A walk around the Escondido History Center.

People in Grape Day Park head toward buildings that are part of the Escondido History Center's Heritage Walk.
People in Grape Day Park head toward buildings that are part of the Escondido History Center’s unique Heritage Walk.

Last weekend I enjoyed a fascinating walk around the Escondido History Center!

Several original and reconstructed buildings operated by the Escondido History Center form the Heritage Walk at the north end of Grape Day Park. Anyone who is curious can freely visit the Bandy Blacksmith & Wheelwright Shop, the Penner Barn, the Victorian House, the City’s First Library, and an excellent museum inside Escondido’s old Santa Fe Depot. A very cool Pullman railroad car parked nearby contains a large model train layout!

While I really enjoyed my visit, I still don’t know much about the history of Escondido, so please visit the Escondido History Center’s informative website here.

Come along with me as we head down the Heritage Walk. We’ll make several interesting discoveries!

(Click the photos of signs and they will enlarge for easier reading.)

The functioning Bandy Blacksmith and Wheelwright Shop beckons.
The functioning Bandy Blacksmith and Wheelwright Shop beckons. (It was closed the day I visited.)
The 1947 Bandy Blacksmith Shop was reconstructed in Grape Day Park in 1993. The building is used today for education and blacksmithing demonstrations.
The 1947 Bandy Blacksmith Shop was reconstructed in Grape Day Park in 1993. The building is used today for education and blacksmith demonstrations.
As we continue down the Heritage Walk, the Penner Barn and nearby windmill come into view.
As we continue down the Heritage Walk, the Penner Barn and nearby windmill come into view.
The Penner Barn at Escondido's Heritage Walk.
The Penner Barn at Escondido’s Heritage Walk.
The 1907 Penner Barn was reconstructed here in 1976 using the original exterior siding and doors. It's now used by the Escondido History Center for special events.
The 1907 Penner Barn was reconstructed here in 1976 using the original exterior siding and doors. It’s now used by the Escondido History Center for special events.
Looking backward through the windmill, we see an old tractor parked in front of the Penner Barn.
Looking backward through the windmill, we see a vintage Caterpillar tractor parked in front of the Penner Barn.
The Victorian House is furnished authentically and open to the public for tours. (I didn't go inside the day I visited.)
The Victorian House is furnished as it might have been a century ago. It is open to the public for tours. (I didn’t go inside the day I visited.)
The Victorian Country House is an 1890 Queen Anne style farmhouse that was moved to this location by the Escondido Historical Society.
The Victorian Country House is an 1890 Queen Anne style farmhouse that was moved to this location by the Escondido Historical Society.
A small tour group assembles on the front porch.
A small tour group assembles on the front porch of the transplanted farmhouse.
This small building was the very first library in Escondido.
This modest building was the very first library in Escondido.
Escondido's First Library opened in 1895. In 1971 the Escondido Historical Society saved it from demolition and moved it to Grape Day Park.
Escondido’s First Library opened in 1895. In 1971 the Escondido Historical Society saved it from demolition and moved it to Grape Day Park.
Escondido's original public library is now headquarters for the Escondido History Center.
Escondido’s original public library is now headquarters for the Escondido History Center.
Sign details the mission and work of the Escondido History Center, formerly the Escondido Historical Society, which was founded in 1956.
Sign details the mission and work of the Escondido History Center, formerly the Escondido Historical Society, which was founded in 1956.
A time capsule buried under the Heritage Walk is to be opened in 2076.
A time capsule buried under the Heritage Walk is to be opened in 2076.
The handsome old Santa Fe Depot was moved to Grape Day Park in 1984. It houses the main museum of the Escondido History Center.
The handsome old Santa Fe Depot was moved to Grape Day Park in 1984. It houses the main museum of the Escondido History Center.
The platform side of the historic train depot, complete with Western Union sign and vintage luggage cart.
The platform side of the historic train depot, complete with Western Union sign and vintage baggage cart.
Exhibits inside the old train depot concern local history, from the Native American Kumeyaay who lived off the land, through Escondido's development as a town.
Exhibits inside the old train depot concern local history, from the Native American Kumeyaay who lived off the land, through Escondido’s development as a town.
A vintage photograph on one wall shows Escondido's Santa Fe Depot.
A black-and-white photograph on one wall shows Escondido’s Santa Fe Depot.
Parked next to the depot's passenger platform is railroad car number 92, built by the Pullman Company in the 1920s.
Parked next to the depot’s passenger platform is railroad car number 92, built by the Pullman Company in the 1920s.
Inside the railroad car is a huge model train layout that kids love!
Inside the railroad car is a huge, detailed model train layout that kids love!
Sacks of mail were transported at one end of the railroad car.
Sacks of mail were transported at one end of the railroad car.
Visitors to the old railroad car hang out and enjoy another facet of Escondido's fascinating history!
Visitors inside the old railroad car relax and enjoy another facet of Escondido’s fascinating history!

