Boy Scouts improve Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of USS Theodore Roosevelt help Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson move logs in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

Over the past year and a half, some amazing young men have been working to improve the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. These community-minded Boy Scouts, with the help of the San Diego Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, have undertaken projects in the historic grove in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

You might remember the photos that I posted of the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. It’s tucked away in a corner of Florida Canyon, not far from Naval Medical Center San Diego and the Balboa Park Municipal Golf Course. The 66 live oak trees were planted in 1905 to memorialize 66 sailors killed on the USS Bennington on July 21st of that year. The gunboat’s boiler exploded while it was in San Diego Bay, and many men tragically perished.

The efforts of these hardworking Boy Scouts have added beauty, safety and memory to the old oak grove. Four have successfully become Eagle Scouts. They are Joshua Ortega, Sam Kinsey, Frederick Persons and Erik Ortlieb. The projects of two other young men are now underway. Those Scouts are Maxwell Thomson and Preston Buljat.

Most of these photographs have been contributed by local historian Kathleen Winchester. She and other members of the DAR’s San Diego Chapter have been instrumental in providing coordination and encouragement as the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove is improved. Please read the photo captions to appreciate the unselfish work of these young men.

I have learned the grove’s kiosk will eventually contain the names of those who perished aboard the USS Bennington. And very soon a flagpole will be raised in the grove-the project of Preston Buljat.

In 2014, the San Diego Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution partnered with the San Diego Park and Recreation Department and the Friends of Balboa Park as part of the latter’s “Adopt-A-Plot” program and adopted the Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.

The local DAR intends to purchase more oak trees to replace dead ones. If anyone wants to help with this worthy endeavor, contact the San Diego Chapter of DAR. All contributed funds will go straight to the purchase of trees.

As you can see in a few of the photos, U.S. Navy sailors from the San Diego homeported aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have also lent a hand. Their involvement is especially meaningful as Teddy Roosevelt was the President of the United States in 1905 when the USS Bennington disaster occured. President Roosevelt was a conservationist who would have loved this shady grove of majestic oaks.

The sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, by helping to beautify the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove, honored their fellow seamen from an earlier time.

The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
The USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park has been improved by some amazing young men working to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
The oak grove's entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
The oak grove’s entrance sign is an Eagle Project undertaken by Erik Ortlieb of Boy Scout Troop 4 in La Jolla.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by the sign he built on October 16, 2016. It welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove.
Erik Ortlieb poses with Kathleen Winchester of the DAR by a post of the wooden sign he built on October 16, 2016. The sign welcomes visitors into the beautiful old oak grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park.
Boy Scout Sam Kinsey works on the trail that leads into the historic USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove in Balboa Park. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University.
Boy Scout Joshua Ortega finished a footbridge in the grove just days before his 18th birthday. He is now attending Pepperdine University. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project - Joshua R. Ortega - Troop 299 - June 2016.
Plaque on the bridge reads Eagle Scout Project – Joshua R. Ortega – Troop 299 – June 2016.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295.
Boy Scout Frederick Persons poses in front of the new kiosk he built. Around him are volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 295. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove.
Crew members of San Diego aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt lend a helping hand by rolling logs that will border a path though the grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove.
Boy Scout Maxwell Thomson and U.S. Navy sailors roll logs into place in the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the revitalized USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove!
Maxwell Thomson poses with friends among logs which now mark the trail through the USS Bennington Memorial Oak Grove. Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on!
15-year-old Maxwell Thomson takes a short break as DAR San Diego Chapter members cheer him on! Photo courtesy Kathleen Winchester.

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 dramatic sunset from Star of India.

This evening I enjoyed watching the sun set as I rested for a few minutes on the always amazing Star of India. The brilliant sunset behind slanting ropes made for a few dramatic photographs.

San Diego’s beloved, famous tall ship is surrounded by such beauty.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A new deck for the beautiful HMS Surprise!

The main deck of HMS Surprise is being replaced at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
The main deck of HMS Surprise is being replaced at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

The HMS Surprise at the Maritime Museum of San Diego is getting a brand new deck! During my Sunday visit I noticed that replacement of the old deck is well underway!

Volunteers at the museum are applying the same methods and materials that were used so successfully to replace the deck of Star of India. I was told the main deck of HMS Surprise should be finished in about four months, and then the ship’s rigging will undergo an overhaul. Once all of that is complete, this beautiful replica of a 18th century Royal Navy 24-gun frigate should be ready to sail.

It’s hoped all the work will be complete in time for next year’s Festival of Sail!

As you might recall, this amazing ship co-starred with Russell Crowe in the acclaimed movie Master and Commander!

Museum volunteers work aboard HMS Surprise on a pleasant Sunday. Cables from the ship's rigging are readied, as a section of new deck is caulked.
Museum volunteers work aboard HMS Surprise on a pleasant Sunday. Cables from the ship’s rigging are readied, as a section of new deck is caulked.
Elsewhere at the Maritime Museum, a volunteer adds paint to a newly acquired Jacob's ladder for the San Salvador replica Spanish galleon.
Elsewhere at the Maritime Museum, a volunteer adds paint to a newly acquired Jacob’s ladder. It will be used on the San Salvador replica Spanish galleon.
The ship's wheel has been removed and set to one side as the deck of the HMS Surprise is replaced.
The enormous ship’s wheel has been removed and set to one side as the deck of the HMS Surprise is replaced.

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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Mysterious night photos aboard Star of India.

Night watch aboard the tall ship Star of India. I walked the deck alone…

A murmur of unseen water.

A web of mysterious shadows on every side.

The gentle flap of a sail.

The call of a night bird.

Solitude.

A halo of light from the saloon, illuminating classic beauty.

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!

See the history of rum at the Maritime Museum!

Visitors to the Maritime Museum of San Diego view a display concerning the history of rum.
Visitors to the Maritime Museum of San Diego view a display concerning the history of rum.

A cool new exhibit opened this weekend at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Rum: Sailors, Pirates and Prohibition follows the colorful history of rum, from its origin to the present day, with a focus on its surprising history in San Diego.

There are all sorts of interesting artifacts, old photographs and displays, as you can see from the few photos I took this afternoon. Among other things, visitors to the exhibition can learn how rum is made, about the use of rum by sailors, including those of the British Royal Navy, and how rum runners used sea caves in San Diego during Prohibition.

Anyone with a love for history should check it out!

Rum: Sailors, Pirates and Prohibition is a cool new exhibit inside the Steam Ferry Berkeley, at the Maritime Museum of San Diego!
Rum: Sailors, Pirates and Prohibition is a cool new exhibit inside the Steam Ferry Berkeley, at the Maritime Museum of San Diego!
A display in the Gould Eddy Gallery shows some of the coopering tools used in making oak rum barrels.
A display in the Gould Eddy Gallery shows some of the coopering tools used in making oak rum barrels.
Slave collars from the 18th century. Some believe African slaves in the Caribbean discovered the process of distilling the residue of sugar refining--molasses and sugarcane juice--into alcohol.
Slave collars from the 18th century. Some believe African slaves in the Caribbean discovered the process of distilling the residue of sugar refining–molasses and sugarcane juice–into alcohol.
A display features an explanation of grog and rum on British Royal Navy ships. Grog was rum diluted with water to prevent drunkenness. The grog ration was abolished in 1970.
A display features an explanation of grog and rum on British Royal Navy ships. Grog was rum diluted with water to prevent drunkenness. The grog ration was abolished in 1970.
Old photo of the Malahat, the Queen of Rum Row. The five-masted schooner successfully delivered rum and other spirits along the West Coast during Prohibition.
Old photo of the Malahat, the Queen of Rum Row. The five-masted schooner successfully delivered rum and other spirits along the West Coast during Prohibition.
Local sea caves and coves in La Jolla and Sunset Cliffs were used at hideouts for rum runners arriving from Mexico during Prohibition.
Local sea caves and coves in La Jolla and Sunset Cliffs were used at hideouts for rum runners arriving from Mexico during Prohibition.
Photos of the Monte Carlo, San Diego's Prohibition era floating casino. In 1937 it became beached on Coronado during a winter storm. Her wreckage can still be seen underwater at low tide.
Photos of the Monte Carlo, San Diego’s Prohibition era floating casino. In 1937 it became beached on Coronado during a winter storm. Her wreckage can still be seen underwater at low tide.
Photos of Blind Pigs and Speakeasies. A Speakeasy sold alcohol during Prohibition, and provided entertainment. Their drinks were tastier than the poisonous rums and moonshines concocted in bathtubs.
Blind Pigs and Speakeasies. A secretive Speakeasy sold alcohol during Prohibition, plus provided its guests with entertainment. Drinks were tastier than the poisonous rums and moonshines concocted in bathtubs.
A photograph of anti-alcohol activists taken during Prohibition. Lips that touch liquor shall not touch ours!
A photograph of anti-alcohol activists taken during Prohibition. Lips that touch liquor shall not touch ours!
Display celebrates the rise of local San Diego distilleries. Our city is now considered the craft beer capital of the United States.
Display celebrates the rise of local San Diego distilleries. Our dynamic city is now considered the craft beer capital of the United States.

