While the gold rush of the nineteenth century in California was largely confined to the northern portion of the state, prospectors also fanned out to all regions of the state, seeking to strike it rich. In San Diego County, most of the mining exploration occurred in and around the town of Julian, but the largest and most productive mine was located a little bit further south, in what is now Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. In 1870, gold was discovered, and after a great deal of legal difficulties, the Stonewall Mine began operating. Over a fifty year period, the Stonewall Mine became the most productive and profitable mining operation in the county, producing over two million dollars of gold.
With windswept sandstone cliffs, and stunning year-round views of the Pacific Ocean, Torrey Pines State Reserve is one of San Diego’s most popular parks. Even though it is a park that is popular with locals and visitors alike, few people realize that the park was established to protect the Torrey Pine, which is one of the rarest trees on the planet, as it only grows in and around the confines of the park and on Santa Rosa Island. While there are many spots within the park where one can walk under, view, and get close to the pinus torreyana, there is only one spot that demonstrates the risks that these rare trees still face, and that is the Parry Grove Trail.
For most people, the trouble about ghosts, spirts, and everything surrounding the paranormal is the lack of hard, verifiable evidence. Along these lines, many “paranormal” locations have a variety of conflicting stories that have no basis in fact or history and are easily debunked. With this as a baseline, the Whaley House stands out as a location that possibly provides solid evidence of paranormal activity, and has a primary goal of preserving San Diego’s history. Recently, I had an opportunity to tour the Whaley House with Jokie Tolentino, the Director of Museum Services for the Save our Heritage Organization (“SOHO”), the organization that manages and mantains the location. While I did not experience anything paranormal (that I noticed during) our walk, talk, and tour, I did leave the Whaley House with a greater appreciation for the location.
Even though it may seem hard to believe, California for much of the twentieth century and periods before was a large agricultural zone. Areas like “Orange County” and “Lemon Grove” were named because of the large commercial agricultural operations that occurred in those areas. As a matter of fact, Disneyland was constructed on one hundred and sixty acres of land that was occupied by orange groves and walnut trees. While most of this land has been swallowed up by urban development, large agricultural zones remain today in the Central Valley, and through the Coachella Valley regions. While a number of state parks in California cover the historical heritage of these agricultural ventures, San Diego is also home to a yearly agricultural spectacle of flowers at the Carlsbad Flower Fields.
One of the unique things about San Diego is that it is a city, and a county that is honeycombed with a number of canyons. While these canyons can present a number of practical challenges – in that roads end and re-start and different locations, they provide great spots to explore in certain cases, and great areas for wildlife to travel to and from various habitats. And, in the case of the Spruce Street Suspension bridge, a great man-made object to walk, run, or saunter across on either an urban hike, or a quick visit to see some of San Diego’s hidden history.
One of the most iconic buildings in San Diego is the California Building, otherwise known as the Museum of Man. Whether one is walking or driving into Balboa Park over the Cabrillo Bridge, or flying into San Diego from foreign or domestic destinations, the California Building is hard to miss with its signature blue dome, stone ornamentation and soaring tower.
While San Diego is a young city in terms of history, it has a number of hidden historic gems. Many of these locations are clustered near the current city center (such as the Whaley House), but one of the spots, the Old Mission Dam, is located in the middle of San Diego's largest municipal park, Mission Trails. The Old Mission Dam is a historic structure for a number of reasons, but first and foremost, it is the oldest colonial engineering project on the Pacific Coast.