Category Archives: History

You can see their fort from our fort

Out & About

Since we finished exploring San Diego Historical Landmarks #1 and #2, I had to go out and about to get pictures of #3.

Landmark #3 is right next to #4, so I was able to get two sets of pictures in just one trip. Yahoo for saving gas!

As I wandered around #3 and #4, which have awesome views from up on high, I saw across the way this structure:

University of San Diego

That is part of the campus of the University of San Diego, a private Catholic-affiliated university of about 5,500 students founded in 1949.

Looks kind of like a fort. Imagine a fort manned by men and women who are mostly 18-22 years old. Hmmm. Sounds just like the United States military….

To take that picture, I was standing at the site of the Presidio:

Presidio in San Diego

The Presidio was built in 1769 and was the first permanent European settlement on the Pacific Coast of the present-day United States. It was the base of operations for the Spanish colonization of California. It was a fort.

There are no structures left from the original Presidio. What often is referred to as the Presidio, shown above, is actually the Serra Museum, built in 1928-29 on the site of the original Presidio. It is named after Father Junipero Serra (1713-1784), founder of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the first mission in California, and eight other missions.

The Serra Museum was built by George Marston (1850-1946), a wealthy department store owner. He had bought Presidio Hill with an intent to preserve the site. The building was designed by noted San Diego architect William Templeton Johnson (1877-1957) in Spanish Revival style to house the collection of the San Diego Historical Society. (For more about William Johnson, see San Diego Historical Landmarks #1, part 6, part 8, and part 10.)

Marston donated the museum and surrounding park land to the city of San Diego in 1929.

Sadly, city budget cuts during the Great Recession caused the Serra Museum to be unstaffed and closed. Those cuts have not been fully restored, so the Museum is open only on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. That’s where I will be in a few of days in order to get more pictures of San Diego Historical Landmark #4.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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The work of Ricardo Breceda of Borrego Springs CA

Out & About

When I went to Palm Springs in mid-August, one of my goals was to see the statues of prehistoric wildlife in Borrego Springs (see A short visit to Galleta Meadows).

Little did I know then that the guy who created the statues, Ricardo Breceda, lives in Borrego Springs and sells much smaller statues to common people like me.

Following are some of the smaller statues that I found exhibited on properties throughout the area, and some for sale at a business.

Longhorn cow Mountain lion Desert buffalo Desert bighorn sheep Porker grill

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Breceda’s work celebrates the history and culture of Southern California, the desert environment, and pure fantasy.

Breceda originally is from Durango, Mexico. One day he made a dinosaur statue for his daughter, and the rest, as they say, is history. Breceda eventually met Dennis Avery, owner of Galleta Meadows Estates in Borrego Springs.  Avery had the vision of using his land as an enormous outdoor art gallery, and it became home to Breceda’s artwork featuring prehistoric and fantasy creatures.

I now know that there are over 150 of the larger statues scattered throughout the Anza-Borrego desert. I only saw 27 of them. I am trying to find a complete list, and a map of their locations, and when I do…………. ROAD TRIP!

The chase

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Southern California, a train lover’s paradise

Railroads & Trains logo

Southern California is a train lover’s paradise, especially if one loves riding trains and not just watching them pass by.

For riding pleasure, we have the San Diego Trolley with its ubiquitous red cars. The Trolley system has 53 stations, 54 miles of tracks, and three routes (Orange Line, Red Line, Blue Line). It will take one down to the Mexican border, out east to Santee, to downtown San Diego, and all around downtown. Its average of 122,400 riders on week days makes it the nation’s fourth most-ridden light rail system.

San Diego Trolley at the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego

Santa Fe Depot in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There also is a historic streetcar that runs circular routes downtown on the Silver Line. Looks like this:

San Diego Trolley vintage streetcar

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There is the Coaster, which travels between downtown San Diego’s historic Santa Fe Depot and Oceanside, 38 miles north.

Coaster at the San Diego County Fair

Once you get to Oceanside, you can hitch a ride on Metrolink all the way to the historic Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

Metrolink

Union Station in Los Angeles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Or you can choose to ride Amtrak from downtown San Diego all the way to downtown Los Angeles, one of the most beautiful routes on the entire Amtrak system.

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner in Del Mar, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Once in Oceanside, you can take the Sprinter east to Escondido, about twenty miles and just a few miles from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Sprinter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If your preference is for freight trains, BNSF serves the San Diego area.

BNSF locomotive in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

BNSF doesn’t make it easy to watch their trains, though. Their tracks are in heavy industrial areas and usually behind high walls and fences.

To watch freight trains, I highly suggest taking a day trip to Los Angeles or Palm Springs and watching the Union Pacific trains build America.

