Tag Archives: jacumba

Out & About—The border fence & dead buildings

Out & About

I thought I would finish today with my driving tour of Old Highway 80 in the boondocks of east San Diego County.

Old Highway 80 takes you very close to the U.S. border with Mexico, and since San Diego County built its wall back in the 2000s, it’s already complete and ready for pictures.

United States-Mexico border fence east of San Diego

Border Patrol agents like to hide and watch you from afar through their binoculars. Several agents were hiding on the bluff with these structures….

Border Patrol lookout

….and descended upon me when I got too close to the border fence. I had parked my car just off the shoulder of the highway, got out, and climbed down under this 1931 bridge to get some pictures.

Old Highway 80 bridge built in 1931

I was between the bridge and the border fence, and that’s when the Border Patrol agents descended on me like vultures on road kill.

Once the Border Patrol agents were satisfied with my explanation for being out there in a brand new car with temporary license plates, the head honcho radioed his agents and told them, “Stand down. Local tourist.”

Once I left them and continued heading east, I discovered lots of dead buildings. I could find no history about the following dead building, but I thought it was quite beautiful in its death and thought I could make a nice piece of Photographic Art out of it.

Dead building near Jacumba Hot Springs, California

Dead building Photographic Art

Next stop is Jacumba Hot Springs where there are all sorts of dead buildings to explore, such as this dead building in front of the Jacumba Elementary School:

Dead building in front of Jacumba Elementary School

It’s a good thing there were no dead buildings in front of the elementary school I attended. I never would have been in school. Of course, the principal would have known exactly where I was after the first couple of truant days….

Also on the south side of the highway is a dead chimney from the long-gone Hotel Vaughn:

Dead chimney of the Hotel Vaughn in Jacumba Hot Springs, California

I found a picture postcard of the Hotel Vaughn that was sold on eBay back in 2013.

Hotel Vaughn, Jacumba Hot Springs, California

When you get into Jacumba, it almost seems like the whole town is full of dead buildings, the largest of which is the old Jacumba Hot Springs bath house:

Jacumba Hot Springs in Jacumba, California

Jacumba Hot Springs in Jacumba, California

Jacumba Hot Springs in Jacumba, California

The hot springs became a destination spot in the 1880s, and Jacumba became a happenin’ place, a premier destination, in the twenties and thirties because of the Jacumba Hot Springs bath house. It was even attracting Hollywood celebrities.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Advertisements

Out & About—Bankhead Springs, drive-through ghost town

Out & About

After my wise old grandmother adopted me in December 1965, I had daily access to a television and got addicted to Lucille Ball. I watched anything and everything in which she made an appearance, beginning with “I Love Lucy.”

In 1957, “I Love Lucy” morphed into Season 1 of “The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show.” The second episode, “The Celebrity Next Door,” originally broadcast on December 3, 1957, left an impression with an impressionable teenager, not because of anything specific about the show but because of one of the guest stars, Tallulah Bankhead (1902-1968), the celebrity. The name was so unusual that it stuck with me for many years….

….even unto the present.

Earlier this year when I was out touring Old Highway 80, I came upon Bankhead Springs. Bankhead. Couldn’t be any connection.

“Au contraire, bison breath,” someone more famous than me used to say.

Bankhead Springs was named for John Hollis Bankhead (1842-1920). While serving as a U.S. Senator from Alabama (1907-1920), John Bankhead was instrumental in advocating for the development of highways, specifically a cross-country highway. Eventually, the Bankhead Highway connected Washington DC to San Diego, with the western section eventually becoming U.S. Highway 80.

Wanna guess who his granddaughter was? Yep. Tallulah Bankhead.

Bankhead Springs currently is “a drive-through ghost town,” as are many of the towns along Highway 80 which were bypassed when Interstate 8 was built in the early 1960s.

In the early 20th Century, Bankhead Springs and nearby Jacumba were hot spots for Hollywood celebrities and the idle rich because of their natural hot springs. Although local legend says that Tallulah was involved in the town’s development, there is no evidence of that. There also are rumors that prostitutes out of Bankhead Springs pandered to the lonely construction workers building Interstate 8. Those rumors also appear unfounded and might have more to do with Tallulah’s well-known status as a libertine.

The Bankhead Springs Hotel, built around 1920, provided glamorous accommodations, and for a little extra money, one could get a rental cabin. The hotel is still standing, serving as a roadside store.

Bankhead Springs Hotel, Bankhead Springs CA

Bankhead Springs Hotel, Bankhead Springs CA

The Bankhead Springs Hotel apparently has an interesting history, although I was unable to confirm its history from any source other than an online blog similar to mine. Apparently the hotel closed for a decade, with the story being that the owner simply disappeared one day and was never heard from again. Police found room doors open, beds made, kitchen and dining area clean and set for the next meal, and no sign of robbery or violence. There was a bank fund to pay the property tax so the hotel doors were locked and the hotel left undisturbed. When the property tax fund ran out, the county seized the property for back taxes.

Many of the rental cabins still stand, too, although just barely. I don’t think anyone will be renting any of them any time soon.

Bankhead Springs Hotel rental cabin, Bankhead Springs CA

Bankhead Springs Hotel rental cabin, Bankhead Springs CA

Bankhead Springs Hotel rental cabin, Bankhead Springs CA

Bankhead Springs Hotel rental cabin, Bankhead Springs CA

Bankhead Springs Hotel rental cabin, Bankhead Springs CA

Bankhead Springs Hotel rental cabin, Bankhead Springs CA

Bankhead Springs Hotel rental cabin, Bankhead Springs CA

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat