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The Rise of Borrego Springs: From Grape Growing to Desert Oasis

How Alphonse A. Burnand, Jr. Transformed Borrego Valley into a Peaceful Haven for Agriculture and Tourism

Explore the history of Borrego Springs and how Alphonse A. Burnand, Jr. turned a grape-growing area into a tranquil desert community that rivals Palm Springs. Discover the valley’s slow and steady growth and how it has preserved its natural beauty and rustic charm, offering visitors a unique desert experience.

From Grapes to Desert Community: Alphonse A. Burnand, Jr.’s Journey to Borrego Springs

Alphonse A. Burnand, Jr. started his career in the early 1900s, growing and marketing grapes in the Central Valley near Delano. He eventually became a prominent grape marketer, handling the marketing for many local growers. In 1933, Burnand visited Borrego Valley, searching for a place to grow “early” grapes, and eventually acquired over 17,000 acres of land in the valley.

The Vision of Borrego Valley: Burnand’s Plan for a Planned Community

Burnand envisioned Borrego Valley as a desert community that could rival Palm Springs. He enlisted the help of contemporary celebrities, including Frank Morgan and Leo Carillo, to lure investors. The valley boasted a county airport, bus service, resorts and developments, and jeep tours of the valley and the nearby state park.

Growth and Development in Borrego Springs

Development in Borrego Springs proceeded rapidly at first, with the opening of the airport in 1949 and plans to construct the De Anza Country Club in 1953. However, while lots sold well, population growth was slow. The valley’s population reached 600 by 1950 but only grew by 180 in the next ten years. Two viewpoints emerged on the valley’s growth: rapid expansion or slower growth that preserves the valley’s tranquility.

Borrego Springs Today: A Peaceful Haven for Agriculture and Tourism

Today, Borrego Springs is a peaceful sanctuary for those seeking an escape from civilization. The valley’s mainstays are agriculture and tourism, with several resorts operating in the area. Many locals take pride in the valley’s slower, uncomplicated pace that offers a rustic desert experience in all seasons. With its natural beauty, Borrego Springs remains a special place, preserving the valley’s tranquility and peace.