The mystery of a strange lighthouse in Old Town!

The top section of a historically important lighthouse now stands on a sidewalk in Old Town San Diego!
The top section of a historically important lighthouse now stands on a sidewalk in Old Town San Diego!

A lighthouse that once guided ships into San Diego Bay now stands on an Old Town sidewalk? How strange is that?

Well, not an entire lighthouse–just the lantern room of the 1890 Ballast Point Light Station!

The other day while walking down Congress Street, a few steps southeast of Harney Street, I paused to more carefully examine this mystery. (I’ve driven past the kiosk-like structure often, without really giving it a second thought.)

First, you should note Ballast Point is about 6 miles southwest of Old Town. The spit of land juts down into San Diego Bay from Point Loma; it’s where tall ships used to load ballast stones for their return trip around Cape Horn to the East Coast. Today it is part of Naval Base Point Loma.

So how did this top section of Ballast Point’s historic lighthouse end up on an Old Town sidewalk?

Some interesting photos behind a glass pane provided me with a few clues. The Ballast Point Light Station was built in 1890 and eventually dismantled in 1960. (Click the images and they will expand so you can read much more.)

After doing a little research, I learned the lantern room was found in 1998 by the owner of an Old Town nautical antiques store–West Sea Company–in a classified ad. At the time the Ballast Point lantern room was located at someone’s Bonita residence! Purchased and transported by flatbed truck to Old Town, it was placed on a cement pad near West Sea Company–and here it “mysteriously” remains today!

The 1890 Ballast Point Light Station was an example of Railroad Gothic. Its sixth order lens can be seen today at Cabrillo National Monument, in a museum near the old lighthouse.
The 1890 Ballast Point Light Station was an example of Railroad Gothic. Its sixth order lens can be seen today at Cabrillo National Monument, in a museum beside the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.
Historical photo and some words explain the light at Ballast Point. It guided sailors past Middle Ground Shoal and into San Diego's harbor.
Historical photo and some words explain the light at Ballast Point. It guided sailors past Middle Ground Shoal and into San Diego’s harbor.
A public domain photo of the Ballast Point Light Station, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
A public domain photo of the Ballast Point Light Station, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
The lantern room that housed a light that guided ships into San Diego Bay now can be seen on Congress Street in Old Town!
This lantern room housed a light that guided ships into San Diego Bay. It can now be seen on Congress Street in Old Town!

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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World’s most amazing car, displayed in San Diego!

This 1947 Cadillac was transformed into an amazing cross-country contraption! This unusual car drove from San Diego to New York . . . and back . . . without stopping!
This 1947 Cadillac was transformed into an amazing cross-country contraption! The unusual car drove from San Diego to New York and back–without stopping!

Have you heard of the amazing car that features a toilet, washing machine, ironing board, shower, and even a kitchen sink?

Did you know this amazing car also has an electric stove, refrigerator, medicine cabinet, and drinking fountain?

And that this particular car holds the cross-country driving endurance record? In 1952, three men drove the car 6,320 miles nonstop–literally without stopping–from San Diego to New York and back, accompanied by a police escort the entire way! They refueled from a moving gas truck!

What else can this amazing car do?

The car automatically changes oil and refills the radiator. A movable platform and hydraulic jacks allows any tire to be changed without stopping the car. And repairs to the engine can be made while driving. The hood, when open, has transparent panels that allow the driver to see the road!

A shower and drinking fountain! Why not? The shower is on the right running board and the drinking fountain can be accessed at a rear taillight! The back seat conveniently contains several household necessities, including a refrigerator, stove, small washing machine, chemical toilet, and, of course . . . that kitchen sink!

Never heard of this crazy car? It once was quite famous, widely appearing on television, in magazines and newspapers. But that was decades ago.

Today you can see Louie Mattar’s extensively modified 1947 Cadillac for yourself.  It’s on display at the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park!

Here’s to the dreamers. And here’s to the actual doers. It took Louie Mattar five years to transform his amazing dream into reality!

