Amazing new murals at San Diego Automotive Museum.

Visitors to the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park walk under four large temporary murals recently installed above the California State Building's entrance.
Visitors to the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park walk under four large temporary murals recently installed above the 1935 California State Building’s entrance.

The 1935 California State Building in Balboa Park, home to the San Diego Automotive Museum, is slowly being restored to its former glory. Four temporary murals were installed above the entrance several weeks ago. They are based on murals that decorated the building during the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.

Much of the California State Building’s original ornamentation no longer exists, including the four original murals. They were created for the exposition by Hollywood set designer Juan Larrinaga. Painted on fiberboard to appear like tilework, they depicted California’s commerce, scenic beauty, agriculture and industry.

Balboa Park’s Committee of 100 will be raising funds to recreate the historic murals with beautiful ceramic tiles. Meanwhile, these four amazing temporary murals will welcome visitors to Balboa Park’s San Diego Automotive Museum.

To learn more about this project, and other work being undertaken by the Committee of 100 to restore and enhance Balboa Park, including the Palisades area where the 1935 California State Building is located, visit their website here.

A depiction of California's commerce originally created for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
A depiction of California’s commerce originally created for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.
California's abundant natural beauty is depicted.
California’s abundant natural beauty is depicted.
A depiction of California's agriculture, which feeds many around the world.
A depiction of California’s agriculture, which feeds many around the world.
The fourth mural from 1935 depicts California's industrial activity.
The fourth mural from 1935 depicts California’s industrial activity.

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A walk around the the Sikes Adobe Farmhouse.

Photo of the rustic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse on a sunny November day.
Photo of the rustic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse on a sunny November day.

This morning I drove up to Escondido. One highlight of my day was walking around the historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse, which is located near a popular trailhead of the San Dieguito River Park’s long, not-yet-complete Coast to Crest Trail.

The Sikes Adobe, built around 1870, is a City of San Diego historic site. It contains a museum which is open every Sunday. Also on Sundays, the farmstead is where the North San Diego Certified Farmers Market is held.

As I walked around Sikes Adobe, I happened upon some interpretive signs which explain the history of the farmstead. I took photos if you’re interested. Click those sign images and they will expand for easy reading.

People had very different lives long ago in California. Fresh air, hard work, quiet hours, simple pleasures. And wild, untrod paths. I believe I would have loved that life.

The historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse is located near a trailhead of the Coast to Crest Trail, just east of Lake Hodges.
The historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse is located near a trailhead of the Coast to Crest Trail, just east of Lake Hodges.
The trail past the old farmstead is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
The trail past the farmstead is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
A sign shows proposed improvements to the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead Park, including event space and a reconstructed barn.
A sign shows proposed improvements to the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead Park, including event space and a reconstructed barn.
Scarecrows stand guard inside a community garden near the simple farmhouse.
Scarecrows stand guard inside a community garden near the rustic farmhouse.
Approaching the Sikes Adobe. One can tour the inside on Sundays, from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm.
Approaching the Sikes Adobe. One can tour the inside on Sundays, from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm.
In this photo you can see the small creamery building and the base of the restored windmill.
In this photo you can see the small creamery building and the base of the restored windmill.
A simple adobe house, typical of the early American era, shortly after California had achieved statehood.
A simple adobe house, typical of the early American era, shortly after California had achieved statehood.
View of the farmstead from the nearby trail.
View of the farmstead structures from the nearby trail.
Zenas and Eliza Sikes, with six children, arrived in 1870 and began their wheat farm here between the communities of Escondido and Rancho Bernardo.
Zenas and Eliza Sikes, with six children, arrived in 1870 and began their wheat farm here between the communities of Escondido and Rancho Bernardo.
A small vegetable garden near the restored windmill and creamery.
A small vegetable garden near the restored windmill and creamery.
Old rusty farm equipment in a corner of the farmstead.
Old rusty farm equipment in a corner of the farmstead.
Between 1860 and 1893, wheat was California's first bonanza crop. The creamery at Sikes Farm was built in the 1880s as their farm diversified and became more generalized.
Between 1860 and 1893, wheat was California’s first bonanza crop. The creamery at Sikes Farm was built in the 1880s as their farm diversified and became more generalized.
A town called Bernardo used to be located a couple miles southeast of the Sikes Adobe. The construction of the Lake Hodges Dam spelled the end for that town.
A small town called Bernardo used to be located a couple miles southeast of the Sikes Adobe. The construction of the Lake Hodges Dam spelled the end for that town.
Looking from the nearby trail past prickly pears at the farmhouse.
Looking from the nearby trail past prickly pears at the farmhouse.
Some horses have arrived at the trailhead's dirt parking lot.
Some horses have arrived at the trailhead’s dirt parking lot.
Sikes Adobe depends on your support. Become a docent or volunteer!
Sikes Adobe depends on your support. Become a docent or volunteer!
The Sikes Adobe Farmhouse rises behind a row of green grape vines.
The Sikes Adobe Farmhouse rises behind a row of green grape vines.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Photos outside beautiful new downtown courthouse.