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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Dreams of gold on the darkening blue.

Admiral Hornblower on blue San Diego Bay gleams in the last rays of daylight.
Admiral Hornblower on blue San Diego Bay. It gleams in the last rays of daylight.

This evening I glimpsed dreams of gold on the darkening blue…

The darkening ship moves across the water toward a golden sunset.
The ship moves across the darkening water toward a golden sunset.
Youth row a Maritime Museum longboat as the sun sets, perhaps dreaming of finding pirate gold.
Young students row a Maritime Museum of San Diego longboat as the sun sets. Perhaps they dream of finding pirate gold.
Rowing forward across the water, all together as if in one shadowy dream.
Rowing the longboat forward across the water. They move together, as if in one twilight dream.
A trail of gold gleams behind a ship heading into evening darkness.
A trail of gold glistens behind Admiral Hornblower as it moves into the mysterious distance.

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!

Ships of every type converge on the Embarcadero.

A sailboat glides between beautiful yacht America docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego and the shining downtown skyline.
A sailboat glides between beautiful yacht America docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego and the shining downtown skyline.

Ships are like small islands of human activity. So it’s interesting when a variety of different ships, each serving a unique function, converge and dock in one place.

Yesterday evening many different ships were huddled together on the Embarcadero. There were the usual museum ships and harbor tour ships that call San Diego their home. I also saw: the enormous Disney Wonder cruise ship; The World, which is the largest residential yacht on the planet, containing 165 apartments; the Coast Guard cutter Stratton, which recently offloaded around 50,000 pounds of cocaine and heroin intercepted at sea; and the Maersk Launcher, which assisted in the drug operation.

I walked to the end of Navy Pier and watched different vessels come and go, as the sun set.

The sails of Star of India rise beyond one cathead of HMS Surprise.
The sails of Star of India rise beyond one cathead of HMS Surprise.
Late sun through the colored glass at Carnitas Snack Shack on the very busy Embarcadero.
Late sun through the colored glass at Carnitas’ Snack Shack on the very busy Embarcadero.
The World and the Disney Wonder at dock in San Diego.
The World and the Disney Wonder at dock in San Diego.
The illegal drug intercepting Coast Guard cutter Stratton is docked at the Broadway Pier next to the San Diego Festival of Beer.
The illegal drug intercepting Coast Guard cutter Stratton is docked at the Broadway Pier next to the San Diego Festival of Beer.
A bustle of activity seen from Navy Pier. The Spirit of San Diego harbor tour ship and a bus converge near parked cars.
A bustle of activity seen from Navy Pier. The Spirit of San Diego harbor tour ship and a bus converge near parked cars.
The Maersk Launcher at anchor in San Diego Bay.
The Maersk Launcher at anchor in San Diego Bay.
A photo of The World and Disney Wonder as sunset approaches in San Diego.
A photo of The World and Disney Wonder beyond the Port Pavilion as sunset approaches in San Diego.
Late sunlight on shining downtown buildings.
Late sunlight on shining downtown buildings.
The Disney Wonder backs away from the B Street Pier as it departs on another cruise. Many ships and boats cross paths on San Diego Bay.
The Disney Wonder backs away from the B Street Pier as it departs on another cruise. Many ships and boats cross paths on San Diego Bay.

Yesterday evening I posted photos of the amazing sunrise over Balboa Park on my Beautiful Balboa Park website. Follow the link if you’d like to see them!

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 share and enjoy!