CHAPEL OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
49 With the exception of San Diego Mission itself, this is the oldest church in San Diego. Built in the 1850’s as a home by John Brown, a Connecticut Yankee, it had the first wooden floors in San Diego. The lumber used was cut near Mesa Grande and brought in by Brown.
A few years later Don José Antonio Aguirre, a wealthy rancher, became involved in a lawsuit and made a pledge to provide San Diego with a church if he won. He did, and bought Brown’s adobe for $350, and converted it into a church.
Later Don José was buried under the floor, beneath a marble slab in the small side chapel.
On November 21, 1858, the building was dedicated by Father John Moliner, who became pastor. Old Town had its first church.
Father Antonio Ubach, the “Gaspara” of the novel, “Ramona,” officiated at the church for many years. The chapel was described in the book:
In a neglected weedy open stood his chapel, a poverty-stricken little place, its walls imperfectly white-washed, decorated by a few coarse pictures and by broken sconces of looking glass… a few candles lighted the room. Every thing about it was in union with the atmosphere of the place, the most profoundly melancholy in all Southern California.
It was here that California’s most famous lovers, Ramona and Alessandro, were married.
The original building was superseded as a church by the one on San Diego Avenue in 1916. In 1937 it was rebuilt a few feet away from its original site, and was rededicated.
This remnant of old times stands on Conde Street, west of San Diego Avenue, in Old Town.
WHALING STATION SITE
50 Now covered by spoil dredged from the bay are traces of the foundation of “trying-out works” of the whaling companies. On this location, halfway out on the inner beach of Ballast Point, whalers operating the shore stations during the 1850’s and 1860’s cut up the whales they had taken in the harbor and at sea. The blubber was boiled down for the oil, which was coopered and stored for shipment on the spot.
At that time the San Diego whaling industry was of great significance to the city’s economy, producing as much as 55,000 gallons of oil annually.
In 1871 the whalers were forced to discontinue their operations on Point Loma and to move their equipment to North Island, as their old works were within the new military reservation. (See Historic Landmark No. 62.)
OLD POINT LOMA LIGHTHOUSE
51 On the top of the outer end of Point Loma, commanding a seascape considered one of the finest in the world, Cabrillo National Monument is located. It receives more visitors than any other national monument, including the Statue of Liberty. The central feature, the lighthouse, was erected by the United States Government in 1854-1855.
Soaring 510 feet into the sky, above the sea, the light was the highest in the world, and remained the loftiest in the United States until 1891, when it was discontinued in favor of a new and lower light. This became necessary because the original light was so high that it could not be seen by incoming vessels in foggy weather or when low clouds obscured it.
Why this is called “The Old Spanish Lighthouse” is problematical. Some of the tiles in the basement floor were from the ruins of the old Spanish fort on Ballast Point, and the families of some of the keepers were Spanish-speaking, but it seems more likely that a Negro called “Reuben the Guide” was the source of the “Spanish” name.
Around the turn of the century, dressed in Spanish costume for effect, he led parties of tourists around the interesting sites of the area; longtime San Diegans do not recall having heard of the old lighthouse being called “Spanish” before Reuben used the catch phrase.
The original lenses, ground in Paris well over a century ago, are still giving the best of service, at a station on the Great Lakes, and area tribute, like the building, to the craftsmanship of the age.
MISSION DAM AND FLUME (Padre Dam)
52 The old mission dam, much of which is still standing at the upper end of the Mission Gorge, was part of the first irrigation and engineering project in California. It was constructed during the first decade of the nineteenth century by priests and Indians of the San Diego Mission.
Native rock and cement manufactured from available materials were employed. A gate was let into the middle of the dam to control the flow of water down the river bed. By this means it was intended to keep the seasonal San Diego River flowing by the Mission the year around, in order that there would be no dry spell.
So much water, however, was lost into river sands and the soil in the miles between the dam and the Mission that the Franciscans commenced work on a flume soon after the dam was completed.
This was an aqueduct of tile two feet wide and over one foot deep, which rested on a bed constructed of cobblestones and cement.
Its course was along the north side of the gorge. In the Roman fashion the fall of the flume was uniform and not so great as that of the stream, therefore a good head of pressure was available at the Mission.
The dam is 13 miles northeast of Old Town, on Mission Gorge Road. This site also is a registered national historic landmark.
CASA DE ESTUDILLO
53 This house, an excellent example of a Mexican California mansion, stands on the southeast side of the plaza, between San Diego Avenue and Calhoun Street, in Old Town. It has been one of California’s outstanding show places for many years.
Prefect (Magistrate) Don José Antonio Estudillo built the house during the Mexican period, at about the same time the Bandini family (See Historic Landmark No. 72) raised its house across the street.
Don Jose brought up his children in that home. Three generations of Estudillos lived there, in all. One, Jose Guadalupe, was elected to a number of high positions, including state treasurer, while living in it.
Formerly the house was surmounted by a cupola, which served the family as a choice observation post for the bullfights, bear baitings, and other amusements in the plaza.
Within the house is a private chapel; the Estudillos allowed priests who came down from the Mission to use it, before the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception was built on Conde Street, to minister to the needs of San Diego’s residents. One room also was rented to the county as its school, a little later.
The ruins of the mansion were bought by John D. Spreckels in 1910 and restored by him. Mexican labor employed the time-honored methods of construction originally used. Since that time a collection of antiques and curios has been assembled in the house.
54 This “redoubt,” or “stronghold,” located at the summit of a knoll in Presidio Park, dates from Mexican times, when Mexican San Diegans threw up earthworks as a defense against attack from northern forces in Los Angeles in 1838.
In 1846, during the Mexican-American War, San Diego was seized for the United States by sailors and marines from the sloop-of-war, “Cyane,” supported by John Charles Fremont’s California Battalion. The fort was rebuilt as a U. S. Army fortification and renamed “Fort Dupont,” in honor of the captain of the “Cyane.”
When the “Cyane,” and the troops left, Mexican volunteers retook the town, driving the remaining Americans to take shelter on the bay in the Yankee whaler, “Stonington.” A young New Yorker named Albert B. Smith went ashore alone and spiked the guns in the fort, which enabled the Americans to retake the town and the hill. (See historic Landmark No. 71.)
Commodore Stockton further strengthened the fort and renamed it for himself. At its best it was a broad ditch backed by earth-filled barrels, between which the muzzles of twelve Spanish guns looked out.
A bronze cannon named “El Jupiter,” cast in Manila in 1783, is mounted in the ruins now. In Fort Guijarros, on Ballast Point, in Spanish and Mexican times, it was part of San Diego’s earliest harbor defenses.
Fort Stockton may be located easily by the tall flag pole at its center.
FORT ROSECRANS NATIONAL CEMETERY
55 This cemetery, lying well out on Cabrillo Memorial Drive on the way to the old lighthouse, was set aside as a burial place for soldiers of the San Diego Barracks in the late 1870’s, It was designated “Cemetery of San Diego Barracks, (Point Loma)” and overlooked a number of earlier obliterated burial places.
