Historical markers at entrance to Presidio Park.

Several historical markers can be found near the northwest entrance to Presidio Park. If you’ve ever driven along Taylor Street just past Morena Boulevard and the Presidio Recreation Center, you might’ve glimpsed them. They stand beside a sidewalk that comes to an abrupt end, in a place where almost nobody walks.

The three markers were placed years ago near three sites of historical importance: the Serra Palm, Derby Dike, and the La Playa Trail.

I’ve transcribed the words on each plaque.

I was told by a park ranger who happened to be parked nearby that the Serra Palm is long gone. He said it was probably blown over in a windstorm, and pointed out a pine tree that was toppled by our most recent storms.

The Serra Palm was planted in 1769 by Padre Junípero Serra, and marked the beginning of El Camino Real.

I’ve photographed a similar La Playa Trail marker near Mission San Diego de Alcalá. To view that photo, click here.

According to Wikipedia: “In 1934, six commemorative terra cotta plaques were placed along the length of the trail by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and other groups, based on a relief designed by sculptor Rose M. Hanks. The original six were located at Mission San Diego de Alcala; at the foot of Presidio Hill in Old Town; near the intersection of Rosecrans St. and Midway Blvd. in the Midway area; at the corner of Rosecrans and Lytton streets in Loma Portal, across from the Naval Training Center San Diego golf course; at the corner of Rosecrans and Byron streets in Roseville; and at the site of the fuel depot at Naval Base Point Loma…”

SERRA PALM

TRADITIONALLY THE EARLIEST PLANTED TREE IN
CALIFORNIA. DIRECTLY IN THE REAR, BENEATH
THE BROW OF THE HILL, LIE THE DEAD OF THE
SACRED EXPEDITION OF 1769, BURIAL PLACE OF
OUR FIRST UNKNOWN SOLDIERS.
STATE REGISTERED LANDMARK NO. 67
MARKER PLACED BY CALIFORNIA CENTENNIALS COMMISSION
IN COOPERATION WITH
SAN DIEGO COUNTY HISTORICAL MARKERS COMMITTEE
DEDICATED SEPTEMBER 2, 1950

DERBY DIKE

UNTIL 1853 THE ERRATIC SAN DIEGO RIVER DUMPED TONS
OF DEBRIS INTO THE HARBOR OR POURED INTO FALSE
BAY, NOW MISSION BAY. AT TIMES IT THREATENED TO DE-
STROY OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO. LIEUTENANT GEORGE
HORATIO DERBY, U.S. TOPOGRAPHICAL CORPS, BUILT A
DIKE THAT DIVERTED THE WATERS INTO FALSE BAY. THIS
WAS THE FIRST EFFORT TO TAME THE RIVER, AND ONE
OF THE FIRST U.S. GOVERNMENT PROJECTS IN CALIFOR-
NIA. THE RIVER WAS NOT FULLY HARNESSED UNTIL THE 1950s.
CALIFORNIA REGISTERED HISTORICAL LANDMARK NO. 244
FIRST REGISTERED JUNE 10, 1936. PLAQUE PLACED BY THE
STATE DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION IN CO-
OPERATION WITH THE SAN DIEGO DEPARTMENT OF PARKS
AND RECREATION AND SQUIBOB CHAPTER, E CLAMPUS
VITUS, AUGUST 4, 1990.

LA PLAYA TRAIL
JEDEDIAH STRONG SMITH
PATHFINDER OF THE SIERRAS
HERE COMPLETED THE FIRST TRAIL FROM
THE ATLANTIC TO THE PACIFIC JAN. 1827
ERECTED BY
SAN DIEGO CHAPTER D.A.R. 1937

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The beauty of winter trees by the river.

It’s winter. Many trees along the San Diego River have shed their leaves. Except for a few clinging brown leaves, most of the cottonwoods and sycamores are bare.

I aimed my camera upward this morning in Mission Valley, as I walked down the river path between the Rio Vista trolley station and Mission Center Road. Even in winter, the trees are very beautiful.

(Can you find a tiny moon in one photograph?)

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!

Photo memories of San Diego winters.

Yes, winter does come to San Diego. It begins in about one week. Winters in coastal Southern California are generally mild, due to our arid climate, and the moderating influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Winter storms tend to be short-lived, gray and drizzly. In San Diego, if you want to see occasional snow, you need to head to the mountains of East County, and even then the returning sun and dry desert winds melt it in a day or two. Temperatures at the lower elevations almost never reach freezing.

However, winter storms in San Diego have been known to provide drama!

There have been unusually violent windstorms, huge surf and flooding. A few of those memories have been preserved in photographs on this blog. And so have examples of winter’s unique beauty!

To see photos from past winters, click the following links:

Snow and winter beauty at Cuyamaca.

Boats destroyed by El Niño winds in San Diego.

Photos of San Diego River, after three storms.

Glimpses of nature’s beauty after a storm.

Photos of winter along San Diego River.

A winter’s day full of magical light.

Storm brings huge surf to Ocean Beach Pier.

Amazing vistas atop Mount Soledad.

Signs of the coming big winter storm.

Los Peñasquitos Lagoon between winter storms.

Winter beauty at the Japanese Friendship Garden.

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!

Dramatic clouds, a change in weather.

San Diego’s first “winter storm” is here. This morning the clouds were already gathering, making for a sensational sunrise. I got a beautiful photo from the top of Cortez Hill!

A bit later in the morning, bright slanting sunlight made the clouds over Mission Valley very dramatic. I took a few photos near Hazard Center (you can see the trolley line) and the San Diego River. I captured some cool reflections!

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!

Morning walk by the San Diego River estuary.

Early this morning, light and life were both rising along the San Diego River estuary.

I didn’t walk far along the water–perhaps a quarter mile west from the Interstate 5 bridge.

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!

Help build the San Diego River Discovery Center!

Look what I discovered today!

While driving down Qualcomm Way, I noticed a couple of new signs by the San Diego River indicating that “The San Diego River Discovery Center at Grant Park” is coming to Mission Valley!

The San Diego River Discovery Center at Grant Park is a project of the San Diego River Park Foundation. The following is an overview taken from their website:

“Imagine a place that provides hands-on science based nature education and experiences to 25,000 kids each year! For many of these kids, it will be their very first experience!

Imagine a place which celebrates the San Diego River as an important ecological resource and inspires the next generation of River and nature stewards.

In May 2009, this vision of a new place where people could enjoy and connect with the San Diego River took a major step forward when the San Diego River Park Foundation signed a donation agreement with a remarkable family, the Grants. This longstanding San Diegan family decided to donate their 17-acre river-fronting property to benefit the community of Mission Valley and San Diego in general.

With this inspiring action, the San Diego River Discovery Center at Grant Park was born.

This 17-acre site is in the heart of Mission Valley. Prominently located at the northeast corner of Qualcomm Way and Camino del Rio North, the site is easily accessible by foot, bicycle, trolley, bus and automobile.

Grant Park is being designed to serve as a nature-based park, learning center and a gateway to exploring our San Diego River.”

All the legal hurdles to begin grading have been cleared–now the San Diego River Park Foundation just needs to raise some additional funds.

After work I walked around the general area where the park and nature center will be built and took photos.

To learn how you can make a donation, 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!

More of nature’s beauty in Mission Valley.

This morning I got off the trolley in Mission Valley earlier than usual, so I walked around.

Please enjoy a few photograph’s of nature’s beauty.

I walked down a path through landscaping near the Hazard Center trolley station, along a short segment of the San Diego River Trail, then turned north at Mission Center Road to head to work.

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!