By Shelli DeRobertis
The Fallbrook Historical Society was chartered in 1976 by Art and Shirley Lenfers, and the Society’s main museum at 260 Rocky Crest Rd. showcases an abundance of Fallbrook’s history.
The upper level is an open floor plan sectioned into separate areas of interest, such as schools, military, churches and Native Americans and early settlers.
Sherri Lenfers, historian, is the daughter of the founding members, and said her favorite part of Fallbrook’s history includes the railroad.
“They built it three different times, and it was washed out and flooded three different times,” Lenfers said.
She remembers being a child and going to Fallbrook’s original train depot with her mother, where it stood at the base of De Luz Road before the final flood demolished it in 1971.
One part of a wall inside of the museum holds maps and photos of that railroad, and a table is topped with a few railroad irons that used to belong to the original track.
A miniature model of the former train is a main attraction in the building, and model replicas of 12 historic buildings dated from 1882 to the early 1900’s are situated on the train board to resemble Fallbrook’s Village in that era.
Visitors, especially children, seem to also enjoy the old schoolhouse section that includes nostalgia such as wooden school desks, a 100-year-old wagon, a vintage cheerleading outfit and a megaphone.
“We have home-schooled kids who come in, and they love sitting on the desks,” Lenfers said.
The Library and Research area is frequently visited by Fallbrookians in search of a high school photo from long ago.
“The yearbooks are popular,” Lenfers said.
The Fallbrook Historical Society has a collection of year-to-date Fallbrook High School Moccasin yearbooks that stem back to 1939.
In 2001, a new collection began in the Native Americans and Early Settlers section of the museum, which contains a poster-sized book of the annual resident selected for Pioneer of the Year.
Original pioneer items are also showcased, and include an assortment of ancient Indian artifacts consisting of pottery, baskets, grinding stones and arrowheads.
In another partition filled with interesting items of the past, aspiring dental students may appreciate today’s tech-savvy equipment after seeing the foot-operated dental drill that stands taller than most children.
The centuries-old dental drill is rusted from age, but the metal machine is still intact and one can easily see how the dentist used it, as he had to power it by pumping the foot treadle.
Memorabilia from the 1932-established Emily Johnson Duffy Ranch School for girls is also available to look at.
A thick photo album is filled with 8-inch by 10-inch pictures of the girls in class and solo photos, and also shows them riding horses and participating at community events.
There are many girls in the old photographs that are not yet identified, and members of the Historical Society said they would like to document their identity.
“It was a very exclusive ranch school,” said Sandra Baxter, who, along with her husband, Bob, helped create the miniature train exhibit.
Sandra Baxter said that when Duffy Ranch was operating, that in the summer months it was used as a summer camp for children from all around San Diego County.
Clara Coleman recently began volunteering at the cluster of museums on Rocky Crest Road and South Hill Avenue, and part of her duties include helping with the inventory.
The members have worked passionately to maintain and preserve Fallbrook history over many years, and they welcome volunteers and visitors and with enthusiasm.
“More volunteers and docents are needed, to greet people and guide them around,” Lenfers said.
A total of three museum buildings are part of the historical complex, not including The Ford Room, which is located in the lower part of the main museum and houses several antique Ford vehicles.
An impressive rock and mineral collection can also be viewed in this building, and the assemblage contains geodes, petrified wood, Quartz Crystals and more.
The William Pittenger House also shares the property, and is a restoration from the late 1800’s, complete with vintage furnishings.
The third building, “The Barn,” is formally named the Donald J. Rivers Interpretive Center. It features agricultural exhibits containing farm equipment, vintage quilts, weaving looms, tool collections, a barbed wire display and plenty of information about avocados and their role in Fallbrook’s history.
Visitors and residents are urged to take the opportunity to go back in time and view the variety of artifacts and relics on site. Docents are available to guide visitors and answer questions.
The Fallbrook Historical Society and museums are at the intersection of South Hill Avenue and Rocky Crest Road.
For more information, call (760) 723-4125 or visit www.fallbrookhistoricalsociety.com.
Museum hours are Thursdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment.