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Julian, California

Coordinates: 33°4′15″N 116°35′8″W / 33.07083°N 116.58556°W / 33.07083; -116.58556
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Main Street in Julian
Main Street in Julian
Flag of Julian
"four seasons of beauty & fun..."[1]
Location in San Diego County and the state of California
Location in San Diego County and the state of California
Julian is located in San Diego County, California
Location in the United States
Julian is located in southern California
Julian (southern California)
Julian is located in California
Julian (California)
Julian is located in the United States
Julian (the United States)
Coordinates: 33°4′15″N 116°35′8″W / 33.07083°N 116.58556°W / 33.07083; -116.58556
Country United States
State California
CountySan Diego
Named forMike Julian
 • Total7.839 sq mi (20.303 km2)
 • Land7.839 sq mi (20.303 km2)
 • Water0 sq mi (0 km2)  0%
4,226 ft (1,288 m)
 • Total1,768
 • Density230/sq mi (87/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area codes442/760
FIPS code06-37582
GNIS feature ID1652732
WebsiteJulian Chamber of Commerce
Reference no.412
Julian community limit

Julian is a census-designated place (CDP) in San Diego County, California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 1,768, up from 1,502 at the time of the 2010 census.

Julian is an official California Historical Landmark (No. 412).[3] The Julian townsite and surrounding area is defined by the San Diego County Zoning Ordinance Section 5749 as the Julian Historic District. This designation requires that development adhere to certain guidelines that are administered by the Architectural Review Board of the Julian Historic District, which is appointed by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.[4]

Julian was named an International Dark Sky Community by the International Dark Sky Association in May 2021. It was the 30th such designation and the second in California.[5]

The town is known for its apple pie and its annual Julian Apple Days Festival, which began in 1949.[6]


19th century: Initial European settlement and the gold rush[edit]

The first European settlers were "Cockney Bill" Williams from England and John Wesley Horrell, who arrived in the area in 1850 or 1851.[7] The town itself was first settled by Drury, Frank, and J.O. Bailey, all brothers; and their cousins, Mike and Webb Julian. They were passing through the region from San Bernardino en route to Arizona in 1869, in the wake of the American Civil War. Taken by the beauty of the Julian area, Drury Bailey interrupted the group’s travel plans and chose instead to settle here; he chose to name the settlement “Julian” after Mike Julian because “Mike was better looking” than any other member of the Bailey family.[8] Julian was also a former Confederate soldier[9] who was later elected San Diego County Assessor.[10] Shortly afterwards gold was discovered in the Julian region. A tent city initially formed in the boomtown, followed by more permanent structures as it became apparent that gold mining in Julian would persist for some time. Victorian-style structures were constructed in the latest stage of Julian’s early settlement, including the Hoskins House.[8]

After the American Civil War, in 1869, A.E. "Fred" Coleman, a former slave, crossed over what is now known as Coleman Creek just west of Julian. Seeing a glint of gold in the stream bed, he climbed down from his horse to investigate. Having had previous experience in the gold fields, he retrieved his frying pan and began panning the sands of the creek. Soon thereafter, Coleman established the Coleman Mining District and was its recorder and also began the mining camp called Emily City, later renamed Coleman City. Learning of the find, others rushed to the district and tried to trace the gold to its source. On February 22, 1870, the first "lode", or hard rock, mining claim was filed in the Julian area. Since February 22 was President George Washington's birthday, the mine was named the Washington mine. Soon hundreds of anxious men and families rushed to Julian to stake their claims. Julian experienced a gold rush and became a tent city overnight. In April 1870, the area's first sawmill was set up and Julian began to take on a more permanent structure. Attempts to build rival mining towns at Coleman City, Branson City and Eastwood were defeated. Owners of the Cuyamaca rancho Land Grant claimed (the Cuyamaca Land Float) Julian, and its mines were within the Rancho boundaries. In 1873, the courts ruled that the Rancho did not include Julian and the mines. While the miners tried to wrestle the gold from deep within the earth, James Madison brought a wagon load of young apple trees into the mountains. The fruit trees flourished in the clear, fresh air. Apples are still a big product in Julian, many of which are used for making the world-famous Julian apple pies.[11][12] Local historians have variably suggested that the Julian of 1873 rivaled San Diego in population and they unsuccessfully attempted to shift the county seat to the city.[8]

According to a bronze historical plaque appearing in the town, in the early days of Julian, the majority of San Diego County's Black population resided in or near the town, including the founders of the Robinson Hotel and a noted resident, America Newton, a freed slave who laundered miners' clothing.[13] Of the 55 Black people living in San Diego County during the 1880 census, 33 lived in the Julian area.

