A walk into history down Mule Hill Trail.

Walk down Mule Hill Trail at the south end of Escondido and you’ll find yourself stepping into history.

A while back I blogged about the forgotten town of Bernardo. A hundred years ago it was located in farmland near this trail, prior to the creation of Lake Hodges.

Down this same trail information signs mark the location of Mule Hill, where a skirmish took place during the Mexican-American War.

Seeking shelter among rocky outcroppings, General Kearny established a defensive position against pursuing Californios, as his U.S. Dragoons retreated toward San Diego after the Battle of San Pasqual.

The precise location of this skirmish was in debate for many years. Here are some interesting articles.

Today, after a short, easy walk south down Mule Hill Trail, you’ll see the outcroppings rising above several signs. You can find the wide dirt trail just east of Interstate 15, off Bear Valley Parkway, before Beethoven Drive.

Beginning south down Mule Hill Trail, part of the San Dieguito River Park.

The wide, easy trail leads south toward both Mule Hill and the forgotten town of Bernardo.

Off to the right near river trees, a solitary sign beckons.

Start of the Engagement, December 7, 1846

“Late in the evening, when we had arrived within about four hundred yards of the water where we intended to camp, they charged us, coming on in two bodies and compelling us to retreat to a pile of rocks about two hundred yards away on our left . . . ” source–Kit Carson’s Autobiography

Continuing our walk south. Jumbled boulders can be seen on the hill to our left.

We’ve arrived at three signs near a pair of rock outcroppings that figure in the early history of San Diego. The signs explain what happened here at Mule Hill.

Mule Hill Standoff

On December 7, the American soldiers, sailors and volunteers under command of Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny, were attacked from the rear by Mexican forces 250 yards northwest of this location…

The Mexican forces recruited for the defense of their homeland were led by Captain Andres Pico . . . The forces were primarily comprised of Californios, residents of California at that time who descended from Mexican and Spanish colonialists…

The Americans were short of food and resorted to eating their mules, hence the name “Mule Hill” for this site…

…Navy Lieutenant Edward Beale volunteered to sneak through the Mexican lines to seek help from San Diego, and he asked that army scout Kit Carson go with him.

Standoff Continues

On December 8, after the sun had set, Beale, Carson and a Native American (identity unknown to us) sneaked through three lines of Mexican sentries…Nearing San Diego, they separated…The Native American arrived in San Diego first…

On December 9, with little food, water or supplies and a number of wounded men, General Kearny made the decision to fight his way to San Diego…

On December 10, Sergeant John Cox died and was buried at Mule Hill…

On December 11… A relief column of 100 sailors and 80 marines, sent by Commodore Robert Stockton, had arrived. The Mexican force, now outnumbered, withdrew. Later that morning the Americans left Mule Hill and marched to what is now Old Town, San Diego, thus completing a 2,000 mile march from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

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Honoring the first gliders at Torrey Pines.

An old historical marker at the Torrey Pines Gliderport honors the pioneering glider pilots who were the first to launch themselves into the sky here.

The side of the marker that faces the ocean features two bronze plaques. The opposite, facing the Gliderport’s parking lot, was made beautiful with a colorful tile mosaic. The 30-year-old abstract artwork depicts green trees atop the bluffs, sun, water, a sailboat and gliders in the blue sky.

TO HONOR THE SPIRIT, INGENUITY AND ENTHUSIASM OF THE PIONEERS WHO FLEW GLIDERS IN THE 1930’S AT TORREY PINES

AND TO THE FUTURE PILOTS WHO WILL SHARE THIS GLIDERPORT AND CONTINUE THIS TRADITION THROUGH ALL FORMS OF MOTORLESS FLIGHT

JUNE 6, 1992

THE NATIONAL SOARING MUSEUM

HARRIS HILL, ELMIRA, N.Y.

AN AFFILIATE OF THE SOARING SOCIETY OF AMERICA

HISTORICAL SITE NO. 315

THE TORREY PINES GLIDERPORT

THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO

Here’s a fascinating web page of the National Soaring Museum that concerns the Torrey Pines Gliderport. You can see some old photographs. The site is designated the museum’s Landmark No. 5.

I posted a blog concerning the Torrey Pines Gliderport many years ago. If you are curious, you can check that out by clicking here!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Concert in Balboa Park helps Save Starlight!

A cool pop-up concert was held today in Balboa Park. Live rock and roll music, played inside the entrance to the historic Starlight Bowl, attracted people like a magnet. The purpose of the concert was to help Save Starlight!

What is Save Starlight?

They’re the folks who’ve been working tirelessly for years to reactivate San Diego’s beloved old Starlight Bowl. Perhaps you have memories of performances in the outdoor amphitheater when it was active many years ago.

I’ve learned Save Starlight just needs a long-term lease from the city to get events at the venue started! They need you to raise your voice in support!

Help them by clicking here!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

New trees planted at Bennington Memorial Oak Grove!

Twenty five new oak trees were planted today in a very special place in Balboa Park!

Forever Balboa Park, trained Tree Stewards and dozens of volunteers gathered in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove to revitalize a historically important area of the park that’s a bit off the beaten path.