Upon establishment of Fort Rosecrans in 1898, the name was changed to “Fort Rosecrans Post Cemetery,” and so remained until 1935, when it was reclassified as “Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.”
The granite obelisk standing in the older part of the grounds is a memorial to sixty men who were killed by a boiler explosion aboard the USS Bennington, a gunboat, on July 21, 1905, in San Diego Harbor. Most of the dead are buried here, as are veterans and victims of both World Wars, and all other major American conflicts back to the Mexican War, including the officers and men who fell at the Battle of San Pasqual and at first were buried elsewhere. (See Historic Sites Nos. 452 and 533) Here also is buried Albert Smith. (See Historic Landmarks Nos. 54, 63, & 71)
56 On this point white men first set foot on the California coast, in 1542, when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay, landed here, and took possession of Upper California in the name of Spain. He called the port “San Miguel.”
Subsequently, in 1602, Sebastián Viscaíno also landed at Ballast Point. He gave the port the name “San Diego.” Priests from his ships set up a temporary chapel on Ballast Point and conducted the first Catholic services on record in California.
In the autumn of 1769 the earliest beacon on the entire coastline is said to have been lighted at this same spot. Just a lantern on a pole, it was intended as a guide for the supply ships from San Blas, in Lower California, that kept Father Serra’s new colony supplied with the necessities of life.
The lighthouse now standing on Ballast Point dates from the 1890’s. (See Historic Landmarks Nos. 51 and 69) The name “Ballast Point,” is derived from the fact that the hide ships and others visiting Spanish California sometimes loaded shingle from the beach as stiffening before cargo was taken aboard. It is rumored that some of the squares and streets of Boston are paved with these cobbles. The Spanish called it “La Punta de Guijarros,” or “Cobblestone Point.”
Ballast Point lies well inside the Fort Rosecrans military reservation.
LA PUNTA DE LOS MUERTOS (DEAD MAN’S POINT)
57 This point, marked by a cairn and plaque on the southeast corner of Market Street and U.S. Highway 101, in San Diego, is surrounded by filled-in lands. It is called “Dead Man’s Point,” because, in 1782, when the harbor was first surveyed, a number of men from the two ships assigned to the task died of scurvy, and were buried there.
The name appeared on the map of San Diego made by Juan Pantoja y Arriaga, pilot, and Don José Tovar, mate, of the Royal Frigates, “La Princesa,” and “La Favorita,” of that expedition. It was commanded by Don Augustín de Echeverria. The name has been used ever since.
SAN DIEGO PRESIDIO SITE
59 The ruins of the Royal Presidio of San Diego are visible as rolling mounds under the grass of Presidio Park, on the hill above Old Town. Often called the “Plymouth Rock of California,” this spot was the site of the first white settlement on the West Coast of the United States.
On July 16, 1769, Father Junípero Serra erected a cross and dedicated the Presidio and Mission of San Diego de Alcalá. After five years the Mission was shifted from the protection of the fortified enclosure to its present location in Mission Valley. (See Historic Site No. 242)
At first a stockade, the Presidio of San Diego’s walls became adobe while Don José Francisco Ortega, the famous explorer, was in command here. Throughout the Spanish period the San Diego community lived within the ramparts -as many as 600 people at a time. Between 1769 and 1830 the Presidio was one of the four important towns of Upper California, guarding an area which stretched 125 miles north. During the 1820’s the Mexican governor, Jose Maria Echeandia, who liked to live in San Diego because of the climate, made it the actual, though not the official, capital of both Upper and Lower California.
On the western side of the central square were some storehouses. On the east was the old mission and the quarters of the officers and soldiers. The plan may be made out from the fallen walls underneath the lawn. The commandant’s house was where the cross now rises. The present walls are intended to show where the original outside defenses ran.
To this place, on New Year’s Day in 1827, Jedediah Smith, “The Bible Toter,” came to complete the first journey overland to the Pacific made by an American. He applied to the governor for permission to trap in California, which was refused. He was not deterred, however-nor were others.
By the 1830’s most of the residents of San Diego had moved down to Old Town, although the soldiers were still garrisoned on the hill. A few years later the Presidio was entirely deserted and allowed to fall into ruin. In the 1840’s it was sold for scrap.
The Presidio of San Diego is a registered national historic landmark, also.
CASA DE LOPEZ
60 This house, at the west end of Twiggs Street in Old Town, was built about 1835, by Francisco Lopez. It was known as “La Casa Larga,” “The Long House,” and was one of the first substantial homes constructed in San Diego after it became a “pueblo,” or town, in 1835. Father Antonio Ubach, the “Gaspara” of “Ramona” lived in one room. Legend says that Ramona and Alessandro came to this house to get him to marry them. (See Historic Site No. 49)
Don Matias Moreno lived in this adobe two different times, in 1846, while secretary to Pío Pico, the last Mexican governor of California, and later, after serving as governor of Lower California himself. His wife, Prudenciana, achieved a place in local history by giving the alarm when the Americans invaded San Diego in 1846, during the Mexican-American War. She alerted the populace by running through town, shouting, “Here come a million Americans!”
LA PLAYA (QUARANTINE STATION)
61 This includes grounds commencing about three hundred yards inside Fort Rosecrans, extending along the bayshore for a few hundred feet, and inland from the bay to the cliffs where the Naval Electronics Laboratory is situated.
Better known historically than the Quarantine Station itself, where ships inbound from foreign ports were checked for contagion, are landmarks now gone, especially “Hide Park.”
Hide Park was the name given facetiously to the section of beach and the hide houses made famous by Richard Henry Dana, in his book, “Two Years Before the Mast.” These were barn-like structures used for the storage of hides cured on the beach. In Dana’s time the beach had a population of 800 men of many nationalities. Vessels of various flags anchored offshore, to discharge hides collected up and down the California coast, and to load them all again when they were cured, to distribute them over the world.
The hide houses were named for the ships they belonged to. The first erected, the “Brookline,” was the last to disappear. Over it, in 1829, the Stars and Stripes first flew, although unofficially, in California. The flag was made of their shirts by Captain James “Arther,” or “Arthur,” and a “Mr. Green,” and was run up when American ships visited the harbor to show that Americans were present in the Mexican community. The comandante, Manuel Rodríguez, promptly rode down from the Presidio to protest the foreign flag.
The adobe custom house was west of the quarantine buildings, the Russian oven described by Dana, in which the Kanakas lived, a few feet north, on the beach. The tide gauge was set up here in 1853.
The area is apparently the scene of the once-famous poem, “The Flight of the Paso Del Mar,” by Bayard Taylor, which tells the story of a little Russian girl castaway, whose lovers killed each other on a beach after she grew to be a beautiful woman.
Besides the larger buildings there were a few dwellings here, and a tavern or two. The name of this site was “Las Barracas,” “The Shacks,” among Old Town people.
62 Reservation for the Army of the outermost three miles of Point Loma for a U.S. Military Reservation was ordered in 1852, in response to a recommendation made by General Henry Halleck five years earlier, even before the treaty was signed ceding California to the United States. Possession of the property, however, was not taken until 1870.
