Photos of restored rooms inside Casa de Estudillo.

Visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park look into a restored room of La Casa de Estudillo.
Visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park look into a restored room of La Casa de Estudillo.

Four years ago I posted photos of La Casa de Estudillo, a famous adobe house in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park that was originally built in 1827. That blog was called Ramona saved Casa de Estudillo in Old Town and concerned the fascinating history of this structure.

Over time various parts of the casa have undergone restoration and new rooms have opened up to public view. These rooms now appear furnished as they once might have been, in the very early days of San Diego.

I recently walked through La Casa de Estudillo and peered into a few of the rooms…

Sign describes the dining room of La Casa de Estudillo.
Sign describes the dining room of La Casa de Estudillo.
The eventual prosperity of the Estudillo family is reflected in their elegant dining room.
The eventual prosperity of the Estudillo family is reflected in their elegant dining room.
Expensive furniture and tableware imported by ship from distant places fill the otherwise simple room.
Expensive furniture and tableware imported by ship from distant places fill the otherwise simple room.
Sign describes commerce in the casa. Francisco de Paul Rodriguez rented space from the Estudillos for a store.
Sign describes commerce in the casa. Francisco de Paul Rodriguez rented space from the Estudillos for a store.
The store, or tienda, contained shelves of goods that might be purchased by the residents of Old Town San Diego. Much of the merchandise came by ship from the East Coast around Cape Horn.
The store, or tienda, contained shelves of goods that might be purchased by the residents of Old Town San Diego. Much of the merchandise came by ship from the East Coast around Cape Horn.
More shelves against one wall contain iron tools and basic furnishings like candlesticks for sale.
More shelves against one wall contain iron tools and basic furnishings like candlesticks for sale.
Sign describes how the Estudillos adapted to life on the frontier in the 1830's and 1840's.
Sign describes how the Estudillos adapted to life on the frontier in the 1830’s and 1840’s.
A bedroom inside La Casa de Estudillo contains a wealth of comfort, unusual in early San Diego, which was located far away from developed centers of commerce.
A bedroom inside La Casa de Estudillo contains a wealth of comfort, unusual in early San Diego, which was located far away from developed centers of commerce.
Several additional rooms at La Casa de Estudillo are undergoing restoration.
Several additional rooms at La Casa de Estudillo are undergoing restoration.
Sign describes how the casa started as a modest two-room structure and eventually grew into an expansive U-shaped building with a courtyard and outbuildings.
Sign describes how the casa started as a modest two-room structure and eventually grew into an expansive U-shaped building with a courtyard and outbuildings.
Photo of the Casa de Estudillo's tower from the central garden courtyard.
Photo of the Casa de Estudillo’s tower from the central garden courtyard.
Looking across the south end of the courtyard toward the outdoor oven and Seeley Stable beyond.
Looking across the south end of the courtyard toward the outdoor oven and Seeley Stable beyond.
Sign explains how the Estudillos cared for a growing family including many children.
Sign explains how the Estudillos cared for a growing family including many children.
Frozen Charlotte dolls, ca. 1850's. These china dolls were popular in the Victorian era.
Frozen Charlotte dolls, ca. 1850’s. These china dolls were popular in the Victorian era.
A look into the children's bedroom.
A look into the children’s bedroom.
Sign describes the Estudillo kitchen and pantry. The family's ranchos provided meat, game, vegetables and fruit.
Sign describes the Estudillo kitchen and pantry. The family’s ranchos provided meat, game, vegetables and fruit.
Jars, pots, sacks of flour and fruit are among the many items seen in the rather primitive kitchen.
Jars, pots, sacks of flour and fruit are among the many items seen in the rather primitive kitchen.
The kitchen inside La Casa de Estudillo provides an idea of what life might have been like in early San Diego.
The kitchen inside La Casa de Estudillo provides an idea of what life might have been like in early San Diego.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

A walk around the the Sikes Adobe Farmhouse.

Photo of the rustic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse on a sunny November day.
Photo of the rustic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse on a sunny November day.

