Mystery disappearance of historical tombstone?

Armchair detectives and San Diego history buffs, here’s a possible mystery to solve!

In January of 2017 I was walking by the west side of a long parking lot along Anna Avenue near the old location of the San Diego Humane Society, when I spotted a wooden tombstone. On it were the words: “Juan Mendoza. Feb. 6, 1865. Shot in the back while running away.”

Here’s my photo from back then…

Mysterious wooden tombstone with name of Juan Mendoza, who was shot by Cave Couts in the back with a double-barreled shotgun in Old Town San Diego, February 6, 1865.
Mysterious wooden tombstone with name of Juan Mendoza, who was shot by Cave Couts in the back with a double-barreled shotgun in Old Town San Diego, February 6, 1865.

Juan Mendoza was a person who figured in the early history of Old Town, which is located just south of this spot across the San Diego River.

At the time I couldn’t help but wonder about the mysterious wooden grave marker. Was it real? A prop? A prank? You can read about my strange discovery several years ago by checking out my old blog post here.

As I wrote in that original post: “Cave Couts built the wood-frame hotel called the Colorado House in 1851 and became an influential resident of early San Diego. But by some accounts he was a sketchy character. On February 6, 1865 he shot a disgruntled former employee (who worked on one of Cave Couts’ ranches) in the back with a shotgun. This violated the unspoken “Code of the West”. The unfortunate victim who died was Juan Mendoza.”

Well, look what I saw today. The wooden tombstone is gone. There’s some sort of covering and efforts at erosion control around the place where it stood. Was there a grave? Nearby I also observed objects that might be related to the Mid-Coast Trolley extension construction over Friars Road, and possible homeless activity.

Okay, maybe it’s nothing. I see nothing on the internet. I don’t claim to be an expert when it comes to our city’s history. But I do know there are readers following this blog who are far more informed than me.

Is there an explanation?

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!

Sometimes I make seemingly mysterious discoveries!

Colorful photos of historic Old Poway Park!

A couple years ago I headed up to the annual Rendezvous in Poway. The event is held in historic Old Poway Park.

The Rendezvous in Poway is a reenactment that includes many elements of the 19th century Old West, including costumed vaqueros, mountain men, cowboys, pioneers, and soldiers from the Civil War.

I blogged about the event here. I also blogged about a beautiful bronze sculpture that I came across while walking through the park. It’s titled The Pioneers. See it here.

This morning, as I went through some folders in my computer, I found one that I had named Old Poway Park. In it were various photos of the park.

Uh, oh! Yikes!

I had intended to blog those photos a day or two after the event!

My lousy memory being what it is, I thought it would be best to merely share a few photos I took of this very colorful historic park–I don’t recall most of the precise details.

I do remember that there was grass and picnic benches and shady trees, and excited kids waving as they rode along the short, looping track of the Poway-Midland Railroad, and that the Heritage Museum contained a great collection of artifacts and displays concerning Poway’s history. But I’m afraid these almost forgotten photos will simply provide a taste of my visit that day.

If you want to learn more about family-friendly Old Poway Park, its history, museum, fascinating buildings and railroad operations, visit their website here!

One day I’ll return to ride that steam locomotive train you see in the barn. The little kid in me cannot be denied.

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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!

Step into El Cajon’s super cool Arts Alley!

At first glance the place might seem unremarkable. Just another alley in downtown El Cajon–north of Main Street, between Magnolia Avenue and Sulzfeld Way. And just south of the Olaf Wieghorst Museum and Western Heritage Center, which is located on Rea Avenue.

But should you step into El Cajon’s surprising Arts Alley, you’ll suddenly find yourself surrounded by delightful murals and fantastic works of imagination! The alley is so full of creativity, some of the super cool artwork has overflowed right out of it at the east end!

And what is an alley without cats?

You’ll also find a few wise quotes written on walls concerning the nature of beauty.

(You might notice in my photos that Arts Alley is located behind a couple of art galleries–plus a variety of other El Cajon shops and eateries that line a historic segment of Main Street.)

To be accurate, those two large Olaf Wieghorst Museum murals I posted aren’t in Arts Alley, but both can be seen from it! (I believe there’s another Western-themed mural that I failed to photograph. Oops.)

In case you’re curious, Olaf Wieghorst was a popular painter of the American West, whose work once appeared all over, including Zane Grey’s Western Magazine and the open titles sequence of the John Wayne movie El Dorado. He lived in El Cajon, where the museum is located, the second half of his life.

One day I hope to swing by the museum when it’s open and blog about the experience!

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!

Making adobe blocks in Old Town.

Today I spent a couple of hours exploring Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and a small section of nearby Presidio Park. As I walked through Old Town’s historic plaza near the Cosmopolitan Hotel, I noticed some people in period attire were demonstrating how to create adobe blocks.

At the very beginning of San Diego, in the early days of Spanish and Mexican settlers, adobe was the small town’s primary building material. Primitive bricks–or blocks–were made by simply mixing mud and straw together. The mixture was then shaped using wooden forms, then left to dry in the sun for a month or so. The resulting adobe blocks were used to build walls that in our arid climate were remarkably sturdy and insulating.

During past visits to Old Town, I’ve seen people working in this same spot demonstrating the making of adobe. Over time, that wall in a couple of my photos has slowly grown.

I was told by one friendly gentleman that eventually this grassy spot will be used for a Native American Kumeyaay exhibit, and a more permanent demonstration adobe structure will be built inside the fenced area near Old Town’s Blacksmith Shop.

Here’s a pic I took a couple months ago which shows how the adobe wall is slowly being built, layer by layer…

IMG_9847z

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Photos of Gaslamp history on Fifth Avenue.

Should you walk down Fifth Avenue through the Gaslamp Quarter, you might notice electrical boxes on street corners that feature photos from San Diego history. I believe these graphics debuted a few months ago.

The San Diego History Center and Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation have furnished old photos and bits of fascinating information for curious people passing down the sidewalk.

In 1885 Wyatt Earp came to San Diego, where he operated three gambling halls, organized gambling excursions in Mexico, and prospected copper and gold.
In 1885 Wyatt Earp came to San Diego, where he operated three gambling halls, organized gambling excursions in Mexico, and prospected copper and gold.

The Louis Bank of Commerce building was the location of Madam Cora's infamous Golden Poppy Hotel. It was also San Diego's first downtown ice cream shop.
The Louis Bank of Commerce building was the location of Madam Cora’s infamous Golden Poppy Hotel. It was also San Diego’s first downtown ice cream shop.

The Old City Hall building housed police headquarters. The Gaslamp during much of its early history was a red-light district known as the Stingaree.
The Old City Hall building housed police headquarters. The Gaslamp during much of its early history was a red-light district known as the Stingaree.

The Yuma Building was one of downtown San Diego's first brick structures. The bottom floor contains the only original interior from the 1880s in the Gaslamp Quarter.
The Yuma Building was one of downtown San Diego’s first brick structures. The bottom floor contains the only original interior from the 1880’s in the Gaslamp Quarter.

In the 1970s a redevelopment and preservation program began aimed at establishing the historic Gaslamp Quarter.
In the 1970’s a redevelopment and preservation program began aimed at establishing the historic Gaslamp Quarter.

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!

Marigolds add meaning to El Campo Santo.

Most of the traditional Día de los Muertos decorations have been put away.

In the small El Campo Santo cemetery, marigolds are all that remain.

According to Mexican tradition, marigolds, with their color and scent, guide spirits back to the living.

El Campo Santo (The Holy Field) is where many of San Diego’s earliest residents were buried. Marigolds on graves remind the living that those who founded our city are still with us.

To learn more about some of the people laid to rest in Old Town’s historic El Campo Santo cemetery, 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!

The Pioneers sculpture at Old Poway Park.

Last weekend I walked all around Old Poway Park. During my visit I took a look at the park’s many historic structures and interesting sights. When I approached the front of the 1886 Templars Hall, I noticed a large bronze sculpture standing near the foot of the front steps.