Perhaps you’ve driven down 26th Street from Golden Hill toward Naval Medical Center San Diego and seen many old oak trees off to your left. Those live oaks were planted in 1905 to memorialize 66 sailors who died in San Diego Bay when the boiler of the USS Bennington exploded.

As these coast live oaks have aged, some have died or approached the end of their life. Planting small new oak trees infuses new life and meaning into this truly special urban forest.

Walking along, camera in hand, I got “volunteered” to help plant three of the twenty five trees! Cool thing is, when I walk this way again, I’ll know that I and others have tangibly touched the future with these living trees. They will be growing more beautiful long after I’m gone.

If you’d like to become a volunteer Garden Steward or Tree Steward in beautiful Balboa Park, click here!

Before the planting of new trees, Kathleen Winchester tells everyone the history of the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

Some of the spots where new coast live oaks will be planted.

Everyone learned the proper way to plant a tree so that it thrives.

Here’s a tree my group planted.

Using the shovel to make sure the tree is planted at the correct depth.

The planting of these 25 live oak trees in Balboa Park was the final phase of the 26th Street Trail park improvement project.

Last year members of the California Conservation Corps greatly improved the trail that leads up 26th Street to Golden Hill Park. The path, badly eroded in many places, was replaced with decomposed granite, and three new footbridges were built!

I walked up the trail to take some photos…

Lastly, thanks again to the Boy Scouts and sailors of the USS Theodore Roosevelt who made their mark improving and beautifying the oak grove five years ago. If you’d like to see what they did, click here!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Civic Center fountain recalls Oceanside’s founder.

The beautiful fountain splashing in the Oceanside Civic Center plaza has special symbolism that is revealed on a nearby plaque. The plaque, commemorating Andrew Jackson Myers, founder of Oceanside, can be found on a wall just north of the fountain, near the entrance to the Civic Center library.

As the plaque explains, not only was Andrew Jackson Myers the founder of Oceanside, but he created the Oceanside Water Company, critical to the city’s early development. And the fountain where water flows and splashes is the site of his homestead!

The colorful tiles leading down to the fountain represent the San Luis Rey River, which was the original source of Oceanside’s water supply.

(Here’s a great article concerning Oceanside’s water history.)

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Remains of ostrich farm in University Heights.

In 2022, the University Heights Historical Society placed a historical marker at the intersection of Park Boulevard and Adams Avenue. The sign stands near the remains of the entrance to the long-vanished Harvey Bentley’s Ostrich Farm!

The City of San Diego describes Historical Landmark No. 346 as: Mission Cliff Gardens Cobblestone Wall and Related Features.

One can see similar stone posts a couple blocks to the east at Trolley Barn Park. Cobblestones structures (and images of ostriches) are frequently seen throughout University Heights!

The sign explains:

This was once the entrance to Harvey Bentley’s Ostrich Farm, established in 1904. Nearby are the remains of a waiting station and drinking fountain for the #11 streetcar that brought scores of visitors from downtown to University Heights to see the ostriches as well as Mission Cliff Gardens and William Hilton’s Silk Mill. The streetcar was part of the 165-mile San Diego Electric Railway network, established in 1892 by visionary entrepreneur John D. Spreckels.

Here are two public domain images of the ostrich farm…

Just for fun, I photographed an ostrich painted at Yipao Coffee, a short distance south on Park Boulevard…

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Three buildings in the Gaslamp: then and now.

I came across historical photographs of three buildings in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter that were taken in 1960. These photos, resulting from the Historic American Buildings Survey, were taken by an employee of the U.S. National Park Service, and are consequently in the public domain.

I thought it would fascinating to post a “then and now” blog, comparing the 1960 photographs of these buildings with how they appear at the beginning of 2023. That’s a span of almost 63 years. By looking carefully, you can notice changes that were made.

The first building is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street. It’s called the Backesto Building. When built in 1873, it stood at the center of New Town’s original business district.

According to a historical plaque, the grocer and general merchandise firm Klauber and Levi occupied the ground floor from 1878 to 1886. San Diego Hardware would occupy the building from 1892 to 1922. Its exterior reflects the turn-of-the-century style.

The Backesto Building, photographed in 1960.

The Backesto Building, photographed in 2023.

The second building is also at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street. It’s called the McGurck Block and was built in 1887.

The Ferris and Ferris Drug Store occupied this building from 1903 to 1984. I once blogged how the father of actor Gregory Peck worked there as the night druggist.

The building was also a post office and ticket booth for the Coronado Ferry. The upper floors of the three-story Italianate building were known as the Hotel Monroe in 1929.

The McGurck Block, photographed in 1960.

The McGurck Block, photographed in 2023.

Finally, there’s the adjacent I.O.O.F. Building at Market Street and Sixth Avenue.

I.O.O.F. stands for Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

The 1882 building was a joint effort of the Masonic and Odd Fellows Lodges.

The Classical Revival building took almost a decade to complete. The cornerstone contains valuable coins, historic documents, and a stone from Soloman’s Temple!

I.O.O.F. Building, photographed in 1960.

