A walk around the Rancho Guajome Adobe in Vista.

The Rancho Guajome Adobe is an architecturally and historically important 19th century ranch house located in Vista, California. I visited it a little over a week ago and walked around the grounds, learning about the fascinating history of the place while taking a few photographs.

I approached the Guajome Ranch House from the Santa Fe Trail to its south, then circled counterclockwise around the complex, viewing the beautiful arcaded veranda, several cisterns fed by wells, the chapel, and other outbuildings. I spotted various signs and plaques relating the history of the ranch, which was once the home of prominent early San Diego resident Cave Johnson Couts and his wife Maria Ysidora Barbara Bandini.

As you can see, I also stepped into a small museum. That’s where you can purchase tickets to guided and self-guided house tours.

According to Wikipedia: “The adobe was built in 1852 and served as the headquarters of Rancho Guajome, a Mexican land grant. Abel Stearns had given the rancho to Ysidora Bandini (sister of his wife Arcadia Bandini), as a wedding gift when she married Lieutenant Cave Johnson Couts in 1851. It was built with the profits from the cattle boom of the 1850s, when many California ranchos supplied the Gold Rush miners and associated new American immigrants with meat and leather. Couts was appointed sub-agent for the native Luiseño people (San Luis Rey Mission Indians) in 1853. He used their labor to improve his properties in the area, including this one and nearby Rancho Buena Vista and Rancho Vallecitos de San Marcos…”

I didn’t venture inside the 22-room hacienda, but I most likely will at some future time. The old ranch house is located in Rancho Guajome Adobe County Park. Check out the parks website here to learn more.

The following photos provide a taste of what you’ll see should you visit this historic place.

Peering from the veranda through an open door…

The sign reads:

The Carriage Courtyard.

Imagine the activity here where Couts quartered his many servants. The ranch foreman lived next to the gate. Horse and equipment stalls, blacksmith shop, tack room, winery, olive vats and a jail made up the ranch service yard. 300 Indian laborers made the thousands of adobe brick to build the walls, and other materials came from the abandoned San Luis Rey Mission with permission of the Diocesan Bishop.

Guajome Ranch House has been designated a National Historic Landmark

This site possesses national significance commemorating the history of the United States of America

1970

National Park Service

United States Department of the Interior

Rancho Guajome

Formerly attached to Mission San Luis Rey, the 2,219 acre ranch passed through brief ownership by two mission Indians, then Don Abel Stearns, and into possession of Ysidora Bandini upon marriage to Col. Cave Johnson Couts. The adobe ranch house built in 1852-53, is one of the finest extant examples of the traditional Spanish-Mexican one-story hacienda with an inner-outer courtyard plan. It was acquired by San Diego County in 1973 for the Guajome Regional Park.

California registered Historical Landmark No. 940

Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation and Squibob Chapter, E Clampus Vitus, April 26, 1981.

This El Camino Real Bell commemorates the trail of California missions established by the padres and honors the bell’s designer: Harrie Rebbecca Piper Smith Forbes

Dedicated by the Woman’s Club of Vista

9/21/96

At its beginning, Rancho Guajome was a working cattle ranch. Because the West was dry, cattle owners like Cave Couts would turn their cattle out on unfenced pastures. However, during this “open range” period, sometimes cattle from different ranchos intermixed, making it difficult to determine which cattleman owned which cattle. The branding iron was invented as a solution…

Cave Johnson Couts was born in 1821 in Springfield, Tennessee, and died in 1874 in San Diego at the Horton House. His wife Maria Ysidora Barbara Bandini was born in 1828 in San Diego, was married in 1851 at the Casa de Bandini in Old Town (now the Cosmopolitan Hotel), and died in 1897 in Los Angeles.

Included in the museum display are Native work baskets, Southern California style, circa 19th century.

Rancho Guajome Adobe farm equipment included a farm wagon, breaking carts for training horses, a broadcast seeder, a sulky used for racing horses, and a four-bottom Stockton plow used to turn soil to prepare fields for planting.

In the past I blogged about the Colorado House, a two-story hotel that was built in Old Town San Diego in 1851 by the very same Cave Couts. Today it serves as the Wells Fargo History Museum. Read that here.

I’ve also blogged about the El Campo Santo cemetery grave of Juan Mendoza, who was shot in the back by Cave Couts. See that here. (During one walk I spotted another mysterious wooden tombstone with the name Juan Mendoza by a parking lot, across the San Diego River from Old Town. Read that here!)