20th century[edit]

In 1976, Julian approved a plan that required the exteriors of any buildings on Main Street be no younger in age than 1913. Many structures bear a Victorian architecture that predates this cutoff.[8] In the 1970s, as many of 25,000 visitors visited the settlement per annum.[8]

Julian had four or five wells in the 1970s. A county planner surveyed the water capacity for Julian and indicated that it was unlikely that Julian would ever have enough inexpensive water to sustain large-scale development.[8] During a period of drought, the community of Julian was compelled by the San Diego County supervisors to obey a moratorium on development until a 30,000 gallon waste treatment plant could reduce the risk that a developing Julian’s sewage output might pollute the San Diego River.[8] Julian’s water supply became largely dependent on a single well owned by a local property owner named Jerry Zweig, as the community’s water board-owned resources were depleted in a drought in the 1990s and were severely limited by contamination as a defunct Chevron station contaminated three of the eight publicly owned water wells into the late 1980s.[14]

On May 29, 1989, Benjamin Haimes of Encino and Gustav Oran Hudson of El Cajon) disputed a claim to land to the Ready Relief and Hubbard Mines in Julian’s Chariot Canyon (historically owned by the Bureau of Land Management) over rights to an area where both had intentions to prospect for gold. Hudson and his family arrived at the property at a time when Haimes’ appointed caretaker (Chris Zerbe) and the caretaker’s friend (Joe Lopes) of Julian. The resulting escalation involved the replacement of a padlock at the Hubbard Mine by the Hudsons, conflicting accounts of alcohol use and escalative behavior by Zerbe, and a shootout in which Zerbe and Lopes (who did not fire) were ultimately killed. No charges were filed. Nicknamed the “Chariot Canyon Massacre,” these killings are understood to be the first gold prospecting-related killing in Julian since the gold rush of the late 1800s.[15][16][17]

A controversy erupted in Julian in 1991 as the community lost its bid to resist the construction of fast food restaurants. Dairy Queen and Subway were the first to relocate into the town during this time. Zweig circumvented a community moratorium on new development (induced due to the town’s longstanding drought), agreeing to continue to sell 30,000 gallons of water a day in return for the waiver to build. Zweig, also the owner of the largest well in the community, allegedly threatened to cut off the community’s water supply unless they acquiesced.[14] Neither business was supported by the community and both have since closed.


In the 1960s, motion picture animator Ollie Johnston acquired and restored a full-size 3 ft (914 mm) Porter steam locomotive originally built in 1901, named the Marie E. He then built the Deer Lake Park & Julian Railroad (DLP&J) at his vacation estate in Julian to run the locomotive with a small gondola and caboose pulling behind it, utilizing railroad ties from the defunct Viewliner Train of Tomorrow attraction in Disneyland.[18][19][20][21] The Marie E. first ran in 1968.[18] Johnston sold the vacation estate and the narrow gauge train in 1993,[18] and the engine and its consist were sold, running one last time on the Disneyland Railroad during a private event.[22]

21st century[edit]

The region around Julian was hit by a multi-year drought starting in 1999, leading up and into the catastrophic Cedar Fire of 2003 following an extremely wet 1997–1998 El Niño cycle. Residents of Julian reported drilling wells up to 600–800 feet (180–240 m) to strike water during this period, well over twice as deep as they have had to drill in the town’s history. This has also been controversially attributed to stressors from the development of weekend and holiday housing in the town by outsiders. Drought conditions were noted to have allowed the rise of beetle pests to consume Coulter pines in and around the community, as the pines do not have access to enough water to protect their trunks with sap.[23] The drought-induced devastation of the Coulter pines due to the beetles has allowed some landowners in the Volcan Mountains to the immediate north of Julian to obtain exemptions from filing timber-harvest plans. These plans are normally required under the California Environmental Quality Act and effectively allow the state to regulate the logging practices exercised on a parcel of land, raising fears in Julian that overlogging might be technically permissible in light of the Coulter pine disaster.[24]

In recent decades Julian has become a quaint mountain resort, with most businesses oriented toward tourism and not local services.[25] The main area of town narrowly escaped destruction in the 2003 Cedar Fire that burned much of the surrounding area.[26]

In 2004, an interviewing journalist noted that up to a third of Julian’s population had been affected by property losses associated with fire. The local fire district had recently removed property-tax benefit fees, making reconstruction more difficult for residents devastated by fires. Drought and infestation of the local forests by pine bark beetles was observed to exacerbate the fire season’s stressing effect on the community.[27]

Fire disruptions as of 2004 were observed in Julian to have caused the disappearance of populations of red-winged blackbirds, acorn woodpeckers, white-crowned sparrows, lesser goldfinches, scrub jays, Steller’s jays, nuthatches, or black-headed grosbeaks.[27]

Luxury home developments expanded the community of Julian into the early 2010s. These developments (such as the New England-themed Hoskings Ranch development), which often exceed $1 million in listing prices, are predominantly owned as vacation homes by individuals who principally live in La Jolla, with significant concentrations from Del Mar and Coronado in metropolitan San Diego.[28]

In 2017, the Julian Arts Guild opened an art gallery in downtown Julian, Julian Arts Guild Gallery, where local artists and artisans display their works.[29][30]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 7.8 square miles (20 km2), all land.