Union Pacific Railroad, Building America

Union Pacific Railroad

Union Pacific 6190, a former Southern Pacific engine

Lonely boxcar in the desert faa framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You can often catch the historic ATSF 3751 steam engine making its way around California since it’s based in Los Angeles.

ATSF 3751 at Los Angeles at National Train Day in May 2012

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Every few years, the Union Pacific’s own historic steam engine, #844, cruises through Southern California pulling historic passenger cars.

Union Pacific 844 steam engine in Southern California, November 2011

Union Pacific 844 steam engine in Southern California, November 2011

Union Pacific 844 steam engine in Southern California, November 2011

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you’re in Los Angeles, where traffic is a horrible mess at all hours of the day, park the car somewhere and take Metrolink or Metro Rail. The trains are fast and clean, and the stations, especially those of the newer Metro Rail, are public works of art in and of themselves.

Metro Rail of Los Angeles

Red Line on the Metro subway in Los Angeles

Red Line on the Metro subway in Los Angeles

Red Line on the Metro subway in Los Angeles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#2: Old Mission Dam

San Diego Historical Landmarks

It took eighteen posts to explore San Diego’s Historical Landmark #1! Now that we’re finished, the other landmarks should be much faster. However, the most recent list I have right now, dated May 26, 2011, has 999 historical landmarks, so if I did one post per day, we’d be here for three years! I’m not doing one post per day just on historical landmarks, so it’s probably going to be more like five or ten years. We best get busy!

San Diego Historical Landmark #2 is the Old Mission Dam & Flume at Padre Dam. Looks like this:

Padre Dam in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Old Mission Dam was the first major irrigation project on the Pacific Coast. It is located on the San Diego River as it runs through what is now Mission Trails Regional Park, the largest municipal park in California.

Mission Trails Regional Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That’s my shadow in the bottom right corner. Does that count as a selfie?

The wall welcoming you to the nearest entrance to the park has a representation of the San Diego River on it.

Mission Trails Regional Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In the following Photographic Art, titled “Purple Mountains Majesty,” the green coursing through the canyon between the mountains is the San Diego River and the location of the Old Mission Dam.

Purple Mountains Majesty

Also called “Padre Dam,” the stone and cement dam is 220 feet long, 13 feet wide at its base and 12 feet high. Water was released from the dam for a sawmill and irrigation at the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, California’s first mission, six miles away.

Following is more about the dam, and I have put the graphic into words below it for my foreign readers since Google Translate can’t translate text on a graphic.

Old Mission Dam in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

From the above graphic:

In the early 1800’s, the Spanish saw the need to control the flow of water and to provide it year-round for their permanent settlements. To solve this problem, engineers trained in Mexico supervised Kumeyaay Indian laborers in building one of the first major irrigation projects in the western United States.

The 250-foot long Old Mission Dam (formerly known as Padre Dam) was built 8 to 10 feet wide and nearly 12 feet high, using ropes, pullies and hand labor. Rocks and boulders were cemented together with a mortar made of lime and crushed seashells.

The reservoir created by the dam was three football fields long. A flume, lined with hand-made clay tiles, was built along the north side of the river to deliver water to the head of the Mission’s crop fields (located where the Admiral Baker Golf Course is today), about three miles downstream from the dam. From the fields, a 2.5 mile clay-lined ditch carried water the remaining distance to the Mission, where it was then stored in a tank on site.

To protect this unique and historic engineering achievement, the Old Mission Dam was registered as both a National Historic Site, as well as a California State Historic Landmark.

A Google map showing the dam and the Admiral Baker Golf Course:

Google Maps

Go to location on Google Maps

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mission San Diego de Alcalá was founded in July 1769, and the dam was built as early as 1803 (source: List of San Diego Historical Landmarks) and as late as 1813-1816 (all other sources). I’m going with 1813-1816.

Old Mission Dam in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Old Mission Dam in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Old Mission Dam in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

From the above graphic:

The Old Mission Dam
The dam was constructed from granite boulders and limestone mortar. Notice the gap, where in the actual dam, there was once a 12-foot wide wooden floodgate. A smaller gap on the opposite side of the dam held a wheelbox outlet, which opened directly to the flume and was used to run a water gristmill. Imagine the vital impact this water project had on the increase in crop production and the sustainability of life in this area.

Here’s the big gap:

Old Mission Dam in San Diego, California

Old Mission Dam is California Historical Landmark #52 and a United States National Historic Landmark, and is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post
to San Diego’s historical landmarks,
click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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I dream of a woodie

Out & About

For Christmas 1967, my oldest uncle bought a new car for his family, and they drove from Chatsworth (Los Angeles) to Kingsville, Texas, to spend Christmas with my wise old grandmother and me.

