C. A. (Charles A.) Higgins.

To California over the Sante Fé Trail online

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the fragment of a rainbow a cockade on a mist-
laureled Matterhorn. Then the sun drops, and
the day is done.

That is the way it rains in California, and between
such days are unclouded intervals of considerable
duration. They call this season winter. The
temperature is so finely balanced one does not
easily decide whether to walk upon the sunny or
the shady side of the street. It is cool, not cold
not bracing in the ordinary sense, but just the
proper temperature for continuous out-of-door life.


June does not define it, nor September. It has no
synonym. But if you cared to add one more to the
many unsuccessful attempts to define it in a phrase,
you might term it constant delicious weather ; to-
day, to-morrow, and indefinitely in the future,
morally certain to be very much as you would have
it if you were to create an air and a sky exactly to
suit his or her majesty yourself. But even here
man is a clothes-wearing animal. There is a cool-
ness pervading the most brilliant sunshine. Remem-
bering this, the most apprehensive person will soon
discover that there is no menace in the dry, pure,
and gently invigorating air of the Southern Califor-
nia winter. It wins the invalid to health by
enticing him to remain out of doors.

Ranging from warm sea-level to peaks of frigid
inclemency, this varied state offers many climatic
gradations, whose contrasts are nearly always in
view. In winter you may sit upon almost any
veranda in Southern California and lift your eyes
from the brilliant green of ornamental trees and
shrubs, from orchards where fruits ripen in heavy
clusters, and from the variegated bloom of gar-
dens, to ragged horizon-lines buried deep in snow.
There above is a frozen waste and Alpine terror.
Here below is summer, shorn of summer languor.
And between may be found any modification that
could reasonably be sought, each steadfast in its
own characteristics.

The smallest of these communities is great in
content. Literally couched beneath his own vine


and fig-tree, plucking from friendly boughs delicious

fruits, finding in the multifarious products of the
soil nearly everything needful in domestic economy,
and free from most of the ills that flesh was thought
to be heir to, what wonder that the Californian
envies no man, nor ever looks wistfully over the
Sierra's crest toward the crowded cities and preca-
rious farming regions of the East ? An uplifting
environment for a home, truly, fit to breed a race
worthy of the noblest empire among the States.

There is work to be done, in the house and the
field, but in such an air and scene it is as near a
transfiguration of labor as can well be imagined.
Here it is indeed a poor boy or girl who has not a
pony on which to scamper about, or lacks liberty
for such enjoyment. And every year there comes
a period "of holiday, an interval when there is no
planting or harvesting to be done, no picking or
drying or packing of fruit, a recuperating spell of
nature, when the weather is just as glorious as ever,
and the mountains and ocean beckon seductively to
the poet that is in the heart of every unharassed
man and woman and child. Then for weeks the
canyons are dotted with tents, where the mountain-
torrents foam and spreading sycamores are festooned
with mistletoe ; and the trout of the stream and the
game of the forest have their solstice of woe. Or,

on the rim of the sea, thousands of merry hearts,
both young and old, congregate and hold high car-

When the campers return to shop and field
it is not by reason of any inclemency of weather,
but because their term of holiday has expired.
Then come the tourists, and pale fugitives from
the buffets of Boreas, to wander happily over hill-
side and shore in a land unvexed by the tyranny of
the seasons.

The most seductive of lands, and the most tena-
cious in its hold upon you. You have done but
little, and a day has fled ; have idled, walked, rid-
den, sailed a little, have seen two or three of the
thousand things to be seen, and a week, a month,
is gone. You could grieve that such golden bur-
denless hours should ever go into the past, did they
not flow from an inexhaustible fount. For to be
out all day in the careless freedom of perfect
weather ; to ramble over ruins of a former occupa-

tion; to wander through gardens and orchards; to
fish, to shoot, to gather flowers from the blossom-
ing hill-slopes; to explore a hundred fascinating
retreats of mountain and shore; to lounge on the
sands by the surf until the sun drops into the sea;
all this is permitted by the Southern California


