San Diego history buffs know that the San Diego River, where it approaches the Pacific Ocean, is not located where it flowed originally.
A cobblestone filled channel in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is a visual reminder that the river once flowed directly next to our city’s birthplace.
In 1853, to prevent flooding in Old Town and the build-up of sediment in San Diego Bay, the Derby Dike was built, diverting the river into False Bay–today’s Mission Bay.
A sign by a footbridge over the modest cobblestone channel shows where the San Diego River was originally located in relation to the park and nearby Taylor Street. You can find this sign in the beautiful outdoor Iipay – Tipai Kumeyaay Mut Niihepok Land of the First People, at the northwest corner of the State Park.
Long before the arrival of explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542, and the establishment of the nearby Spanish Presidio in 1769, the Native American Kumeyaay lived here on the banks of the life-sustaining river in a village called Kosa’aay. They called the river ha wenow.
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