San Diego’s two historic Civil War cannons.

Two cannons dating from the American Civil War now make their home in San Diego. You can find them floating above the bay on the barge behind the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

According to plaques at the museum and this very detailed article from the The Journal of San Diego History, these two “Napoleon guns” (also called a 12-pounder Gun, Model 1857) were utilized by the Union Army during the Civil War. In 1886 they were brought to our city by the U.S. Army and placed at the San Diego Barracks. The old barracks was located near today’s Seaport Village. (You can see a photo of the historical plaque marking the old barracks site here.)

The two “bronze” or “gun metal” cannons are named Big John and El Justin. Each cannon without the carriage weighs over 1,200 pounds. At the barracks they were fired at sunrise and at sunset, and whenever visiting ships came into San Diego harbor.

In 1898, at the beginning of the Spanish-American War, the two Napoleon guns were moved to Fort Rosecrans where they defended the newly laid Ballast Point minefield, and they “were fired nightly, despite complaints that the noise frightened the horses…”

Afterward they were moved from place to place in San Diego, thrown aside as junk, then finally restored in the 1980’s. For much more information, read the detailed article here.

You can view historical black-and-white photographs of the two Napoleon guns in San Diego 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!

Maritime Museum’s new exhibit of historical photos!

If you haven’t been to the Maritime Museum of San Diego for a long time, this summer would be a good time to go.

Now that most of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have been lifted, the museum is fully open. Fantastic exhibits are plentiful. And a completely new exhibit of historical photographs awaits your eyes inside the Gould Eddy Gallery!

This special exhibition is of The Nancy Dubois Collection of Historic Maritime Photographs. According to one sign: “In 2017 Nancy generously donated some 200 historic and artistic photographs of ships, boats, port scenes, harbors and coastline to the Maritime Museum of San Diego…” Featured are a good many of these vintage photos, which were taken all around the world, many over a century ago.

A few of the photographs have no record of what they depict, and visitors are asked to help the museum curator identify the locale!

If you’re world traveler, a history buff, love photography or have an interest in all things nautical, you really should feast your eyes on this extraordinary exhibit. Then check out the rest of the museum and its collection of world-famous ships!

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!

Soviet submarine at Maritime Museum nears end of life.

A sign posted on San Diego’s Embarcadero near the Maritime Museum of San Diego indicates their Russian Foxtrot Class attack submarine B-39 has continued to rust, causing the historic vessel to near the end of its life.

A storm this winter that tore away sections of the outer metal skin has accelerated the submarine’s degradation. I believe it was the storm that I recorded back in January here. You can see waves in usually calm San Diego Bay breaking against the submarine.

It’s hoped that as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, museum visitors will have one more chance to take a look inside the B-39. I learned that once the submarine has reached the end of its life, it will likely be taken to a shipyard to recover whatever might be salvageable. I also learned the Maritime Museum has thoroughly recorded the interior of the vessel, to preserve a very important part of Cold War history.

Learn more about this submarine by checking out the museum web page concerning it here.

I enjoyed a self-guided tour inside the Foxtrot-class submarine nearly five years ago, and posted some interesting photographs. If you’d like to see them, click 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!

Video recreates historic Voyages of the San Salvador!

Behind come America, Cloudia and galleon San Salvador.

A fantastic video produced by the National Park Service and Aperture Films, with a very big assist from the Maritime Museum of San Diego, recreates the historic Voyages of the San Salvador!

If you’ve ever visited the Maritime Museum of San Diego, you’ve certainly boarded the amazing working replica of a Spanish galleon. The San Salvador was built to recreate, as closely as possible, explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo’s flagship of the same name, which he sailed during his voyage of discovery up the California coast. It was Cabrillo who discovered San Diego Bay for Spain in 1542.

A few years ago a film was made about Cabrillo’s historic Pacific Ocean voyage, using the Maritime Museum’s galleon during a trip to the Channel Islands. The film, titled Voyages of the San Salvador, was meant to be seen in the theater at Cabrillo National Monument, but I learned today from its leading actor, Al Sorkin, that you can view it online!

Voyages of the San Salvador, as described by the National Park Service: “…follows the 1542 expedition led by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo on a journey to find a route to China to trade for valuable spices. The film explores the motivation behind this incredible risk and the lasting effects European exploration has had on the native Kumeyaay people. This expedition marked the first European landing on what is now the west coast of the United States.”

As you watch the video, you might recognize that the segment concerning Cabrillo’s departure from his home was filmed in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, at La Casa de Machado y Stewart. And the beach scene beneath towering cliffs was filmed at Torrey Pines State Beach.

Watch the incredible and very educational Voyages of the San Salvador–in English or in Spanish–by clicking here!

Al Sorkin, who played Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in the National Park Service film Voyages of the San Salvador, poses for a photo at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

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 quiet January walk along the Embarcadero.

