Charles Frederick Holder.

Life in the open; sport with rod, gun, horse, and hound in southern California online

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confronted with what is doubtless one of the most

i 9 4 Life in the Open

mnarkable spectacles in the world, winter and semi-
tropic summer face to face. The Sierra Madre are
white with snow, a long range as high as Mount Wash-
ington, and farther to the east Mount San Antonio, ten
thousand feet in air, and Mount San Jacinto, still higher,
domes of purest white against the azure of the
cloudless sky.

Drop the eyes and they rest upon the garden spot
of this country : thousands of acres in the highest state
of cultivation, groves of orange, lemon, olive, walnut,
and nearly every fruit ; great vineyards ; groves of
eucalyptus and live oak, telling the story of life in
the open in a land of balmy airs and eternal summer.
Here are some of the notable California ranches, as
Sunny Slope and Santa Anita, with their fine reaches
of forests, their lofty palms, and seemingly endless lines
of orange trees, ranch houses embowered in tropical ver-
dure, and the ranch property reaching away for miles
toward the distant sea.

The coach rolls through great vineyards, and every-
where evidences of the highest cultivation are evident.
Later, at the vintage, gangs of Mexicans, men and
women, can be seen picking and filling their boxes with
fragrant Mission grapes ; no more delightful region for
coaching or automobiling can be imagined than this.

Pasadena is a city of 25,000 inhabitants, recruited
from among the wealthy and cultivated people of the
East, and is said to be the wealthiest town of its size in
the world. It stands in the literal heart of an orange

An Avenue of Palms, Los Angeles.

El Camino Real I95

grove, and in winter is a garden environed by snow-
capped mountains, and its present size and fame are due
to its beauty of situation and its singularly perfect cli-
mate. Thirty miles from the ocean, on the slope of the
Sierra, it commands the sea : receives its winds by day,
and mountain air by night. Pasadena exemplifies life
in the open in Southern California. Its country clubs,
golf links, fine roads and drives for motor-cars make it
at once the centre of delightful life in what is fast be-
coming a fashionable winter resort comparable to Nice,
Florence, or many cities of the Riviera, and exceeding
them all in the perfection of its climate.

As the coach turns to the south and passes through
the long orange groves something comes down the wind
from far away, the bells of San Gabriel Archangel,
the same tones that rang out the Angelus years ago
and invited the savages of the valley to a better life.

There is a variety in this out-of-door life that lends
an additional charm to the country, seen from the top of
a coach. The yellow splendours of the meadow-lark's
breast blaze for a moment on the mesa ; plumed quails
run into the road, stop and eye us, then hurry along, with
nodding plumes, to rise almost under the leaders' heads,
and fill the sleepy air with the thunder of their wings.
Early in the morning cotton-tails, fluffy and tender, may
be seen darting in and out among the cactus ; or in
some wash, in the shadow of the sage-brush, sits a long-
eared hare, which darts away, bounding into the air as
though on springs. Little gray owls nod at you from

I9 6 Life in the Open

the fence-top as you pass ; and on the hillside, through
some carton, a monkey-faced owl stares stolidly and
refuses to move, charmed or fascinated, mayhap, by the
rattle and clank of the coach. In the fields are ground-
squirrels, living underground, and on the edges of the
laguna blackbirds make merry some standing on the
backs of pigs and riding about. Rolling through the
chaparral, the attractive paisano or road-runner, with
fiery eye, runs ahead, refusing to take to the brush,
until nearly caught, then rising and flying low to
plunge down again. Countless small birds fill the
air with melody ; a big bluebird cries loudly as it
dashes into the wild lilac or sumac ; and at all the
ranches the finches or linnets swarm, devouring the
fruit, and often silencing the rancher with their mar-
vellous song.

We follow up the sound of clanking bells and enter
the narrow streets of San Gabriel, with its adobes, and
stop in the shadow of the old Mission that to-day stands
like a fortress defying time, an imposing and picturesque
monument to the devotion of the early padres to the
cause of Christianity.

San Gabriel Archangel, which was founded in 1771
by Padres Cambon and Angel Somero, was originally
one of the finest and wealthiest of the Missions. Its
long buttressed building is suggestive of strength, and,
it is said, repelled many an Indian attack in the early
days. It is the second building of the Mission, begun
in 1775 and finished about twenty-five years later. Still

El Camino Real i 97

to be seen are remnants of the great tuna hedo- e
that once surrounded the Mission property an im-
penetrable barrier against enemies.