The new car he bought was a 1968 Mercury Colony Park station wagon. I fell in love with the car because it had wood on the exterior rear and sides.

A decade later I went to a car show in Houston that featured “Woodies.” Since then I have had a fascination with surfing Woodies from the ’50s and ’60s.

Today I went to Encinitas, about 45 miles from me, to see Woodies in all their spectacular glory. This was my favorite:

Woodie in Encinitas, California, on 9-20-14

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Woodie in Encinitas, California, on 9-20-14

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Woodie in Encinitas, California, on 9-20-14

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It was for sale but, sadly, all of these Woodies were way out of my price range, including this 1951 Ford Woodie for just $7,500:

1951 Ford Woodie

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The price for that Woodie pretty much tells you the price for the restored Woodies in immaculate condition.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 18

San Diego Historical Landmarks

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 5
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 7
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 9
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 10
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 11
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 12
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 13
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 14
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 15
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 16
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 17

El Prado Area Designation

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This is it, Folks! Our last stop on the El Prado Designation Area, and it’s a beautiful one, too. Looks like this:

Bea Evenson Fountain in San Diego's Balboa ParkBea Evenson Fountain & Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
in San Diego’s Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That’s the Bea Evenson Fountain. It sits in the plaza between the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in the picture (also see part 17) and the San Diego Natural History Museum (see part 16).

If you’re like me, you are wondering why Bea Evenson gets a beautiful fountain. Well….

Bea Evenson and Natural History Museum in San Diego's Balboa ParkBea Evenson Fountain and Natural History Museum
in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bea Evenson is the person pretty much directly responsible for us having most of the beautiful buildings along El Prado. History reports that many of the buildings were built as temporary structures for the 1915 Panama-California Exhibition. They were to be torn down after the Exhibition, but the citizenry took a liking to them and they were allowed to stand.

By the 1960s, however, the temporary structures were in a state of serious disrepair and certainly would not be able to withstand a significant earthquake. They were scheduled to be demolished in the mid-1960s.

Children playing in Bea Evenson Fountain in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bea Evenson refused to sit idly by while the beautiful buildings were destroyed. She created a Committee of 100 to work at saving the buildings, hoping to get 100 people working to help preserve the buildings. Instead, of 1,000 people stepped up to the plate.

A bond measure was passed by the voters, and funds were raised to renovate the buildings, retaining the exterior designs but incorporating a more practical interior. Plastic molds were made of all the bas-relief sculptures so that the new façade would be identical to the old. Some of the original sculptures are on display in various areas of Balboa Park.

Without Bea Evanson, the El Prado Designation Area would be without many of the buildings that we have visited on our trek down El Prado.

So here’s to Bea Evanson, the Committee of 100, and all the Bea Evansons of the world who refuse to let history be destroyed.

Bea Evenson Fountain in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 17

San Diego Historical Landmarks

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 5
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 7
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 9
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 10
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 11
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 12
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 13
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 14
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 15
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 16

El Prado Area Designation

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Our final building to visit in the El Prado Designation Area is the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Looks like this:

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego's Balboa Park

Also known as “The Fleet,” its mission statement is to inspire lifelong learning by furthering the public understanding and enjoyment of science and technology. I’m presuming today’s current crops of right-wing political religious fundamentalists (also known as Republicans) would not enjoy the museum. I, however, do.

The Fleet has more than one hundred interactive science exhibits in eight galleries, and that doesn’t include the major traveling exhibitions that stop by each year. Since opening in 1973, the Fleet consistently ranks as one of San Diego’s most-visited museums.

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego's Balboa Park

The Fleet is home to the world’s first IMAX Dome Theater; its unique configuration wraps the audience in images and provides the illusion of being suspended in space. Just because it was first, though, doesn’t mean it’s behind the times. The theater was renovated in two phases, 2008 and 2012, to update the interior, and install a modern sound system, a seamless screen, and a art digital projection system to the theater. Major funding for the renovation was provided by the Heikoffs. Renamed The Eugene Heikoff and Marilyn Jacobs Heikoff Dome Theater, it now shows both IMAX films and planetarium shows on the NanoSeam screen, providing audiences with viewing experience like nowhere else in Southern California.

The Heikoff Giant Dome Theater show takes audiences from outer space to under water and every place in between. The theater also plays host to planetarium shows, including the monthly Sky Tonight show, led by an astronomer, and followed by outdoor telescope viewing, courtesy of the San Diego Astronomy Association.

Visit the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center online for current exhibits, hours, and admission costs.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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