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The area of Ballena is named after the nearby Whale Mountain in the northwestern Cuyamaca Mountains. The Ipai name for the mountain was Epank, meaning "whale," and ballena is the Spanish word for "whale."
Ballena began in 1870, as a way stop and layover point for freight wagons, which provided fresh teams of horses and mules for the wagons on the road between the gold rush camps of Branson City, Coleman City, Eastwood and Julian − and the ports of National City and San Diego.
Sam Warnock opened a general store and post office there. The post office operated from July 27, 1870 to September 26, 1894 then from August 12, 1896 to August 30, 1902 when it was moved to Witch Creek.
- "Ballena". Retrieved 13 April 2011.
- Richard L. Carrico, Ramona, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC, 2011, p.8
- Frickstad, Walter N., A Century of California Post Offices 1848-1954, Philatelic Research Society, Oakland, CA. 1955, pp. 147-158
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