Louie Mattar's car was driven 6320 miles without ever stopping. Refueling, tire changes and repairs are done on the run.
Louie Mattar’s car was driven 6320 miles without ever stopping. Refueling, tire changes and even engine repairs are done on the run!
You can see Louie Mattar's fabulous car at the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park.
You can see the most amazing car in the world at the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park!
The car tows a trailer, which stores gasoline, water and oil. At the rear is an outdoor dining area!
The car tows a trailer, which stores gasoline, water and oil. At the rear is an outdoor dining area complete with dial telephone!
When the car was in motion, a passenger in swim trunks could stand on a narrow platform and take a shower outside!
When the car was in motion, a passenger in swim trunks could stand on a narrow platform outside and take a shower!
A look at the complicated dashboard. I'm reminded of an airplane's cockpit.
A look at the complicated dashboard. I’m reminded of an airplane’s cockpit.
Diagram shows the many gauges and switches available to the driver. A bar and hookah are within easy reach of the front seat passenger!
Diagram shows the many gauges and switches available to the driver. A bar and hookah are within easy reach of the front seat passenger!
A look inside the amazing car through the front passenger side door.
Another look inside the amazing car through the front passenger side door.
A crazy tangle under the hood. It looks like dish of spaghetti!
A crazy tangle under the hood. It looks like a dish of spaghetti!
Diagram shows numerous modifications and additions to the 1947 Cadillac's original stock engine.
Diagram shows numerous modifications and additions to the 1947 Cadillac’s original stock engine.
A passenger on the moving car could stand on this projecting platform to change a tire! The axles are drilled, so tires can be inflated while turning!
A passenger in the moving car could stand on this projecting platform to change a tire! The axles are drilled, so tires can be inflated while they are turning!
A video in the San Diego Automotive Museum shows the amazing car in action!
A video in the San Diego Automotive Museum shows the amazing car in action!
Not many cars feature an electric stove and ironing board!
How many cars in the world are equipped with an electric stove and ironing board?

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!

The strange, wonderful beauty of nautical ropes.

Late this afternoon I discovered strange and wonderful beauty.

As I relaxed on a comfortable wooden bench on the poop deck of the Star of India, enjoying the sea breeze and sunlit bay, my eyes were drawn to the riot of ropes that were coiled, knotted, stretched and dangling all about the deck, in every direction. How strangely beautiful they appeared.

I took a few 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!

Journey through dreams at the San Diego Art Institute.

Visitor to the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park journeys through a dream.
Visitor to the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park journeys through a dream.

Stepping into the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park is like entering a world of dreams. Weird, unexpected dreams hover around corners, dangle overhead, emerge mysteriously from the floor and walls.

A journey through this dreamworld opens one’s eyes to the possibilities of human creativity. During my recent visit I felt as though I were floating through some sort of Twilight Zone. The unearthly sounds, the psychedelic whirls of video, the explosions of imagination, the seemingly sublime and inexplicable visions.

If you’re in San Diego and love provocative art, head over to Balboa Park! The San Diego Art Institute is more gallery than museum, with exhibits that change every couple of months.

One can wander through a maze of rampant human creativity.
One can wander through a maze of rampant human creativity  The current exhibit focuses on mixed media.
Upside down, strange and sudden.
Upside down, strange and sudden.
Through alleys of dazzling images.
Through alleys of dazzling images.
Aaron Garretson, Sunday Morning Cocktails. Threat, yarn, cloth, found materials. 2016.
Aaron Garretson, Sunday Morning Cocktails. Threat, yarn, cloth, found materials. 2016.
Weird visions on a wall include spinning blobs of video.
Weird visions on a wall include spinning blobs of video.
Elise Amour, Untitled. Mixed media with vintage photo. 2017.
Elise Amour, Untitled. Mixed media with vintage photo. 2017.
Surrounded by art. Slow feet meander from dream to dream.
Surrounded by art. Slow feet meander from dream to dream.
Eight pieces by Jodi Hays. Gouache, ink and collage on paper. 2015.
Eight pieces by Jodi Hays. Gouache, ink and collage on paper. 2015.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy even more Cool San Diego Sights by following me on Facebook or Twitter!

Do you like to read original, thought-provoking fiction? To read a few stories I’ve written (and something that resembles a poem), click Short Stories by Richard.

Dreamlike street art in Normal Heights.

Arresting street art in Normal Heights. A snarling wolf.
Arresting street art in Normal Heights. A snarling wolf.

Dreams seem to have materialized on a cluster of electrical boxes at the corner of Felton Street and Adams Avenue in Normal Heights.