I took these photographs this afternoon during a long, slow walk along the Embarcadero.

It’s early winter. On such a pleasant January day, during an ordinary year, one would expect to see more people about. But the COVID-19 pandemic has altered life on San Diego Bay.

Closed attractions. Fewer tourists. Few boats on the water. A quiet boardwalk and sleepy Seaport Village. An almost empty fishing pier…

A lone sailboat passes the presently closed Maritime Museum of San Diego.
From the boardwalk I took a photo of Star of India’s cathead. This sturdy beam, used to raise and lower the ship’s anchor, has a cat’s head!
Walking past a mostly closed Portside Pier.
Many empty benches and tables can now be found along the Embarcadero.
Light sparkles from the wake of a turning Coronado Ferry.
Play of light on rippled water, reflected onto the hull of the USS Midway.
Hanging out on the grass, gazing across the bay.
I raised my camera to take this photo of the USS Midway aircraft carrier’s island. The USS Midway Museum is also closed now.
Long shadows cast by the two figures in Seward Johnson’s sculpture Unconditional Surrender, which is now more often called Embracing Peace.
Walking by the water.
Cool photo taken of Tuna Harbor.
Bright floats on a rusty fishing boat.
A family walks along near Seaport Village. Few people are about this sunny January afternoon.
A kite zips around making fast aerial circles, to the delight of both young and old.
Quietly reading on the grass at Embarcadero Marina Park North.
A fine day for riding bicycles!
Marriott Marquis tower reflects bright sunlight into the hotel’s marina.
I’m still getting used to Seaport Village’s new color scheme. It’s growing on me.
Looking skyward.
A snowy egret searches for dinner in shallow water at the edge of the Marriott Marina.
More walkers, and a runner.
Light makes for an interesting photo at the Marriott Marina.
The San Diego Symphony’s new outdoor concert venue, The Shell, seems nearly complete. I believe you’ll walk up here to buy tickets.
Beyond the ticket office you can see the acoustically designed structure where the musicians will play.
Walking out on the pier at Embarcadero Marina Park South. Not much fishing activity today.
From one end of the pier I took this photo of The Shell. A grassy slope descends toward the concert stage. Structures for lighting and speakers have also been erected.
Turning on the almost empty pier, facing the Coronado Bay Bridge.
Another guy quietly walking along. A perfect day for that.
But this pelican will have to wait a long time if it’s expecting a free morsel!

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!

Christmas carol performance at Waterfront Park.

Early this afternoon people converged upon Waterfront Park to listen to Christmas music, including many favorite carols.

I walked up a few minutes after the performance began. The festive Christmas Carol Sing concert was put on by the First Presbyterian Church of San Diego, with joyful music provided by their Westminster Orchestra.

I walked around the group taking these photos, often capturing the County Administration Building and tall ships of the Maritime Museum of San Diego in the background. I then settled in to listen for a while.

Many of the adults I saw were smiling. Many of the children were dancing.

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!

Live webcam of Star of India on San Diego waterfront!

Sunrise above the city. EarthCam image of tall ship Star of India on San Diego’s waterfront, from the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s steam ferry Berkeley.

There’s a new live webcam that features a stunning view of the Maritime Museum’s beautiful tall ship Star of India and the Embarcadero!

The downtown skyline rises behind historic Star of India, as it appears from the city’s waterfront.

The cool EarthCam camera is mounted on the smokestack of the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s historic steam ferry Berkeley.

To view the live webcam, click here!

Then, while your at it, cruise around the museum’s website and learn more about one of the top three maritime museums in the world, which is located right here in San Diego!

A short walk north of the Maritime Museum.

Yesterday morning I took a short walk north of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. I headed up the boardwalk at the edge of San Diego Bay past the Hornblower fleet and Grape Street Pier and finally turned around in an area of the North Embarcadero called The Crescent.

The following photographs were taken as I walked from the Maritime Museum to a small dinghy pier in The Crescent. You’ll see many sailboats and other small vessels moored in the water. People live in them.

Should you continue north up the boardwalk, you’d pass the Coast Guard station, Harbor Island and San Diego International Airport, the beautiful and historically important Spanish Landing Park, and eventually reach Point Loma near Liberty Station. Four years ago I blogged about that long, interesting walk and posted photos 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!

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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Varnishing the beautiful Star of India.

Boats require a lot of maintenance. The 157-year-old Star of India, oldest active sailing ship in the world, is no exception!

This afternoon I walked around the Star of India’s main deck and saw that new coats of varnish have been applied to some of the historic tall ship’s rails, posts, belaying pins, various panels, signs, the ship’s wheel and other wooden elements. And the work continues!

A friendly volunteer explained there’s a lot of sanding to do first.

Once the varnish is applied and dries, San Diego’s beloved Star once again shines brightly.

To my eyes more beautiful than ever!

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!