A look inside the Blacksmith Shop in Old Town.

A blacksmith shapes red hot iron at a forge in San Diego's historic Old Town.
A blacksmith shapes red hot iron at a forge in San Diego’s historic Old Town.

Yesterday I lingered for a few minutes at the Blacksmith Shop in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Two forges were operating. I watched as hammers swung, making sparks fly. It was fascinating to learn about blacksmithing and its vital role in San Diego’s history.

I chatted for a bit with one of the friendly gentlemen working in the Blacksmith Shop. These days the shop is used by highly skilled hobbyists to make all sorts of ornamental and useful metal items. They’ve made objects used for display elsewhere in the State Park. They make everything but horseshoes–and that’s because none of them know how to shoe a horse!

I learned that in 19th century San Diego there were several blacksmiths; this shop now in Old Town was probably located a bit to the east, on the outskirts of town (near today’s Presidio Hills Golf Course) because of the fire danger it presented to other buildings. No blacksmith shop back then would have been as large as the one visitors see today. A blacksmith would most likely do their work in the corner of a livery stable, using one modest forge.

Please read the photo captions to learn more!

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park's Blacksmith Shop and Wood Shop at the site of the Blackhawk Livery Stables, circa 1850-1871.
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s Blacksmith Shop and Wood Shop at the site of the Blackhawk Livery Stables, circa 1850-1871.
Visitors to Old Town learn a little about life in San Diego during the mid 1800s. Blacksmiths created assorted metal objects, made repairs and shoed horses.
Visitors to Old Town learn a little about life in San Diego during the mid 1800s. Blacksmiths created assorted metal objects, made repairs and shoed horses.
This friendly blacksmith provided lots of fascinating information. Visitors watch with interest as he works to create a pot holder.
This friendly blacksmith provided lots of fascinating information. Visitors watch with interest as he works to create a pot holder.
I learned that in early San Diego blacksmiths typically burned charcoal in their forge, as coal was usually of poor quality and difficult to obtain in Southern California.
I learned that in early San Diego blacksmiths typically burned charcoal in their forge, as coal was usually of poor quality and difficult to obtain in Southern California.
A huge bellows provides oxygen for this furnace. A good working temperature is about 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.
A huge bellows provides oxygen for this brick furnace. A good working temperature is about 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Products that were fashioned include grills, traps, candle holders, fish roasters, knives, shovels, chains, hinges, nails, cooking ladles and horseshoes.
Products that were fashioned include iron grills, traps, candle holders, fish roasters, knives, shovels, chains, hinges, nails, cooking ladles and horseshoes.
Hammers, bars, wrenches and various blacksmithing tools hang from the rear wall, in addition to harnesses and other items one might find in a livery stable.
Hammers, bars, wrenches and various blacksmithing tools hang from the rear wall, in addition to harnesses and other items one might find in a livery stable.
The gentleman showed me some devices used to suspend pots over a fire. Everything on this wall was made by local members of blacksmithing clubs and organizations.
The gentleman showed me some devices used to suspend pots over a fire. Everything on this wall was made by local members of blacksmithing clubs and organizations.
A shiny anvil.
A shiny anvil.
This wide grassy area behind nearby Seeley Stable was once used for anvil shoots. Gunpowder was placed in a hollow indentation between two anvils and ignited, sending one anvil high into the air with a loud bang! Anvils that did not shatter were considered sound.
This wide grassy area behind nearby Seeley Stable was once used for anvil shoots. Gunpowder was placed in a hollow indentation between two anvils and ignited, sending one anvil high into the air with a loud bang! Anvils that did not shatter were considered sound.
Old Town visitor tries on a Spanish conquistador helmet made in the Blacksmith Shop.
Old Town visitor tries on a Spanish conquistador helmet made in the Blacksmith Shop.
A heavy anchor chain is shown. The welds must be as strong as the iron links.
A heavy anchor chain is shown. The welds must be as strong as the iron links themselves.
A look back at history. Skilled artisans used muscle, fire and sweat to make everyday life easier for the early residents of San Diego.
A photo of living history. Skilled artisans used muscle, fire, metal and sweat to make everyday life easier for the early residents 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!

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Mormon Battalion celebrates Flag Day in Old Town.

Mormon Battalion flag flies during a special event in Old Town San Diego.
Mormon Battalion flag flies during a special event in Old Town San Diego.

I was invited to a unique event that took place yesterday. A special Flag Day Ceremony was held at the Mormon Battalion Historic Site in San Diego’s Old Town. The event remembered World War I and saluted all American veterans.

During the ceremony five veterans from different military services were made honorary members of the Mormon Battalion. A cake was cut with a military saber and an American flag that has been flown over the U.S. Capital and over Fort Leavenworth (where the historic Mormon Battalion originated) was raised.

The patriotic ceremony was organized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members composed the Mormon Battalion, the only religiously based unit in United States military history. Commanded by regular U.S. Army officers, members of the battalion marched almost 2,000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to San Diego, California to help secure the region during the Mexican–American War. Much of the difficult march was over mountains and through desert. They saw no fighting.

I have noticed that Mormons treasure liberty–religious freedom in particular. I’m not a Mormon–very far from it–but I do happen to be a strong believer in personal liberty. That’s because I’m a writer. Also, as a child I traveled with my family behind the Iron Curtain twice. I have briefly seen how dark life is without liberty.

A friendly Mormon lady in pioneer dress welcomes guests to the Flag Day Celebration.
A friendly Mormon lady in pioneer dress welcomes guests to the Flag Day Celebration.
This 2017 celebration of Flag Day honored veterans who served with distinction.
This 2017 celebration of Flag Day honored veterans who served with distinction.
Guests are welcomed by Director of the San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site, Elder Michael Hemingway.
Guests are welcomed by Director of the San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site, Elder Michael Hemingway.
The United States flag is posted after the National Anthem.
The United States flag is posted after the National Anthem.
Folding of the flag. Each of the thirteen folds is invested with a special meaning.
Folding of the flag. Each of the thirteen folds is invested with a special meaning.
Four American veterans on stage are honored and made honorary members of the Mormon Battalion.
Four American veterans on stage are applauded and made honorary members of the Mormon Battalion.
Keynote speaker General Bruce Carlson, USAF, Ret. talks about liberty. He is also made an honorary member of the Mormon Battalion.
Keynote speaker General Bruce Carlson, USAF, Ret. talks about liberty. He is also made an honorary member of the Mormon Battalion.
Many voices sing God Bless America.
Many voices sing God Bless America.
Young members of Marine Band San Diego after the ceremony.
Young members of Marine Band San Diego after the ceremony.
The United States Marine Corps bus contains an image of the flag being raised during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
The United States Marine Corps bus contains an image of the flag being raised during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Pageantry and remembrance at a Flag Day Ceremony in Old Town San Diego.
Pageantry and remembrance at a Flag Day Ceremony in Old Town 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!

Photos inside America’s most haunted Whaley House!

I learned a past visitor to the Whaley House photographed these old dolls and was surprised to see the eyes--which are painted--closed!
I learned a past visitor to the Whaley House photographed these old dolls and was surprised to see the eyes–which are painted–closed!

Did I see any ghosts inside the Whaley House?

During my recent visit to Old Town San Diego, I ventured into the unknown. I took my very first look inside the Whaley House, widely considered to be the most haunted house in America. I also took lots of photographs, which you are about to see!

The Whaley House has been the subject of many serious paranormal investigations, and has appeared on many television programs.  It was featured on Syfy Channel’s Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, the Travel Channel’s episode America’s Most Haunted on Ghost Adventures, and the Biography Channel’s show The Haunting of Regis Philbin. The house’s reputation for supernatural activity has been discussed widely in the media and adopted by the popular culture.

LIFE magazine, a serious publication, has stated that the Whaley House is “the most haunted house in America.” The Travel Channel has agreed with that conclusion.

So, did I see any ghosts, spirits or apparitions–any spooky or weird stuff?

As I took the self-guided tour and peered into the various rooms, my eyes were primarily searching for ideal shots for my camera. But in the back of my mind, I also anticipated perhaps glimpsing something unusual.

Perhaps I’d see the ghost of Yankee Jim, who was hanged in a particularly gruesome way in 1852, on the same plot of land where the Whaley House was built in 1857. The Whaley’s youngest daughter Lillian was absolutely convinced that he haunted their home.

Or I might see the ghosts of Thomas or Anna Whaley who built the house when they came to San Diego from San Francisco. Thomas is said to appear in the parlor or on the upper landing; Anna in the downstairs rooms or outside garden.

Or perhaps I might get a ghostly glimpse of someone or something else…

Three of the docents I spoke to during my recent visit related their own bizarre experiences. Two docents once saw a gilded cup in a display case begin to vibrate for no apparent reason. Nothing had shaken the house or case. No other artifacts near the cup moved. The cup’s peculiar motion continued for 30 to 45 seconds, they attested. Another docent told me that she twice smelled lavender perfume inexplicably while sitting near a window in the upstairs theater. Nobody was nearby.

Several years ago, when I passed the Whaley House and spoke to a docent standing outside the front door, they told me they’d heard inexplicable footsteps in the theater and had seen a strange shadow moving on an upstairs wall. The cashier in the gift shop next door had seen the same weird shadow. I blogged about that here.

Okay. So what exactly did I see? Look at the photographs! And read the captions for more history concerning this fascinating and historically important house.

If I experienced anything unusual inside the Whaley House, it was that I felt a bit like a time traveler. A tour through this historic house is like stepping back into another time, when day-to-day life was both simpler and in many ways more dangerous, unpredictable and difficult. In my mind’s eye I could almost see the people of that era moving about the house–performing ordinary tasks–people who really weren’t that different than you or me. I could almost put myself in their shoes. In my imagination.

Take a look at these photographs and what do you see? If a few images seem to contain glare or strange effects of light, it was probably caused by my camera’s flash and the necessity of taking some photos through glass.  The photo of the children’s bedroom, for example, was taken through a glass pane.

The only adjustments I made to these photos were cropping, brightness, contrast and the GIMP filter for sharpness. And the photos I altered were changed just slightly to make them appear a little bit nicer on your screen!

Leave a comment if you see something ghostly!

