There was a lot to see.

The first time I got out of my car, I was attacked by cold, wet stuff. I almost lost my foot.

Snow in the San Diego mountains

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have reported the incident to the Centers for Disease Control.

Several people and I took a driving tour of Old Highway 80 from El Cajon to Ocotillo, about 72 miles. With switchbacks, missed turns, and sub-explorations, it was about 100 miles. Although I had done the driving tour about a decade ago, I went this time because I have a new interest in the San Diego & Arizona Railroad which pretty much parallels Old Highway 80 for the last 40 miles or so. I was not disappointed.

One of the more interesting places was Plaster City, a city totally owned by USG. I use “city” very loosely here because the “city” is actually just a huge monster gigantic really really big gypsum plant.

Plaster City, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Some of you might remember the 1963 movie “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” with its all-star cast of Edie Adams, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Phil Silvers, and Jonathan Winters. Ethel Merman’s character is heard talking on the telephone to her son, saying that she was “in some place called Plaster City.”

I took the new 2017 Honda Civic, which still has its paper plates, so I got stopped 5 times by Border Patrol. Everyone in my car thought it was funny; I didn’t. The last agent who stopped me looked in the car at my four passengers, some of whom looked of Mexican/Spanish descent and asked me what I was doing. I told him we were photographers taking a “driving tour of Old Highway 80 from El Cajon to Ocotillo.” He saw all the camera equipment and seemed satisfied. He did caution me, though, that “with paper plates and a car full of people you’ll probably get stopped multiple times.” I told him that we already had, that he was #5.

He laughed.

My wise old grandmother always told me to add laughter to my day. Glad I could add some laughter to Mr. Agent’s day.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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The Boulevard in San Diego, California

Out & About

Many decades ago the main east-west thoroughfare to and from San Diego was El Cajon Boulevard. About twenty miles long at its peak before the Interstate system, it is a prime example of growth and development that was shaped by the automobile. About six miles of the middle section was obliterated when Interstate 8 was built in the early 1960s; there is a small section remaining in El Cajon. The western end, from Normal Street in San Diego to Spring Street in downtown La Mesa is about eleven miles long.

The remaining eleven miles of El Cajon Boulevard presents to the historian the site of the very first Jack in the Box restaurant built at 6270 El Cajon Boulevard in 1951. Jack in the Box gave us the first drive-through and the innovation of a two-way intercom to allow one car to place an order while another car was being served. Jack in the Box has its corporate headquarters here in San Diego.

Jack in the Box corporate headquarters in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

At the other end of El Cajon Boulevard is the historic Lafayette Hotel, built in 1946 with an Olympic-sized swimming pool designed by Johnny Weismuller, winner of five Olympic gold medals and the actor who played Tarzan in twelve movies, arguably the best known of the many actors who played Tarzan on film and on television. The first guest when the hotel opened in 1946 was none other than the incomparable Bob Hope.

businesses along the boulevard (7) lafayette hotel stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In the latter part of the 20th century (in other words, when I came to San Diego in April 1993), El Cajon Boulevard was a hotspot for prostitution, both male and female.

El Cajon Boulevard also was the site of the El Cajon Boulevard Riot. Also known as the Drag Strip Riot, it was one of the first major youth riots of the 1960s.

The riot began during the evening of August 20, 1960, as an organized protest over the closing of Hourglass Field, an unused Navy airfield, to drag racing. Although drag racing had been organized by the San Diego Timing Association, a local group of hot rod clubs, it was unauthorized. Both the Navy and the police looked the other way because, at the time, Hourglass Field was the only off-street venue available for drag racing. On August 8, 1960, three (maybe four) bystanders were injured during a drag race, causing the Navy to shut down the airfield to drag racing.

Location of Drag Strip Riot in August 1960 in San Diego, CaliforniaAt the intersection of El Cajon Boulevard and Cherokee Street on the nights of August 20 and 21, an estimated 3,000 teenagers and adults blocked three blocks of El Cajon Boulevard and began holding impromptu drag races with just enough room for cars to race two-abreast down the street. When police arrived to disperse the crowd, many protesters fought back, showering officers with rocks and bottles.

Although I found lots of information about Hourglass Field, I found very little information about the riot itself. My research mind is in overdrive.

I’ll have to put it on my to-do list to take you on a tour of The Boulevard during daylight hours.

For the rest of this post, though, we’re going to take a darkness tour because there is a lot of nighttime fun on The Boulevard.

Here ya go:

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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