Valley Center happenings at the museum

Snow Chief stood at Valley Creek Farm, a thoroughbred breeding operation on Cool Valley Road. During his career, he won the 1986 Preakness Stakes, sired 21 stakes horses, and earned $3.4 million for his owners.

Between the Valley Center Museum and Dos Valles Garden club, lots to do, lots to see in the unincorporated  10,000-resident community spanning the globe from the Hidden Valley to Palomar Mountain.

New thoroughbred exhibit

An exhibition of famous thoroughbreds with a local connection has been mounted at the Valley Center History Museum in a new expanded display.  The show, first presented in 2010, is one of the museum’s most popular and most-requested exhibits.

Featured are artifacts, mementos and photos of nine horses, including descendants of such legendary thoroughbreds as Seabiscuit, Secretariat and Seattle Slew.  Honors won by the Valley Center horses include Horse of the Year, U.S. National Championship Stallion, and a listing among the Top 10 Stallions in the nation.

One thoroughbred was a Preakness Stakes Winner while another won four national championships and sired 1,300 purebred offspring.  Two have celebrity connections:  Blanco, an Andalusian,  appeared as “Shadowfax” in the motion picture trilogy “Lord of the Rings” while Triplicate was a winner for actor-dancer Fred Astaire who had a ranch on Valley Center Road.

An original painting of Lady’s Secret, a descendant of Secretariat, is by a famed equestrian artist whose works hang in the White House and at Buckingham Palace.

A favorite of visitors from a past exhibition, SeaOrbit, has returned with new memorabilia from the days when he lived on Lake Wohlford Road.  SeaOrbit, often called “baby biscuit”, was the only progeny of Seabiscuit’s 108 foals to enjoy a successful racing career.

There is also a tribute to pioneer Arabian breeders Nellie and Roy Jackson, who established an Arabian nursery in the 1960’s on Cool Valley Road, then went on to found the Southern California Arabian Horse Assn.  Mrs. Jackson bred horses from a wheelchair until age 92.

— Robert Lerner

Honoring oldest surviving Pearl Harbor master diver

A. Kenneth Hartle

A permanent exhibition at the Valley Center History Museum honoring local veterans has been expanded to recognize the late A. Kenneth Hartle who earned fame as a hero at Pearl Harbor during World War II, according to Robert Lerner, Valley Center historian and museum leader.  A Valley Center resident for 55 years, Mr. Hartle died Jan. 24 at age 103. He had been the Navy’s oldest surviving salvage diver.

“Hartle was a deep sea master diver who repeatedly risked death, according to documentation at the Valley Center Historical Society,” Lerner said. ” Certified to dive underwater at 100 feet, he often went far beyond that depth to tow away unexploded torpedoes, salvage downed ships and planes sunk by the Japanese, and retrieve bodies.”

Hartle joins other Valley Center veterans in an exhibit titled “Honoring Our Local Heroes”. Included are tributes to Capt. Lester Rice, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Valley Forge; Capt. William Roe, organizer of the California State Guard; and 12 men who served in the Civil War.  A rare Civil War discharge certificate is also on display.

The museum at 29200 Cole Grade Road is open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.  Admission and parking are free. For more information, visit or call (760) 749-2993.

Garden Club members make soap

Making soap at Dos Valles Garden Club (L to R: Sara Smith, Denise Patey, Lee Bathgate, Gloria Owler, Sarah Jones)

Dos Valles Garden Club members recently learned how to make cold-pressed soap, in a workshop led by Sarah Jones, of Sarah’s Soaps of Valley Center.

Jones invited class attendees to participate, as she heated and mixed rendered fat with chemicals to produce a mixture that would become herb-laced soap.

Students harvested the lavender blossoms that were used in the soap, chopped and weighed ingredients and stirred the simmering mixture, which they poured into a prepared form. The molten soap had to set for 24 hours, in a dark environment away from children and pets.

Jones provided the participants with instruction sheets and samples of Sarah’s Soaps. They also gained lots of enthusiasm for the soap-making process.

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