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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!

Colorful photos of Escondido Tamale Festival!

Here are a few colorful photos taken today during the Escondido Tamale Festival!

This very popular free event is held every year in Grape Day Park, right next to Escondido City Hall and the California Center for the Arts. Tamale making champions from around the region come together to compete for a prized trophy!

A crowd of tamale lovers had lined up on the grass anticipating a treat, and many were at outdoor tables feasting.

There were mariachis and other entertainers performing on the Grande Stage, a big kids zone, and all sorts of vendors. I noticed a few people were dressed up for Día De Los Muertos.

Because I walked about in a zigzag, looking at a wide variety of things in and around the park, I missed the Chihuahua Costume Contest and some cool lowriders that were parked nearby.

Maybe next year!

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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!

City Clerk’s Archives Month: Hidden Treasures!

Original concrete figure from San Diego Museum of Art, 1915-1916.
Original concrete figure from San Diego Museum of Art, 1915-1916.

Today I walked to the City Administration Building in downtown San Diego to view a unique historical exhibit. During City Clerk’s Archives Month, from September 30th to October 31st, the public can step inside the lobby of City Hall and discover Hidden Treasures!

The San Diego City Clerk has partnered with the San Diego History Center to display a variety of documents and artifacts from our city’s past. In addition to this exhibit, Archives Month features many free educational events including lectures, movies and workshops.

(I attended one of the lectures today, and took a tour behind the scenes in the City Administration Building’s basement, where the City Archives are safely preserved. I’ll be blogging about that awesome experience shortly!)

2019 Archives Month Lecture and Tour Schedule. (Click image to enlarge.)
Sign shows 2019 Archives Month Lecture and Tour Schedule. (Click photo to enlarge for easy reading.)
City Clerk Archives Month in 2019 features an exhibit of Hidden Treasures in the lobby of the City Administration Building.
City Clerk Archives Month in 2019 features an exhibit of Hidden Treasures in the lobby of the City Administration Building.
Many historical documents in the exhibit provide fascinating glimpses into San Diego's past.
Many historical documents in the exhibit provide fascinating glimpses into San Diego’s past. (I was pleased to see a Dog Tax Receipt featuring San Diego’s famous town dog, Bum.)
Historical documents on display includes an announcement for the Presidio Hill Park dedication in 1929.
Documents on display include an announcement for the Presidio Hill Park dedication in 1929. Pictured is the Junípero Serra Museum, original home of the San Diego Historical Society.
A collection of old City Clerk seal embossers.
A collection of old City Clerk seal embossers.
Posters describe 18th century San Diego and Presidio Excavation Artifacts from 1965.
Posters describe life in 18th century San Diego. Nearby are Presidio Excavation Artifacts from 1965.
These fragments from an olive jar might date as far back as 1769.
These fragments from an olive jar might date as far back as 1769.
The exhibit includes fragments of bottles, jars, bowls and plates from early San Diego.
The exhibit includes fragments of bottles, jars, bowls and plates from early San Diego.
Roof Tile, Presidio, 1869.
Roof tile from the Presidio.
Presidio artifacts include cannon and musket balls.
Presidio artifacts include cannon and musket balls.
Artifacts on display include the New Town Excavation Collection from the 1980s.
Other artifacts on display include the New Town Excavation Collection from the 1980s.
New Town artifacts include pistol fragments, 1850-1870.
New Town artifacts include pistol fragments, 1850-1870.
Other early artifacts from New Town include a broken bottle, ceramic wire insulators and a clay effigy.
Other artifacts from 19th century New Town include a broken bottle, ceramic wire insulators and a clay effigy.