Gazing up from Union Street at the unique new Superior Court building in downtown San Diego.
Gazing up from Union Street at the unique new Superior Court building in downtown San Diego.

Yesterday I walked past our beautiful new downtown courthouse. The opening of the high tech half billion dollar San Diego Central Courthouse has faced several delays, but the very unique exterior has already added more character to San Diego’s gleaming skyline.

Here are some photos. The rooftop canopy is rather unusual, as you can see. The crystal-like lattice of geometric reflections and shadows that it produces delights the eye.

The new San Diego Central Courthouse is nearly completed. It stands north across the C Street trolley tracks from the Hall of Justice.
The new San Diego Central Courthouse is nearly completed. It stands north across the C Street trolley tracks from the Hall of Justice. A pedestrian bridge connects both buildings.
Flags in a pleasant breeze. The new courthouse, most expensive in California, has faced various construction delays.
Flags in a pleasant breeze. The new courthouse, most expensive in California, has faced various construction delays.
This Superior Courthouse of California is across Union Street from the old courthouse, which will be torn down.
This new Superior Court of California building is across Union Street from the old, less-functional courthouse, which will be torn down.
Fascinating reflections and shadows on glass windows beneath a projecting rooftop canopy.
Fascinating reflections and shadows on glass windows beneath a projecting rooftop canopy.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Photos aboard historic steam ferryboat Berkeley.

Golden light on the steam ferryboat Berkeley, hub of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. I believe I took this photo a year or two ago.
Golden light on the steam ferryboat Berkeley, hub of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. I believe I took this photo a year or two ago.

Over the years, I’ve taken many photos around and aboard the historic steam ferryboat Berkeley. The beautiful old ship is the hub of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of these photographs. Read the captions to learn a little about the Berkeley’s fascinating history.

Berkeley, built in 1898, was originally operated by the Southern Pacific Railroad on San Francisco Bay. It was used to ferry up to 1700 passengers per trip between the transcontinental train terminus at the Oakland Pier and the San Francisco Ferry Building across the bay. The Berkeley was also used after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to rescue thousand of refugees, which were brought out of the fire-devastated city safely over to Oakland.

Berkeley was acquired by the Maritime Museum of San Diego in 1973, and today she houses a large number of fascinating historical exhibits on her lower deck. She is both a National Historic Landmark and California State Historical Landmark, and a cool sight that many like to visit on San Diego’s Embarcadero.

Personally, I love to head up the stairs to the McKinney Deck, where passengers used to cross the water in elegance. I have often seen ferry visitors and members of the Maritime Museum of San Diego sitting on the beautiful wooden benches simply reading or enjoying a relaxing moment. It’s like being transported back into another era. The atmosphere is quite amazing, as you will see…

Plaque in front of the ferryboat Berkeley, which was the first successful West Coast-built ferry to be driven by a screw propeller as opposed to side wheels.
Plaque in front of the ferryboat Berkeley, which was the first successful West Coast-built ferry to be driven by a screw propeller as opposed to side wheels.
Downtown San Diego skyscrapers and masts of HMS Surprise and Star of India can be seen in this photo of the upper passenger deck and one of two pilot houses.
Downtown San Diego skyscrapers and masts of museum ships HMS Surprise and Star of India can be seen in this photo of the Berkeley’s upper passenger deck and one of two pilot houses.
Southern Pacific Lines logo on a pilot house.
Southern Pacific Lines logo on one pilot house.
Photo over the roof of the ferryboat, with a black funnel projecting into the blue San Diego sky.
Photo over the roof of the ferryboat, with a black funnel projecting into the blue San Diego sky.
I'm getting ready to look inside the pilot house on the west end of the Berkeley. I see the County Administration Building.
I’m getting ready to look inside the pilot house on the west end of the Berkeley. I see the County Administration Building.
The wooden wheel, binoculars and other instruments used to pilot the ferry.
The wooden wheel, binoculars and other instruments used to pilot the ferry.
Many forms of communication were used during ferry operation. The Berkeley's pilot houses contained a radio receiver, the ship's whistle, and two voice tubes.
Many forms of communication were used during ferry operation. The Berkeley’s pilot houses contained radio receivers, the ship’s whistle, and two voice tubes.
Standing outside, peering into the elegant Dan McKinney Deck of the Berkeley.
Standing outside, peering into the elegant Dan McKinney Deck of the Berkeley.
Visitors aboard the Berkeley look at the beautiful long wooden benches and stained glass windows of the upper passenger deck.
Visitors aboard the Berkeley look at the beautiful long wooden benches and art glass windows of the upper passenger deck.
Different stained glass windows on the ship infuse the passenger deck with colored light.
Different art glass windows on the ship fill the passenger deck with many-colored light.
More exquisite stained glass. Passengers would cross San Francisco Bay in style.
More exquisite art glass. Passengers would cross San Francisco Bay in style.
Walking through the passenger deck.
Walking through the passenger deck.
Sunlight on one comfortable, warm wood bench. Wouldn't you like to sit here?
Sunlight on one comfortable, warm wood bench. Wouldn’t you like to sit here?
A painting of the ferry Berkeley and a relic from its history.
A painting of the ferry Berkeley and a relic from its history.
More beauty aboard the old ship, which is now docked in San Diego Bay.
More beauty aboard the old ship, which is now docked in San Diego Bay.
I assume the fancy B is for Berkeley, but I'm not sure.
I assume the fancy B is for Berkeley, but I’m not sure.
Refreshments used to be served here during bay crossings. Today the Berkeley is often used for special events and drinks are still served.
Refreshments used to be purchased here during bay crossings. Today the Berkeley is often used for special events and drinks are still served.
Over the years, many thousands of passengers were served.
Over the years, countless thousands of passengers were served.
Ferryboat Berkeley,1898, has been designated a National Historic Landmark. This vessel possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America.
Ferryboat Berkeley,1898, has been designated a National Historic Landmark. This vessel possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America.
One of four old photos on the passenger deck. Berkeley was launched on San Francisco Bay on October 18, 1898.
One of four old photos on the passenger deck. Berkeley was launched on San Francisco Bay on October 18, 1898.
Berkeley was never a car ferry. The open deck below carried luggage carts for passengers transiting between the end of the railroad at Oakland and San Francisco.
Berkeley was never a car ferry. The open deck below carried luggage carts for passengers transiting between the end of the railroad at Oakland and San Francisco across the bay.
The Berkeley was heroine of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake story. She carried refugees to safety nonstop for three days and nights.
The Berkeley was heroine of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake story. She carried refugees to safety nonstop for three days and nights.
In 1973, Berkeley was towed down the coast to San Diego to begin a second life as floating museum.
In 1973, Berkeley was towed down the coast to San Diego to begin a second life as floating museum.
And what a beautiful museum she is! Many exhibits can be seen on the lower deck, where ferry passengers used to haul their luggage carts.
And what a beautiful museum she is! I haven’t included them in this particular blog post, but many cool exhibits can be seen on the lower deck, where ferry passengers used to park their luggage carts.
Gazing down some steps at a museum workshop aboard the Berkeley.
Gazing down some steps at a museum workshop aboard the Berkeley.
Gazing from the passenger deck outside toward San Diego Bay. Other museum ships, including Californian and San Salvador, are docked along a float west of the Berkeley.
Gazing from the passenger deck outside toward San Diego Bay. Other museum ships, including Californian and San Salvador, are docked along a float west of the Berkeley.
One of the ferry's old lifeboats.
One of the ferry’s old lifeboats.
Looking up at the pilot house on the ferry's bay-facing end.
Looking up at the pilot house on the steam ferry’s bay-facing end.
Some folks on the other end looking out at downtown San Diego and the Waterfront Park.
Some folks on the other end looking out at downtown San Diego and the Waterfront Park.
An old sign above one doorway says a Lunch and Grill Room are on the Lower Deck.
An old sign above one doorway says Lunch and Grill Room on Lower Deck.
That old sign was uncovered beneath accumulated paint. Working on an old vessel is a bit like an archaeological dig.
That old sign was uncovered beneath accumulated paint. Working on an old vessel is a bit like an archaeological dig.
Looking from the Embarcadero at the Berkeley, over the Maritime Museum of San Diego's deep diving submarine USS Dolphin.
Looking from the Embarcadero at the Berkeley, over the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s deep diving submarine USS Dolphin.
The handsome steam ferryboat Berkeley now greets visitors on San Diego Bay.
The handsome steam ferryboat Berkeley now greets visitors on San Diego Bay.
People walk through history aboard a beautiful old vessel.
People walk through history aboard a beautiful old vessel.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Days of the Vaqueros in Old Town San Diego!