Fringing a bay that for a dozen miles glows like
a golden mirror below its purple rim, San Diego
stands upon a slope that rises from the water to
the summit of a broad mesa. In front the bold
promontory of Point Loma juts into the sea, over-
lapping the low, slender peninsular of Coronado,
and between them lies the entrance to this
most beautiful of harbors. One may be happy in
San Diego and do nothing. Its soft, sensuous
beauty and caressing air create in the breast a new
sense of the joy of mere existence. But there is,
besides, abundant material for the sight-seer. Here,
with many, begins the first acquaintance with the
growing orange and lemon. Orchards are on every
hand. Paradise Valley, the Valley of the Sweet-
water, where may be seen the great irrigating fount
of so many farms, and Mission Valley, where the
San Diego River flows and the dismantled ruin of

Universal Brotherhood EwldingS) Point

the oldest California mission, elbowed by a modern
Indian school, watches over its ancient but still vig-
orous trees, afford the most impressive examples of
these growing fruits in the immediate neighbor-
hood. El Cajon Valley is celebrated for its vine-
yards. At National City, four miles away, are
extensive olive orchards. Fifteen miles to the south
the Mexican village of Tia Juana attracts many
visitors, whose average experience consists of a
pleasant railroad ride to the border and an hour's
residence in a foreign country.

The hotels at San Diego adequately care for
tourist travel. One of the best is Hotel Robinson,
pleasantly located on a breezy height near the
city's business center, where there is a wide outlook
across the blue bay and to the distant mountains.
This hotel is in favor with those who seek a quiet,
homelike place. It has two hundred guest rooms,
a roof garden, a palm court and sun parlor.

The newU. S. Grant Hotel, in the heart of the
city, lately completed, ranks with the finest inns of
Los Angeles and San Francisco.

On the crest of Point Loma a group of build-
ings stands out against the azure sky. This is the
settlement of the Universal Brotherhood, a branch
of the Theosophical Society, "presided over by Mrs.
Catharine Tingley. A large amount of money
already] has been expended on the buildings and

Hotel Ro bint on, San Diego.

The diverse allurements of mountain and valley,
and northward-stretching shore of alternating beach
and high commanding bluff, are innumerable.
One marvelous bit of coast, thirteen miles away,
and easily reached by railway or carriage drive, is
called La Jolla Park. Here a plateau overlooks
the open sea from a bluff that tumbles precipitously
to a narrow strip of sand.

The face of the cliff for a distance of several miles
has been sculptured by the waves into most curious
forms. It projects in rectangular blocks, in stumps,
stools, benches, and bas-reliefs that strikingly
resemble natural objects, their surfaces chiseled
intaglio with almost intelligible devices. Loosened
fragments have worn deep symmetrical wells, or
pot-holes, to which the somewhat inadequate
Spanish-Indian name of the place is due ; and what
seem at first glance to be enormous bowlders
loosely piled, with spacious interstices through
which the foam spurts and crashes, are the self-
same solid cliff, carved and polished, but not wholly
separated by the sea. Some of the cavities are
mere pockets lined with mussels and minute weeds
with calcareous leaves. Others are commodious
secluded apartments, quite commonly used as dress-
ing-rooms by bathers. The real caverns can be
entered dryshod only at lowest tide. The cliff

U. S. Grant Hotel,
San Diego.

where they lie is gnawed into columns, arches and

aisles, through which one cave after another may
be seen, dimly lighted, dry and practicable. Sev-
enty-five feet is probably their utmost depth. They
are the culmination of this extraordinary work of
an insensate sculptor. There are alcove-niches,
friezes of small gray and black mosaic, horizontal
bands of red, and high-vaulted roofs. If the native
California Indians had possessed a poetic tempera-
ment they must certainly have performed religious
rites in such a temple. The water is as pellucid as
a mountain spring. The flush of the waves foams
dazzling white and pours through the intricacies of
countless channels and fissures in overwhelming
torrents, and in the brief intervals between ebb
and rise the bottom of rock and clean sand gleams
invitingly through a depth of many feet.

Sea-anemones are thickly clustered upon the
lower levels, their tinted petal-filaments scintillating
in the shallow element, or closed budlike while
waiting for the flood. Little crabs scamper in dis-
orderly procession through the crevices at your
approach, and the ornamental abalone is also
abundant. Seaweeds, trailing in and out with the
movement of the tide, flame through the trans-
parent water in twenty shades of green, and schools
of goldfish flash in the swirling current, distorted by
the varying density of the eddies into great blotches

Coronado Tent City.

of brilliant color, unquenchable firebrands darting
hither and yon in their play. They are not the
true goldfish whose habitat is a globular glass half-
filled with tepid water, but their hue is every whit
as vivid. In the time of flowers this whole plateau
is covered with odorous bloom.

