Cardiff-by-the-sea history starts with Hector Mackinnon, a Scotish immigrant. In 1875, he obtained a homestead of 600 acres on the north side of the San Elijo Lagoon. Of course, the Encinitas real estate area is now referred to as cardiff-by-the-sea. Mackinnon was the first settler diredctly on the coast between San Diego and the Oceanside real estate area. The Mackinnons started out as farmers and established the first school in the Mackinnon barn. Products from their farm included calves, hens, and goats. They produced milk, butter, and the best fruit jellies for the local population.
Hector Mackinnon was not only a farmer, but also an inventor. One of his inventions was a steamer trunk that had pull out drawers and that could be used as a dresser when stood on end. Another invention was a coal oil cooking stove. During the lean years in the early 1900’s, the Mackinnon’s sold off a portion of the cardiff-by-the-sea real estate to Frank Cullen, a developer from San Diego. That portion was on the edge of the San Elijo Lagoon. In 1911, Cullen called the area cardiff-by-the-sea, a name after his “Whales” home of “cardiff.” Cullen invisioned a resort type of community, like the one he new in England, to be built along the water. He build a large three hundred pier that was washed away by a storm in 1918. Cullen had the cardiff-by-the-sea real estate surveyed and subdivided and sold lots. He named the streets after streets in England: Chesterfield, Oxford, Birmingham, Manchester, Cambridge, and Liverpool. He started to run out of money. People were reluctant to settle in the area because of the lack of usable fresh water. Cullen organized the cardiff Irrigation District to bring water from the Escondido real estate area, specifically Lake Hodges. His project failed.