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.)

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Hollywood, Tarzan, Live Wire and Vaudeville!

Hollywood, Tarzan, Live Wire and Vaudeville… What do these four have in common?

They’re all aspects of a short walk in University Heights!

A few days ago I walked east along the south sidewalk of El Cajon Boulevard, from Park Boulevard to Louisiana Street. My camera was out, aiming at anything that caught my fancy.

I saw street art and the iconic The Boulevard sign. I passed a strange bicycle and a fun window.

When I came to the historic Lafayette Hotel, I noticed huge banners proclaiming its rebirth in June of 2023.

The Lafayette Hotel has undergone many changes since it began as the Imig Manor in 1946. It’s very first guest was Bob Hope. It soon became a favorite playground for Hollywood stars, like Ava Gardner, Katharine Hepburn, Betty Grable, Lana Turner and singer Bing Crosby. It’s rumored Marilyn Monroe and JFK had a secret rendezvous here.

The hotel’s swimming pool was designed by Olympic gold medal winning swimmer and Tarzan movie actor Johnny Weissmuller. It was used by San Diego native Florence Chadwick to train for her record breaking swim across the English Channel. The hotel’s Mississippi Ballroom was used in the filming of Top Gun’s classic You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ scene.

You can learn more about the amazing, elegant features of the Lafayette Hotel here.

Okay! Here are photos from my short walk…

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Pelicans made of sand take flight in Coronado!

Pelicans made of sand live inside the Coronado Community Center!

This extraordinary art is found on a wall near the community center’s front desk. The bas-relief sandcast sculpture of pelicans taking flight was created by artist Charles R. Faust, whose incredible work can be seen all around San Diego.

A short biography of Charles Faust is on a nearby plaque. Not only did he cast many beautiful, highly detailed sand sculptures like this at his Ocean Beach studio, but he worked as Architectural Design Director for the Zoological Society of San Diego. He came up with the idea for open air animal enclosures at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park.

There are some great Faust panels inside the lobby of the “Mister A’s building” in Bankers Hill. They tell the history of San Diego. You can see those 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!

The Naked Warrior stands in Coronado park.

In Coronado, at the water’s edge in Glorietta Bay Park, just south of the boat ramp, stands The Naked Warrior. South of the sculpture and its nearby park benches one can see Naval Amphibious Base Coronado stretching into San Diego Bay.

Beneath the feet of the bronze sculpture is a plaque and the words FIRST ASHORE.

THE NAKED WARRIOR

Artist: John Seward Johnson II

THIS WORLD WAR II COMBAT SWIMMER COMMEMORATES THE U.S. NAVY’S UNDERWATER DEMOLITION (UDT) AND SEA, AIR AND LAND (SEAL) TEAMS. THEY HAVE TRAINED AND HAVE BEEN BASED IN CORONADO SINCE 1946. THESE “NAKED WARRIORS” SWAM UNARMED ONTO HEAVILY DEFENDED ENEMY BEACHES WITH EXPLOSIVES TO CLEAR THE WAY FOR AMPHIBIOUS LANDINGS, HENCE THEIR MOTTO “FIRST ASHORE.” THE CONCRETE “SCULLY” ON WHICH THIS FROGMAN STANDS IS TYPICAL OF THE UNDERWATER OBSTACLES THEY RISKED THEIR LIVES TO DESTROY. THEIR LEGACY OF “NEVER QUIT,” WHILE EXECUTING THE MOST DIFFICULT MILITARY MISSIONS FOR OUR COUNTRY, IS STILL IMBUED IN EVERY NAVY SEAL WHOSE UNIFORM BEARS THE NAVAL SPECIAL WARFARE TRIDENT INSIGNIA. ON THE BEACHES JUST SOUTH OF THIS SITE, BASIC UNDERWATER DEMOLITION/SEAL TRAINING (BUD/S) GOES ON YEAR ROUND. THE SAILORS WHO COMPLETE BUD/S GO ON TO ADVANCED TRAINING AND ARE THEN ASSIGNED TO U.S. NAVY SEAL TEAMS, BECOMING THE ELITE WARRIORS OUR COUNTRY RELIES UPON FOR COMPLEX AND NO-FAIL SPECIAL OPERATIONS MISSIONS WORLDWIDE.

DONATED TO THE CITY OF CORONADO BY
THE NATIONAL NAVY UDT-SEAL MUSEUM
THE NAVY SEAL FOUNDATION

DEDICATED NOVEMBER 11, 2016

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Century old photos of Casa de Estudillo.

I came upon photographs of San Diego’s historic Casa de Estudillo that are nearly a century old. I thought you might enjoy them.

These images of the Jose Antonio Estudillo House were captured in 1936 and 1937 by architectural photographer Henry F. Withey for the Historic American Buildings Survey. A product of the Heritage Documentation Program of the U.S. National Park Service, the photos are in the public domain.

It’s interesting to see that long ago streets intersected near one corner of the house: Mason Street and San Diego Avenue. Today the Casa de Estudillo museum stands in the middle of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, and the streets you see in these photographs have become wide walkways filled with tourists.

The Casa de Estudillo was built in 1827. Back in the 1930s tourists were visiting the large old adobe casa, just as they do today. The painted Ramona’s Marriage Place sign you see in the above photo was meant to attract those motoring by. Ramona in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was an immensely popular novel.

You can read why Casa de Estudillo was called Ramona’s Marriage Place by clicking here. You can also see the present-day interior of Casa de Estudillo here and here!