This morning I drove up to Escondido. One highlight of my day was walking around the historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse, which is located near a popular trailhead of the San Dieguito River Park’s long, not-yet-complete Coast to Crest Trail.

The Sikes Adobe, built around 1870, is a City of San Diego historic site. It contains a museum which is open every Sunday. Also on Sundays, the farmstead is where the North San Diego Certified Farmers Market is held.

As I walked around Sikes Adobe, I happened upon some interpretive signs which explain the history of the farmstead. I took photos if you’re interested. Click those sign images and they will expand for easy reading.

People had very different lives long ago in California. Fresh air, hard work, quiet hours, simple pleasures. And wild, untrod paths. I believe I would have loved that life.

The historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse is located near a trailhead of the Coast to Crest Trail, just east of Lake Hodges.
The historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse is located near a trailhead of the Coast to Crest Trail, just east of Lake Hodges.
The trail past the old farmstead is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
The trail past the farmstead is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
A sign shows proposed improvements to the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead Park, including event space and a reconstructed barn.
A sign shows proposed improvements to the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead Park, including event space and a reconstructed barn.
Scarecrows stand guard inside a community garden near the simple farmhouse.
Scarecrows stand guard inside a community garden near the rustic farmhouse.
Approaching the Sikes Adobe. One can tour the inside on Sundays, from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm.
Approaching the Sikes Adobe. One can tour the inside on Sundays, from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm.
In this photo you can see the small creamery building and the base of the restored windmill.
In this photo you can see the small creamery building and the base of the restored windmill.
A simple adobe house, typical of the early American era, shortly after California had achieved statehood.
A simple adobe house, typical of the early American era, shortly after California had achieved statehood.
View of the farmstead from the nearby trail.
View of the farmstead structures from the nearby trail.
Zenas and Eliza Sikes, with six children, arrived in 1870 and began their wheat farm here between the communities of Escondido and Rancho Bernardo.
Zenas and Eliza Sikes, with six children, arrived in 1870 and began their wheat farm here between the communities of Escondido and Rancho Bernardo.
A small vegetable garden near the restored windmill and creamery.
A small vegetable garden near the restored windmill and creamery.
Old rusty farm equipment in a corner of the farmstead.
Old rusty farm equipment in a corner of the farmstead.
Between 1860 and 1893, wheat was California's first bonanza crop. The creamery at Sikes Farm was built in the 1880s as their farm diversified and became more generalized.
Between 1860 and 1893, wheat was California’s first bonanza crop. The creamery at Sikes Farm was built in the 1880s as their farm diversified and became more generalized.
A town called Bernardo used to be located a couple miles southeast of the Sikes Adobe. The construction of the Lake Hodges Dam spelled the end for that town.
A small town called Bernardo used to be located a couple miles southeast of the Sikes Adobe. The construction of the Lake Hodges Dam spelled the end for that town.
Looking from the nearby trail past prickly pears at the farmhouse.
Looking from the nearby trail past prickly pears at the farmhouse.
Some horses have arrived at the trailhead's dirt parking lot.
Some horses have arrived at the trailhead’s dirt parking lot.
Sikes Adobe depends on your support. Become a docent or volunteer!
Sikes Adobe depends on your support. Become a docent or volunteer!
The Sikes Adobe Farmhouse rises behind a row of green grape vines.
The Sikes Adobe Farmhouse rises behind a row of green grape vines.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Trades That Shaped the West demonstrated in Old Town!

A Wells Fargo stagecoach takes a turn around La Plaza de Las Armas in San Diego's historic Old Town.
A Wells Fargo stagecoach takes a turn around La Plaza de Las Armas in San Diego’s historic Old Town.

Here come photos from today’s Trades That Shaped the West event, which took place in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park!

A wide variety of demonstrations drew curious visitors to a cluster of tents in the park’s grassy plaza. Early San Diego in the 1800’s was completely different from our modern city of gleaming skyscrapers. In many ways, life back then was both simpler and more difficult. Many household objects that are manufactured today were crafted using raw muscle and sweat. Most ordinary tasks were neither easy nor automated.

One hopes that historical reenactments like this continue for generations, so that people don’t forget the unique and meaningful lives of our ancestors.