Two vaqueros chat during an event in Old Town San Diego that reenacts aspects of Californio history.
Two vaqueros chat during an event in Old Town San Diego that reenacts fascinating Californio history.

I enjoyed the Trades That Shaped the West event in Old Town San Diego last Saturday so much, I decided to return today to experience another Stagecoach Days event: Days of the Vaqueros!

Days of the Vaqueros invited curious visitors to experience what life was like when San Diego was a part of Mexico. The emphasis was on the vaqueros–the first true cowboys. During the era of the Californios, wealthy ranch owners employed vaqueros to manage their stock.

For a couple of decades–from the early 1820s to the mid-1840s–cattle hides were the primary export of Alta California. Merchant ships from the East Coast (and other places about the Pacific Ocean) would trade the plentiful hides for finished goods that were in high demand in early, geographically isolated, sparsely populated towns like San Diego.

Someone reads Days of the Vaqueros sign on the Robinson Rose House in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Someone checks out Days of the Vaqueros activities. The banner hangs on the Robinson Rose House in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Taking place during Old Town's summer Stagecoach Days, today's event celebrated life in San Diego when the small town and surrounding area was part of Mexico.
Taking place during Old Town’s summer weekend Stagecoach Days, today’s event celebrated life in San Diego when the small town and Alta California were part of Mexico.
Ladies in period dresses at the Days of the Vaqueros event in Old Town San Diego.
Ladies pass by in period dresses. One of many cool sights at the Days of the Vaqueros event in Old Town San Diego.
Tables contained information about life during the era of huge Mexican land grant cattle ranches worked by vaqueros. Vaqueros, the first cowboys, were mostly indigenous people employed to manage cattle by the wealthy land owners.
Tables contained information about life during the era of huge Mexican land grant ranches worked by vaqueros. Vaqueros, the first true cowboys, were mostly indigenous people employed to manage cattle by the wealthy land owners.
A vaquero shows a visitor to Old Town how to properly handle a rope.
A vaquero shows a visitor to Old Town how to properly handle a rope.
The visitor successfully lassoes his cow--the rear end, that is--first try!
The visitor successfully lassoes his cow–the rear end, that is–first try!
A gentleman who used to work for Buck Knives makes unique knife handles with elk antlers. He has developed his own technique, which takes great skill and precision.
A gentleman who used to work for Buck Knives makes unique knife handles out of elk antlers. He has developed his own technique, which takes great skill and precision.
A hat maker shows how beaver felt material was steamed then pushed over a hat-form block.
A hat maker shows how beaver felt material was steamed then pushed over a hat-form block.
What's cooking on the campfire? Some tasty pozole, I was told!
What’s cooking on the campfire? Some tasty pozole, I was told!
Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup or stew, made from hominy, meat and various vegetable seasonings.
Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup or stew, made from hominy, meat and various vegetable seasonings.
Preparing eggs for the cascarón. Near the end of a fiesta Californios flirted by cracking eggs filled with scented water or confetti over the startled head of someone they liked.
Decorating eggshell cascarones. Near the end of a fiesta, Californios flirted by cracking eggs filled with scented water or confetti over the startled head of someone they liked.
A group called Los Californios played authentic early California music--tunes that were preserved over a century ago on wax cylinder sound recordings made by Charles Lummis.
A group called Los Californios played authentic early California music–tunes that were preserved over a century ago on wax cylinder sound recordings made by Charles Lummis.
A couple dances to the happy, gentle music.
A couple dances to the happy, gentle music.
Publications by a project called San Diego Friends of Old Time Music. Author Vykki Mende Gray is helping to preserve the musical history of California.
Publications by a nonprofit project called San Diego Friends of Old Time Music. Author Vykki Mende Gray is helping to preserve the musical history of California.
A display of braided ropes and cut rawhide, once commonly used by vaqueros as they worked on the large cattle ranches around San Diego.
A display of braided ropes and rawhide, once commonly used by vaqueros as they worked on the large cattle ranches around San Diego.
On this table I see more ropes, a canteen, iron brands and boot spurs.
On this table I see more ropes, a canteen, iron brands and boot spurs.
A gentleman who teaches students visiting Old Town about history holds up an illustration of bear-baiting, which early Californians found entertaining.
A gentleman who teaches school students visiting Old Town about history holds up an illustration of bear-baiting, which early Californians found entertaining.
These guys were making adobe bricks. I learned earth and water are mixed, and straw or manure are often added for strength and cohesion.
These guys were making adobe bricks. I learned earth and water are mixed, and straw or manure are often added for strength and cohesion.
These authentic adobe bricks take weeks or months to properly dry. When hard, they'll possibly be used in new construction or restored exhibits at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Authentic adobe bricks take weeks or months to properly dry. When hard, these bricks will possibly be used in new construction or to restore existing exhibits inside Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Traditional dancing in the courtyard of Casa de Estudillo of Los Camotes (which translates the sweet potatoes), a tune from Mexican and Spanish California.
Traditional dancing in the courtyard of Casa de Estudillo of Los Camotes (which translates the sweet potatoes), a tune from old Mexican and Spanish California.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