The Pioneers is a seven-foot-tall bronze sculpture by renowned local artist Richard Becker. It was commissioned in 2006 by the City of Poway. The gentle figures of a mother, child and faithful dog provide a beautiful tribute to Poway’s early pioneer founders.

Plaque reads: The Pioneers. Sculptor Richard Becker, 2007. Mother and child welcoming families to Poway. A tribute to the pioneers who settled in Poway at the turn of the 19th century.
Plaque reads: The Pioneers. Sculptor Richard Becker, 2007. Mother and child welcoming families to Poway. A tribute to the pioneers who settled in Poway at the turn of the 19th century.

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!

Photos of the annual Rendezvous in Poway!

Today I headed up to Old Poway Park to enjoy a very cool event. Scenes from the 19th century were being reenacted at the annual Rendezvous in Poway!

History enthusiasts had set up tents and tipis under large beautiful sycamore trees in the park’s grassy area. I learned that the rendezvous participants had been camping in Old Poway Park for several days already, and that local school students came by during the week to learn about life in the Old West during the 1800’s.

The Rendezvous in Poway, which continues this Sunday, features people in costume representing vaqueros, mountain men, cowboys, pioneers, and even members of the cavalry during the Civil War. For a few bucks kids can pan for real gold and families can ride the park’s fun Poway-Midland Railroad loop and watch a mock train robbery! Many of the attractions are free to the public, including a realistic cannon firing demonstration and Professor Tru Lee Bogus’ Traveling Medicine Show.

I also discovered that the Heritage Museum in Old Poway Park is open on weekends. There are many fascinating exhibits inside, and visitors can learn a good deal about the early history of Poway, back when people reached the once-tiny town by stagecoach.

On a pleasant early October afternoon I walked about the Rendezvous in Poway, enjoying many unique sights–and of course I took photos!

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!

Colorful photos of Founders Day in Old Town.

Representatives of many communities come together during Old Town San Diego's Founders Day to celebrate our city's diverse history.
Representatives of many communities come together during Old Town San Diego’s Founders Day to celebrate our city’s diverse history.

Founders Day is being celebrated in Old Town this weekend. The unique Old Town San Diego Chamber of Commerce event, which is inspired by our city’s 250th anniversary, is being held along San Diego Avenue, just south of the State Park.

I walked around at noontime today and took photos!

The colorful Founders Day festival will continue tomorrow. There will be street vendors and music and dancing and a whole lot of history to experience. If you can, head to Old Town San Diego and check it out!

San Diego Avenue was full of color and activity during my walk on the Saturday of Founders Day weekend.
San Diego Avenue was full of color and activity during my walk on the Saturday of Founders Day weekend.
A banner on an Old Town lamp post remembers the year 1769, when Junípero Serra founded a Spanish mission in San Diego.
A banner on an Old Town lamp post remembers the year 1769, when Junípero Serra founded a Spanish mission in San Diego.
This musician smiled for a blogger who happened to walk by.
This musician smiled for a blogger who happened to walk by.
The San Diego Model A Ford Club had lots of vintage cars on display during the event.
The San Diego Model A Ford Club had lots of vintage cars on display during the event.
Root beer floats could be enjoyed at this outdoor Western saloon!
Root beer floats could be enjoyed at this outdoor Western saloon!
The San Diego History Center had a display detailing important moments in San Diego's 250 year history.
The San Diego History Center had a display detailing important moments in San Diego’s 250 year history.
Early people, events and developments in San Diego's history include the native Kumeyaay, the Spanish arrival, and the establishment of Mission San Diego de Alcalá in 1769.
Early people, events and developments in San Diego’s history include the native Kumeyaay, the Spanish arrival, and the establishment of Mission San Diego de Alcalá in 1769.
Frontier musicians play banjo, guitar and washboard.
Frontier musicians play banjo, guitar and washboard.
Historical reenactors from Old Town's African Latin Museum participated in Founders Day.
Historical reenactors from Old Town’s African Latin Museum participated in Founders Day.
SDSU Archaeology had a table near the Whaley House Museum.
SDSU Archaeology had a table near the Whaley House Museum.
San Diego State University Archaeology students once excavated behind the Whaley House, and found many interesting artifacts.
San Diego State University Archaeology students once excavated behind the Whaley House, and found many interesting artifacts.
Uncovered artifacts included bottles and various household items common in early San Diego.
Uncovered artifacts included bottles and various household items common in early San Diego.
Write Out Loud had their Poe and Twain puppets roaming about during the cool event!
Write Out Loud had their Poe and Twain puppets roaming about during the cool event!
Many people come together during Founders Day to celebrate our city's complex and fascinating 250 years of history.
Diverse people come together during Founders Day to celebrate our city’s complex and uniquely fascinating 250 years of history. During the opening ceremony, words of optimism were expressed for the future!