Sign in front of America's most haunted Whaley House. Like various other historic structures in San Diego, the house is preserved by SOHO--the Save Our Heritage Organisation.
Sign in front of America’s most haunted Whaley House. Like various other historic structures in San Diego, the house is preserved by SOHO–the Save Our Heritage Organisation.
Photo of the 1857 Greek Revival-style Whaley House from across San Diego Avenue. The famous house is located in Old Town, the birthplace of San Diego.
Photo of the 1857 Greek Revival-style Whaley House from across San Diego Avenue. The famous house is located in Old Town, the birthplace of San Diego.
The Whaley House, once designated an official haunted house by the United States Commerce Department, has appeared on many television programs, including the Travel Channel's show America's Most Haunted.
The Whaley House, once designated an official haunted house by the United States Commerce Department, has appeared on many television programs, including the Travel Channel’s show America’s Most Haunted.
The Whaley house is the oldest brick building in Southern California. It served as home, granary, store, courthouse, school and theater. It was the most luxurious residence in early San Diego.
The Whaley house is the oldest brick building in Southern California. It served as home, granary, store, courthouse, school and theater. It was the most luxurious residence in early San Diego.
Visitors to Old Town San Diego peer into the Whaley House window just left of the front door. That is where the Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store was located.
Visitors to Old Town San Diego peer into the Whaley House window just left of the front door. That is where the Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store was located.
The self-guided tour begins in the courtroom, behind the store. Originally a granary whose brick walls didn't stop rats, at different times the room served as school, church, ballroom and billiard hall.
The self-guided tour begins in the courtroom, which is located directly behind the store. Originally a granary whose brick walls failed to stop rats, at different times the room served as school, church, ballroom and billiard hall.
Photograph on the courtroom's back wall shows the Whaley House on the outskirts of tiny San Diego. It stands alone in barren place. It was built on a hanging ground not far from old El Campo Santo Cemetery.
Photograph on the courtroom’s back wall shows the Whaley House on the outskirts of tiny San Diego. It stands alone in a barren place. It was built on a hanging ground not far from old El Campo Santo Cemetery.
Another photo inside the courtroom. This served as the second County Courthouse in San Diego, in operation from 1869 to 1871.
Another photo inside the courtroom. This served as the second County Courthouse in San Diego, in operation from 1869 to 1871.
Inside the courtroom you'll find the Centennial Cannon. It was cast in 1876 and was used for various ceremonies before being moved to Horton Plaza.
Inside the courtroom you’ll find the Centennial Cannon. It was cast in 1876 and was used for various ceremonies before being moved to Horton Plaza.
Another photo in the courtroom shows San Diego's old stone jail in a crumbling state. It stands next to the chapel cabin and the old graveyard.
Another photo in the courtroom shows San Diego’s old stone jail in a crumbling state. It stands next to the chapel cabin and the old graveyard.
The Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store. Many items available for purchase included whiskey, wine, buckwheat, macaroni, codfish, pickles, catsup, tin ware, hardware, stationery, clothing and shoes.
The Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store. Many items available for purchase included whiskey, wine, buckwheat, macaroni, codfish, pickles, catsup, tin ware, hardware, stationery, clothing and shoes.
Shelves behind the store's counter contain products one might buy in the mid to late 1800's in San Diego. Goods that arrived by ship around Cape Horn were later obtained via transcontinental railroad.
Shelves behind the store’s counter contain products one might buy in the mid to late 1800’s in San Diego. Goods that arrived by ship around Cape Horn were later obtained via transcontinental railroad.
A nearby display case contains items belonging to various members of the Whaley family, including engraved silverware and china.
A nearby display case contains items belonging to various members of the Whaley family, including engraved silverware and china.
Inside the display one can see an old photograph of George H. R. Whaley, one of the six children of Thomas and Anna Whaley.
Inside the display case one can see an old photograph of George H. R. Whaley, one of the six children of Thomas and Anna Whaley.
Two docents told me how they were both present when the gilded cup began to vibrate without explanation. It did so for about 30 to 45 seconds. No other objects moved.
Two docents told me how they were both present when the gilded cup began to vibrate without explanation. It did so for about 30 to 45 seconds. No other objects moved.
More historical objects that belonged to the Whaley family, including a small snubnosed revolver.
More historical objects that belonged to the Whaley family, including a small snubnosed revolver.
Next on the self-guided tour is the circa 1860s dining room. The chairs are upholstered with woven horse hair. They've survived a century and a half in pretty good condition.
Next on the self-guided tour is the circa 1860s dining room. The chairs are upholstered with woven horse hair. They’ve survived a century and a half in pretty good condition.
The wallpaper with fleur-de-lis patterns reflects light like a sky full of shining, golden stars. The furnishings and silver are original.
The wallpaper with fleur-de-lis patterns reflects light like a sky full of shining, golden stars. The furnishings and silver are original.
The tour proceeds to the reconstructed kitchen, which seeks to replicate the original board and batten structure. The checked floor is typical of the era.
The tour proceeds to the reconstructed kitchen, which seeks to replicate the original board and batten structure. The checked floor is typical of the era.
Many of the dishes and utensils are original. Prepared food would be passed through to the adjacent dining room.
Many of the dishes and utensils are original. Prepared food would be passed through a window (that we are looking through) to the adjacent dining room.
Photo of rear of Whaley House. The white detached room is the kitchen. In case of fire, the burning walls of the kitchen would be pulled away from the main building by horse.
Photo of rear of Whaley House. The white detached room is the kitchen. In case of fire, the burning walls of the kitchen would be pulled away from the main building by horse. This type of construction was common in those days.
These stairs lead up to the second floor of the Whaley House, where there is a theater and three bedrooms.
These stairs lead up to the second floor of the Whaley House museum, where there is a theater and three bedrooms.
A docent explains the history of this first commercial theater in San Diego. The Tanner Troupe performed here from October 1868 to January 1869. The first performance reportedly attracted an audience of 150. The docent thought this number was improbable--for just one performance in this rather small room!
A docent explains the history of this first commercial theater in San Diego. The Tanner Troupe performed here from October 1868 to January 1869. The first performance reportedly attracted an audience of 150. The docent thought this number was improbable–for just one performance in this rather small room!
The painted backdrop of the stage, an original family trunk, and a raven, recalling the famous poem of Victorian-era American horror writer Edgar Allan Poe.
The painted backdrop of the stage, an original family trunk, and a raven, recalling the famous poem of Victorian-era American horror writer Edgar Allan Poe.
Another photo showing painted curtains. A docent sitting by the theater window told me she smelled sudden, mysterious lavender perfume on two occasions. Nobody was nearby.
Another photo showing painted curtains. On two occasions, a docent was sitting to the left of this stage by one of the second floor windows when she smelled sudden, mysterious lavender perfume. Nobody was nearby, she told me.
Advertisement framed on theater wall. Admission to see the Tanner Troupe perform was 50 cents. Audiences saw moral, chaste and versatile entertainments--drama, farce, comedy, singing and dancing.
Advertisement framed on theater wall. Admission to see the Tanner Troupe perform was 50 cents. Audiences saw moral, chaste and versatile entertainments–drama, farce, comedy, singing and dancing.
Painting in the theater from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. On the opposite wall hangs a painting from Othello.
Print in a gilded frame in the upstairs theater. It’s from a painting depicting Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. On the opposite wall hangs similar artwork depicting Othello.
Outdoor stairs back then ascended to this outside balcony. Audiences entered the theater that way, without disturbing the Whaley House living quarters.
Outdoor stairs back then ascended to this outside balcony. Audiences entered the theater that way, without disturbing the Whaley House living quarters.
Photo of Thomas and Anna Whaley's master bedroom. According to the self-guided tour info, the walnut bedroom set is in the Renaissance Revival style. The writing desk was Anna's.
Photo of Thomas and Anna Whaley’s master bedroom. According to the self-guided tour info, the walnut bedroom set is in the Renaissance Revival style. The writing desk was Anna’s.
A visitor gazing into the children's bedroom said the dolls seemed very creepy. The crib just visible was used by four generations. An 18-month old Thomas Whaley Jr. died here from scarlet fever.
A visitor gazing into the children’s bedroom said the dolls seemed very creepy. The crib just visible was used by four generations. An 18-month old Thomas Whaley Jr. died here from scarlet fever.
Visitors look for ghosts in the children's bedroom. The theater is straight ahead.
Visitors look for ghosts in the children’s bedroom. The theater is straight ahead.
The rear bedroom could be used by up to four children and multiple visitors. The washbowl and pitcher were used for bathing.
The rear bedroom could be used by up to four children and multiple visitors. The washbowl and pitcher were used for bathing.
Now we are back downstairs. This is part of the elegant guest chamber in the southeast corner of the Whaley House. Important people stayed here, including General Thomas Sedgewick.
Now we are back downstairs. This is part of the elegant guest chamber in the southeast corner of the Whaley House. Important people stayed here, including General Thomas Sedgewick.
The adjacent study with desk and bookcase. During his time in San Diego, Thomas Whaley held many positions, including merchant, city clerk, notary public, realtor and railroad secretary. That sword was actually a prop used by the Tanner Troupe during their performances in the theater upstairs.
The study with desk and bookcase. During his time in San Diego, Thomas Whaley held many positions, including merchant, city clerk, notary public, realtor and railroad secretary. That sword was actually a prop used by the Tanner Troupe during their performances in the theater upstairs.
Looking from the study into the Rococo Revival Style parlor. The Whaleys were wealthier than most San Diego residents at the time. The room is full of art, paintings and splendid decorative objects.
Looking from the study into the Rococo Revival Style parlor. The Whaleys were much wealthier than most San Diego residents at the time. The room is full of art, paintings and splendid decorative objects.
There's no guarantee you will see a ghost at the Whaley House. But you will definitely observe a good deal of history and learn about San Diego's fascinating past.
There’s no guarantee you will see a ghost at the Whaley House. But you will definitely observe a good deal of history and learn about San Diego’s fascinating past.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Dogs and cats run wild throughout San Diego!

