Star of India’s restored figurehead to be unveiled!

For a long while, Star of India has been without her figurehead. That’s because the wooden figurehead, depicting Greek Muse Euterpe, has been undergoing badly needed restoration.

But now the work is completed! Euterpe will once again take her accustomed place on the bow of her historic ship!

There will be a public unveiling of the restored figurehead this coming Sunday, November 13. The big event coincides with Star of India’s 159th birthday. Check out the next photograph for details.

Yesterday I took a sneak peek of the completed project down in the hold of Star of India where the restoration work took place.

Euterpe is now flawless, bright, and absolutely beautiful!

But you’ll have to go see this Sunday for yourself!

You can learn more about this historic figurehead restoration, and see photos of the work in progress, by clicking here!

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Día de los Muertos at El Campo Santo.

At sundown this evening there will be a Día de los Muertos candlelight procession through Old Town. Those participating will end at San Diego’s old El Campo Santo cemetery, where many of our city’s earliest residents are buried.

This afternoon the small cemetery had already been decorated for Día de los Muertos.

A colorful altar stands near the entrance, just beyond the El Campo Santo historical marker. According to one sign I noticed, the Community Altar is by the Descendants of Old Town San Diego.

Marigolds and paper sugar skulls decorate gravesites, and the names of deceased loved ones have been scrawled in chalk on the cemetery wall along San Diego Avenue.

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Coronado’s surprising role in submarine history.

It’s widely known that Coronado’s North Island is the birthplace of naval aviation. But did you know that shortly before World War I, Coronado was also home to a training school for submariners?

Camp Richardson, which was located on a block of First Street just north of the Ferry Landing, served as the homeport of the United States’ very first Pacific Submarine Fleet. This is one of many interesting facts you’ll learn should you enjoy A View from the Periscope, which is the current exhibit at the Coronado Historical Association‘s museum.

A View from the Periscope focuses primarily on twenty-eight works of art. The Coronado Historical Association’s website explains how these pieces of artwork from the Naval History & Heritage Command’s Navy Art Collection are on loan for the exhibition. Throughout the museum gallery visitors can view paintings of submarines in different settings and their working crews. The website further explains that many of the artists featured are affiliated with the Navy’s Combat Art Program, which places artists on board navy ships on duty and in combat.

But there’s much more to discover in this exhibition! When I walked through it a few days ago, what interested me most were displays that concern local history.

Not only did I learn about short-lived Camp Richardson, but I was surprised to read how the submariners in training, as they practiced diving and firing torpedoes, would put on pre-announced shows in San Diego Bay for tourists staying at Coronado’s Tent City!

I was also surprised to learn that a Coronado artist, a member of the San Diego Fine Arts Guild, was instrumental in successfully camouflaging naval vessels during World War II.

His name was Dayton Brown. His novel approach to camouflage involved mimicking the natural environment, eventually utilizing only two color shades like Haze Grey or Ocean Gray.

Until I visited this exhibition, I had no idea!

A View from the Periscope continues through January 2023.

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

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You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

Memories preserved at Coronado’s history museum.

A wall inside the Coronado Historical Association’s fascinating museum features the stories of many Island Icons. Natives and long-time residents of Coronado have been interviewed by volunteers of the historical association, to preserve important oral histories for posterity.

I discovered this wall during my recent visit to the Coronado Historical Association’s museum on Orange Avenue. If you’d like to see it, too, venture into their auditorium, where an hour-long documentary film regarding the history of Coronado is shown on a continuous loop. (The film is outstanding and well worth viewing.)

The Island Icons archival project began in 2020. Every month, a new addition to these recorded memories is featured in the Coronado Eagle & Journal’s Coronado Magazine, and added to this wall in the museum.

Reading these words, you’ll be magically transported back in time. You’ll visit the Hotel Del Coronado and ride the ferry many decades ago, when the town was smaller and more intimate.

You’ll ride the old Coronado Beach Railroad streetcars, have fun at one of the two long-vanished bowling alleys, or perhaps at the long-vanished miniature golf course. You’ll walk and ride bikes and play on streets with no traffic lights, before the bridge to San Diego opened in 1969, changing everything.

You’ll read stories about life during the Great Depression and World War II.

If you know someone who has interesting stories about their life in Coronado, you can nominate them for an interview here!

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Fun for kids in La Mesa and Campo!

Do you know any kids who love trains? If you do, there are many opportunities for fun coming up in both La Mesa and Campo!

Yesterday I was passing the La Mesa Depot Museum when I noticed it was open and someone was working inside.

That someone was Station Master Timothy. He was building a new HO scale train layout in the old depot’s baggage room!