You might notice this isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about this annual event. I’m so fascinated by San Diego’s history, I decided to experience Trades That Shaped the West again!

Stagecoach Days is celebrated every Saturday in Old Town during the summer. There’s a different themed event every week!

Aspects of frontier life were reenacted today in Old Town San Diego. Visitors watch in amazement as a stagecoach passes by!
Aspects of frontier life were reenacted today in Old Town San Diego. Visitors watch as a stagecoach passes by!
History comes to life during Stagecoach Days in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. There's a different theme each Saturday in July and August.
History comes to life during Stagecoach Days in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. There’s a different theme each Saturday in July and August.
Many fascinating demonstrations could be viewed by the public at the Trades That Shaped the West event.
Many fascinating demonstrations could be viewed by the public at the Trades That Shaped the West event today.
Young and old alike watched two blacksmiths at work with an anvil and small portable forge.
Young and old alike watched two blacksmiths at work with an anvil and small forge.
A wheelwright explains his craft. Wagon wheels were difficult to create, but a necessity of life in the 1800's.
A wheelwright explains his craft. To make wagon wheels required great skill. Like cars today, wagons were an important part of life in the 1800’s.
The bent metal band tyre would be expanded with heat, then contracted using cold water once carefully placed around the wooden wheel.
The bent metal band tyre would be expanded with heat, then contracted using cold water once carefully placed around the wooden wheel.
We take laundry machines for granted today. In the Old West, cleaning clothes took a whole lot more work.
We take laundry machines for granted today. Years ago in the Old West, cleaning clothes required a whole lot more work!
Irons, washboards and other objects from daily life generations ago are on display.
Irons, washboards and other objects from daily life generations ago were on display.
These ladies were weaving baskets. Basket-weaving is said to be the oldest of all human crafts.
These ladies were weaving baskets. Basket-weaving is said to be the oldest of all human crafts.
The local Kumeyaay would use willow baskets to protect their gathered acorns and other food from insects.
The local Native American Kumeyaay would use willow baskets to protect their gathered acorns and other food from insects.
This portable green forge is being used for the first time. The handle turns a belt which operates an air blower. I recognized this blacksmith from the Fall Back Festival in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter.
This portable green forge is being used for the first time. The handle turns a belt which operates an air blower. I recognized this blacksmith from the Fall Back Festival in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.
Local blacksmith hobbyists made all the items you see here, including the ornamental snake (which takes about an hour and a half to make) and the huge padlock!
Local blacksmith hobbyists created all the items you see here, including the ornamental snake (which took about an hour and a half to make) and the huge padlock!
This crafty gambler tried to entice me into playing a game of chance. Nice try!
This crafty gambler tried to entice me into playing a game of chance. Nice try!
A gentleman had a table containing old tintype photographs. He also had antique cameras on display that produce daguerreotype photographs.
A gentleman had a table containing old tintype photographs. He also had antique cameras on display that were used for daguerreotype photographs.
A new wheel is being produced by several wainwrights, trades people who make and repair wagons and carts.
A new wheel is being produced by several wainwrights, trades people who craft and repair wagons and carts. These guys belong to the California Historical Artillery Society.
A variety of useful tools and devices. Many look familiar today.
A variety of useful tools on their table. Many look familiar today.
Friendly members of the California Historical Artillery Society were demonstrating at the annual Old Town event for the first time.
The members of the California Historical Artillery Society were attending the annual Trades That Shaped the West event for the first time.
Approximate blacksmithing prices in the mid 1800's.
Sign shows average blacksmithing prices in the mid 1800’s. The prices were much higher in Northern California during the Gold Rush.
These guys also had a traveling battery forge, used by the Army long ago. Today they are often used in Civil War reenactments.
These guys also had a traveling battery forge, used by the Army long ago. Today they are often used in Civil War reenactments.
I noticed that the snake oil salesman had drawn a crowd!
I noticed that a snake oil salesman had drawn a crowd!
An old lady with a bad case of lumbago was eager to try Dr. Montbank's Tonic Elixir.
An old lady with a bad case of lumbago was eager to try Dr. Montbank’s Tonic Elixir.
I'm not sure it helped much.
I’m not sure it helped much.
A guitar, fiddle, banjo and a bottle. These frontier musicians were getting ready to provide a bit of Western entertainment.
A guitar, a fiddle, and a bottle. These frontier musicians were getting themselves ready to provide a bit of Western entertainment.
Visitors to Old Town were walking in front of the Colorado House and enjoying a sunny San Diego weekend.
Visitors to Old Town were walking in front of the Colorado House and enjoying a sunny San Diego weekend.
Look what's coming! These pack animals have transported the mail all the way from San Antonio!
Look what’s coming! These pack animals have transported the mail all the way from San Antonio!
The Overland Mail Delivery arrived exactly at one o'clock!
The Overland Mail Delivery arrived exactly at one o’clock!
I guess this would qualify as Ground Mail.
I guess this would qualify as Ground Mail.
The small Old Town encampment excitedly greets the four-legged mail carriers.
The small Old Town encampment excitedly greets the four-legged mail carriers.
Mail is handed out to many event participants!
Mail is handed out to many of the event participants!
The young folk don't seem to notice.
These creative young folk are too busy writing their own letters to notice.
An educational slice of history could be enjoyed today in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park!
An educational reenactment of history was enjoyed today in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park!