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

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Tin Man recalls history in North Park!

Visitors to the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park might notice a large tin man standing atop stairs in the museum’s atrium. A sign at the bottom of the stairs explains how the nearly 11 feet tall metal sculpture was once a well known landmark in North Park.

Created in 1941, “Tin Man” was originally unpainted and held an oil can instead of a wrench. Representing the Tin Woodsman character from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, Tin Man was to be a feature of the North Park Toyland Parade. But the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor five days before the parade cancelled the event.

Tin Man subsequently was acquired by Sabol Service at University Avenue and Bancroft Street and for several decades, now holding a wrench, he towered above the automobile repair business. In 1976 he was moved to 35th Street and University Avenue, where, painted as he appears today, he greeted the customers of Vinal’s Auto Repair on the service station island.

As you can see, I took these photographs during the holiday season. Tin Man silently stood overlooking a large, very beautiful poinsettia Christmas tree–the first such tree to decorate the San Diego History Center.

And so our city’s history continues right along, the past meeting the present.

Perhaps you’re old enough to remember seeing Tin Man in North Park. After moving through the San Diego History Center, you will carry both old and new memories into your future.

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

It’s easy to 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!

Holiday floral beauty inside the Marston House!

For this 2022 Holiday Season, the Marston House in Balboa Park is doing something very special. The interior of the historic home has been decorated with many beautiful flower arrangements!

I learned today that the gorgeous floral displays, which can be found in most rooms, are new for the holidays this year. The flowers will dazzle Marston House visitors through the end of the year. If you’ve never been inside the Marston House, you need to go on a tour. Learn more by clicking here.

I once went on an informative tour and blogged about it here.

Today I learned that George W. Marston‘s wife, Anna, was active with the San Diego Floral Association, and the beautiful displays in the sitting room, brimming with lighter colors, were inspired by her love of flowers. (See above photo.)

I also learned George Marston considered yellow and gold the colors of California. The arrangements in the Marston library (the following two photos) reflect this.

The interior of the old house isn’t brightly lit, which poses a problem with my camera. I’ve adjusted the images to bring out the beauty as best I can.

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

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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!

San Diego’s forgotten Community Christmas Tree.

About three years ago, a new Community Christmas Tree was planted in San Diego’s wonderful Balboa Park. It replaced a beloved old Christmas tree that still shines brightly in the memories of many. But over the decades that aging tree became overgrown, gangly and misshapen.

San Diego’s new Community Christmas Tree has grown considerably. It’s now large and shapely. You’d think it would be a part of December Nights this year.

No.

As you can see in my photos taken this morning, hours before December Nights will begin, the new Community Christmas Tree is half concealed behind vendor tents. No lights, no ornaments, nothing. All but forgotten, it appears.

Yesterday I spoke to a gentleman who was helping to supervise the setting up of December Nights, and he had absolutely no clue about the tree’s existence. Very sad.

You can see the old tree, and how the new tree has grown, by clicking here.

That original Community Christmas Tree had a plaque near it, just within the fence. That plaque is now gone. What became of it, I don’t know. I now regret that I never photographed the plaque. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than me can leave a comment.

UPDATE!

When I walked past two weeks later, I noticed a golden bow had appeared!

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!

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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!

Trains and Rails at Del Mar’s Powerhouse Park.

Visitors to Del Mar’s beachside Powerhouse Park might easily miss this very interesting sign.

The sign is unobtrusive and badly weathered and stands across the walking path from the “Tot Lot” playground. When you lean in close to read the sign, you discover it concerns the nearby railroad tracks.

If you’re lucky, while you’re standing there, an Amtrak or Coaster train, or even a freight train, might rumble by.

I had to add contrast to these photographs, to make reading the sign a little easier.

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner roars by, heading out onto Del Mar’s coastal bluffs. (I took this photo as I walked south of the sign through Sea Cliff Park, which is immediately adjacent to Powerhouse Park.)

Trains and Rails. Ribbons of steel that link our country.

The origins of the San Diego Northern Railway date back to the late 1880s, when Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (AT&SF) built tracks along the Pacific coast from Orange County to San Diego…

…Several different train operators use this railroad. The NCTD carries more than 1.1 million passengers on a total of nearly 5,000 Coaster commuter trains annually. Amtrak carries more than 1.5 million passengers on more than 8,000 Surfliner trains annually. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway also runs approximately 2,500 freight trains along this coastal railroad every year…

The sign contains fun facts concerning local train history, including:

On July 7, 1881, the first ship arrived in San Diego with iron rails from Europe.

On November 17, 1885, the last spike was driven in San Bernardino connecting San Diego to the national line.

The last steam train left San Diego for Los Angeles on August 23, 1953.

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Frank Sinatra filmed on a San Diego museum ship!

Did you know Frank Sinatra filmed a scene aboard the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s historic steam ferryboat Berkeley?

I had no idea until my visit to the museum today!

During the opening of the 1957 film Pal Joey, starring Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak, the legendary crooner watches a pair of lady’s legs descend steps aboard what was then a San Francisco ferryboat.

If you watch this YouTube beginning at 2:53, you can see the historic ferry departing Oakland Pier to cross San Francisco Bay. You can then recognize several features of the ferryboat Berkeley as Sinatra does his thing.

Here’s a great website with photographs from the movie and the corresponding locales. You can see a train that pulled up to the Oakland Pier, where passengers would transfer their luggage onto the Berkeley.

What a cool, little-known bit of history!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

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

It’s easy to 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!