After showing me a few nearby historical exhibits, he explained this new layout will eventually be a fun, free activity for visiting kids. There will be a dynamic little town named Kerville (the tracks curve), and a module that can be added that includes both desert and mountainous terrain!

Meanwhile, the La Mesa Depot Museum has a curvy, twisty toy train layout in the adjoining ticket and passenger room that small kids can play with by hand.

Cooler yet, there are those real life train cars outside that one can explore up close and personal! If you’ve ever driven down Spring Street at La Mesa Boulevard, you’ve no doubt seen them.

You can see more photographs in and around the La Mesa museum here.

The La Mesa Depot Museum is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00 to 3:00 pm and Saturdays 1-4 pm.

. . .

The old La Mesa depot is a satellite of the much larger Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, located out in Campo. There kids can ride historic trains through San Diego’s scenic backcountry. And big kids (adults) can even take the controls of a big, honest-to-goodness diesel-electric locomotive and run it for a short distance!

Need something fun for the family to do next weekend before Halloween? Reserve a ticket for a unique Campo train ride out to a pumpkin patch. It’s called the Pumpkin Express.

Then, before Christmas, kids will enjoy meeting Santa during an incredible train ride on the North Pole Limited!

If you’d like an idea of how awesome this all would be, check out two of my past blog posts. This one has photographs from the train ride out in Campo. And this one shows the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum during its the big 100th Anniversary of the San Diego and Arizona Railway event!

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

Day of the Dead altar at a most haunted house!

The Whaley House in Old Town San Diego is said to be the most haunted house in America. It has been featured in numerous articles, books and television shows.

Some believe that multiple ghosts haunt the historic building, including Whaley family members who once lived there. A few of those family members died tragically.

For the upcoming Day of the Dead celebration (Día de los Muertos), a traditional Mexican altar has been erected in the courtyard behind the Whaley House. These altars are created to entice the spirits of departed loved ones back to the world of the living.

Will the many ghosts of the Whaley House be summoned?

There are a number of portraits on the Day of the Dead altar. I recognize some of the Whaley family members. Fear not–these photos were taken respectfully from behind the rope.

I recognize Thomas Whaley, Jr., who died inside the house of scarlet fever, a baby of eighteen months. I also recognize the portrait of Violet Eloise Whaley, who committed suicide. She died by self-inflicted gunshot to the chest.

I spoke to a Old Town Trolley Tours guide, and she claimed all the ghosts who haunt the place rise up on Halloween.

Day of the Dead and Halloween!

It seems early next week might be an auspicious time to hunt for Whaley House ghosts, if you’re so inclined!

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Progress of California mural in La Jolla.

When I stepped into the La Jolla Recreation Center’s small auditorium the other day, I barely noticed the game of ping pong that was in progress. That’s because my eyes were immediately drawn to a large, incredible mural on one wall above some vending machines.

The mural, painted in 1929 by renowned artist Hugo Ballin, is titled Progress of California.

I found this article. It explains how the mural was originally located at First National Bank, which opened in La Jolla in 1930 on the corner of Silverado Street and Girard Avenue. The mural was placed on the wall above the vault door. When the bank was demolished, a decision was made to move the mural to the La Jolla Recreation Center, where the public could freely see it.

Hugo Ballin is best know for his work in Los Angeles, including murals at Burbank City Hall, Griffith Observatory, LA County General Hospital, and the Los Angeles Times Building. During the era of silent movies, he was art director for Goldwyn Pictures.

As you can see, his Progress of California mural depicts people from different periods of history, including Native Americans, Spanish explorers and missionaries, 49ers during the Gold Rush, and pioneers.

Rising at the right end of the mural is Balboa Park’s iconic California Tower, which was built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego.

I did my best to take good photos without interrupting the game of ping pong…

Restoration of the historic Progress of California mural was performed in 2000.

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La Playa Trail marker in Roseville.

In Point Loma’s Roseville neighborhood, at the intersection of Rosecrans Street and Avenida de Portugal, you’ll find a historical marker between two benches. Six similar markers were placed along San Diego’s historic La Playa Trail back in the 1930s.

According to their website, this replacement marker was the project of the La Playa Trail Association. All of the markers feature a bas-relief of an Indian and a Mexican carreta (or ox cart), and were designed by Old Town sculptor, Rose Hanks.

I happened to walk by this particular marker the other day and realized I hadn’t yet photographed it.

The La Playa Trail is considered the oldest commercial route in the western United States. In the past, I’ve photographed a few other La Playa Trail markers and provided more information. If you’re curious, you can see that here.

La Playa Trail. An ancient Kumeyaay path that became the oldest commercial trail in the western United States. La Playa Trail Association, 2010.