Then there is Coronado. Connected by ferry
with the mainland, Coronado bears the same rela-
tion to San Diego that fashionable suburbs bear to
many Eastern cities, and at the same time affords
recreative pleasures which the inhabitants of those
suburbs must go far to seek. Here the business-
man dwells in Elysian bowers by the sea, screened
from every reminder of business cares, yet. barely
a mile distant from the office. Locking up in his
desk at evening all the prosaic details of bank or
factory, of railroad rates, of the price of stocks and
real estate and wares, in twenty minutes he is at
home on what is in effect a South Sea Island,
where brant and curlew and pelican fly, and not
all the myriad dwellings and the pomp of their
one architectural splendor can disturb the air of

The Japanese Garden, Coronado.

perfect restfulness and sweet rusticity. From the
low ridge of the narrow peninsula may be seen,
upon the one hand, a wide-sweeping mountainous
arc, dipping to the pretty city that borders the bay.
Upon the other, the unobstructed ocean rolls. On
the ocean side, just beyond reach of the waves,
stands the hotel whose magnificence has given it
leading rank among the famous hostelries of the

It is built around a quadrangular court, or
patio a dense garden of rare shrubs and flowering
plants more than an acre in extent. Upon this
patio many sleeping-rooms open by way of the cir-
cumjacent balcony, besides fronting upon ocean
and bay, and a glass-covered veranda, extending
nearly the entire length of the western frontage,
looks over the sea toward the peaks of the distant
Coronado Islands. On the north lies Point Loma
and the harbor entrance, on the east San Diego Bay
and city, and on the south Glorieta Bay and the
mountains of Mexico, beyond a broad half-circle o!
lawn dotted with semi-tropical trees and brighi
beds of flowers, and bordered by hedges of cypress.

Here the fisherman has choice of surf or billow,
or the still surface of sheltered waters ; of sailboat,
skiff or iron pier. The gunner finds no lack of
sea-fowl, quail or rabbits. The bather may choose
between surf and huge tanks of salt water,
roofed with glass, fringed with flowers and fitted
with devices to enhance his sport. The sight-
seer is provided with a score of special local attrac-

tions, and all the resources
of the mainland are at elbow.
These diversions are the
advantage of geographical
location, independent of the social recreations one
naturally finds in fashionable resorts, at hotels
liberally managed and frequented by representatives
of the leisure class.

In addition to the manifold attractions of Coro-
nado is the summer tent city on the cool beach,
where neatly furnished cloth houses may be rented
by those who desire to get into closer touch with
nature than they would in a modern hotel. Res-
taurants, stores and other facilities are provided for
the comfort of those who camp here, and in sea-
son music and special entertainment are added to
the natural attractions.

The Climate of the coast is necessarily distin-
guished irom that of the interior by greater humid-
ity, and the percentage of invisible moisture in
the air, however small, must infallibly be greater
at Coronado than upon the heights of San Diego,
and greater in San Diego than at points farther
removed from the sea. This is the clew to th e
only flaw in the otherwise perfect coast climate,
and it is a flaw only to supersensitive persons,
invalids of a certain class. The consumptive too
often delays taking advantage of the benefits of
climatic change until he has reached a point
when nicest discnmination has become necessary.
The purest, driest and most rarefied air compatible

with the complications of disease is his remedy,

if remedy exist for him. And the driest and most
rarefied air is not to be looked for by the sea.
Yet the difference is not great enough to be
brusquely prohibitory.

No one need fear to go to the coast, and usually
a short stay will determine whether or no the
relief that is sought can there be found ; while for
many derangements it is preferable to the interior.
For him who is not in precarious condition the
foregoing observations have no significance. He will
find the climate of all Southern California a mere
gradation of glory. Put perhaps around San Diego,
and at one or two other coast points, there will
seem to be a spirit even gentler than that which
rules the hills.

Tht Archil, Capistran*

Antonio de Padua.