Some of the street art is tranquil and crystal-like. Some of the images are like visions from a nightmare. Others are fantastically distorted–almost but not quite human!

Take a look–if you dare!

A nightmarish skull.
A nightmarish skull.
More skulls include an upside-down peace sign--sometimes a symbol of death.
More skulls include an upside-down peace sign–sometimes a symbol of death.
A wraithlike figure seems to be in pain.
A wraith-like figure seems to be in pain.
Hands and fingers create an eerie seemingly inhuman skull.
Hands and fingers create an eerie, seemingly inhuman skull.
An abstract flower has a peace sign right-side-up. Perhaps an affirmation of life.
An abstract flower has a peace sign right-side-up. Perhaps an affirmation of life.
Colorful designs like snowflakes on an electrical box seem like visions in a beautiful dream.
Colorful designs like snowflakes on an electrical box appear to be visions in a beautiful dream.
Someone peers at the stars.
Someone peers at the stars.
Perhaps life is but a dream. A woman seems to grow from something odd but elemental.
Perhaps life is but a dream. A woman seems to grow from something swirling and elemental.
Crazily distorted faces.
Crazily distorted faces.
Many human expressions, but completely unreal. I think I've seen these weird creatures in some of my dreams.
Many human expressions–but fantastic and weird. I believe I’ve seen creatures like these in my dreams.
Who is that in the middle? Perhaps you or me.
Who is that in the middle? Perhaps you or me.

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!

More interesting, unusual doors in San Diego!

Mysterious door in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter reads: Law Office Eddie O'Hare, Esquire. It's actually the entrance to a sneaky speakeasy, containing the underground 1920's themed Prohibition Lounge!
Mysterious gold lettering on a door in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter reads: Law Office Eddie O’Hare, Esquire. It’s actually the sneaky entrance to a speakeasy, the underground, 1920’s themed Prohibition Lounge!

Here’s another batch of cool door photographs, taken during my walks around San Diego.

Some of these doors are rather odd, as you can plainly see! Others have interesting historical significance. Most are just plain fun!

To learn a bit more, read the captions!

Nautical-looking door of the American Tunaboat Association on the Embarcadero near Tuna Harbor.
Nautical-looking door of the American Tunaboat Association on the Embarcadero near Tuna Harbor.
Interesting detail above the door of the 1906 Hearne Surgical Hospital Building in downtown San Diego.
Interesting detail above the door of the 1906 Hearne Surgical Hospital Building in downtown San Diego.
These old wooden doors to the patio of Indigo Grill in Little Italy are enormous!
These old wooden doors to the patio of Indigo Grill in Little Italy are enormous!  I don’t know their origin.
A very odd metal door in Little Italy. Seems to me it would quite easy to step around it!
A very odd metal door in Little Italy. Seems to me it would quite easy to step around it!
Not sure I'd want to step through this door in the Gaslamp. Looks dangerous!
Not sure I’d want to follow the arrow and step through this door in the Gaslamp Quarter. Looks dangerous!
In San Diego's small Chinatown one can see a cool sight that traces back to early San Diego history. The door to Quin Produce!
In San Diego’s small Chinatown one can see a cool sight that traces back to early San Diego history. The door to Quin Produce!
The unusually tall stained glass door of the Philippine Library and Museum in the Gaslamp. I'll probably visit one day!
The unusually tall stained glass door of the Philippine Library and Museum in the Gaslamp. I’ll probably visit one day!
It's what meets you at the front door of Mexican Fiesta in Seaport Village that's out of the ordinary. A sculpture of a bandito sitting on a bench!
It’s what meets you at the front door of Mexican Fiesta in Seaport Village that’s out of the ordinary. A sculpture of a bandito sitting on a bench!
Step through the front door of Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills and you're met by Hollywood movie stars!
Step through the front door of Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills and you’re met by Hollywood movie stars!

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!

Dreamlike visions on a wet, drizzly morning.

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It was drizzling very lightly this morning when I stepped out my door. I walked from Cortez Hill down to Broadway, then over to Santa Fe Depot. My camera was under my umbrella.

The light was dim and uncertain, causing many photographs to come out unfocused. A few strange photographs seem to contain mysterious phantoms from some half-remembered dream.  Haunting visions on a wet, drizzly morning.

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