The padre takes us into various rooms in the Mis-
sion, reverently displays the rich vestments and old
records in Padre Jose Maria Zalvidea's handwriting,
from which we learn that the first Indian was baptized
in 1771, and in the first twenty-five years of its history
over four thousand Indians were baptized there. San
Gabriel once owned hundreds of acres and vast herds
of cattle. The belfry is picturesque, and has four bells
which still call the faithful down the valley of San Ga-
briel. The old Mission was repaired by J. De Earth
Shorb, several years ago, and is still in use by the peo-
ple of the vicinity, who, despite the American invasion,
cling to San Gabriel and its memories.

In all probability El Camino Real extended down
the San Fernando Valley to Los Angeles, from here
to San Gabriel, then possibly through the break in the
hills near Whittier, so leading to San Juan Capistrano
Mission. But the coachers propose to diverge and reach
Pala Mission by the mountain or upper road, regaining
the King's Highway upon the return trip along-shore.

Down the valley, by Monrovia, Duarte, and Azusa,
the coach bowls, passing through a continuous garden,
stopping at Pomona for the night, then on by Ontario,
Cucamonga famous for its wine, to Colton and River-
side with its splendid vistas of orange groves, its long
rows of palms and magnolias. We tarry in this splendid

198 Life in the Open

semitropic garden a day or two, and one morning take the
road to the south-east for Pala. The road carries us to
the east of the Temescal range ; crossing the San Jacinto
River, that rises in the great mountains to the north.

The night is passed at Ferris, and then we move on
to Lake Elsinore, backed against the green hills. From
here the road winds along to Murrietta, at the base of
the Santa Margarita range, where a great ranch rests
on the top of the mountains, well repaying the climb.
From here a magnificent view over Riverside and San
Diego counties is had, mountains and hills every-
where tumbling away toward the sea.

The drive from Murrietta to Pala is of much interest
and takes the coachers through little valleys of wild
oak, past Temecula and the great ranches of Gon-
zales, Santa Rosa, Pauba, Wolf, and others. These
and the picturesque tule houses or huts of the Pachango
Indians enliven the miles as they slip away. Then there
are the stops for luncheon beneath great live oaks, new
vistas of old and familiar mountains that rise, colossal
barriers, against the heated desert.

Soon the coach turns down the road by Mount
Palomar, part of which is hewn out of the solid rock.
Here is coaching indeed, and everywhere are found
evidences of the tremendous forces of nature which
have rent and torn this mountainside. We pitch down
from the highlands and come out into the little valley
of Pala, in which is Pala Mission, and the home of the
Warner Ranch Indians.








El Camino Real 199

I first visited Pala and Pauma, ten miles nearer the
desert, to see the Fiesta of San Luis Rey. A ramdda
had been built, an oblong shelter of brush, arranged
with booths along the sides, in the centre of which was
the dancing-floor. All the country people, the first
families and all the rest, for miles around, had come in,
mostly Mexicans, and a scattering of Indians, who were
camping in the vicinity. During the day there were
horse-races and games of various kinds. The old
Indians danced and sang, but the chief display was at
night when the ramdda was lighted with lanterns. It
was " on with the dance, let joy be unconfined," in the
most solemn fashion. The ramdda was a miniature
village. One booth was a butcher-shop. The owner
of the next sold fruit ; then came a barroom, where
"dago red" and poor whisky were retailed. A monte
" outfit," or the wheel of fortune, followed, or roulette ;
and in the next the national game of poker was ex-
ploited by several gentlemen of fortune from Los

As darkness grew apace, the young Mexican women
took seats around the dancing-floor, and a violin and
guitar began to pour forth the melodious strains of
La Paloma. A young man would steal up behind
the woman of his fancy and break a cascardn on her
raven locks they were all raven and over them would
fall, like snowflakes, masses of gold, silver, and coloured
paper, which had filled the egg. It was a Spanish
invitation to dance, and the lady thus decorated rose,

200 Life in the Open

bespangled and blushing, and accepted, the two be-
ginning an interminable whirling, often confined to a
few feet. I watched this bdile most of the evening, but
in all that joyous period I did not hear a laugh or see a
smile ; surely the Mexican takes his pleasure seriously,
at least at Pala. When the dance was over the maiden
was released and took her seat, the gallant going out to
smoke, play, or drink alone. Let us hope that he
quaffed to one of the serious maidens left silent and
alone on the floor of the ramdda.