A wrinkly dog stands eternally inside the front door of Old Town's Korky's Ice Cream and Coffee.
A wrinkly dog stands eternally inside the front door of Korky’s Ice Cream and Coffee in Old Town San Diego.

Here’s a fun blog post!

Once in a while during my walks I come across art depicting dogs or cats. And sometimes it occurs to me to take a photograph!

Today I rode the trolley to Old Town, where I discovered some more dogs and cats running about my field of vision!

Some of these photos were taken elsewhere in San Diego and have been sitting in my computer waiting for the right moment.

Enjoy!

A cool cat bench outside the entrance of the Coronado Veterinary Hospital.
A cool cat bench outside the entrance of the Coronado Veterinary Hospital.
Two dogs stand guard on a downtown San Diego sidewalk.
Two dogs stand guard on a downtown San Diego sidewalk.
This dog painted on the wall of the now closed Dick's Last Resort seems to be fetching a beer.
This dog painted on the wall of the now closed Dick’s Last Resort in the Gaslamp seems to be fetching a beer.
This realistic cat is ready to jump from a flower pot.
This realistic cat seems ready to jump from a flower pot.
Pottery pooches on a shop's shelf in Old Town.
Pottery pooches on a shop’s shelf in Old Town.
An army of pottery pooches!
An army of ceramic pooches!
Beautiful dog art at Seaport Village's wonderful The Tile Shop.
Beautiful dog art for sale inside Seaport Village’s fantastic The Tile Shop.
A curious cat observes a blue moth in a flower.
A curious cat observes a blue moth on a flower.
u mad bro?
u mad bro?
A very colorful cat bag.
A very colorful cat bag.
A dog with a sore head. A fun image on the side of downtown San Diego's Banfield Pet Hospital.
A dog with a sore head. A funny image on the side of downtown San Diego’s Banfield Pet Hospital.

Today I also revisited the Old Town Model Railroad Depot, and I took more photos of the awesome O-Scale layout! To see them, click here and check out that old post’s update!

I’ve been busy! Coming up will be blog posts concerning the famous Whaley House, the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park, and something super amazing inside the San Diego Automotive Museum. But it takes time to choose and prepare photos—-and to do necessary research–give me a few days!

Thanks for following my blog!  I hope you all enjoy these glimpses of San Diego as much as I do!

First San Diego Courthouse Museum in Old Town.

Likeness of Agoston Haraszthy, first Sheriff of the County of San Diego. He was elected in 1850 and served one term. He was a pioneer when it came to growing grapes and became known as the Father of California Wine.
Likeness of Agoston Haraszthy, first Sheriff of the County of San Diego. He was elected in 1850 and served one term. He was a pioneer when it came to growing grapes and became known as the Father of California Wine.

Visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park can get a taste of the city’s early history when they step into the First San Diego Courthouse Museum.

One of many free attractions that can be found around Old Town’s central Plaza de Las Armas, the First San Diego Courthouse Museum is a recreation of our city’s first fired-brick structure, built in 1847 by members of the Mormon Battalion.

From 1847 to 1850 the original building served as the office of el Alcalde (Mexican mayor) of San Diego. Beginning in 1850 it contained the office of San Diego Mayor and City Clerk, and was used for meetings of the San Diego Common Council. The building was also used as a city and county courthouse and First District Court beginning in 1850.

Other uses for the building would include a meeting place for Masonic Lodge No. 35, headquarters of the U.S. Boundary Commission, office of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, and a place of worship for San Diego’s first Protestant church.

Come with me inside the museum. Let’s have a peek at a few very small rooms and their fascinating exhibits.