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!

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.

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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 fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

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!

History comes alive at Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day.

Folks enjoy taking a ride in an old-fashioned covered wagon in Old Town San DIego during 2017 Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day.
Folks enjoy taking a ride in an old-fashioned covered wagon in Old Town San Diego during 2017 Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day.

I’ve got lots of colorful photos! The annual Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day was held today in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. I covered this event last year, but I love history and scenes from the Old West so much that I swung by again!

San Diego’s history is remarkably diverse, considering our city is relatively new, and that it is situated in what for a long time was a thinly populated, desert-like wilderness. Many peoples and cultures have converged to help shape our dynamic city, including the original Native American Kumeyaay, missionaries from Spain, Mexicans who have called San Diego home, immigrants from Asia, an influx of Italian and Portuguese fishermen, and among many others, the Mormons.

Please enjoy these photos and click the big sign that provides a little more background about the event and the historical importance of the Mormon Battalion in San Diego. More information can also be found on my previous blog post concerning the event last year. Check the related links below!

The public was welcome to swing by the annual Mormon Battalion Commemoration in Old Town. There were many historical reenactments and costumes to see.
The public was welcome to swing by the annual Mormon Battalion Commemoration in Old Town. There were many historical reenactments and costumes to see.
One tent concerned letters home, featuring historical journals, maps and genealogy.
One tent concerned letters home, featuring historical journals, maps and genealogy.
Today we commemorate the first arrival of the U.S. Army in San Diego on January 29, 1847. This detachment was called The Mormon Battalion, recruited from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Click image to enlarge the sign if you'd like to read it.)
Today we commemorate the first arrival of the U.S. Army in San Diego on January 29, 1847. This detachment was called The Mormon Battalion, recruited from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Click image to enlarge the sign if you’d like to read it.)
Lots of interesting historical activities were being enjoyed by a large, enthusiastic crowd.
Lots of interesting historical activities were being enjoyed by a large, enthusiastic crowd.
Map shows Mormon Battalion Routes 1846 - 1847. The soldiers, recruited by the U.S. Army to fight in the Mexican-American War, undertook the longest military march in United States history.
Map shows Mormon Battalion Routes 1846 – 1847. The soldiers, recruited by the U.S. Army to fight in the Mexican-American War, undertook the longest military march in United States history.  After arriving, they helped to build early San Diego.
People draw the star and bear symbols of the California Republic.
People draw the star and bear symbols of the California Republic.
I believe these folks were making biscuits, a staple of the Old West.
I believe these families were making biscuits, a staple of the Old West.
Guys in pioneer clothing just kick back in plastic chairs and watch some dancing and musical entertainment during the event.
Guys in pioneer clothing just kick back by plastic chairs and watch some dancing and musical entertainment during the event.
Some colorful, joyful Mexican folklorico dancing on stage in Old Town San Diego!
Some colorful, joyful Mexican folklorico dancing on stage in Old Town San Diego!
This guy with the huge saw was demonstrating another aspect of life in old San Diego.