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Flamenco dancing at San Diego Museum of Art!

This evening the San Diego Museum of Art held a free public event titled On the Steps At SDMA: The Golden Age Of Spain. The small outdoor festival, which was held in Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama, celebrated the museum’s current exhibition, which features fine art produced in the Spanish Empire from about 1600 to 1750.

Local artists had booths near the museum’s front steps, as did Balboa Park’s House of Spain, but my favorite part of the event was the fantastic flamenco dancing.

I lingered for a good while and enjoyed performances by Flamenco Sur (Carlos Hernandez and Students), Olé Flamenco, and Luna Flamenca Dance Company.

Each dancer possessed fire, intensity, passion.

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!

Batman takes over the Comic-Con Museum!

Today I checked out the Batman Experience at the Comic-Con Museum!

This fantastic exhibition is running during 2019 Comic-Con and is well worth the short trip from the San Diego Convention Center to Balboa Park. It’s free to the public–no badge required!

All three levels of the Comic-Con Museum have been taken over by Batman, as has a section of lawn outside the museum’s front entrance. That’s because Batman, celebrating his 80-year publishing history, is the very first inductee into the Comic-Con Museum Character Hall of Fame!

Walk through the looming gate of Arkham Asylum and feast your eyes on authentic, original items from the Warner Bros. Corporate Archive. You’ll see a couple of Batmobiles, iconic props from the major motion pictures, and costumes from the movies and the television series Gotham. There’s a Bat-Signal that projects Commissioner Gordon’s urgent call for assistance on the museum’s ceiling. In the lower level there’s a super cool Batcave Gaming Lounge, with current and old school video games featuring the Caped Crusader. You can also punch a villain. BAM! ARRGH! POW! Or play Batman pinball games. Or view the complete 100-piece series of collectible Batman Black and White statues.

After you do all this, you should step through a door and enjoy looking at the original Jim Lee artwork for the 2019 Comic-Con Souvenir Book. It’s on display in the museum’s ongoing exhibit Cover Story: The Art of Comic-Con 50.

Finally, if you’re feeling heroic, put on Batman’s cowl and try out the skydive simulator on the grass outside. The Dark Knight Dive allows brave crimefighters to simulate soaring over Gotham City!

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!

A free walking tour of Old Town San Diego.

A small group on a free walking tour learns about the history of Old Town San Diego.
A small group on a free walking tour learns about the history of Old Town San Diego.

A free walking tour of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is available every day at 11 am and 2 pm. The tours meet in front of the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center, at the northwest end of Old Town’s large grassy plaza.

When I visit Old Town San Diego, I’ll sometimes join the walking tour while it’s in progress. Last weekend I happened to be in front of the Robinson-Rose House right at eleven o’clock, so I decided to enjoy the full one hour tour!

During this easy walk a guide in period costume provides fascinating information about San Diego’s early history. Several different periods are covered, from the Spanish mission period, to the Mexican rancho period, to the early American period. The main interpretive period is 1821 to 1872.

Among the following photos are a few interesting bits of history…

Free walking tours begin daily at 11 and 2 in front of the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Free walking tours begin daily at 11 and 2 in front of the Robinson-Rose House Visitor Center at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Inside the Robinson-Rose House visitors can view a large model behind glass. It shows what Old Town San Diego looked like in 1872.
Inside the Robinson-Rose House visitors can view a large model behind glass. It shows what Old Town San Diego looked like in 1872.
The tour guide leads our group out into Old Town's historic Plaza de las Armas.
The tour guide leads our group out into Old Town’s historic Plaza de las Armas.
We learn that the Native American Kumeyaay village of Cosoy was located right here, long before Old Town was established.
We learn that the Native American Kumeyaay village of Cosoy was located right here, long before Old Town was established.