Soils in and around Julian are mostly dark brown, slightly to moderately acidic sandy loams which are well drained and of variable stoniness. Less stony areas, which underlie most of the townsite, are in the Holland series. The hills around town have rocky soils of the Crouch series. Somewhat poorly drained alluvial loam occurs along Coleman Creek.[31]


Julian experiences more extreme temperatures and greater precipitation than much of southern California. It also receives snow annually, which accumulates the most in February and March. This attracts people from San Diego and other coastal cities, where snow is a once-in-a-lifetime event. As is typical in southern California, the summer has the driest months, but with a number of monsoonal storms from the southeast. Average yearly snowfall from 1991 to 2020 has been 6.4 inches (16 cm).

Climate data for JULIAN CDF, CA, 1991-2020 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 76
Mean maximum °F (°C) 67
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 52.9
Daily mean °F (°C) 45.8
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 38.8
Mean minimum °F (°C) 25
Record low °F (°C) 2
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.66
Average snowfall inches (cm) 1.1
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 5.7 7.7 6.4 4.3 2.8 0.5 1.4 1.3 1.4 3.0 4.4 6.1 45.0
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 0.4 0.4 0.7 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.8
Source: NOAA[32]



Between 2020 and 2021 the population of Julian grew from 1,318 to 1,332, a 1.06% increase and its median household income grew from $71,480 to $74,121, a 3.69% increase.

The five largest ethnic groups in Julian, CA are White (Non-Hispanic) (81.6%), Two+ (Hispanic) (12.9%), Two+ (Non-Hispanic) (3.15%), White (Hispanic) (2.33%), and Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) (0%), and 98.9% of the residents in Julian, CA are U.S. citizens.

In 2021, the median property value was $478,300, and the homeownership rate was 92.2%.[33]


According to the 2010 United States Census[34] Julian had a population of 1,502. The population density was 191.6 inhabitants per square mile (74.0/km2). The racial makeup of Julian was 1,341 (89.3%) White, 5 (0.3%) African American, 27 (1.8%) Native American, 12 (0.8%) Asian, 0 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 81 (5.4%) from other races, and 36 (2.4%) from two or more races. There were 195 people of Hispanic or Latino origin, of any race (13.0%).

The Census reported that 1,502 people (100% of the population) lived in households, zero (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 670 households, out of which 146 (21.8%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 329 (49.1%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 51 (7.6%) had a female householder with no husband present, 35 (5.2%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 41 (6.1%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 4 (0.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 209 households (31.2%) were made up of individuals, and 89 (13.3%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24. There were 415 families (61.9% of all households); the average family size was 2.80.

The age distribution included 283 people (18.8%) under the age of 18, 76 people (5.1%) aged 18 to 24, 260 people (17.3%) aged 25 to 44, 585 people (38.9%) aged 45 to 64, and 298 people (19.8%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50.8 years. For every 100 females, 96.1 were males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, 95.4 were males.

There were 917 housing units at an average density of 117.0 per square mile (45.2/km2), of which 489 (73.0%) were owner-occupied, and 181 (27.0%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 3.0%; the rental vacancy rate was 9.5%. 1,065 people (70.9% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 437 people (29.1%) lived in rental housing units.


As of the census[35] of 2000, there were 1,621 people, 658 households, and 459 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 204.8 inhabitants per square mile (79.1/km2). There were 902 housing units at an average density of 114.0 per square mile (44.0/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 91.05% White, 1.17% Native American, 0.74% African American, 0.49% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 3.95% from other races, and 2.47% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.08% of the population.

There were 658 households, out of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.2% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.2% were non-families. 24.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the CDP, 25.8% of the population was under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 22.6% from 25 to 44, 32.9% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% was 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.3 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $44,681, and the median income for a family was $49,143. Males had a median income of $32,105 versus $26,509 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $18,132. About 4.3% of families and 6.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.9% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.


Arts and entertainment[edit]

Notable people[edit]


The main employment sectors in Julian are tourism and agriculture, with emphasis on apples. Julian is on the Pacific Crest Trail.[57]


In the California State Legislature, Julian is in the 32nd Senate District, represented by Republican Kelly Seyarto, and in the 75th Assembly District, represented by Republican Marie Waldron.[58]

In the United States House of Representatives, Julian is in California's 48th congressional district, represented by Republican Darrell Issa.[59]


The Julian Union School District[60] operates one elementary, one junior high, one high school, and one Julian Charter School.[61]


California State Route 78 and 79 in Julian


Access to Julian is limited to three major roads. The northern access is via State Route 79, which ultimately links to various other roads and highways serving northern San Diego and southwestern Riverside counties, including Interstate 15. State Route 78 comes to Julian from the west, providing access to Ramona and Escondido. The eastern access is State Route 78, which descends the eastern slope of the mountains to intersect with State Route 86 in Imperial County; this is the least commonly used of the three routes. The southern access is State Route 79 through Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, which then links to Interstate 8.


The California Wolf Center (CWC) lies four miles (6.4 km) outside of Julian, and is the principal captive breeding facility for the endangered Mexican wolf (which, as of 2012, had fewer than 50 wild members of its species). Alaskan wolves have also been raised and studied at the facility.[62] The California Wolf Center is managed in conjunction with the United States Forest Service but is financed entirely through private donations.[63]


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External links[edit]