Photo of the modest brick First San Diego Courthouse Museum in Old Town, a recreation of the city's first courthouse.
Photo of the modest brick First San Diego Courthouse Museum in Old Town, a recreation of San Diego’s first courthouse and city hall.
In 1847, the Mormon Battalion built the first fired-brick structure in San Diego. For a couple decades it would serve as courthouse.
In 1847, the Mormon Battalion built the first fired-brick structure in San Diego. For over two decades it would serve as courthouse.
Visitor to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park enters a fascinating recreation of the city's first courthouse and city hall.
Visitor to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park enters a fascinating recreation of the city’s first courthouse and city hall.
The portrait is of Oliver S. Witherby, He was appointed First District Judge in 1850. He served for 3 years. He is considered the Father of San Diego Jurisprudence.
The portrait is of Oliver S. Witherby, He was appointed First District Judge in 1850. He served for 3 years. He is considered the Father of San Diego Jurisprudence.
A time capsule lies in a corner of the first San Diego courthouse. It is scheduled to be opened in 2050.
A time capsule lies under this cornerstone of the first San Diego courthouse. It is scheduled to be opened in 2050.
A display case in San Diego's first courthouse contains artifacts from the 19th century, including old pipe bowls and an antique lawyer's briefcase.
A display case in San Diego’s first courthouse contains artifacts from the 19th century, including old pipe bowls and an antique lawyer’s briefcase.
In 1872 a fire destroyed the San Diego courthouse. The fire burned a large part of Old Town's business section.
In 1872 a fire destroyed the San Diego courthouse. The fire burned a large part of Old Town’s business section.
Sign explains the first California courts. The district court convened here, and acted as the highest court in the state.
Sign explains the first California courts. The district court convened here, and acted as the highest court in the state.
This room in the small building was the mayor's office. Portraits of some early San Diego mayors are on the wall. Joshua H. Bean was San Diego's first mayor, elected in 1850.
This room in the small building was the mayor’s office. Portraits of some early San Diego mayors are on the wall. Joshua H. Bean was San Diego’s first mayor, elected in 1850.
A peek into the adjacent sheriff's office. I see rifles, handcuffs and keys to the outdoor jail cell.
A peek into the adjacent sheriff’s office. I see rifles, handcuffs and keys to the outdoor jail cell.
This iron jail cell was the size and construction of the original courthouse jail from 1850.
This iron jail cell was the size and construction of the original courthouse jail from 1850.
Break the law, and you might end up in here!
Break the law, and you might end up in here!
the San Diego Courthouse and City Hall museum in Old Town is open free to the public every day.
A small museum depicting the first San Diego Courthouse and City Hall in Old Town is open free to the public every day.

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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Colorful folklorico dancing at Fiesta de Reyes!

Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park features a stage with live folklorico dancing!
Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park features a stage with live folklorico dancing!

Whenever I visit Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, I poke my head into Fiesta de Reyes. The Mexican-themed shops and restaurants are always lively and cheerful, but what I really hope to see is the folklorico dancing!

The colorful dancing takes place daily. Take a look at these photos and smile!

The outdoor stage is located near the Mexican-themed shops and restaurants of Fiesta de Reyes. Daily dancing is a popular attraction.
The outdoor stage is located near the Mexican-themed shops and restaurants of Fiesta de Reyes. Daily dancing is a popular attraction.
Traditional Mexican dance includes colorful dresses and big smiles.
Traditional Mexican dance includes colorful dresses and big smiles.
Outdoor benches at Fiesta de Reyes allow visitors to relax and watch the free entertainment.
Outdoor benches at Fiesta de Reyes allow visitors to relax and watch the free entertainment.
Some performers in costume wait off to the side of the stage.
Some performers in costume wait off to the side of the stage.
Colorful banners behind the stage.
Colorful banners behind the stage.
A joyful scene of traditional Mexican folk dance.
A joyful scene of traditional Mexican folk dance.
Between the stage and nearby outdoor restaurant is this stunning dancer. Art made entirely of succulents.
Between the stage and nearby outdoor restaurant is this stunning dancer. Art made entirely of succulents.
Benches facing the stage include bits of cheerful folk art.
Benches facing the stage include bits of cheerful folk art.
An image of two smiling youth, holding hands.
An image of two smiling youth, holding hands.
Fun mariachi sculptures on a wagon just inside the entrance to Fiesta de Reyes.
Fun mariachi sculptures on a wagon just inside the entrance to Fiesta de Reyes.
Mexican culture on a sunny San Diego day.
Mexican culture on a sunny San Diego day.

