The Story Behind Shelter Island

by on April 22, 2022 · 1 comment

in History, Ocean Beach

Shelter Island has been a resounding success story, especially for what was a shifting shoal that was once considered a navigational hazard.

By Eric DuVall / Point Loma-OB Monthly /April 21, 2022

The course of history seldom runs in a straight line. In fact, history may often be said to meander in one direction for a time until that path is changed. Such corrections are often evident only in retrospect.

The flow of San Diego’s history has been closely tied to both the shifting channels of the mighty San Diego River and the development of our remarkable natural harbor, San Diego Bay. This story has its beginnings at a place and time where and when both of those waterways came together.

In recorded history the river has emptied into both San Diego and Mission bays. Early Spanish charts from the 18th century depict islands near the estero on San Diego Harbor. The waterway that today separates Liberty Station from San Diego International Airport, known by the apt appellation “the boat channel,” may be thought of as the direct descendent of that river mouth.

Following that course toward the entrance to San Diego Bay, one can see how sand and silt carried down the river toward the sea might have formed the shifting shoal that was once considered a navigational hazard but instead, and improbably, became one of San Diego’s treasures, Shelter Island.

Shoal, mudbank, sandbar and sometimes completely submerged — Shelter Island was all those things in the first half of the 20th century.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Geoff Page April 22, 2022 at 10:40 am

Very nice piece, history is always fascinating.


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