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Historical marker at Kate Sessions nursery in Pacific Beach.

If you’ve driven down Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach, you might have noticed a couple of enormous old trees at the corner of Pico Street, just east of Soledad Mountain Road.

By the sidewalk stands an easily overlooked historical marker. It reads:

KATE OLIVIA SESSIONS’ NURSERY SITE

1857-1940

THIS PLAQUE COMMEMORATES THE LIFE AND INFLUENCE OF A WOMAN WHO ENVISIONED SAN DIEGO BEAUTIFUL. ON THIS SITE SHE OPERATED A NURSERY AND GAINED WORLD RENOWN AS A HORTICULTURIST. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO RECEIVE THE INTERNATIONAL MEYER MEDAL IN GENETICS.

CALIFORNIA REGISTERED HISTORICAL LANDMARK NO. 764

PLAQUE PLACED BY THE CALIFORNIA STATE PARK COMMISSION IN COOPERATION WITH THE PACIFIC BEACH WOMAN’S CLUB.

JULY 7, 1961

Kate Sessions is probably best known as the Mother of Balboa Park. In addition to owning other nurseries and growing fields in San Diego, she maintained a small nursery in a corner of Balboa Park (originally called City Park) under an 1892 agreement with the City of San Diego. She was required under the lease to plant 100 trees in the park each year. Most of the older trees in Balboa Park that you see today were planted by her hand.

The colorful jacaranda trees seen around San Diego were also introduced to the city by Kate Sessions.

I recently blogged about the very first camphor tree planted in North America. She’s the one who planted it. The historic camphor tree stands just west of Balboa Park in Bankers Hill near a beautiful historic house. To revisit that old blog post, click here.

Here are a couple more photos that I took this weekend by the historical marker…

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!

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New tile murals at Automotive Museum debut!

Today was an historic day! Four long-anticipated murals have debuted above the entrance of the San Diego Automotive Museum!

Yesterday’s scaffolding has been removed, revealing beautiful tile artwork that will be enjoyed by visitors to Balboa Park for many decades–perhaps even centuries–into the future!

I first blogged about the project back in late 2017. You can read what I wrote here.

As I explained, these permanent tile murals “…are based on murals that decorated the (California State 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.”

The exquisite tiles were created by RTK Studios in Ojai, California.

Those who enjoy at visit to the San Diego Automotive Museum, or the newly opened Pan American Plaza in front of the museum, will now be able feast their eyes on these four truly remarkable works of public art!

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Mural painted by youth celebrates San Diego!

Have you seen that incredible mural that celebrates San Diego, painted on a wall where National Avenue turns into Logan Avenue, at South 43rd Street? It has become a very cool landmark where two southeast San Diego neighborhoods, Mountain View and Southcrest, meet!

The mural was painted a couple years ago by local youth! The project was organized by Concrete and Canvas, whose stated mission is “to mobilize the neighborhood to collaborate in creating community transformation through art, murals, and mentors.” Check out their website here.

This very colorful mural pays tribute to many of the places that make San Diego a special city. Looking at my photos, I recognize (among other things) the Hotel del Coronado, the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, the Padres, Mount Soledad, coastal cliffs and beaches (and sea lions), the Belmont Park roller coaster, downtown, the Unconditional Surrender “Kiss” statue, California golden poppies and bear, the Del Mar racetrack, the trolley, the Old Point Loma lighthouse, the Blue Angels, Balboa Park, the Coronado Bay Bridge, and the words: America’s Finest City.

I see two artist signatures: Irieanna Sesma (@SD_IRIE) and El Artista (@ILLUMIN8_SD).

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California Harmony racehorse art in Solana Beach!

Here’s another great Art of the Horse piece created back in 2017 for the Breeders’ Cup, which was held that year at the Del Mar Racetrack. This sculpture, a life-size replica of the Breeders’ Cup trophy, is titled California Harmony. It’s by artist Tish Wynne.

Painted on the racehorse are colorful coastal scenes full of crashing waves, running horses, birds, flowers and ocean wildlife. You can find California Harmony in Solana Beach, on Highway 101 in front of The Boardwalk retail and office complex, a bit south of Estrella Street.

Several years ago I photographed five other Art of the Horse fiberglass sculptures. (There were 20 unique pieces painted for the Breeders’ Cup.) You can see those horses here and here!

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!

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Hidden historical marker near Mission San Diego.