A tiny quaint village in a fertile valley that
slopes from a mountain wall to the sea, unkempt
and mongrel, a jumble of adobe ruins, white-
washed hovels and low semi-modern structures,
straggling like a moraine from the massive ruin of
the Mission San Juan Capistrano. The mission
dominates the valley. Go where you will, the eye
turns to this colossal fragment, a forlorn but vital
thing; broken, crushed, and yet undying. Swarthy
faces are mingled with the pale Saxon type, the
music of the Spanish tongue is heard wherever you
hear human speech, and from behind the lattices
of the adobes come the tinkle of guitars and the
cadence of soft voices in plaintive rhythm. The
sun makes black shadows by every house and tree,
and sweeps in broad unbroken light over the undu-
lating hills to hazy mountain-tops ; ground-squirrels

scamper across the way, wild doves start up with
whistling wings, and there is song of birds and cry
of barnyard fowls. The essence of the scene is
passing quiet and peace. The petty noises of the
village are powerless to break the silence that
enwraps the noble ruin ; its dignity is as imperturb-
able as that of mountain and sea. Never was
style of architecture more spontaneously in touch
with its environment than that followed by the
mission builders. It is rhythm and cadence and
rhyme. It is perfect art. Earthquake has rent,
man has despoiled, time has renounced the Mission
San Juan Capistrano, yet its pure nobility survives,
indestructible. The tower has fallen, the sanc-
tuary is bare and weatherbeaten, the cloisters of
the quadrangle are roofless, and the bones of for-
gotten padres lie beneath the roots of tangled
shrubbery ; but the bells still hang in their rawhide
lashings, and the cross rises white against the sky.
A contemptuous century has rolled past, and the
whole ambitious and once promising dream of
monkish rule has long since ended, but this slow
crumbling structure will not have it so. Like some
dethroned and superannuated king, whose insistent
claim to royal function cloaks him with a certain
grandeur, it sits in silent state too venerable for
disrespect and too august for pity.


In the middle of the eighteenth century the Span-
ish throne, desiring to encourage colonization of
its territory of Upper California, then unpeopled
save by native Indian tribes, entered into an arrange-
ment with theOrder of St. Francis by virtue of which
that order undertook to establish missions in the
new country which were to be the nuclei of future
villages and cities, to which Spanish subjects were
encouraged to emigrate. By the terms of that
arrangement the Franciscans were to possess the
mission properties and their revenues for ten years,
which was deemed a sufficient period in which to
fairly establish the colonies, when the entire prop-
erty was to revert to the Spanish government. In
point of fact the Franciscans were left in undisputed
possession for more than half a century.

The monk chosen to take charge of the under-
taking was Junipero Serra, a man of saintly piety
and energetic character, who in childhood desired
only that he might be a priest, and in maturity
earnestly wished to be a martyr. Seven years
before the Declaration of the Independence of the
American Colonies, in the early summer of 1769,
he entered the bay of San Diego, 227 years after
Cabrillo had discovered it for Spain and 167 years
after it had been surveyed and named by Viscaino,
during all which preceding time the country had
lain fallow. Within two months Serra had founded
a mission near the mouth of the San Diego River,


Mission San Luis Key.

which five years after was removed some six miles up
the valley to a point about three miles distant from
the present city of San Diego. From that time one
mission after another was founded, twenty-one in
all, from San Diego along the coast as far north as
San Francisco. The more important of these were
built of stone and a hard burnt brick that even now
will turn the edge of the finest trowel. The labor
of their construction was appalling. Brick had to
be burnt, stone quarried and dressed, and huge
timbers for rafters brought on men's shoulders from
the mountain forests, sometimes thirty miles dis-
tant, through rocky canyons and over trackless

The Indians performed most of this labor,
under the direction of the fathers. These Indians
were tractable, as a rule. Once, or twice at most,
they rose against their masters, but the policy of the
padres was kindness and forgiveness, although it
must be inferred that the condition of the Indians
over whom they claimed spiritual and temporal


authority was a form of slavery, without all the

cruelties that usually pertain to enforced servitude.