I.O.O.F. Building, photographed in 2023.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

A descent into La Jolla’s Sunny Jim Cave!

For over a hundred years, curious visitors have descended into Sunny Jim Cave in La Jolla. I recently ventured down into the sea cave for my very first time! And I’m glad I did!

What was this small adventure like?

North of La Jolla Cove is a series of sea caves, with entrances that can be approached by water. One of the openings is to Sunny Jim Cave.

Visitors to The Cave Store can descend via tunnel into famous Sunny Jim Cave.

Historical Landmark No. 380. Tunnel & Cave Store – 1902. The City of San Diego.

Artwork in the Cave Store depicts someone sitting on a rock inside Sunny Jim Cave.

History of the Cave. In 1902, a German entrepreneur named Prof. Gustav Schultz commissioned two Chinese workers to dig a tunnel into the sea cave through the cliffs of La Jolla with the idea of charging visitors a few cents to enter…During Prohibition, alcohol was smuggled through the tunnel and into San Diego…Its nickname, Sunny Jim, comes from the resemblance of (its) silhouette to that of an old cereal mascot named Sunny Jim.

Starting down narrow stairs into the steeply sloping tunnel.

145 steps…All persons entering this cave do so at their own risk.

Here we go!

I’ve been inside mines, and this experience feels similar.

The stairs descend around several turns. In places the ceiling is rather low, and I had to stoop while carefully holding onto the railing.

When people pass in the narrow tunnel, it’s a tight squeeze! The wooden steps become more wet and slippery the farther down we go…

Almost there. The rock above and around is very damp now.

Walking out onto the wooden deck just inside Sunny Jim Cave.

The profile of Sunny Jim becomes apparent.

Several people were already on the deck, gazing out at ocean waves surging into the cave.

Sea lions sometimes hang out in the cave, but there were none when I visited.

The cave’s name Sunny Jim was suggested by Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum. Sunny Jim was the prominent-nosed mascot for Force, the first commercially successful wheat flake breakfast cereal!

(Public domain image, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)

Venturing down into Sunny Jim Cave makes for a fun little adventure. If you can manage the steep stairs and narrow tunnel, you might enjoy it, too!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

La Mesa to create Downtown Village Sign!

Plans are underway to create a landmark sign in La Mesa’s downtown Village!

La Mesa families are preparing painted tiles that will decorate the columns of the archway sign!

The “La Mesa Village District Sign” will span La Mesa Boulevard at Palm Avenue. It will resemble the distinctive gateway signs in other San Diego neighborhoods and cities in the county.

I knew nothing about this project until I walked past a banner and posters in windows at the intersection where the sign will be erected.

The ongoing “Leave a Legacy Tile” fundraiser will eventually produce a “Community Quilt” installed on the base of each column!

If you’d like to participate, here’s the website!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Walking past the forgotten town of Bernardo.

Did you know there used to be a town named Bernardo in what is now San Diego’s North County?

Bernardo was a tiny town between Escondido and Rancho Bernardo, where Lake Hodges is located today.

The creation of Lake Hodges in 1918, accomplished by damming the Bernardo River (now called San Dieguito River), put a definite end to little Bernardo. But today people hiking the Mule Hill Trail can see several information signs that recall the history of the now vanished town.

If you’d like to walk down the Mule Hill Trail yourself, take Interstate 15 to Bear Valley Parkway at the south end of Escondido. The wide dirt trail can be found about a quarter mile east of the freeway, leading south. (You’ll see it right before Beethoven Drive.)

Before reaching the site of old Bernardo, this very easy trail passes Mule Hill, where a skirmish took place during the Mexican-American War. I’ll be blogging about that coming up.

Cart roads used by the Spanish and Mexicans before the appearance of Bernardo linked a number of Ranchos–San Bernardo, El Rincon, Del Diablo, Santa Maria, Santa Ysabel, Valle de San Jose and San Felipe–with the port of San Diego.

After the division of Rancho San Bernardo around 1870, a small village developed, known as the town of Bernardo. In addition to several houses, there was a store, post office, blacksmith shop, grange hall and public school. By 1887, the population in the surrounding farm area was approximately 400 people…

For a brief period, Bernardo was a stop for the stagecoaches between San Diego and Yuma.

The San Diego to Yuma Road was an overland trail in the mid-1800s. It was used by the Army of the West in 1846 and gold rush immigrants from 1848 through 1851. It passed through tiny Bernardo as it led northeast from Peñasquitos to Ramona, eventually connecting with the Butterfield Stage Route at Warner Springs.

The history of Rancho San Bernardo began in the late 18th century when the King of Spain took possession of all land in California. In 1823, when Mexico gained its independence, the land became Mexico’s property. Don Jose Francisco Snook, a former English sea captain, received land grants from the Mexican government, including Rancho San Bernardo…

With the passing of the Mexican rancho era came the beginning of the American era, which is represented by the nearby Sikes Adobe Farmhouse. The restored farmhouse is a historic site that one can visit a short distance down the Coast to Crest Trail. (The Mule Hill Trail is a segment of the Coast to Crest Trail.)

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!