There’s an important historical marker near Mission San Diego de Alcalá that very few people know about or see. It’s located on private property along San Diego Mission Road, just inside the grounds of a condo complex. You can find it a short distance east of the mission, on some grass behind a fence, very close to the San Diego River.

I was able to take zoom photos of the “hidden” marker and its bronze plaque from the sidewalk.

The words read:

Padre Luis Jayme, Pastor of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, was martyred near this site November 5, 1775. Father Jayme had asked that the Mission be moved to its present site from Presidio Hill in order to better grow foods for the Mission.

In this area the Mission padres produced grapes, olives and other farm products for the Indian and Spanish communities.

Also near this site a small structure housed the guard from the Royal Presidio, which served as escort and guard for the Mission padres.

The historical marker was placed where Father Jayme’s body was found. He was killed by a large force of native people, said to be Yuman Indians from distant villages, in an uprising in 1775, about a year after the nearby mission was built. The mission was pillaged and set on fire. Survivors of the attack fled to the Presidio, six miles away down the river.

Over the centuries Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the first Spanish mission in California, has been rebuilt several times. The remains of Father Luis Jayme are entombed under the floor next to the altar in the present church.

Looking west down San Diego Mission Road. The mission is located on the hillside beyond those trees..

The nearby San Diego River, where it is crossed by San Diego Mission Road…

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Bowsprit of Forester in front of Maritime Museum.

Have you ever wondered about that massive timber that lies in front of the Maritime Museum? The one people will sit on to gaze across San Diego Bay or at several of the museum’s nearby ships?

That’s the bowsprit of the old four-masted schooner Forester, built in 1900 to transport lumber from the Pacific Northwest to ports along the West Coast and destinations all around the Pacific Ocean, including China, India, Australia, South Sea islands and Peru.

The old ship, when her life of carrying logs of spruce and fir came to an end, was used as a tidal break near the northeastern end of San Francisco Bay. Eventually it was towed to a mudflat west of Antioch (the city stated in the plaque I photographed) and beached. There it became home of its long-time captain.

In 1975 fire swept through the abandoned ship and it burned to the waterline. The remains of Forester can still be seen along the shoreline of Martinez, California.

If you want to learn more about the history of the Forester, and see several interesting old photographs of the ship, there’s a great web page that you can check out by clicking here.

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!

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More discoveries on historic Presidio Hill.

Last weekend I walked all over Presidio Park. Looking around, I noticed several historical plaques, benches and signs on Presidio Hill that I hadn’t seen or observed closely before.

After wandering around Inspiration Point and taking in the view of Mission Valley here, and checking out the park’s little known monument to a White Deer here, I headed down one of the park’s canyon trails and soon arrived at the expanse of grass enclosed by Cosoy Way, where families were picnicking on the green slope above a bench…

The inscription on the bench reads:

THIS MEMORIAL TO

TOMMY GETZ

PLACED HERE BY HIS FRIENDS. JULY. 1935.

After taking a few photos, I crossed Presidio Drive and climbed the short distance to the site of old Fort Stockton, where I looked again at the historical markers and public artwork that I once photographed here and here.

Then I began down Presidio Hill toward the site of the centuries-old, long-vanished Spanish presidio, the “birthplace” of California.

As I slowly wound between trees I came upon the following bench, and a small nearby plaque…

The plaque reads:

DEDICATED IN MEMORY OF

FATHER FRANCISCO PALOU

BIOGRAPHER OF FR. SERRA

BY SAN DIEGO PARLOR 208

N.D.G.W. JULY 13, 1929.

(A little research reveals N.D.G.W. means Native Daughters of the Golden West, and their Parlor 208 represents San Diego County.)

A little farther down I found two more plaques by two trees. Sadly, the second tree and its plaque had been vandalized with red spray paint…

CONGRESSMAN JIM BATES

SAN DIEGO

CITY BEAUTIFUL OF SAN DIEGO

TRUTH- BEAUTY- FELLOWMAN

MARCH 30, 1984

IN HONOR OF

MARY VAUGHN

APRIL 20, 1987

LIFE MEMBER

CITY BEAUTIFUL SAN DIEGO

TRUTH – BEAUTY – FELLOWMAN

When I arrived at the old observation structure in a corner of the parking lot below the Junipero Serra Museum, I discovered a plaque on the ground that I hadn’t seen before. To read the larger plaque affixed to the wall, you can click here.