The fort is named for General William Rosecrans, who came to San Diego in 1867, with Alonzo Horton, a pioneer developer of” New San Diego.” Rosecrans also became interested financially in the creation of the community. He had achieved fame as a Union Commander in the Civil War. He died in 1898, the year the post was established and it was thought appropriate to name it in his honor.
Until after World War II San Diego was prepared for defense against naval attack by guns in emplacements on the bluffs of Fort Rosecrans, overlooking the bay.
OLD TOWN PLAZA (WASHINGTON SQUARE)
63 This square was the center of public life and recreation in Old Town from its earliest days. Promenading gave way, on some Sundays and feast days, to bull-and-bear fights, and bullfights in which there were no professionals- anyone was welcome to join in for as long as he chose. On such occasions the dusty open space was enclosed by fences across the streets entering it. Games, ceremonies, and trials were held here, too.
On a pole in the plaza the American flag was first hoisted in Southern California, to signify United States seizure. It was on July 29, 1846, during the Mexican-American War that Lieutenant Stephan C. Rowan, of the U. S. Sloop-of-War, “Cyane,” landed, and occupied the town with bluejackets from his ship, and men of Fremont’s California Battalion.
San Diego had to be retaken in November, however. (See Historic Landmark No. 54) Then the Mexican flag was cut away from the pole and carried off by Señora María Antonia Machado de Silvas, who wanted to save it from disgrace, even, as she thought, at the risk of her life. There being no halliards with which to send up the American flag, Albert B. Smith climbed the pole and nailed it fast.
After the American conquest the plaza, renamed “Washington Square,” continued to be the center of San Diego life. To bullfights and Judas hangings were added noisy Fourth of July celebrations, with oratory, band concerts, and cannon fire.
The place could be very full of racket on any Saturday night. A coroner’s daughter recalled in later years that two or three fatalities over a weekend, from gunfights, were not unknown. In those days the town’s best saloons and billiard parlors faced on the square.
From 1850 to 1876 the old cannon in the plaza, “El Capitán,” was set in the ground muzzle down for use as a whipping post for Indians who misbehaved.
THE OLD LANDING SITE
64 Off the ends of Udal and Voltaire Streets, just below Rosecrans, lies the area, once at the edge of the bay, known as “El Desembarcadero,” “The Old Landing.” It was at the mouth of the San Diego River, which, even in summer, provided a waterway at high tide up to Old Town, though only for small boats.
The beach at this point was usually the landing place for people and goods coming to the Spanish presidio and later to the Mexican pueblo of San Diego.
The Old Landing Site is located along the grounds of the U.S. Naval Training center.
THE WHALEY HOUSE
65 One of the oldest brick houses in Southern California, this building was constructed in 1856 by Thomas Whaley, a pioneer merchant. He made the bricks from local clay, burning them in a kiln he constructed. The plaster and mortar, also of his own manufacture, he processed from sea shells. The wood work and hardware were brought around Cape Horn by sailing vessel.
Besides being the home of five generations of Whaleys, this building has been a dairy, a general store, a funeral parlor, a theatre, a saloon, San Diego’s first Sunday School, a court house, hall of records, and meeting place for the Board of Supervisors.
This is the only mansion of the American style of the mid-nineteenth century to be seen in San Diego. It is located on the corner of San Diego Avenue and Harney Street. A popular belief is that the Whaley House is haunted.
CONGRESS HALL SITE
66 At Calhoun and Wallace Streets is the second, and last, site of Congress Hall, which had earlier stood on the northeast side of the plaza. It was a two-story board-and-batten hotel, erected in 1867 by George Dewitt Clinton Washington Robinson. One of its claims to fame is that it served as a pony express office. One of the last survivors of the pony express rode north from Congress Hall.
The Russell, Majors & Waddell service, between St. Joseph, Missouri, and San Francisco, was not the only pony express in the history of the West by any means. San Diego County had lines between San Diego and Julian, and from Julian north into Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
At various intervals Congress Hall was also a wild west saloon and gambling hall, a rooming house, post office, and a bakery. A balcony over the porch provided a vantage point for bands and public speakers on occasion.
Congress Hall was pulled down in 1939.
SERRA PALM SITE
67 This palm and one other are said to have been planted in 1769, when Father Serra arrived with Portolá, to found San Diego as a base for the settlement of California. Near here, on slopes of Presidio Hill, which have been cut away since, lay the Spanish cemetery used from 1769 to 1849. Also nearby was the camp of Captain Rivera y Moncada, who led the advance party of the Sacred Expedition into San Diego in April 1769, two months before Portolá and Serra followed his trail here.
Within his defenses Captain Rivera had a corral, some huts for his soldiers, and a hospital for sailors from the supply ships, who were dying of scurvy. Captain Rivera pitched his camp at “Cosoy,” an Indian ranchería. On July 1, 1769, the four divisions of the Serra expedition met on this spot.
The last of the two date palms, the oldest planted tree in California, was cut down June 6, 1957. It had been ailing for years, having been used for target practice by Nineteenth Century gunmen, to such an extent as to impair its health. Increasing height added to problems of circulation which are incident to age in so many species.
The two palms stood beside Taylor Street, in the corner of Presidio Park closest to Chestnut Street.
EL CAMPO SANTO (SPANISH CEMETERY)
68 The Catholic cemetery for San Diego between 1850 and 1880, “El Campo Santo,” is on the east side of San Diego Avenue, at Arista Street. Buried here are many of San Diego’s most noted citizens. Scattered among the representatives of proud families such as the Pedrorenas, Arguellos, Bandinis, Osunas, Estudillos, and Marrons, who were the leaders of the town in every sense, there lie, however, “Yankee Jim” Robinson, hanged for absconding with a rowboat, and Antonio Garra, a tribal chief who organized an Indian confederation to drive the Americans out of California, only to be captured and shot by a firing squad at his graveside in 1852.
FORT GUIJARROS SITE
69 This fort, or “castillo,” San Diego’s first harbor defense, was a thick-walled adobe thrown up about 1797. It commanded the entrance to the bay from the first little rise at the base of Ballast Point, from which it took its name, which is “Fort Cobblestones,” in English. The ten guns mounted in its emplacements were fired in action only once. That was in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the American brig “Lelia Byrd,” (which was under arrest for smuggling otter skins,) from making an escape, after her seamen had overpowered the Spanish soldiers posted aboard as guards. Fire from the ship’s guns drove the fort’s cannoneers to cover. This, “The Battle of San Diego,” is the only naval action, if it can be called that, on record in the history of the port.
“El Júpiter,” one of the cannon from the battery, now is to be seen at Fort Stockton. “El Capitán,” in the Old Town Plaza, is another such gun.
CASA DE PEDRORENA
70 On the east side of San Diego Avenue, between Twiggs and Mason Streets, was this, the home of Don Miguel T. de Pedrorena. Handsome and debonnaire, he was conspicious as a leader in social life and in public affairs. Don Miguel came from one of the best families in Madrid, and received his education there and at Oxford University.
He proved himself a courageous military leader during the Mexican War, serving as a captain in the United States cavalry. He was in the forefront of the attack against Fort Stockton when it was finally taken. Earlier he had helped by burying underneath his house, or in the patio behind it, “El Júpiter,” the old bronze gun now at the fort, in order to prevent its being brought into action against the Americans.