History at the Los Peñasquitos adobe ranch house.

Jogging and biking past the historic adobe ranch house in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.
Jogging and biking past the historic adobe ranch house in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.

The second oldest residence in San Diego County can be found inside Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. The adobe ranch house was built in 1823 by Captain Francisco María Ruiz, who was Commandante of San Diego’s presidio. He built two small adobe buildings on Rancho Santa Maria de Los Peñasquitos, his large 8,486-acre Mexican land grant north of the Presidio and Mission San Diego de Alcalá. It was first land grant made by the Mexican government in this area, just two years after Mexico became independent from Spain.

The historic adobe ranch house has been modified, enlarged and restored by various owners over the years, and today is a popular destination for visitors to Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. People often bike or hike through the picturesque ranch, and motorists can park in a nearby lot. Picnic tables are plentiful; there are goats and chickens to captivate children; and guided tours are available on weekends.

I toured the ranch recently and took photos of its various features. There are a variety of interpretive exhibits within the adobe house. Please read these informative displays (click to enlarge the images) to learn more about this fascinating place’s long and colorful history.

(What is the oldest structure in San Diego County? You’ll be completely surprised! I blogged about that here.)

The Los Peñasquitos Ranch House is open daily from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Guided tours are at 11:00 am on Saturday and 1:00 pm on Sunday.
The Los Peñasquitos Ranch House is open daily from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Guided tours are at 11:00 am on Saturday and 1:00 pm on Sunday.
The ranch house is nestled among some shady trees. Two small adobe buildings were originally built in 1823. The house was enlarged by Captain George Alonzo Johnson in 1862.
The ranch house is nestled among some shady trees. Two small adobe buildings were originally built in 1823. The house was enlarged by Captain George Alonzo Johnson in 1862.
Plaque describes the establishment of the Johnson-Taylor Adobe Ranchhouse in 1862. The residence and later additions were used as a hotel, bunkhouse, and quarters for a working cattle ranch into the 1960s.
Plaque describes the establishment of the Johnson-Taylor Adobe Ranchhouse in 1862. The residence and later additions were used as a hotel, bunkhouse, and quarters for a working cattle ranch into the 1960s.
A sculpture inside the courtyard, located on the east side (rear) of the ranch house. The planters were probably used to grow herbs and flowers.
A sculpture inside the courtyard, located on the east side (rear) of the ranch house. The planters were probably used by the residents to grow herbs and flowers.
Part of the ranch house's long porch beside the courtyard.
Part of the ranch house’s long porch beside the courtyard.
Inside a room that contains museum-like exhibits, looking north out a window at various small structures on the ranch, including a chicken coop and goat pen.
Inside a living room that today contains museum-like exhibits, looking north out a window at various small structures on the ranch, including a chicken coop and goat pen.
The Californio Period, 1821 to 1850, included vaqueros (cowboys) living at Peñasquitos. The American Rancher Period, 1850-1970, began after California became a state.
The Californio Period, 1821 to 1850, included vaqueros (cowboys) living at Peñasquitos. The American Rancher Period, 1850-1970, began after California became a state.
1823-1834 timeline of the Mexican land grant of Santa Maria de Los Peñasquitos, that was made to Captain Francisco María Ruiz.
1823-1834 timeline of the Mexican land grant of Santa Maria de Los Peñasquitos, that was made to Captain Francisco María Ruiz.
In 1859 Captain George Alonzo Johnson married Maria Estéfana Alvarado, daughter of Francisco María Alvarado, who bought the ranch from Ruiz in 1837.
In 1859 Captain George Alonzo Johnson married Maria Estéfana Alvarado, daughter of Francisco María Alvarado, who bought the ranch from Ruiz in 1837.
A hand blown and painted glass pitcher and drinking glass that belonged to Maria de Jesus Alvarado de Sepulveda, daughter of Francisco María Alvarado.
A hand blown and painted glass pitcher and drinking glass that belonged to Maria de Jesus Alvarado de Sepulveda, daughter of Francisco María Alvarado.
The large earthenware olive jar was found under the ranch house floor during an excavation in 1983. Used for food storage, it was probably made in Spain or Portugal in the early to mid 1700s.