This guy with the huge saw was demonstrating another aspect of life in old San Diego.
Visitors to Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day try their hand at sawing a thick log!
Visitors to Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day try their hand at sawing a thick log!
A bunch of steampunk enthusiasts were attending the historical event!
A bunch of steampunk enthusiasts were attending the historical event!
A fez and a golden arm. These guys should be in some sort of cool adventure movie!
A fez and a golden arm. These guys should be in some sort of cool adventure movie!  Perhaps they belong in a blimp!
Like last year, a tent showed people how bricks were once made in San Diego.
Like last year, a tent showed people how bricks were once made in San Diego.
These assembled bigwigs were judging a Dutch Oven Bake-off!
These assembled bigwigs were judging a Dutch Oven Bake-off!
Scouts and other youth learn how rope was once made, using twisted fibers from native Yucca cacti.
Scouts and other youth learn how rope was once made, using twisted fibers from native Yucca cacti.
Lots of folks were in one tent learning about and making frontier dolls.
Lots of folks, old and young, were in one tent learning about and making frontier dolls.
Some mountain men were camped at the Black Hawk Livery Stable, near the Old Town blacksmith shop.
Some mountain men were camped at the Black Hawk Livery Stable, near the Old Town blacksmith shop.
A sign tells about various Western trailblazers, including Jedediah Smith, Kit Carson and Jean Baptiste Charbonneau.
A sign tells about various Western trailblazers, including Jedediah Smith, Kit Carson and Jean Baptiste Charbonneau.
Five anvils!
Five anvils!
Shaping red hot iron in the old blacksmith shop.
Shaping red hot iron in the old blacksmith shop.
These guys are keeping the ancient art of blacksmithing alive in a high tech world.
These guys are keeping the ancient art of blacksmithing alive in a high tech world.
Running out onto the wide grassy area behind Seeley Stable. Like travelling back in time.
Running out onto the wide grassy area behind Seeley Stable. Like travelling back in time.
Some beautiful quilts on display during Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day in Old Town San Diego.
Some beautiful quilts on display during Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day in Old Town San Diego.
Kids were learning how acorns were mashed by the Kumeyaay and others in San Diego's early history.
Kids were learning how acorns were mashed by the Kumeyaay and others in San Diego’s early history.
Someone poses for a photo with an old rifle.
Someone poses for a photo with an old rifle.
History, culture and period costumes. I saw many smiles in Old Town.
History, culture, bonnets and period dress. I saw many smiles in Old Town.
People in nostalgic frontier garb and a modern t-shirt with a jolting urban message pose together for an unusual photo.
People in nostalgic frontier garb and a modern t-shirt with a jolting urban message pose together for an unusual photo.
Playing old frontier music.
Playing lively old frontier music.
Playing simple, old-fashioned games.
Kids playing simple, old-fashioned games.
Another unique and memorable scene from Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day in Old Town San Diego!
Another unique and memorable scene from Mormon Battalion Commemoration Day in Old Town San Diego!

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San Diego history at Old Town’s Wells Fargo museum.

Stagecoach on display at the Wells Fargo History Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Stagecoach on display at the Wells Fargo History Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

I recently visited the Wells Fargo History Museum in Old Town. The exhibits inside concern early San Diego history. When our city was in its infancy, Wells Fargo ran a stagecoach line, and their Express Office was an essential part of local business life.

I took loads of photos in this very cool museum. Read the captions to learn much more!