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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A colorful 19th century Fourth of July!

The Westwind Brass Ensemble plays on stage in Old Town San Diego's plaza during an 1800's Fourth of July.
The Westwind Brass Ensemble plays in Old Town’s plaza during an 1800’s Fourth of July.

Today a good crowd turned out for a festive 4th of July in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park!

Every year this event provides a taste of what Independence Day would have been like in the 19th century. Fourth of July celebrations in San Diego would have officially commenced in 1848 when the small town became part of the United States.

If you remember some photographs that I posted three years ago, you might notice the event hasn’t changed much. But I love the color and history and the public participation so much I decided to go once again!

Many came out to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to enjoy an old-fashioned Independence Day.
Many came out to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to enjoy an old-fashioned Independence Day.
The Old Town 4th of July offered entertainments that would have been common in the 19th century, after San Diego became part of the United States.
The Old Town 4th of July offered entertainments that would have been common in the 19th century, after San Diego became part of the United States.
Boosters of Old Town San Diego Historic Park raise money by selling sliced watermelon and pies.
Boosters of Old Town San Diego Historic Park raise money by selling sliced watermelon and pies.
Members of the San Pasqual Battlefield Volunteer Association had a tent with historical displays.
Members of the San Pasqual Battlefield Volunteer Association had a tent with historical displays.
Photos or reenacted history near San Diego, including the Battle of San Pasqual during the Mexican–American War.
Photos or reenacted history near San Diego, including the Battle of San Pasqual during the Mexican–American War.
A family at Old Town's Fourth of July event learns all about spinning yarn.
A family at Old Town’s Fourth of July event learns all about spinning yarn.
Members of the Historic Quilt Guild had some of their beautiful handiwork on display.
Members of the Historic Quilt Guild had some of their beautiful handiwork on display.
These kids were making stuff with beads.
These kids were making stuff with beads.
Kids have fun with hoops on the grass. Simple play from an age long past.
Kids have fun with hoops on the grass. Simple play from an age long past.
A sack race has everyone laughing.
A sack race has everyone laughing.
This friendly guy near the blacksmith shop was making an axe handle.
This friendly guy near the blacksmith shop was making an ax handle.
Families were peering into the active blacksmith shop.
Families were peering into the active blacksmith shop.
Talking about how iron was shaped in Old Town San Diego in the 19th century.
Talking about how iron was shaped in Old Town San Diego in the 19th century.
All sorts of nostalgic music and dances entertained the crowd.
All sorts of nostalgic music and dances and contests entertained the crowd.
Handing out small American flags to those in the audience.
Handing out small American flags to those in the audience.
The keynote address reminds everyone of the meaning of Independence Day.
The keynote address reminds everyone of the meaning of Independence Day.
Old Glory readied to be raised on the plaza flagpole.
Old Glory readied to be raised on the plaza flagpole.

Diverse people in period costume read segments of the Declaration of Independence.
Diverse people in period costume read segments of the Declaration of Independence. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Volunteers from the crowd also went on stage to read portions of the Declaration of Independence.
Several people attending the event also volunteered to go on stage to read portions of the Declaration of Independence.
A patriotic parade for the Fourth of July commences around Old Town San Diego's historic plaza.
A patriotic parade for the Fourth of July commences around Old Town San Diego’s historic plaza.

Ordinary Americans are invited to join the parade.
Everyday ordinary Americans are invited to join the parade.

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!