The large earthenware olive jar was found under the ranch house floor during an excavation in 1983. Used for food storage, it was probably made in Spain or Portugal in the early to mid 1700s.
Captain George Alonzo Johnson, a pioneer and businessman, came to California in 1849 during the Gold Rush. He became a rancher and horse breeder.
Captain George Alonzo Johnson, a pioneer and businessman, came to California in 1849 during the Gold Rush. He became a rancher and horse breeder.
Historical newspaper articles describe the ranch house, outbuildings and grounds of George Alonzo Johnson's ranch.
Historical newspaper articles describe the ranch house, outbuildings and grounds of George Alonzo Johnson’s ranch.
Floor plan of Rancho Peñasquitos from 1975 HABS survey.
Floor plan of Rancho Peñasquitos from 1975 HABS survey.
A drawing of the Los Peñasquitos residence of Colonel Jacob Shell Taylor, who purchased the property in 1882. He raised Durham cattle and thoroughbred horses and would found Del Mar.
A drawing of the Los Peñasquitos residence of Colonel Jacob Shell Taylor, who purchased the property in 1882. He raised Durham cattle and thoroughbred horses and would found Del Mar.
Various branding irons on display in the adobe house that were discovered around the ranch. Included are early Spanish irons used by rustlers.
Various branding irons on display in the adobe house that were discovered around the ranch. Included are early Spanish irons used by rustlers.
Rancho Peñasquitos courtyard photo taken circa 1889, showing ranch employee H. T. Sandford and his family.
Rancho Peñasquitos courtyard photo taken circa 1889, showing ranch employee H. T. Sandford and his family.
Photo of the San Diego-Escondido Stage Line circa 1906. In the mid-1800s Peñasquitos was a way station on the wagon road between San Diego and Warner's Ranch.
Photo of the San Diego-Escondido Stage Line circa 1906. In the mid-1800s, Peñasquitos was a way station on the wagon road between San Diego and Warner’s Ranch.
Porch along the front (or west) side of the adobe ranch house, which faced the so-called Road to Yuma.
Porch along the front (or west) side of the adobe ranch house, which faced the so-called Road to Yuma.
I spotted someone riding a horse past the ranch house. Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve is an ideal place for those who love to ride down peaceful trails.
I spotted someone riding a horse past the ranch house. Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve is an ideal place for those who love to ride down peaceful trails.
Looking west at a meadow north of Peñasquitos Creek. I posted photos of those sycamores in the distance a few weeks ago.
Looking west at a meadow north of Peñasquitos Creek. I posted photos of those sycamores in the distance a few weeks ago.
An artificial pond south of the ranch house was filled with water from the nearby spring house for irrigation of a nearby grove.
An artificial pond south of the ranch house was filled with water from the adjacent spring house for irrigation of a nearby citrus grove.
The rock Spring House was constructed around an artesian spring. Water from the spring was used by the Native American Kumeyaay for as many as 12,000 years!
The rock Spring House was constructed around an artesian spring. Water from the spring was used by the Native American Kumeyaay for as many as 12,000 years!
The Mohnike Barn was constructed in 1912 of adobe and wood. Charles Mohnike, a rancher who purchased the property in 1910, was the builder.
The Mohnike Barn was constructed in 1912 of adobe and wood. Charles Mohnike, a rancher who purchased the property in 1910, was the builder.
The Mohnike Barn is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with the other ranch structures.
The Mohnike Barn is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with other ranch structures.
An octagonal concrete reservoir to the north, uphill from the ranch house. Photographic evidence shows water might have been pumped up here by windmill.
An octagonal concrete reservoir to the north, uphill from the ranch house. Photographic evidence shows water might have been pumped up here by windmill.
More ranch structures just west of the barn.
More ranch structures just west of the barn.
These friendly goats like to greet hikers and those on bicycles.
These friendly Nubian goats like to greet hikers and those on bicycles.
These chickens were wondering what I was up to.
These chickens were wondering what I was up to.
The southeast corner of the adobe ranch house.
The southeast corner of the adobe ranch house.
One last photo of the courtyard, a focal point of the ranch house, which has seen many lives, much history.
One last photo of the courtyard, a focal point of the ranch house, which has seen many lives, much history.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Views of San Diego from a hike up Cowles Mountain.