The Native American Kumeyaay village of Cosoy was located where Old Town San Diego’s plaza was established. Before the San Diego River was diverted in 1877, its water ran very close to Old Town and was an integral part of the life of early people in our desert-like Southern California coastal region.

Our tour now heads toward restored buildings that stand on the southwest side of the plaza.
Our tour now heads toward restored buildings that stand on the southwest side of the plaza.
We enter Casa de Machado y Silvas, where today visitors can view the small Commercial Restaurant museum.
We enter Casa de Machado y Silvas, where today visitors can view the small Commercial Restaurant museum.
Our tour guide talks about tiny San Diego during the Mexican rancho period. Trade goods were acquired from merchant ships in exchange for cattle hides, which were called California Banknotes.
Our tour guide talks about tiny San Diego during the Mexican rancho period. Trade goods were acquired from merchant ships in exchange for cattle hides, which were called California Banknotes.

When Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, the Spanish soldiers of the nearby San Diego Presidio switched their allegiance to Mexico, which couldn’t afford to pay them. For their service, they were given land at the foot of Presidio Hill, where many soldiers and their families built houses. That is how Old Town started.

You can learn more about La Casa de Machado y Silvas and the fascinating Commercial Restaurant museum here.

We head back outside into the plaza.
We head back outside into the plaza.
We learn more about Old Town by the unusual, tall flagpole.
We learn more about the history of Old Town by the unusual, tall flagpole.
Old Town's flagpole resembles a ship's mast!
Old Town’s flagpole resembles a ship’s mast!

You might notice the flagpole at the center of Old Town’s Plaza looks a lot like a ship’s mast. Because originally it was!

When an American force under Captain Samuel F. DuPont sailed into San Diego Bay in 1846 to take control of Old Town unopposed, the plaza had no flagpole, because most of the independent-minded Californios who lived here didn’t feel a strong attachment to Mexico. So a ship’s mast was used to raise the flag of the United States.

You can see a bronze plaque commemorating the event here.

You can learn more about the old Spanish cannon that sits in the middle of Old Town’s plaza near the flagpole here.

We head toward a tree that stands near the Colorado House.
We head toward a tree that stands near the Colorado House.
This is where the Franklin House hotel once stood.
This is where the Franklin House hotel once stood.

A vacant area of ground beside the Colorado House (now home of the Wells Fargo Museum) is where the Franklin House hotel used to stand. It was Old Town’s only three story building, notable for its relative elegance and its baths.

The Franklin House was destroyed during the great fire of 1872 along with several adjacent buildings including Old Town’s courthouse, ensuring that San Diego’s future would be located in Alonzo Horton’s New Town, which was then called Horton’s Addition.

To learn more about San Diego’s first courthouse, click here.

To learn more about Colorado House and the Wells Fargo Museum, click here.

We head toward a beautifully restored adobe house that stands alone behind the plaza buildings.
We head toward a beautifully restored adobe house that stands alone behind the plaza buildings.
Entering the grounds of La Casa de Machado y Stewart Museum.
Entering the grounds of La Casa de Machado y Stewart Museum.
Many artifacts are displayed in the main living room of La Casa de Machado y Stewart. An adjacent bedroom is where parents and daughters slept. The sons slept outside in San Diego's temperate climate.
Many artifacts are displayed in the main living room of La Casa de Machado y Stewart. An adjacent bedroom is where parents and daughters slept. The sons slept outside in San Diego’s temperate climate.

Our tour group then walked over to Casa de Machado y Stewart. We learned many things, including the fact that the fancier china seen on the dining table came by merchant ships that crossed the Pacific from Asia.

The more simple items like candlesticks were made by local blacksmiths. Because iron was rare in San Diego, harpoons from a brief period of whaling in San Diego Bay were used to make a variety of furnishings and household utensils.

You can learn more about the Casa de Machado y Stewart here.