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You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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Día de los Muertos altars in Old Town.

Many beautiful Día de los Muertos altars can now be viewed in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. They were built for Mexico’s traditional Día de los Muertos celebration, which begins in a little over a week. The holiday stretches from November 1st to 2nd.

Several of the beautiful altars you are about to see have been installed in historical buildings that operate in the State Park as free museums. These altars pay tribute to people who lived in early San Diego.

Today I and several other visitors enjoyed an educational tour of four particular altars. Our friendly and knowledgeable guide was Aaron, whom I’d seen a few minutes prior to the tour hammering away in Old Town’s Blacksmith Shop!

Our group began in front of the Robinson-Rose Visitor Information Center, where we learned about the history of Día de los Muertos, its origin, meaning, and the rich symbolism contained in the traditional altars. You can learn all about the Day of the Dead by checking out this Wikipedia page here.

Our group began by looking at a small altar set up on a cart by the Visitor Center’s front door. The touching altar honored and remembered Old Town State Park volunteers who had passed on from this life.

Over 4 million visitors come to this State Park every year, including many school children. Without dedicated volunteers, maintaining the vibrancy of this very special place wouldn’t be possible.

We then proceeded across a corner of Old Town’s grassy plaza to La Casa de Machado y Silvas, which is now the Commercial Restaurant museum. Inside, we learned about this old adobe’s history.

In one room of the historic adobe a large, beautiful altar paid tribute to many notable residents of San Diego in the mid-1800s.

Some photographs in the altar showed relatives of María Antonia and her husband, José Antonio Nicasio Silvas. The newly married couple was gifted this house by María’s father José Manuel Machado, who commanded the military guards at nearby Mission San Diego.

Next came an altar inside La Casa de Machado y Stewart. The images in this altar are of José Manuel Machado and his wife María Serafina Valdez de Machado.

The two raised eleven children. Their daughter, Rosa Machado, married a New Englander named John “Jack” Collins Stewart and thereby inherited this house. Stewart was a shipmate of famous author Richard Henry Dana, Jr., who described a visit to the house in Two Years Before the Mast.

It was interesting to see that the ofrendas (offerings) on the floor in front of this altar include playing cards, a pipe and liquor!

Food and objects that brought pleasure in life are meant to entice souls back to our world–at least during Día de los Muertos.

Our group finally headed to the small historic San Diego Union Building, where an altar remembered two figures in the early history of our city’s major newspaper.

The photos are of Edward “Ned” Bushyhead and José Narciso Briseño. Bushyhead was not only a Cherokee miner and lawman, but he was the newspaper’s first publisher. Briseño, a native of Chile, was the printer.

This altar is quite unusual in that it contains a pile of sorts–small typesetting pieces used to assemble words, that were subsequently printed in columns on sheets of paper using a hand press.

The next two altars that I photographed today were not part of the tour.

The following example on a cart can be found in Wallach & Goldman Square, among many shops. I know nothing specific about it…

And finally, probably the most impressive of all the Old Town altars is the one inside the sala (living room) of La Casa de Estudillo.

The sprawling adobe and its beautiful courtyard, built by Presidio comandante José María Estudillo and his son, lieutenant José Antonio Estudillo, became San Diego’s social and religious center during the Mexican and early American periods.

Most Californio families, like the Estudillos, were Roman Catholic…traveling priests performed weddings, baptisms, and memorial services here in the Sala for the people of San Diego.

I encourage those visiting Old Town San Diego State Historic Park this week to sign up for the daily 3 pm Día de los Muertos altar tour. A limited number of people can participate. The guided tour lasts a little less than an hour.

You can sign up at the counter inside the Robinson-Rose Visitor Information Center!

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

Cabrillo National Monument celebrates 109 years!

Today–Friday, October 14th, 2022–is the 109th “birthday” of Cabrillo National Monument!

As you can see on the board above, this amazing park situated at the end of Point Loma was established exactly 109 years ago by President Wilson.

I arrived just a few minutes before the Discover Cabrillo National Monument ranger talk, so I quickly headed to the back patio to hear about the many qualities of this special place.

We learned about how the park protects the native flora and fauna. We also learned a little history concerning the 1542 voyage of explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, and the bunkers placed on the coastal bluffs during World War II.

After the talk I walked about, simply to take in the stunning views and fresh ocean air, and to take some photos. As you can see, it was a gray, overcast day.

The 109th anniversary of Cabrillo National Monument wasn’t nearly as big a deal as its centennial nine years ago. I was there for that big occasion, and took many photographs of the historic event which I posted here!

Thank you for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

You can explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!