They were the bondsmen of the padres, whose
aim was to convert them to Christianity and civiliza-
tion, and many thousands of them were persuaded
to cluster around the missions, their daughters
becoming neophytes in the convents, and the others
contributing their labor to the erection of the enor-
mous structures that occupied many acres of ground
and to the industries of agriculture, cattle-raising,
and a variety of manufactures. There were, after
the primitive fashion of the time, woolen-mills,
wood-working and blacksmith shops, and such
other manufactories as were practicable in the exist-
ing state of the arts, which could be made profitable.

The mission properties soon became enormously
valuable, their yearly revenues sometimes amounting
to $2,000,000. The exportation of hides was one
of the most important items, and merchant vessels
from our own Atlantic seaboard, from England and
from Spain, sailed to the California coast for cargoes
of that commodity. Dana's romantic and univer-
sally read "Two Years Before the Mast" is the
record of such a voyage. He visited California
more than a half a century ago, and found its
quaint Spanish-Indian life full of the picturesque
and romantic.

The padres invariably selected a site favorable for
defense, commanding views of entrancing scenery,
on the slopes of the most fertile valleys, and con-
venient to the running water which was the safe-



guard of agriculture in a

country of sparse and un-
certain rainfall. The In-
dians, less warlike in nature than the roving
tribes east of the Rockies, were almost uni-
versally submissive. If there was ever an
Arcadia it was surely there and then.
Against the blue of the sky, unspotted by
a single cloud through many months of the year,
snow-crowned mountains rose in dazzling relief,
while oranges, olives, figs, dates, bananas, and every
other variety of temperate and sub-tropical fruit
which had been introduced by the Spaniards,
ripened in a sun whose ardency was tempered by
the dryness of the air into an equability like that of
June, while the regularly alternating breeze that
daily swept to and from ocean and mountain made
summer and winter almost indistinguishable sea-
sons, then as now, save for the welcome rains that
characterize the latter.

At the foot of the valley, between the mountain
slopes, and never more than a few miles away, the
waters of the Pacific rocked placidly in the brilliant
sunlight or broke in foam upon a broad beach of
sand. In such a scene Spaniard and Indian plied
their peaceful vocations, the one in picturesque
national garb, the other almost innocent of cloth-
ing, while over and around them lay an atmosphere
of sacredness which even to this day clings to the
broken arches and crumbling walls. Over the
peaceful valleys a veritable angelus rang. The

Santa Barbara Mittitn.


mellow bells of the mission churches summoned
dusky hordes to ceremonial devotion. Want and
strife were unknown. Prosperity and brotherly
love ruled as never before.

It is true they had their trials. Earthquakes,
which have been almost unknown in California for
a quarter of a century, were then not uncommon,
and were at times disastrous. Rio de los Temblores
was the name of a stream derived from the fre-
quency of earth rockings in the region through
which it flowed ; and in the second decade of our
century the dreaded temblor upset the 120-foot
tower of the Mission San Juan Capistrano and
sent it crashing down through the roof upon a con-
gregation, of whom nearly forty perished. Those,
too, were lawless times upon the main. Pirates,
cruising the South Seas in quest of booty, hovered
about the California coast, and then the mission
men stood to their arms, while the women and
children fled to the interior canyons with their
portable treasures. One buccaneer, Bouchard,
repulsed in his attempt upon Dolores and
Santa Barbara, descended successfully upon
another mission and dwelt there riot-
ously for a time, carousing, and
destroying such valuables as he
could not carry away, while the
entire population quaked in the
forest along the Rio Trabuco.
This was the same luckless
San Juan Capistrano, six

TV Missions & CLapeU

years after the earthquake visitation. Then, too,
there were bickerings of a political nature, and
struggles for place, after the rule of Mexico had
succeeded to that of Spain, but the common people
troubled themselves little with such matters.

The end of the Franciscan dynasty came sud-
denly with the secularization of the mission
property by the Mexican government to replete the
exhausted treasuries of Santa Ana. Sadly the
fathers forsook the scene of their long labors, and
silently the Indians melted away into the wilderness
and the darkness of their natural ways, save such
as had intermarried with the families of Spanish
soldiers and colonists. The churches are now, for
the most part, only decayed legacies and fragmen-
tary reminders of a time whose like the world will
never know again. Save only three or four, pre-
served by reverent hands, where modern worship-
ers, denationalized and clad in American dress,

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Online LibraryC. A. (Charles A.) HigginsTo California over the Sante Fé Trail → online text (page 6 of 11)