You can learn about Old Town’s blacksmith shop here.

We also learned that the art of brick-making was introduced to Old Town by members of the Mormon Battalion, whose arrival in San Diego you can learn about here.

The outdoor oven was made of clay and adobe bricks. Cow manure provided fuel!
The outdoor oven was made of clay and adobe bricks. Cow manure provided fuel!
The garden outside La Casa de Machado y Stewart not only provided vegetables for eating, but native herbs used for medicine.
The garden outside La Casa de Machado y Stewart not only provided vegetables for eating, but native herbs used for medicine.
Our tour guide explains the uses of prickly pear. The cochineal beetle found on prickly pears is used to make red dye. That plant you see is about 150 years old!
Our tour guide explains the uses of prickly pear. The cochineal beetle found on prickly pears is used to make red dye. That plant you see is about 150 years old!
Finally, we head over to the beautiful, iconic Casa de Estudillo.
Finally, we head over to the beautiful, iconic Casa de Estudillo.
The courtyard of the U-shaped Casa de Estudillo includes a simple fountain at the center.
The courtyard of the U-shaped Casa de Estudillo includes a simple fountain at the center.
Sitting on wooden benches, learning more about San Diego's unique early history.
Sitting on wooden benches, learning more about San Diego’s unique early history.

The walking tour concluded inside the courtyard of La Casa de Estudillo. In many respects, this beautiful house is the centerpiece of Old Town San Diego. Two past blog posts provide a great deal of information about La Casa de Estudillo.

You can peer into the house’s restored rooms and learn about their history here.

You can learn how a wildly popular novel saved this historic building from destruction here!

The walking tour is over. Now visitors to Old Town can roam wherever they fancy, and visit the numerous free museums around the plaza.
The walking tour is over. Now visitors to Old Town San Diego can roam wherever they fancy, and visit numerous free museums scattered around the plaza.

Finally, to enjoy a good overview of San Diego’s early history, I recommend a visit to Old Town’s excellent McCoy House Museum. You can check out my blog post featuring its many exhibits 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!

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!

Photos of Manzanita Mountain Man Rendezvous!

Have you ever wondered what it was like to live as a mountain man? Trekking through the wilderness as a trapper or frontier explorer? Journeying through the untamed American West as a trader, prospector, scout or pioneer?

What would it be like to leave the comforts and routine obligations of a civilized life behind? To go where few had gone before, finding your own way over rugged mountains, across uncharted rivers, living on the land, camping beneath the stars?

Today I learned a little of what that was like. I drove an hour east of San Diego to Northcote Ranch to enjoy the 26th Annual Manzanita High Mountain Rendezvous!

This modern reenactment of an historic Rocky Mountain rendezvous takes place in the beautiful countryside near Lake Morena. It attracts reenactors and visiting history buffs, school students and families from all around the Southwest. Every single participant I met was extremely friendly. They showed me and other visitors around with enthusiasm.

I observed many participants in period costumes camping in canvas tents and tepees across a broad field and among shady trees. Many of the campers create their own leather goods, jewelry and other Old West artifacts.

As I walked about, I listened to frontier music, visited a gunsmith, looked at the wares of different traders, and stepped inside a couple of the largest tepees. On several outdoor ranges I observed people throwing tomahawks, shooting arrows, even shooting authentic black powder muskets. I even enjoyed a good old hamburger and tater tots at The Hungry Dowg restaurant tent!

Other rendezvous activities, which happened to be idle during my visit today, include blacksmithing, candle making and woodworking. There is something intriguing everywhere one turns!

I photographed some of the informative signs, including one that concerns San Diego’s early history–particularly the 1820s to 1840s, when Fur Trade goods were sold to merchant ships that traveled around Cape Horn. Back then a wandering trapper would occasionally come into Old Town. Click those photos and they’ll enlarge for easy reading!

If you’ve never been to a mountain man rendezvous, make sure to put the Manzanita High Mountain Rendezvous on your calendar for next year. Kids absolutely love it.

This fantastic event is open to the general public and admission is free!

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!