Hikers descend from the summit of Cowles Mountain, which rises above San Diego's San Carlos neighborhood.
Hikers descend from the summit of Cowles Mountain, which rises above San Diego’s San Carlos neighborhood.

Please enjoy the following photos. They are from a hike that I took yesterday to the summit of Cowles Mountain in Mission Trails Regional Park. Cowles Mountain, elevation 1,593 feet, is the highest peak in the city of San Diego. Because it’s located near so many urban residents, hundreds of hikers can be found on its trails on any given day.

Yesterday, around noon, I started from the trailhead at the Cowles Staging Area on Golfcrest Drive, and I slowly climbed the zigzagging trail to the summit. It’s a fairly steep ascent–one gains 950 feet in just 1.5 miles. Furthermore, yesterday the footing was more difficult than usual. A small stream was flowing down much of the muddy trail, due to the recent rain.

But the climb was definitely worth the effort!

The higher I ascended, the more fantastic the views became. At the top I could survey nearly all of San Diego and much of the surrounding region. From mountains to ocean, Mexico to North County and beyond–the spectacular views stretched in every direction!

Someone sits on the stone wall at the Cowles Staging Area. This is one of the most popular hiking trails in San Diego, and can be somewhat crowded on weekends.
Someone sits on the stone wall at the Cowles Staging Area. This is one of the most popular hiking trails in San Diego, and can be very crowded on weekends.
A bench at the staging area had this small plaque. We walked, we talked and we became friends. Thank you little Tommy Sablan.
A bench at the staging area had this small plaque. We walked, we talked and we became friends. Thank you little Tommy Sablan.
Sign at the trailhead explains Cowles Mountain was named after a prominent San Diego ranching pioneer. His ranches in the El Cajon valley were so successful he was named Raisin King of the US.
Sign at the trailhead explains Cowles Mountain was named after a prominent San Diego ranching pioneer. His two ranches in the El Cajon valley were so successful he was named Raisin King of the US.
Map shows trails to the summit of Cowles Mountain in Mission Trails Regional Park, which is the largest municipal park in the state of California.
Map shows trails to the summit of Cowles Mountain in Mission Trails Regional Park, which is the largest municipal park in the state of California.
Sign near the trailhead. On a busy trail, etiquette should be observed to preserve the natural beauty and enhance experience of other hikers.
Sign near the trailhead. On a busy trail, etiquette should be observed to preserve the natural beauty and enhance the experience of other hikers.
Starting up the 1.5 mile trail. The footing is stony in many places. This day it was also muddy due to recent rain.
Starting up the 1.5 mile trail. The footing is stony in many places. This day it was also muddy due to recent rain.
Pausing for a moment to look back down at the staging area.
Pausing for a moment to look back down at the staging area.
Another hiker, starting up toward the summit, appears to be prepared. A nearly 1000 foot climb is required. One should wear sturdy shoes and bring water. There is no shade.
Another hiker, starting up toward the summit, appears to be prepared. A nearly 1000 foot climb is entailed. One should wear sturdy shoes and bring water. There is no shade.
Looking westward as we ascend into a beautiful San Diego sky.
Looking westward as we ascend into a beautiful San Diego sky.
Looking to the south, one can see the Mission Trails Golf Course and Lake Murray.
Looking to the south, one can see the Mission Trails Golf Course and Lake Murray.
A group hikes up the trail.
A group hikes up the trail.
The top of Cowles Mountain is on the left. First we will climb up that rise on the right.
The top of Cowles Mountain is on the left. First we will climb up that rise on the right.
Rescues are often made on this trail due to its popularity. Many urban hikers aren't prepared for this fairly strenuous trek. I spotted a few emergency markers which are used to locate those in distress.
Rescues are often made on this trail due to its popularity. Many urban hikers aren’t prepared for this fairly strenuous trek. I spotted a few emergency markers which are used to locate people in distress.
Up, up we go! The climb is relentless, with only a few short level stretches.
Up, up we go! The climb is relentless, with only a few short level stretches.