Don Pedrorena was a member of the Constitutional Convention which met in Monterey, California, in 1849.
He joined William Heath Davis and some others in the abortive founding of New Town in 1850, the year he died.
His house passed into the hands of his son-in-law, José Antonio Altamirano, who raised his family there also. Altamirano owned the little frame house next door, where the San Diego Union was first published, in 1868. It has been connected with his name, traditionally, rather than the larger adobe.
CASA DE MACHADO
71 This house, on the southwest side of the Old Town Plaza, at 2741 San Diego Avenue, was built by Corporal José Manuel Machado, a “Leather Jacket” soldier of the Spanish army, who was stationed at the Presidio in 1782. He built the house, probably in 1832, for his daughter, María Antonia and her husband, Manuel de Silvas. It became known as the “Casa de la Bandera,” or “House of the Flag,” when the lady hid in it the Mexican flag cut away from the Plaza pole, after the Americans reoccupied San Diego. (See Historic Site No. 63)
Romance became entertwined with adventure when the American, Albert Smith, the hero who shinnied up the pole with the Stars and Stripes, married María Antonia’s sister, Guadalupe, soon after hostilities between the two countries ended.
The old house is now in use as a Community Church for the Old Town area.
CASA DE BANDINI
72 Standing on the corner of Mason and Calhoun Streets since about 1827, this building was erected by Don José Bandini and his son, Don Juan. Though Spanish, coming from Peru, the Bandinis originally were Italian. The family was of princely rank in the Holy Roman Empire.
They lived up to the princely tradition in San Diego. The feast that followed the blessing of the house in 1829, as described by Alfred Robinson in “Life in California,” set a pattern for entertaining in ensuing years. Fandangos sometimes cost thousands of dollars and lasted for days. Single dinners set Juan Bandini back as much as a thousand dollars.
The wealthy Juan Bandini could afford all this, for his ranches spread over Southern and Lower California. Don Juan was commended by early California writers for his beautiful dancing and lovely daughters. Historians remember him for the revolts he led against Northern Californian governors in Mexican times. He filled many political offices as a result of success in battle at disputed barricades along El Camino Real, and through affiliation with success.
During the Mexican-American War he sided with the States and offered his house to Commodore Stockton as a headquarters. It was at the Bandini House at a fandango that Stockton received word of the catastrophe at San Pasqual from Alexis Godey, the famous scout. He delayed sending help to the beleaguered dragoons until Kit Carson, Lt. Edward Beale, and an Indian escaped through the lines to impress on him the need for a force to rescue the decimated Army of the West. (See Historic Sites 452 and 533)
In the 1860’s A. L. Seeley made the house the San Diego station for his stage lines to Los Angeles and the East. He added the second story and named the old mansion “The Cosmopolitan Hotel.”
CASA DE STEWART
73 Like the Casa de Machado, this house was built by Corporal José Manuel Machado, of the San Diego Presidio Company, for one of his daughters, when she married. The girl, Rosa, had become the wife of Jack Stewart, a shipmate of Richard Henry Dana’s in the ship “Alert.” Stewart is mentioned in “Two Years Before the Mast;” a visit to the house in 1850 is detailed in Dana’s “Twenty-four Years After.”
The Casa de Stewart is to be found on Congress Street, north of Mason. The walls are adobe, protected now and for many years by clapboarding.
CASA DE CARRILLO
74 A restored remnant of this house, at the east end of Wallace Street, serves the Presidio Hills Golf Course as a clubhouse. This is the oldest of the adobe mansions now standing, having been built in the second decade of the Nineteenth Century, among the pear trees of Don Francisco María Ruiz, at that time the comandante of the Presidio.
Ruiz’ magnificent orchard is believed to be the oldest in Southern California. He occupied one room of the Carrillo house, and apparently started the building in order to be able to live near his trees.
The house drew its name from a kinsman, Joaquín Carrillo, who moved in with his family and occupied the place for many years. At his death Ruiz left the pear garden to the Carrillos.
Lovely Josefa Carrillo carried on her famous forbidden romance with the American, Henry Fitch, from the house. From it Andrés Pico spirited her to Fitch’s ship and a wedding in Peru, when her father and Governor José María Echeandía, an admirer, were away. Fitch returned with his bride to be punished by the church, build a house across Juan Street, and become the richest merchant in town. He and Josepha had eleven children.
Later the famous grove passed into the hands of the Sotos, and Louis Rose, another pioneer builder from whom it took the name “Rose’s Garden.”
CASA DE COTA SITE
75 Built in the mid-1830’s by Juan or Ramón Cota, this house stood for over a century on the corner of Twiggs and Congress Streets, before being destroyed by United States Army bulldozers during World War II.
MISSION SAN LUIS REY DE FRANCIA
239 Called the “King of Missions” for its size, wealth, and magnificence, this mission was named, appropriately enough, for a king, the crusading Louis IX, King of France. It was founded in 1789 by Fermín de Lasuén, who, as Father President, established nine missions, more even than were founded by Junípero Serra.
In its architecture and construction, San Luis Rey was the work of Father Antonio Peyri. The effect, a combination of Spanish, Mexican, Moorish, and Italian styles, is of a rarely graceful beauty, especially the church itself, the most massive adobe building in California.
The mortuary chapel is a unique feature. As in the church the art work on the walls gives a strong feeling of an early, valiant age of faith in California.
The beloved Father Peyri saw to the needs of Indians throughout the time of the growth and prosperity of the King of Missions. He continued to administer all departments of the establishment almost until the first secularization order. The story of this mission is his personal history.
When he finally left it was in the dead of night, to prevent his neophytes from following. However they discovered what had happened. In an attempt to keep him from leaving them, they mounted mission horses and set out in pursuit, but only arrived in San Diego in time to see him dropping down the bay on the poop of an outbound ship. The scene, with the padre blessing the Indians, who were swimming their horses after the ship, is one of the most moving of California history.
In 1846 Governor Pío Pico succeeded in obtaining the property from the church, but after the American conquest of California, in 1865 President Abraham Lincoln authorized the return of San Luis Rey Mission, and the others, to Bishop Alemany of Monterey. Like all the other missions San Luis Rey was in a sorry condition, having been used as an army post, then abandoned. Now it is the site of San Luis Rey College used for the training of Franciscans.
Mission San Luis Rey is situated four miles east of the town of Oceanside.
MISSION SAN DIEGO DE ALCALA
242 Long before the Sacred Expedition of 1769 arrived to found a new province, San Diego Mission had been selected to be the “mother” of California missions. The harbor and its relative proximity to Mexico made the area a good base of operations. The first mission site, with the Presidio, was dedicated by Father Serra on July 16, 1769, and the cross was raised where the chapel was soon to stand. (See Historic Landmark No. 59) The mission, like the bay and the town, is named for a Spanish Franciscan lay brother who lived in the 15th century.
After five years within San Diego’s walls, a dearth of converts caused the missionaries to relocate at an Indian village, “Nipaguay,” about five miles up the San Diego River. The following year, 1775, rebellious Indians burned the mission and martyered Father Luis Jayme.