The old chapel Mission of San Antonio de Pala,
now an interesting ruin, was founded by Padre Peyri,
and is an excellent example of the crude early Mission.
The long chapel is of stone or adobe, and contains a
life-size statue of San Antonio de Pala ; also one of St.
Louis, King of France, which is borne up and down the
plaza on feast days by the devout Indians. Pala was
founded in 1816, and differs from all the Missions along
the King's Highway in having a disconnected or
isolated belfry which stands out distinct, alone.

From Pala the road turns to the west, and we follow
the creek toward the sea. It is impossible to convey
an idea of the charm of riding through this land of
dreams in the dead of winter. The country is carpeted
in tender greens ; great masses of star-eyed flowers
cover acres, and roll away like the waves of the sea,
lost in the distance. Here the red of painters-brush
lends a flush to the mesa, and the air, soft as velvet,
fans the cheek, an elixir of health. The flute-like sono-

El Camino Real

20 1

of the meadow-lark comes with ringing notes from
every mesa; among the eucalyptus leaves, long and
fragrant, the golden oriole is singing, and in the live-oak
grove are heard the tender notes of the mourning dove.
The sun has a golden radiance, the sky is azure, but
not more blue than the distant sea that gleams brightly
somewhere far down the cafton, where wild geese dot
the laguna, and sand-hill cranes stand like sentinels
along the tall sea grasses.

We pass the San Luis Rey River, Fallbrook, and
finally the coach rolls into San Luis Rey de Francia,
and is again on the King's Highway, as in all proba-
bility it once ran up and down the coast, having made
the inland tour as described. San Luis Rey, while a
ruin, is a sumptuous pile, and originally was one of the
finest Missions in Southern California. It was dedi-
cated in 1 798 by President Lasuen and Padres Santiago
and Peyri. Contemplating the ruin to-day, it is difficult
to believe that the Mission once owned 200,000 acres of
land, over 40,000 head of cattle, and raised yearly
20,000 bushels of grain, not to mention the making of
200 barrels of wine.

San Luis Rey was a principality in every sense, and the
traveller along the King's Highway years ago received
a gracious hospitality from the padres, who blazed the
trail of civilisation from Mexico to San Francisco, and
beyond, establishing a chain of Missions that are monu-
ments to their energy and purity of purpose. The
splendid pile was one hundred and fifty feet long, fifty

202 Life in the Open

feet wide, and sixty feet high, its walls, like those of
San Gabriel, being four feet thick. A fine tower graces
the south side, and is pierced for eight bells. The cor-
ridor has two hundred and fifty-six arches. Its fine
dome, its groined arches, the Byzantine pulpit, the long
corridors, appeal to the imagination, and make the old
Mission one of the really beautiful pictures of Southern
California, whether seen against the green slopes of
winter or on the barren mesa in summer, when its tints
and shades seem to blend with the soil.

The Mission has been repaired by the Franciscans
who now occupy it and tender visitors a courteous re-
ception. They relate fascinating stories of the days of
Zalvidea, of the Indians saved ; and one is glad that
the old Mission is rehabilitated and not allowed to go to

San Luis Rey is about eighty miles from Los Angeles
and four miles to Oceanside, from which the coach turns
away to the south along El Camino Real, or as near it
as possible ; a trail along which Serra and hundreds of
the padres of old and the soldiers of Spain walked.
The run to San Diego Mission is about forty-seven
miles along-shore, passing towns and hamlets, through
great ranches, and over a charming country, in its coat
of green. Off to the east are the San Ysidro Mountains
and lofty Cuyamacha and Santa Margarita. There are
countless little lagunas along-shore, often filled with
ducks. The roar of the wings of quail fills the air, and
the delights of life in the open are emphasised in the


El Camino Real 203

very joy of living in this land of soft winds and perfumed
air. Then there is the charm of the roads themselves,
running up over mounds of green, winding down into
little canons that tell of the sea ; not always smooth or
like a real King's Highway, but full of promise and pos-
sibility, and consistent in the realisation. Now we are
led by a long-necked paisano that paces like ecstatic ;
now blocked by a flock of quail that cry " Hands up ! "
wook-wook-wo you can translate it yourself. There is
always some siren of the road to lure you out into the
fields and far away to distant mountains that lie faintly
on the edge of the world to the east.