The restored Colorado House in Old Town San Diego is home to a fascinating Wells Fargo museum.
The restored Colorado House in Old Town San Diego is home to a fascinating Wells Fargo museum.
The two-story, wood frame hotel called the Colorado House was built in Old Town San Diego in 1851 by Cave Couts.
The two-story, wood frame hotel called the Colorado House was built in Old Town San Diego in 1851 by Cave Couts. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1872.
The Wells Fargo History Museum in San Diego is open daily from 10-5. Admission is free!
The Wells Fargo History Museum in San Diego is open daily from 10-5. Admission is free!
Tourists in Old Town check out a red Wells Fargo stagecoach, which transported mail, gold, goods and passengers in the Old West.
Tourists in Old Town check out an iconic red Wells Fargo stagecoach, which transported mail, gold, goods and passengers in the Old West.
Old photo on video screen shows the Wells, Fargo and Co's Express Office in downtown San Diego, in 1911.
Old photo on video screen shows the Wells, Fargo and Co’s Express Office in downtown San Diego, in 1911.
Historical artifacts in a glass display case include books, bottles and a photo of Cave J. Couts.
Historical artifacts in a glass display case include books, bottles and a photo of Cave J. Couts.
In the spring of 1851 Cave Johnson Couts opened the Colorado House as San Diego's first two-story hotel. It had an elegant billiard table and fine food.
In the spring of 1851 Cave Johnson Couts opened the Colorado House as San Diego’s first two-story hotel. It had an elegant billiard table and fine food.
Old photograph shows bar in Colorado House.
Old photograph shows bar and patrons in Colorado House.
Antique telegraph key once used to send messages and money across the continent.
Antique telegraph key once used to send messages and money across the continent.
Colorful mural high on one wall shows a small town in the Old West. I believe I recognize many buildings in Old Town.
Colorful mural high on one wall shows a small town by a blue bay. I believe I recognize many buildings in Old Town.
Article from the Omaha Herald published in 1877 provides Hints for Plains Travelers. When the driver asks you to get off and walk, do it without grumbling!
Article from the Omaha Herald published in 1877 provides Hints for Plains Travelers. When the driver asks you to get off and walk, do it without grumbling!
Old plaque in the museum: Silas St. John carried the first eastbound overland mail out of San Diego, from Carrizo Creek to Fort Yuma, November 16, 1857. On September 9, 1858, in a lone-handed defense of the Butterfield-Wells Fargo Overland Stage station at Dragoon, Arizona, St. John was horribly wounded and lost his left arm. He recovered to continue in Wells Fargo service. Of his stuff the West was made.
Old plaque in the museum: Silas St. John carried the first eastbound overland mail out of San Diego, from Carrizo Creek to Fort Yuma, November 16, 1857. On September 9, 1858, in a lone-handed defense of the Butterfield-Wells Fargo Overland Stage station at Dragoon, Arizona, St. John was horribly wounded and lost his left arm. He recovered to continue in Wells Fargo service. Of his stuff the West was made.
To be a stage driver--the Whip--was to be a member of a highly skilled profession. They handled 4 to 6 horses in all kinds of weather on all kinds of roads, outwitted highwaymen, and calmed passengers.
To be a stage driver–the Whip–was to be a member of a highly skilled profession. They handled 4 to 6 horses in all kinds of weather on all kinds of roads, outwitted highwaymen, and calmed passengers.
Passengers on board the Overland Mail Company stages were allowed 40 pounds of baggage.
Passengers on board the Overland Mail Company stages were allowed 40 pounds of baggage.
Advertisement shows Ladies' and Gentlemen's traveling trunks and valises, also packing trunks of every description.
Advertisement shows Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s traveling trunks and valises, also packing trunks of every description.
Map shows the historic Butterfield Overland Mail Route. Wells Fargo's experience in Western transportation led it to finance and eventually run the Butterfield stage line's operations in the west.
Map shows the historic Butterfield Overland Mail Route. Wells Fargo’s experience in Western transportation led it to finance and eventually run the Butterfield stage line’s operations in the west. (Click image to enlarge.)
On February 23, 1875, the stage coming from the Julian mines was robbed, and the San Diego agent took action. He immediately notified the sheriff, posted a reward, and reported the robbery and his actions to the central office.
On February 23, 1875, the stage coming from the Julian mines was robbed, and the San Diego agent took action. He immediately notified the sheriff, posted a reward, and reported the robbery and his actions to the central office.