As we climb higher on this clear day, it's possible to see farther into the distance. I can barely detect downtown San Diego at the horizon.
As we climb higher on this clear day, it’s possible to see farther into the distance. I can barely detect downtown San Diego at the horizon.
Many hikers had dogs, who enjoyed the hike, too. The scrubby vegetation and exposed boulders are common in the mountains and hills around San Diego.
Many hikers had dogs, who enjoyed the hike, too. The scrubby vegetation and exposed boulders are common in the mountains and hills around San Diego.
A better look at shining Lake Murray, a popular fishing destination.
A better look at shining Lake Murray, a popular fishing destination.
Rounding a corner, we can now see to the southeast. The nearer peak is Mt. Helix in La Mesa.
Rounding a corner, we can now see to the southeast. The nearer cone-like peak is Mt. Helix in La Mesa.
As we continue toward the summit, the Barker Way Trail leads off to the east.
As we continue toward the summit, the Barker Way Trail leads off to the east.
Looking again to the southwest, toward downtown San Diego.
Looking again to the southwest, toward downtown San Diego, very faint in the far distance.
A zoomed photo. Downtown skyscrapers rise beside San Diego Bay. The Point Loma peninsula can be seen, as well.
A zoomed photo. Downtown skyscrapers rise beside San Diego Bay. The Point Loma peninsula can be seen, as well.
The trails zig-zags among interesting rocky outcrops near the summit.
The trail zigzags among interesting rocky outcrops near the summit.
A far view from high above San Diego. Looking to the southeast, I see prominent San Miguel Mountain. My hike earlier in the day was a bit north of that mountain in East County.
A far view from high above San Diego. Looking to the southeast, I see prominent San Miguel Mountain. My hike earlier in the day (see the previous blog post) was a bit north of that mountain in East County.
Once we cross this rocky expanse, we will be at the summit of Cowles Mountain, highest point in the city of San Diego!
Once we cross this rocky expanse, we will be at the summit of Cowles Mountain, highest point in the city of San Diego!
Plaque at the summit. Cowles Mountain is the dominant feature of Mission Trails Regional Park. It was named to honor George A. Cowles, a pioneer leader of San Diego County in the 1870's.
Plaque at the summit. Cowles Mountain is the dominant feature of Mission Trails Regional Park. It was named to honor George A. Cowles, a pioneer leader of San Diego County in the 1870’s.
Sign shows sights from the south to the west, including distant Tijuana, Los Coronados Islands (which I could barely see), the Silver Strand, Point Loma, Mission Bay and Mount Soledad.
Sign shows sights from the south to the west, including distant Tijuana, Los Coronados Islands (which I could just barely see), the Silver Strand, Point Loma, Mission Bay and Mount Soledad.
A second sign shows mountains from the north to southeast, including Mt. Woodson, San Jacinto, Palomar Mountain, Cuyamaca Peak, the Laguna Mountains, Otay Mountain and San Miguel Mountain.
A second sign shows mountains from the north to southeast, including Mt. Woodson, distant San Jacinto, Palomar Mountain, Cuyamaca Peak, the Laguna Mountains, Otay Mountain and San Miguel Mountain.
To the north, antennas rise from Cowles Mountain into the sky. I could see the Pacific Ocean coastline stretching into the distance in the northwest.
To the north, antennas rise from Cowles Mountain into the sky. I could see the Pacific Ocean coastline stretching into the distance in the northwest.
Looking north beyond the antenna station. Highway 52 below descends from Mission Trails Pass east into Santee.
Looking north beyond the antenna station. Highway 52 below descends from Mission Trails Pass east into Santee.
Gazing northeast toward Santee and Lakeside and nearby mountains. At the very center is El Cajon Mountain.
Gazing northeast toward Santee and Lakeside and nearby mountains. At the very center is El Cajon Mountain.
Gazing to the west one can see Mount Soledad, and distant office buildings in University City (also called the Golden Triangle) and Sorrento Valley. The ocean is a thin blue thread.
Gazing to the west one can see Mount Soledad, and distant office buildings in University City (also called the Golden Triangle) and Sorrento Valley. The ocean is a thin blue line.
Sitting high in the sky, taking in amazing views.
Sitting high in the sky, taking in some amazing views.

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