Cabrillo National Monument centennial photos!

01 People near Visitor Center enjoy Cabrillo National Monument's centennial event.
People near Visitor Center enjoy Cabrillo National Monument’s centennial.

Here are some pics I took Sunday during the second day of Cabrillo National Monument’s centennial celebration.

Cabrillo National Monument is located at the tip of the Point Loma peninsula. The hilly peninsula helps to enclose San Diego Bay and is a perfect lookout over both the ocean and harbor. The park includes most notably the historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse and a statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo that was commissioned by the Portuguese government in 1939. It also includes military bunkers that were used to protect the bay during World War II, and a very popular whale-watching lookout.

The park this year turned one hundred years old. In 1913 Woodrow Wilson reserved a portion of Fort Rosecrans on the Point Loma peninsula for a statue of Cabrillo. Unfortunately, a statue was not immediately forthcoming, and the park’s development became the work of many decades.

The work in progress continues today. My last visit was a few years ago, and this time I noticed many big changes and improvements!

The first photo shows a bunch of people near the Visitor Center, on the walkway that leads out to the Cabrillo statue.

02 Nonprofit organizations display info in front of Visitor Center for Cabrillo centennial.
Various informative displays in front of Visitor Center for the centennial event.

For the centennial event, many community and government organizations had exhibits near the entrance to the Visitor Center. This pic shows what appeared to be the most popular table. The friendly lady had numerous snakes that fascinated young and old alike.

03 Yummy centennial cake was served to all park visitors.
Yummy centennial cake was served to all park visitors.

Everybody enjoyed a small slice of birthday cake!

04 Statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo overlooks the ocean.
Statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo overlooks the ocean.

Here’s the iconic statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the Portuguese explorer who sailed into San Diego Bay on behalf of Spain nearly five hundred years ago. It stands not far from the Visitor Center overlooking both the bay and Pacific Ocean.

05 Park sign shows where Cabrillo entered San Diego Bay in 1542.
Park sign shows where Cabrillo entered San Diego Bay in 1542.
06 Distant view of Cabrillo statue and Coronado Island.
Distant view of Cabrillo statue and Coronado Island.

As I walked up the hill to observe a reenacted air raid drill from World War II, I looked back at this beautiful view. Great views can be had at Cabrillo National Monument looking in almost any direction!

07 Tents of Army camp set up as historical reenactment.
Tents of Army camp set up as historical reenactment.

These tents and some nearby vehicles were on display for the centennial. During World War II, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, many feared an attack on San Diego. So defenses were quickly erected. In addition to a number of observation bunkers, a few gun emplacements were situated along the end of Point Loma to defend the mainland and bay.

A small museum nearby includes many photographs, recordings and artifacts from that period in San Diego’s history.

08 Mock air raid drill recalls duties during World War II.
Mock air raid drill recalls duties during World War II.

At eleven o’clock, a mock air raid was staged! An aircraft from nearby Naval Air Station North Island swept over the bluffs as World War II veterans and enthusiasts looked on from the hilltop near some old bunkers.

09 Visitors head down into Battery E bunker where a watch was kept during World War II.
Visitors head into Battery E bunker used during World War II.

After the air raid, we all took turns going down into Battery E.

10 A look inside Battery E and equipment to sight enemy ships.
A look inside Battery E and equipment to sight enemy ships.

We were surprised at what we found! The flash of my camera illuminated the small semi-dark bunker, capturing this instrument used to scan the horizon for Japanese warships during World War II.

11 A chart inside the bunker identifies Japanese warships.
A chart inside the bunker identifies Japanese warships.

Down a nearby ladder was a second small room containing beds for those who stood watch at all hours.

12 People walk toward the old Cabrillo lighthouse.
People walk toward the old Cabrillo lighthouse.

A short distance from Battery E is the historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse. From 1855 to 1891 it stood as a beacon for those entering San Diego Bay, before being replaced by an automated lighthouse down near the water. This old lighthouse is one of San Diego’s most well-known sights!