After a few months in the Presidio the Franciscans returned and built a new church at the burned out ruins. No more trouble developed. As the work grew, larger church buildings were needed. The present one was dedicated in 1813.
Vineyards and orchards were planted and flourished. Grain also was raised by the Indians in the fields but the wealth of the Mission was in its livestock. In 1831 it owned almost 17,000 sheep and 9,000 head of cattle. Three years later the management of mission property was taken from the priests in accordance with the decree of secularization issued by Governor Figueroa.
Shortly before his death President Lincoln signed the document which returned the crumbling mission to the Church. The present restoration dates from 1931.
The mission is six miles northeast of Old Town, in the east end of Mission Valley.
243San Antonio de Pala is the only one of the Franciscan outposts of Spanish California still used as a mission to the Indians. It is also unique in that its bell tower is separate from the church and that the interior of the church has been decorated by Indian artists, in the old mission way.
Pala was begun as a rancho of San Luis Rey, but in 1816 the chapel was commenced. Until that time services had been held for the Indians in a brush ramada. Never more than an asistencia, or substation of San Luis Rey, Pala was served by Franciscans sent from that mission. Secularization caused it to be abandoned. Earthquakes and the flood of 1916 which brought the campanile down, reduced the establishment to ruins.
Restoration has made Pala one of the most impressive historic monuments in the county. The presence of Indians who carry on some of their ancient ceremonies at certain seasons, heightens the visitor’s interest.
San Antonio de Pala is six and one-half miles east of U.S. Highway 395, on State Route 76.
DERBY DIKE SITE
244 Fear that the San Diego River would silt up the San Diego Bay to the extent that its value as a harbor would be lessened, caused the government to send Lt. George Horatio Derby, of the U. S Corps of Topographical Engineers, here in 1853, to deflect the river into False (now Mission) Bay.
Derby employed sixty Indian laborers in the raising of a levee from Old Town across the flats to the nearest high land to the west – about twelve hundred yards away. The dike was washed out, and the Army built another, and parts of a later one until recently could be seen a few yards north of Frontier at Midway Drive.
The dike is remembered because it brought Derby here. As “John Phoenix” he was America’s leading humorist. His delightful descriptions of San Diego life a century ago were best-selling literature before the Civil War.
VALLECITO STAGE STATION
304 The name “Vallecito,” which means “Little Valley,” dates from Spanish times. The salt grass “ciénega” made the valley the goal of travelers to California from Sonora in the early years of California, as it held the first good water in any quantity to be found on the west side of the forbidding Colorado Desert.
Originally, however, Vallecito was an Indian rancheria called “Hawi.” The first European to visit it was the Spanish Captain, Pedro Fages, in 1781.
During the Gold Rush period immigrants in large numbers stopped to refresh themselves and their animals after what was called “The Journey of Death” across the Imperial Valley. The road through this valley was the great southern immigrant trail via the only wagon road into Southern California.
In the early 1850’s James R. Lassator built the house, of sod cut from the ciénega, to serve as a stopping place for parties passing through. The roots can be seen in the walls. The structure is not an adobe.
Vallecito was an important stop for Army detachments leaving and entering California, from the time General Kearny’s Army of the West stopped here on the road to defeat at San Pasqual. The Boundary Commission at the close of the Mexican-American War used this stop on its surveys.
The house became a station on the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Route, the “Jackass Mail,” in 1857, and in 1858 it was made one of the stops of the famous Butterfield Overland Mail. It is one of the chief landmarks, remaining from the great stage line between Missouri and San Francisco.
The present building is a reconstruction. Vallecito Stage Station is nineteen miles south of Scissors Crossing, which is twelve miles east of Julian, on Highway 79, in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
311 Jonathan Trumbull Warner, of Lyme, Connecticut, first saw his future ranch home when he came to California with a trapping party from Santa Fe in 1831.
In 1844 he obtained grants from Governor Pío Pico for over twenty-six thousand acres of fertile land. His ranch soon became an objective of Americans who entered California over the hot and arid southern immigrant trail from Yuma Crossing. This was a stopping place for General Kearny, for the Mormon Battalion, and for most Army units traveling overland during the Mexican-American War. In 1858 the ranch became a station of the Butterfield Mail.
Warner’s ranch also contains the famous hot springs which were discovered by Father Juan Mariner in 1795, when he recommended the area as a site for a pueblo and mission. The springs were sacred to the Indians and had been the cause of wars for their possession. Still today they produce two hundred thousand gallons of hot mineral-charged water every twenty-four hours. The water has an ancient history of therapeutic qualities.
The old ranch house is about a mile south of Highway 79, on the road to San Felipe and Montezuma Valley. Warner’s Ranch also is a registered national historic landmark.
SANTA YSABEL MISSION SITE
369 The Indian name for the Santa Ysabel Valley was “Elenaman.” The area first was visited by white men when Father Mariner came to it in 1795.
Slightly over a mile north of the town of Santa Ysabel, on Highway 79, is the site of the chapel of the Santa Ysabel asistencia of the San Diego Mission, established in 1818 by Father Fernando Martín. A brush hut thrown up in that year as a temporary chapel was replaced a few years later by a substantial adobe building.
For years after the rest of the church had disappeared one of the mud walls remained and, in spring, was used to form one end of an improvised chapel of brush and reeds, where mass was said for the Indians.
The mission bells, said to be the oldest in California, hung the year round on a wooden frame of logs, to call the faithful to worship at that one time. In the summer of 1926 the bells disappeared. They never have been recovered, nor has the mystery surrounding their disappearance ever been solved.
At Santa Ysabel Kearny’s command stopped the night before going into action at San Pasqual. (See Historic Landmarks Nos. 452 and 533) The ranch, at that time, was owned by José Joaquín Ortega and his English son-in-law, Edward Stokes. The soldiers were fed and were sheltered from the rain inside the church. A legend says that they were purposely served wine which lulled their senses, thus contributing to their defeat.
There are many tales of buried treasure at Santa Ysabel, partly because of confusion with the mythical Mission Santa Ysabel of Lower California, where the Jesuits were supposed to have secreted a fabulous treasure. There are also stories of a cache left here by a miser.
The present chapel stands just to the south of the historic site.
THE CAMPO STORE
411 The Campo Store was built in 1885 by Silas E. and Luman H. Gaskill, who came to the Milquatay Valley in 1868. They built a general store, hotel, flour mill, and blacksmith shop, all frame, and called the village, “Campo.”
On December 5, 1875, a gang of Mexican bandits brought wagons from Tecate to clean out the prosperous Gaskills. This turned into a famous “shoot ’em up” known as the “Campo Raid.” Silas and Luman, forewarned, concealed shotguns around Campo and went about their business. When the attack came, three bandits fired at Silas and three others attacked Luman. Both were shot before they were able to return fire.
The Gaskill future, looking dim at that point, brightened when a French sheepman, who happened to be riding into town at the time, courageously joined in to help the Gaskills. He received a mortal wound, but not before shooting the outlaw leader in the neck.
Silas Gaskill killed one robber and wounded one. Luman shot two, neither fatally. One escaped unhurt. Of the injured, one bandit was killed by his comrades because he couldn’t keep up, two were captured and hanged on a big oak tree in Campo, and the leader took a year to die of his injury in hiding.
Word circulated among border outlaws that the Gaskills were devils who couldn’t be killed with lead bullets. Silas and Luman, not caring to depend on their reputations for safety, built the stone store.
A real border fort, with its thick walls, heavy shutters, and loopholes, the new store was never attacked, although various bands raided through the Campo area on many occasions.
The store was used as a post office, bank, and stage station, and became the social, as well as the shopping, center of the mountains. Saturday night dances on the second floor were periodic high spots in the lives of people from miles around.
412 The Julian marker is to be found in the Julian Memorial Park, on the right hand side of Highway 78 as it enters town from the West. The historical museum in the park has been a blacksmith shop, a brewery, a jail, a barn, and a warehouse.
Julian was the greatest gold mining camp in this part of the country. In 1869 gold was discovered on Coleman Creek, and its banks were soon lined with men using pans, cradles, and sluice boxes.
The following year began with a number of quartz claims being registered, but the great rush didn’t begin until after a man named H. C. Bickers went out for a solitary Sunday walk on February 20, 1870, and after following some bear tracks, discovered a rock with free gold in it.
Two days later, on Washington’s Birthday, the claim was staked and called the “George Washington Mine.” On March 1st Bickers and his partners sent 1200 pounds of rich ore to San Diego, and the hills were immediately inundated with red-shirted prospectors. During the first month of the rush 260 claims and 40 rich strikes were made. The first stamp mill was soon freighted up from a mine at Escondido.
There also is a legend that a thirteen-year-old boy, Billy Gorman, found the George Washington Mine while fetching firewood for his mother. This story never has been verified.
The town of Julian obtained its name from Drury Bailey, a Confederate veteran, who had settled in the area because its rustic beauty appealed to him. He founded the town on his homestead claim, and named it for his cousin, Mike Julian, the handsomest man in the camp.
Rapid growth in population would have made Julian the county seat, had not San Diego partisans plied Julian voters with liquor enough to keep a decisive number away from the polls at an election to determine whether the county seat should be moved.
Thirteen million dollars worth of gold was taken out of Julian mines, and some are still being worked. Cattle raising was an early industry, too, and now remains one of the most important. The area later was found to be ideal apple country. Julian apples won international prizes during the great Paris World’s Fair of 1886, and before. Julian art shows and wild flower shows attract many visitors each year.
An extensive amount of lumbering also was done around Julian. Forests, whose lovely pines were felled for mine props and San Diego homes of the gingerbread era, are beginning to cover the hills once more.
LOS COCHES RANCHO
425 Six miles east of the El Cajon business district is “La Cañada de los Coches Rancho,” or “The Vale of the Hogs,” Ranch.
Only 28.39 acres in area, and the smallest of local land grants made during the Mexican period, this was originally part of the El Cajon Rancho of the San Diego Mission. In 1843 Governor Manuel Micheltorena granted it to Señorita Apolinaria Lorenzana, who held it for the Mission when all church lands were being distributed to land seekers.
Captain Jesse Wilbur Ames, who was baptized in California into the Catholic faith as Jesse Julian Ames, obtained the property in the 1850’s. Before he built his Mexican style ranch house on it, the ranch became a stop on the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Route.
Don Juliano Ames, as his neighbors called him, planted a double cactus hedge along the boundaries and raised sheep and cattle. One of the early growers of grain in this part of the country, he erected a flour mill. He constructed a dam to assure his water supply, made the best soap south of Los Angeles, opened a blacksmith shop, made lime for whitewash, and served the area in many well-appreciated ways.
His fine adobe home was destroyed years ago, through the activity of vandals following up stories of great wealth being hidden in it.
452 The day after the Battle of San Pasqual, General Kearny moved off toward San Diego. In the valley where Lake Hodges is located the pitiful Army of the West stopped at the San Bernardo Ranch and appropriated cattle and chickens for food.
As they started south a detachment of Mexican horsemen galloped by to seize a hill they must pass. The American Dragoons drove the enemy from the hill, but lost their cattle in so doing. The advance of the major elements of General Pico’s Californians trapped the Americans on the hill, just to the north of the river.
Gray boulders, with which the crest of the hill is studded, were arranged into breastworks. Within them the United States troops remained besieged for four days, reduced by starvation to eating the mules that had carried them over the long, weary road from the east.
Urgent requests for help were carried by stealth to San Diego by Kit Carson, Lt. Edward Beale, (who later commanded the U. S. Army Camel Corps) and an Indian. (See Historic Landmark No. 72) A force of bluejackets sent by Commodore Stockton from San Diego drove off the Mexicans and escorted the survivors to town.
Mule Hill is a little detached knoll, four miles southwest of Escondido.
472 At Scissors Crossing, on the Vallecito- Sweeney Pass Road, the traveler passes along the west side of Box Canyon, a narrow defile about a mile long. This pass has been known as the “Sonora,” “Colorado River,” or “Southern Emigrant Trail,” and the “Butterfield Overland Mail Route.”
On their long march from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to San Diego, in January 1847, the Mormon Battalion hacked out, with axes, a way for their wagons through the narrow chasm in the rocks, which, until then, had been a foot too narrow for vehicles.
Box Canyon became, thereby, the first wagon road into Southern California, and prairie schooners, with their shuddering white tops, creaked through it like ships through a canal. There were only inches to spare, even for Butterfield’s Concord stage coaches.
Completion of more direct wagon roads east from San Diego and Los Angeles caused the old trail to the Colorado to be gradually deserted in the latter years of the Nineteenth Century.
CAMP WRIGHT SITE
482 At Oak Grove, in 1861, Camp Wright was established to guard communications between California and Arizona, and to close off traffic between the Pacific Coast and the Confederate States, Camp Wright had been situated at Warner’s Ranch briefly, before the Oak Grove site was chosen. The second location is off the road a little distance. Nothing remains to show the spot, abandoned in 1866.
The camp was named for Brigadier General George Wright, commander of the District of Southern California and the Department of the Pacific from 1861 to the closing days of the Civil War.
Troops from Camp Wright were involved in the only military action of the war on California soil, the capture of the “Showalter Party.” This group of Southern sympathizers organized in El Monte to cross the desert to join the Confederate Army. It was captured near Mesa Grande and taken to Camp Wright. The captives gave their parole not to take up arms against the United States, and were released. Most of them promptly set out for the South and enlisted, according to the original plan.
THE EXCHANGE HOTEL SITE
491 This building stood on the Old Town Plaza, on San Diego Avenue, forty-eight feet south of the Casa de Machado. No information is available as to its appearance. George Tibbets, called “Two Bits,” because of his small size, was proprietor, as well as being mayor of San Diego.
He advertised the Exchange as a hotel and billiard saloon, in the first edition of the San Diego Herald, in 1851.