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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Photos of amazing model train layout in Old Town!

A jaw-dropping night scene in a huge model train layout in Old Town San Diego!
The jaw-dropping night scene of a gigantic model train layout in Old Town San Diego!

During my walk through Old Town San Diego today, I stepped through an ordinary door into a fantastic dream! Before me stretched a positively enormous model train layout!

The Old Town Model Railroad Depot is a truly amazing attraction that anyone would enjoy seeing. The gigantic layout features O-Scale model trains, and as you can see in these photos, just lots of fun buildings, landscapes, moving figures and special effects.

I must say, in my opinion this layout even beats the two awesome O-Scale layouts at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park. Now that really took some doing!

And the two guys I spoke to at the Old Town Model Railroad Depot were really friendly! Next time I walk past, you can be sure I’ll venture inside again!

The Old Town Model Railroad Depot is a cool attraction featuring a gigantic 2500 square feet layout for O-Scale model trains!
The Old Town Model Railroad Depot is a cool attraction featuring a gigantic room full of working model trains!  It’s one of the largest O-Scale layouts in the country!
Fun gifts, artwork and items for model train hobbyists can also be purchased at San Diego's unique Old Town Model Railroad Depot.
Fun gifts, artwork and items for model train hobbyists can also be purchased at San Diego’s unique Old Town Model Railroad Depot.
A locomotive for sale among other fascinating stuff.
A locomotive for sale among other unique and fascinating stuff.
Lots of nostalgic railway artwork decorates the walls.
Lots of nostalgic historical railway posters decorate one wall.
The huge train layout has two halves--one represents daytime, the other night. Kids can stand on platforms to see--and hear--all the action.
The huge train layout has two halves–one represents daytime, the other night. Kids can stand on platforms to see–and hear–all of the exciting action.
Many model buildings populate the O-Scale train layout. It's the same scale used by classic Lionel Trains.
Many model buildings populate the O-Scale train layout. It’s the same scale used by classic Lionel Trains.
Tiny human figures and vehicles can be spotted everywhere one looks on the realistic layout.
Tiny human figures and vehicles can be spotted everywhere one looks on the realistic layout.
I really enjoyed the night side of the layout. It seemed even more realistic and dynamic. Special lighting effects include fireworks bursting over a stadium and lightning stabbing down from clouds!
I really enjoyed the night side of the layout. It seemed even more realistic and dynamic. Special lighting effects include fireworks bursting over a stadium and lightning stabbing down from clouds!
A tiny mechanic works in a tiny garage on a tiny truck.
A tiny mechanic works in a tiny garage at night on a tiny truck.
A detailed scene recreates firemen fighting a fire at night.
A detailed scene recreates firemen fighting a fire at night. I see miniature police, an ambulance, reporters and a small crowd of evacuated people!
Your kids will go crazy. You have to see it to believe it. And it's free! But leave a donation!
Your kids will go crazy. You have to see it to believe it. And it’s free! But leave a donation!

UPDATE!

I stepped into the Old Town Model Railroad Depot a second time! And I loved it even more than my first visit!

I met Gary Hickok, the creator of this stupendous layout, and learned he has been collecting the various pieces you see for 15 years. There are hundreds of tiny unique human figures, and they all seem to tell a story. Their unique poses are all part of a huge, bustling scene. The stories are often humorous!

Here are some more random photos that came out okay. These were all taken on the “day side” of the O-Scale model train layout. I hope you enjoy them!

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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!