13 A small museum by the lighthouse includes the original Fresnel lens.
A museum by the old lighthouse includes the first Fresnel lens to be used by the automated New Point Loma Lighthouse.

A small museum near the lighthouse’s entrance is worth a quick look. It includes an amazing Fresnel lens that magnified light to help sailors out at sea.

14 The front of the historic lighthouse and the large rainwater basin.
Front of the historic lighthouse and its large rainwater basin.

A large flat area in front of the lighthouse was used by the keeper and his family to capture rainwater. Back then this lighthouse stood isolated, far from the small town across the water that grew into metropolitan San Diego.

15 Recreated family room in Cabrillo lighthouse includes a Christmas tree.
Recreated family room in Cabrillo lighthouse includes Christmas tree.

Several furnished rooms in the lighthouse are on display behind glass. Very little space was available to accommodate the keeper and his family. In addition to this main room, there’s a kitchen area, closet, and two bedrooms up the winding stairs.

16 Looking down winding stairs from top of Cabrillo lighthouse.
Looking down winding stairs from top of Cabrillo lighthouse.

Speaking of the stairs, I couldn’t resist taking this pic!

17 Another view of Point Loma's historic old lighthouse.
Another view of Point Loma’s historic old lighthouse.

Another great look.

18 Grey whale sculpture near Pacific Ocean overlook.
Grey whale sculpture near Pacific Ocean overlook.

Interesting sculptures, artwork and signs can be found at the Pacific Ocean overlook. During the winter months, you can see gray whales spouting as they travel between the Arctic and Baja California.

19 A good place to spot migrating grey whales during the winter months.
A good place to spot migrating gray whales during the winter months.

You can see where the tidepools are below. I didn’t go down to the water on this trip, but it’s a fun place to see all sorts of sea creatures!

20 Walking down to Bayside Trail and folks who will talk about history.
Walking down to Bayside Trail and folks who will talk about history.

At noon there was a guided hike down the Bayside Trail. We walked down a short road to the trailhead, where an old military truck waited with some folks dressed in historic uniforms. They would show us some interesting stuff down the trail.

21 A group walks down the Cabrillo Bayside Trail on a beautiful December day.
Group walks down Cabrillo Bayside Trail on a December day.

Here we go down the Bayside Trail. The lady park ranger showed us a large number of native plants, including Coastal Sage, Lemonade Berry, Prickly Pear and more. The flora you see here is what is natural to the area. San Diego is located in a semi-arid zone, with very little precipitation. Most of the trees and other plants you see around town are not native.

22 Talking about a spotlight that protected San Diego Bay during World War II.
A spotlight protected San Diego Bay during World War II.

We’ve come to a small structure built into the hillside that houses an old electric spotlight. The huge lamp was used to watch the San Diego Bay’s entrance during World War II. It rolled out on a pair of tracks and plugged into an outlet that you can see by the trail.

23 Inside the small structure we look at the huge wartime spotlight.
Inside the small structure we look at the huge wartime spotlight.

My camera’s flash brightly illuminated the old spotlight inside.

24 Further down the trail is the spotlight's generator building.
Further down the trail is the spotlight’s generator building.

Now we’ve walked down to the electrical generator building–really just two small empty rooms. Usually these structures are closed to the public.

25 Rounding a corner of the sandstone cliff San Diego comes into view.
Rounding a corner of the sandstone cliff San Diego comes into view.

The group turned back, but I walked on…

26 America's Cup boat Abracadabra sails down the San Diego channel.
America’s Cup boat Abracadabra sails down the San Diego channel.

And I was rewarded with this view. Having lived in San Diego a good many years, I recognized the large sailboat leaving San Diego Bay. It’s the Abracadabra, a boat used in a past America’s Cup. I also spotted the Stars and Stripes, just out of this picture.

Beyond downtown San Diego I could see numerous mountains, from Cuyamaca on down to Otay. When it snows in the mountains, San Diego has a snow-capped backdrop viewed from here!

27 One last fond look at the beautiful Cabrillo National Monument lighthouse.
One last fond look at the beautiful Cabrillo National Monument lighthouse.

One last look!

Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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