In 1855 the Franklin Brothers raised and enlarged the Exchange into the first three-story building in San Diego. The lower floor was adobe, the upper two were frame. As the Franklin House it was Old Town’s leading hostelry, and a favorite place for dining and dancing, until it burned in the fire of 1872.
In a room in the Exchange during 1851, Masons met in San Diego for the first time and organized into what became San Diego Lodge Number 35, F. & A. M., the oldest Lodge of Masons in Southern California, Lieutenant George Derby, the “John Phoenix” of literary fame, (See Historic Landmark No. 244) stayed here in 1853, and mentioned the savagery of the fleas, for which all San Diego was then renowned.
OAK GROVE STAGE STATION
502 Oak Grove, one of the few remaining stations of the Butterfield Overland Mail, is a long adobe sheltered by oak trees. The building has been enlarged at various times; the northern part certainly dates from the 1850’s.
After 1861, when the Civil War terminated the Butterfield service between Missouri and San Francisco, the station was used as a hospital for Camp Wright, which occupied the land across the highway. (See Historic Landmark No. 482)
The Oak Grove Station is now a store and bar.
SAN DIEGO BARRACKS SITE
523 In the block bounded by Market, G, Kettner, and California Streets, between 1851 and 1921, stood the San Diego Barracks, commemorated by a marker on Market Street.
Captain Nathaniel Lyon, of the 2nd U.S. Infantry, was persuaded, by men involved in the development of New San Diego, to locate on their lands the Quartermaster Depot he had been sent to establish. At first called “Post New San Diego,” in 1879 the name was changed to “San Diego Barracks,” because “Horton’s Addition,” (New San Diego) had become the center of population and affairs.
Not continuously used by the Army, the building also served as a church, a public meeting hall, a sheltered place for Indians to camp, and as New San Diego’s first school. Sunday school was also held here.
Founded as a supply depot for military establishments in Southern California’s frontiers, the Barracks returned to the same category before being abandoned in 1921, at which time it was a base for provisioning soldiers on the Mexican border. During the Twentieth Century it was a sub-post of Fort Rosecrans. The land was sold to the city in 1938.
SAN PASQUAL BATTLEFIELD
On the morning of December 6, 1846, a little army of dashing “Californians,” Mexico’s superb riding unit, composed of Mexican ranchers who had volunteered to fight against the American invaders, were encamped at the Indian village of San Pasqual, under the command of General Andrés Pico, a brother of Governor Pío Pico. General Stephen W. Kearny’s United States Dragoons, which were marching west to help occupy California after taking New Mexico, advanced down from the hills at the east end of the valley, planning to surprise the sleeping Californians; however the American scouts had already been detected by Mexican sentries.
On reaching the valley floor, the American advance guard charged, through a misunderstanding of orders. As a result, the American cavalry was committed to the fray in piecemeal fashion. The Californians were armed with lances, which was an overwhelming advantage, as the Americans found that their carbines, wet from continued rains, would not fire, and their sabres were far too short to be effective against lancers.
One-fifth of Kearny’s command died that day. They were buried under a willow in the evening. Nearly a score more were wounded, including Kearny himself. No Mexicans were killed, except one prisoner, by Indians friendly to the Americans.
MASON STREET SCHOOL
538 Originally erected near its present site at 3960 Mason Street, in the block west of San Diego Avenue, this school house has occupied various lots around Old Town since being moved to make way for the second, larger Mason Street School.
It was built by the trustees of School District Number 1, San Diego County, in 1865. Although the county had operated a public school in rented buildings and houses for some years, this is reputed to be the first publicly owned school house in the county.
562 Fathers Crespi and Gómez, while on the Portolá expedition to find Monterey Bay, in 1769, performed the first baptisms in Alta California. This occurred a few days after leaving the site of the Presidio of San Diego in mid-July. (See Historic Landmark No. 59)
As the expedition journeyed north, on July 22 it entered Cristianitos Canyon on the present Orange County line. Scouts told them that there were two small children dying in an Indian village nearby. The priests found one baby dying at its mother’s breast and another small girl dying of burns. Father Gómez baptized the baby, naming her “María Magdalena.” Father Crespi baptized the child, naming her “Margarita.”
The site of the baptisms, a spring in Los Cristianitos Canyon, or “Valle de los Bautismos,” is situated in Camp Pendleton. A plaque commemorating the event is in the San Clemente Civic Center, in San Clemente.
LAS FLORES ASISTENCIA
616 Las Flores asistencia was built around 1823, together with a lodging house used as a halfway house between San Luis Rey and San Juan Capistrano Missions. The asistencia, located on what was known as the “San Pedro Rancho,” was under the jurisdiction of Mission San Luis Rey. The priests traveled regularly to preach at the asistencia.
Father Peyri (See Historic Site No. 239) reported on Oct. 7, 1827, that at the asistencia corn, wheat, and barley were raised and cattle were grazed at nearby Las Pulgas. The area, later known as “Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores,” is now Camp Pendleton. It is about 10 miles south of San Clemente in San Diego County.
626 This adobe is on Bancroft Drive in Spring Valley. It was reported by its second owner, Captain Rufus Porter, to have been built by Squire A. S. Ensworth, and to have incorporated in it the oak timbers of a coaling hulk, the “Clarissa Andrews,” which was owned by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and lay off La Playa for many years. The “Clarissa Andrews” had been a three-decker trans-Atlantic packet, when sail transported newcomers to America.
Hubert Howe Bancroft, a leading western historian, bought the ranch in 1885, when the house was twenty-nine years old. He continued to write volumes of his well-known histories there, and experimented with many types of plants and crops.
Bancroft House is a registered federal historic landmark.
EL VADO (ANZA CAMP)
634 In 1774 Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and Father Francisco Garcés opened the overland trail from Sonora, Mexico to Alta California. Known as the “Anza Trail,” it was badly needed to keep California settlements supplied, and in contact with Mexico, in case of a war with a maritime power.
On his second expedition over this route, in 1775, Anza brought a group of 240 settlers, including the first white women to come to California. This was a colonizing party whose purpose was to found San Francisco.
On this arduous journey the party stopped from December 20 to 22, 1775 at “El Vado,” in the mouth of Coyote Canyon, 7.1 miles north of Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs. At this point the party began climbing the San Ysidro Mountains.
“El Vado,” means “The Ford.” The site is in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
635 On December 19, 1775, Captain de Anza’s second expedition negotiated “Los Puertecitos,” or “Little Passes,” after camping in the wide flats at its eastern end the night before. Los Puertecitos is in the wash of the San Felipe Creek, 1.7 miles east of Ocotillo Wells.
639 The desert palms that grow here marked the site as a source of underground water. Between 1826-1866, Mexican pioneers, mountain men, Kearny’s Army of the West, the Mormon Battalion, the Boundary Commission, Forty-niners, the railway survey parties, the Butterfield and San Antonio-San Diego Mail drivers, and all the immigrants that came to California over the southern route, watched for this haven.
Although its proximity to Vallecito (it is about nine miles further south) precluded its being an important stop, it was a welcome resting place for men and animals.
Palm Spring is in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
PUERTA (BUTTERFIELD OVERLAND MAIL ROUTE)
647 This “puerta,” or “pass,” is the lowest point between the desert and the cooler valleys to the north. Situated between Earthquake and Blair Valleys the pass was used by all the trails and parties that traveled between Vallecitos and Warner’s ranch. A little gully, washed out by a century’s rains and winds, shows where the Butterfield Overland Mail coaches clattered over the rocks. This grade became known as “Walker Pass,” for often it was necessary for riders to get down and walk, or push, both those in wagons and on stages.
Puerta is situated in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, at Scissors Crossing.
673 The Anza expeditions of 1774 and 1775 made their camps in this narrow valley. This is the area of the original Borrego Springs. On his first expedition, Anza, entering Borrego off San Felipe Creek, camped near an alkali sink to the west of Borrego Mountain, near the unhospitable Borrego badlands.
We arrived at a little water which was running slightly and of good quality…this this place I named “San Gregorio…” Anza wrote.
Here he and his party and his cattle rested for one full day.
This site is in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
MONTGOMERY MEMORIAL STATE PARK
711 At Otay Mesa, in August 1883, John Joseph Montgomery made the first heavier-than-air craft flight. He was assisted by his brother, Jim, who related the story this way…
I towed John into the air in his little glider at the end of a 40 foot rope. He flew over my head and landed beautifully about six hundred feet down the hill…
This was 20 years before the Wright Brothers had their successful flights.
Montgomery later accepted a professorship at Santa Clara College, where he continued his interest in aviation, making many more glider flights. In October, 1911, he suffered a stroke while testing one of his planes. The plane side-slipped to the ground and over-turned. A small bolt pierced his brain and he died shortly afterward.
Montgomery Memorial State Park is 11 miles south of San Diego.
PEG LEG SMITH MONUMENT
750 Thomas L. Smith, better known as “Peg Leg” Smith, 1802-1866, was a mountain man, prospector and spinner of tall tales. Legends regarding his fabulous lost gold mine have grown throughout the years.
Supposedly Smith, who lived in San Bernardino at the time, brought out from the desert some rich samples of ore, from a mine he had discovered. He drew a map of his mine, but was overcome by thirst before he could return to it. No one else has ever found it.
It is rumored that a curse now hangs over the mine. Anyone who comes near to finding it will die. Four men have died in this manner. Other searchers maintain that one has strange feelings, has visions and hears unaccounted-for sounds when in the general area of the mine.
The gold from the mine is distinctive in that it is covered with a sooty substance, so far unidentified. The gold mine, now covered by shifting sands, its appearance altered by wind and rain, probably lies in the close vicinity of the monument, within the boundaries of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
SITE OF THE KATE O. SESSIONS’ NURSERY
764 Kate O. Sessions was the dean of horticulturalists of San Diego. She was born in Oakland, California, received a B. S. degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1881, and in 1883 came to San Diego as assistant principal and instructor at San Diego High School.
In 1885 she established her first nursery in Coronado. Later she leased nursery land from the City of San Diego. This was on the northwest corner of Sixth and Upas Streets, which was city park land. In return for the lease, each year she planted 100 trees and also furnished trees for schools and streets.
In 1924 she moved her nursery to Mission Hills, and in 1928 to the Pacific Beach site, at Pico and Balboa, where she continued her experiments in horticulture. She was the first woman to receive the International Meyer Medal in Genetics.
EL CAMINO REAL
784 The plaque commemorates the 250th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the State of California. This was Father Junípero Serra, the humble, hardworking Franciscan priest who began the series of missions throughout California.
“El Camino Real,” or the “King’s Highway,” was the myriad of roads used to connect the various missions. Most of them were known and used by Father Serra. In fact he established many of them.
In addition to this plaque placed at Mission San Diego de Alcalá, at the same time a similar plaque was placed in the Mission San Francisco de Asísi, in San Francisco, California.
785 After leaving San Gregorio, (See Historic Site No. 673) on his overland expedition to open the Anza Trail into Upper California, Juan Bautista de Anza led his party north into Coyote Canyon.
… a little before daybreak we set forth toward the north, and having traveled about six leagues … we arrived at a spring or fountain of the finest water… at its head we halted for the night and to the place I gave the name of “Santa Catarina…” he relates in his diary.
Santa Catarina Springs or Lower Willows, are located at the entrance to Collins Valley in Coyote Canyon, within Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
SAN FELIPE VALLEY AND STAGE STATION
793 Between Warner’s Ranch (Historical Landmark No. 311) and Box Canyon (Historical Landmark No. 472) lay San Felipe Valley and its Stage Station. Here the primitive trade routes of the Kamia, Cahuilla, Diegueño, and Luiseño Indians were adapted as a southern trail of the white man.
Explorers, trappers, soldiers, and emigrants used this southern gateway into California. On the Flat, southwest across the San Felipe Creek, a man named Warren F. Hall built and operated the San Felipe home station of the Butterfield Mail, 1858-1861, which later was used by the Banning Stages and by the military during the Civil War.
San Felipe Valley lies in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
SAN DIEGO STATE COLLEGE, SITE OF THE FIRST DOCTORATE DEGREE GRANTED BY THE CALIFORNIA STATE COLLEGE SYSTEM
798 Under the Master Plan for Higher Education adopted in 1960, the colleges in the newly established California State College System were given the right to confer joint doctorate degrees with the University of California, and independent degrees to individuals who have made unusual contributions toward learning and civilization.
San Diego State College was the first of the California State Colleges to do this when, on June 7, 1963, it conferred an honorary doctorate degree upon the late President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
San Diego State College building plans call for a memorial fountain to be erected on the campus in honor of the memory of the late president and of the occasion of his historic visit to the campus. Funds are being raised by the San Diego State College Alumni Association.
STAR OF INDIA
 This vessel is the oldest iron-hulled sailing ship still afloat. She was built in 1863 at Ramsey in the Isle of Man. Originally christened “Euterpe” she sailed the seas all over the world for over 60 years.
In the 1920’s while sailing ships were rotting away in harbors across the nation because their places had been taken by more modern steam ships, the Star of India, lying in the harbor at Alameda, California, was bought and brought here by a philanthropist, named James Wood Coffroth, to be a maritime museum for the City of San Diego.
Depression and World War II forced the plans for the restoration of the old ship to be laid aside. Indeed, during the war she was almost demolished and sold for scrap. Her tall masts were torn down because they were a hazard to navy planes flying over San Diego Bay.
At the end of the war the restoration was begun with funds raised by private subscription. The ship was opened as a maritime museum on Nov. 14, 1963, on her 100th birthday,
The Star of India is berthed at the Embarcadero, San Diego Harbor.
NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARKS LOCATED WITHIN SAN DIEGO COUNTY
BANCROFT HOUSE – See State Historic Landmark No. 626
CABRILLO NATIONAL MONUMENT – See State Historic Landmark No. 51.
OLD MISSION DAM – See State Historic Landmark No. 52
SAN DIEGO PRESIDIO – See State Historic Landmark No. 59
WARNER’S RANCH – See State Historic Landmark No. 311
The Star of India was subsequently made Landmark #1030, so that number is noted above. Many more County Landmarks have been added since publication of this issue.