We exchange opinions with the passers-by and the
owners of the ranches who come out as we pull up at
the slightest excuse. Then there is the fund of wisdom
drawn from the country store, and its habitues, all add-
ing to the charm of coaching or automobiling in the
land of the setting sun.

Slowly we move down the coast ; now crossing some
little river-bed near the sea, again high on the mesa ;
stopping at Carlsbad a strange name for a California
King's Highway ; at Encenitas and Del Mar, which are
better, enjoying the fine beaches, the quail and duck
shooting; and one fine day we reach the end or the be-
ginning of El Camino Real the Presidio of San Diego.

Here is the first of the Missions of Upper Califor-
nia, founded by Padre Junipero Serra in 1769, and while
once rich and prosperous it is a complete and sad ruin
to-da,y ; adobe walls and old palms alone tell the story

204 Life in the Open

of the thirty thousand, or more, head of stock it once
owned, even as late as 1827. Near the old crumbling
walls are two ancient date palms, which must have been
planted in the days of Serra.

Crossing the bay we roll up the fine road to Co-
ronado. San Diego is a delightful country for coach-
ing ; there are good roads everywhere and climate of the
perfect variety. We go to Tia Juana and cross the
line ; then to La Jolla and the home of theosophy ;
spend delightful hours in the famous patio and garden of
Coronado which may be considered the beginning of
El Camino Real in the year of our Lord 1905. They
will show you at San Diego the man who came to stay
a day and who refused to leave under any circumstances.
He telegraphed for his family, and at eighty is growing
up with the country. We easily see how it is possible.

The return to Los Angeles, 127 miles north, is over
the King's Highway as near as we can make it, and
about forty miles from San Diego we dip down into the
opening of a river or caflon in Orange County and fol-
low it up to the old Mission of San Juan Capistrano,
which stands on high land with the Santiago range be-
hind it and lofty cliffs or mesas between it and the sea.
We follow the caflon slowly, passing through ranches of
walnut and groves of trees, coming out at San Juan with
its ranch houses, its quaint inns, and the fine old Mission,
half ruin, where one might wish to tarry indefinitely.
The Mission was founded in 1776 by Junipero Serra.
Of all the ancient piles this appeals most to the poetic

El Camino Real 205

fancy. Its vast enclosure, its long line of arched corri-
dors, the belfry, its tiled roof, the artistic chimney, the
great dome, half fallen in, razed to the ground in the
earthquake of 1812, are all fascinating parts of the whole.
It is impossible to more than suggest the charm of San
Juan, but the coachers found it irresistible and tarried at
the little inn. Portala, the first Governor of California, is
said to have named San Juan Capistrano, having been
impressed by its beauties of location, its restfulness, its
tranquillity. San Juan is not only the land of man" ana
but of the day after, and then the air which brings the
music of the sea up the canon but you must know it.

The coachers might have kept on the road to El
Toro, Aliso, and so to Santa Ana over a good and
fair country and through a region abounding in great
ranches and olive groves, but they left the King's
Highway again for a detour along an attractive beach,
passing Arch Rock, reaching Laguna, on a little bay, at
the mouth of a big cafton that comes plunging down to
the sea from the upland mesa. Here there is a little
hamlet and hotel, and the coachers have converse with
a motor party who have come down from Santa Ana in
one hour. The climb up Laguna Cafion to the upland
mesa and the valley is one of the features of the trip,
and then en route Laguna affords some of the best quail
shooting in California, while the beach fishing for rock
bass is sport of no mean quality.

Laguna has a charming rocky shore, to some extent
unusual on the mainland in Southern California. Here

206 Life in the Open

the sea takes on marvellous shades and tints in the sun-
light, and at sundown no place along-shore so appeals
to the artist as this land of soft airs, sea odours, and

One afternoon the coachers entered Los Angeles
from the south. Perhaps they had lost the King's
Highway ; perhaps they were in the very footsteps of
the old padre who walked up and down the coast, blaz-
ing this trail in the hot sands or yielding adobe. Who
knows? Then, or in 1820, when the old Plaza chapel
was half built, the town boasted of but 650 souls ; but
this city up whose fine streets we pass has over 200,000
inhabitants in 1906. One can make Los Angeles in a
day from San Juan, but the coach tarries at Santa Ana,
Orange, Tustin, and El Toro, and their famous walnut
groves and ranches of all kinds are visited.