1782 SYLVESTER PATTIE 1828

UNITED STATES

DAUGHTERS OF 1812

SAN DIEGO CHAPTER – APRIL 1992

Then I walked down to the grassy area where San Diego’s 1769 presidio and original mission stood. You can learn more about the big Padre Cross here.

The above tiles I believe were part of the old Presidio and its chapel, whose ruins are now covered by grassy mounds.

This nearby sign explains how this was the site of the Royal Presidio de San Diego during the time of Spanish settlement during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was the first permanent European settlement in what is today the State of California.

Grassy mounds now cover what remains of the Presidio ruins.

Finally, I gazed across Presidio Drive at The Indian, a sculpture by renowned artist Arthur Putnam. Learn more and see a closer photo here!

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!

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El Camino Real Bell at Torrey Pines.

After finishing my walk along North Torrey Pines Road last weekend, I waited for a bus at a stop near the north end of the Torrey Pines Golf Course and the south end of Torrey Pines State Reserve. For a while I watched groups of bicyclists fly past. Then I noticed that an El Camino Real Bell rose from the nearby sidewalk!

I’ve taken photographs of various historic El Camino Real Bells all around San Diego over the years. You can revisit a few of my sightings by clicking here.

As I explained in that blog post: “Many of these guidepost bells were placed in 1906 by the California Federation of Women’s Clubs. They marked the primitive roads that connected the old Spanish missions in California. El Camino Real, which means the Royal Road or King’s Highway in Spanish, led to 21 missions in Alta California, plus a variety of sub-missions, presidios and pueblos. The bells stand on tall posts in the shape of a shepherd’s crook. In subsequent years, bells have been removed or added to the California landscape.”

This bell appears similar to others I’ve come upon. An old plaque at the base of this one reads:

Donated by
California Federation of Women’s Clubs
Bostonia Woman’s Club

And, like other examples I’ve seen, this appears on the bell itself:

Loreto
Oct 25 1697

Solano
July 4 1823

According to the California State Parks website: “On October 25, 1697, Father Salvatierra founded the first permanent mission in the Californias on a sheltered plain opposite Isla Carmen. It was named Nuestra Señora de Loreto Concho…” (That original mission was built in what today is Baja California, Mexico.)

The 21st mission in Alta California (the present state of California) was established in San Francisco on July 4, 1823. It was the final and northernmost mission. It was named Mission San Francisco de Solano.

The name and founding date of both the first and last mission explains what is written on every El Camino Real Bell.

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!

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Marker recalls Chinese fishing village on Point Loma.

Historical plaque and artwork at east end of Point Loma's Bessemer Path mark Chinese Fishing and Shipbuilding Site.
Historical plaque and artwork at east end of Point Loma’s Bessemer Path mark an old Chinese Fishing and Shipbuilding Site.

Today I went on a walk along Point Loma’s Bessemer Path, which stretches a short distance along San Diego Bay northwest of Shelter Island. The bayside path offers scenic views of the La Playa Anchorage. I’ll share pictures from this beautiful walk in a little bit.

At the east end of the Bessemer Path, near the intersection of Talbot Street and Anchorage Lane, there’s a bench and historical marker with a plaque, and some artwork in the sidewalk. Together they recall the Chinese village that once was located at this site, on the old La Playa Trail. (You can learn more about the La Playa Trail, the oldest commercial trail in the western United States, here.)

I photographed the plaque which you can read if you’re interested. Click the image and it will enlarge.

I learned that a shipbuilding facility was located at this old Chinese village, where fishing junks were constructed. According to the plaque: “The Sun Yun Lee, shown here, was the finest junk built in all of California. Launched in 1884 on this site, the vessel had three masts and measured 52 feet in length, and 18 feet wide. It was build of redwood with masts and rudders made of ironwood from China…”

You can a little learn more about the Sun Yun Lee and see an historical photo of the Chinese junk in San Diego Bay here.

Plaque describes Point Loma's Chinese Fishing and Shipbuilding Site beside the La Playa Trail. Around 1860 to the early 1890's, the Chinese had a fishing village here.
Plaque describes Point Loma’s Chinese Fishing and Shipbuilding Site, located on the La Playa Trail. Around 1860 to the early 1890’s, the Chinese had a fishing village here.

Artwork in the sidewalk depicts the three-masted Chinese junk Sun Yun Lee, that was built on Point Loma in 1884.
Artwork in the sidewalk depicts the three-masted Chinese junk Sun Yun Lee, which was built on Point Loma in 1884.

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 photos for you to enjoy!