Cool display inside the Wells Fargo History Museum in Old Town San Diego shows how stagecoaches and their cargo was protected from bandits.
Cool display inside the Wells Fargo History Museum in Old Town San Diego shows how stagecoaches and their cargo were protected from bandits.
The most infamous stage robber was Black Bart. He left bits of poetry and called himself the
The most infamous stage robber was Black Bart. He left bits of poetry and called himself the “Po8” to distance himself from the common thief. He robbed 28 stagecoaches from 1875 to 1883. Once identified, authorities learned he was actually Charles E. Boles, a “respectable” mine owner!
A museum recreation of the Vallecito Stage Station, a stop on the Overland Mail Company's southern route, 1858-1861. Thick adobe walls provided relief from desert heat.
A museum recreation of the Vallecito Stage Station, a stop on the Overland Mail Company’s southern route, 1858-1861. Thick adobe walls provided relief from desert heat.
Table in the stage station used for rest, serving food and games of cards.
Table in the stage station used for rest, serving food and games of cards to pass the time.
Gold was discovered at Julian in San Diego's mountains, triggering a small rush into the area.
Gold was discovered at Julian in San Diego’s mountains, triggering a small rush into the area.
Miners from placer diggings on the Colorado River and hard-rock mines at Julian brought their gold dust and bars to the Wells, Fargo and Co. agency in Old Town San Diego.
Miners from placer diggings on the Colorado River and hard-rock mines at Julian brought their gold dust and bars to the Wells, Fargo and Co. agency in Old Town San Diego.
The Julian Stage Line carried miners and other passengers to this gold mining town in east San Diego County.
The Julian Stage Line carried miners and other passengers to this gold mining town in east San Diego County.
Cover of the Wells Fargo Messenger, dated July 1917.
Cover of the Wells Fargo Messenger, dated July 1917.
Wells Fargo published a monthly magazine calls the Wells Fargo Messenger between September 1912 and June 1918. Edward Hopper, an illustrator, went on to become a famous painter.
Wells Fargo published a monthly magazine calls the Wells Fargo Messenger between September 1912 and June 1918. Edward Hopper, an illustrator, went on to become a famous American realist painter.
On her travels she uses Wells Fargo Checks.
On her travels she uses Wells Fargo Checks.
Cover of the Wells Fargo Messenger, dated April 1918.
Cover of the Wells Fargo Messenger, dated April 1918.
Antique desk used by a Wells Fargo agent.
Antique desk used by a Wells Fargo agent.
During a typical day, a Wells Fargo agent saw many types of business, reflecting the Company's varied and essential services.
During a typical day, a Wells Fargo agent saw many types of business, reflecting the Company’s varied and essential services.
Nooks in this desk hold dip pens, receipts, letters and accounting ledgers.
Nooks in this desk hold dip pens, receipts, letters and accounting ledgers.
Wells Fargo agents were known for their respectability, ability, and trustworthiness. The first Old Town agent was J.F. Damon, co-editor of the San Diego Herald.
Wells Fargo agents were known for their respectability, ability, and trustworthiness. The first Old Town agent was J.F. Damon, co-editor of the San Diego Herald.
Agent William A. Biglow works in his express office which included an agent's cabinet and iron safe.
Wells Fargo agent William A. Biglow works in his express office which included an agent’s cabinet and iron safe.
A large old letterpress sits atop a cast iron safe. The safe, made by Herring, Hall, Marvin and Co. in 1885, is filled with concrete and weighs over a ton.
A large old letterpress sits atop a cast iron safe. The safe, made by Herring, Hall, Marvin and Co. in 1885, is filled with concrete and weighs over a ton.
Some art on the face of the safe door.
Some pastoral art on the face of the safe door.
The copy machine of the 19th Century. Pressure from this heavy cast-iron letterpress transferred brown ink to tissue paper.
The copy machine of the 19th Century. Pressure from this heavy cast-iron letterpress transferred brown ink to tissue paper.
A collection of old letters, certificates and small packages exhibited at the Wells Fargo History Museum in San Diego.
A collection of old letters, certificates and small packages exhibited at the Wells Fargo History Museum in San Diego.
If you ever visit Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, check out the interesting Wells Fargo History Museum in the Colorado House!
If you ever visit Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, check out the interesting Wells Fargo History Museum in the Colorado House!

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