I have hoped in this brief recital, an enumeration of
some of the Missions along the old Highway, to suggest
the charm of coaching and automobiling in Southern
California, and the review of the Missions has been
made merely to provide a motif or objective. A small
party can make such a trip in a carriage or automobile,
or even on horseback. Inns and hotels are scattered all
along the old Highway, and the journey can be made
with ease and comfort and the true charm of the country
in the open enjoyed.

The old Missions of California are among the most
attractive features of this country to the average person.
They are typical California ruins and, like wine, will in-
crease in value as time rolls on. Many of the old

El Camino Real 207

Missions a few years ago were rapidly going to decay, but
the Landmarks Club of Los Angeles has accomplished
good work in preventing their destruction. The decay
of San Fernando, Pala, San Juan Capistrano, and San
Luis Rey has been arrested, and travellers through the
fair country will now doubtless have the old Missions
for all time, as their historical value is thoroughly appre-
ciated by the present dwellers in the land of the setting

I have made a coaching trip of another kind, in
which hotels were not considered. The six-in-hand old-
fashioned California coach was followed or preceded by
a team loaded with the camping outfit. Captain William
Banning was the whip and host ; the best driver of a
six-in-hand in California. The route was laid out in
advance and six or seven tents were pitched every night,
a cook and provisions being taken. This proved a de-
lightful experience. Attractive locations for camping
were selected along the route, the coach making the
run from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about thirty
days, no effort being made to make time. The follow-
ing year this coach was shipped to San Francisco and
the drive made about five hundred miles north ; and on
another season through the Yosemite. California can
be seen from a car window, but to get in complete
touch with the country it should be seen at close range,
either in a coach, the saddle, automobile, or carriage.

in the

Chapter XIV

Life in the Sierra Madre

THE charm of continuous mountain life has given
nearly every cafton in the lofty range one or
more residents. When I first knew the Arroyo
Seco Canon, in 1885, ^ had a dweller for nearly every
two miles of its winding course. At the entrance, where
he could look out into the broad wash, a bee-keeper
lived ; and over on a little mesa a miner, who some-
times showed me colour. On another mesa lived the
Brown brothers, sons of John Brown of Harper's Ferry,
and often as I sat in their cabin at night I heard stories
of the Underground Railroad; and Owen Brown, pacing
the floor, told of his escape along the mountains, lying
in the brush for days, living on corn and travelling by
night. The two brothers, Owen and Jason, were typical
mountaineers, and for mere love of it would go up into
the mountains, five thousand feet above the sea for
what? "To look out upon the earth and to think."
Owen Brown told me that his father had this habit, and
it was strong in him ; a passion to climb above the


212 Life in the Open

world and look down upon its beauties. They built a
trail nearly to the summit, that others might enjoy the

Half-way up the caflon lived one Judge Brunk, who
held court where the trees formed a green arcade over
the trout stream ; and ten or twelve miles beyond you
would come to Commodore Switzer's, who kept a little
inn or camp where one could idle away the days in the
very heart of the mountains.

This cafion was typical of nearly all in the range ;
mountain lovers being scattered up and down, fully
satisfied with the isolation. I remember asking one
if he never wearied of the life there, and his reply was
" No." He referred to the trout stream that ran by his
door, and the voices of the leaves that rustled music all
the day. He understood it and loved the life, and so
there are hundreds who like it all the time, and thou-
sands who like it at times. I once lived six or eight
months in the Sierra Madre, the location being a little
plateau which sloped down, forming a cape between three
deep and beautifully wooded cations ; there was no ap-
proach except by descending one of the caflons and cross-
ing the stream ; the locality being particularly isolated
during storms. The place had many charms. The
upper portion was at this time covered with chaparral,
Adenostoma always green and in many tints, banks of
sage, groups of wild lilac and ironwoods, while on
either side the deep, abysmal canon was filled with these
and many more, alders, live oaks, sycamores, cotton-

Mission of San Buenaventura on El Camino Real.

Life in the Sierra Madre 213

woods, and bays, forming a silent river of green that
wound down from the upper range, a river sinuous and
beautiful. I could see the islands of the Pacific fifty

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Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderLife in the open; sport with rod, gun, horse, and hound in southern California → online text (page 11 of 21)