The river that supplied water to the Trussell Ranch in San Pasqual Valley was variously named the "San Pasqual River" by residents of that valley itself, the "San Bernardo River" once the Santa Maria joined it and it rounded the bend to enter what is now the upper reaches of today's Lake Hodges and finally, once it exited the canyon where the Hodges Dam was built, the "San Dieguito River" , and it was so-named for the rest of the way to the ocean. In those days the only consensus was that the river was "sainted" in some way. Sainted it was, draining 303 square miles, it is the largest river in the county. The San Luis Rey River, the San Diego River, and the Sweetwater River are next with 208, 190, and 131 square miles of drainage area, respectively.
The dam, shown here during the 1927 flood, was originally the idea of Col. Ed Fletcher, a water promoter and land developer who was also responsible for several other dams in the County. At that time, Mr. Fletcher was also manager of the Santa Fe Rancho for the Santa Fe Railroad. Fletcher acquired the land for the site of the dam and its floodplain for Mr. W. Henshaw prior to 1916. This included the Carroll Ranch and several thousand acres of Rancho Bernardo covering today's lake bed. In buying the land Fletcher and Henshaw contemplated a dam 120 feet high with an 8.6 mile lake behind it. Lake Hodges is about that size and it impounds about 132,000 acre-ft.
As wealthy as he was, Mr. Henshaw could not afford the $1.5 million required to build the concrete arch dam and necessary conveyance facilities to take the water to the coast. In the end it took the 1916 flood to show how much water there was and the Santa Fe Railroad to finance the project. That same year Fletcher was put in charge of the San Dieguito Mutual Water Company. The dam was completed by the railroad in 1922, sold to a private company controlled by Mr. Henshaw in 1924. Finally it was sold to the City of San Diego along with the Pamo and Sutherland dam sites and water rights in San Pasqual Valley for a Super Hodges. These included rights up to and including the Trussell Ranch, rights which eventually expired and were re-acquired by the City through condemnation in the late 1950's after the City lost two suits to San Pasqual Valley residents over impairment of river flow as a result of Sutherland Dam.