Category Archives: History

2014 Woodie car show at Moonlight Beach in Encinicatas, California

Out & About

Each year in September, Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas, California, is host to one of the best car shows in San Diego County, featuring the Woodie:

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

A Woodie has bodywork constructed of wood or simulated wood. The style first appeared in the early 1930s when the wood was actually a structural component of the car. Eventually it became simply an applied decoration to the side and doors. I think its heyday was with the 1950s and ’60s surfing generation.

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

Just about every car manufacturer of the ’50s and ’60s featured at least one Woodie in its car lineup, which makes seeing such lineups at Woodie car shows quite interesting.

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

I fell in love with all of them….

Well, except for this one:

1951 Ford Woodie

I’m the last person you would want to restore a car. By the time I finished, it would be something like what Johnny Cash described in “One Piece At A Time.”

Woody at the 2014 Woody car show in Encinitas, California

Moonlight State Beach

Go to location on Google Maps

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#3: Fort Stockton

San Diego Historical Landmarks

San Diego Historical Landmark #3 is the site of Fort Stockton. From afar, all you see is a flag:

Site of Fort Stockton in San Diego, California, marked by a flag

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fort Stockton was originally named Fort DuPont and is located on Presidio Hill. It has expansive views of Mission Valley, Old Town San Diego, the San Diego Harbor, and the Pacific Ocean, accounting for its strategic importance during the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848.

View from Presidio Hill

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

View from Presidio Hill

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The square doohickey in the picture immediately above is the carriage for an old cannon. The cannon is on display in the Serra Museum a few hundred yards away. It was cast in 1783, bears the coat of arms of King Carlos III of Spain, the name “El Jupiter,” and a Latin phrase which translates as “Beware the King’s Thunderbolts.” I will endeavor to get a picture of the cannon this weekend.

Presidio Hill is where the first European settlement in Alta California was established in 1769. The Spanish occupied Presidio Hill until Mexico gained its independence in 1821. By the time war broke out between Mexico and the U.S. in 1846, Presidio Hill had been abandoned.

At the beginning of the Mexican-American War, in July of 1846, U.S. forces numbering 160 from the USS Cayne took San Diego and re-established a military outpost on Presidio Hill, naming it Fort DuPont after the Cayne’s captain, Samuel F. DuPont.

Ten days after capturing San Diego, DuPont and the majority of his men sailed the Cayne north to successfully take Los Angeles, leaving behind just forty men in San Diego. A Mexican offensive which began in Los Angeles in September 1846 made its way south to San Diego. By October, San Diego once again belonged to the Mexicans. Three weeks later, though, the Americans recaptured San Diego for the second time.

Old Fort Stockton in San DiegoIn November 1846, Commodore Robert Stockton, commander of the American Pacific Squadron, sailed the USS Congress into San Diego Bay. His troops took over Fort DuPont, renamed it Fort Stockton, and strengthened its defenses. Fort Stockton changed hands several times between American troops and Mexican troops during the war. When the war ended in 1848, Fort Stockton was abandoned.

Plaques, monuments, and the flag mark the spot where Fort Stockton once stood. All evidence of its existence, however, has faded into history.

Several of the plaques and monuments remind us that the famed Mormon Battalion arrived at Fort Stockton in on January 29, 1847. Originally consisting of 500 men and about 80 women and children, they had left Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 16, 1846, a grueling 2,000-mile march to San Diego. They had come as their patriotic duty to help in the war effort. But the war in California was over by the time of their arrival. Nonetheless, their patriotism and march are unparalleled in the annals of history.

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monument to the Mormon Battalion at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monument to the Mormon Battalion at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Monument to the Mormon Battalion at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mormon Battalion plaque at Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fort Stockton is San Diego Historical Landmark #3 and California Registered Historic Landmark #54.

Fort Stockton in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Old Glory at Fort Stockton historical site in San Diego

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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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

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Need a unique gift? Have Bare Wall Symdrome?
Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.
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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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Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

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