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Dear Matthew Alice:

I remember a long time ago there used to be a big concrete teepee on top of a hill near Escondido. You could see it from all over. Can you find out who built it and why, and what ever happened to it?

-- Wondering, Escondido

Okay, folks, now we're talking reality. There definitely was a big teepee on top of a hill in Escondido, and I have the pictures to prove it. And not that out-of-focus, half-a-mile-away Bigfoot stuff.

In 1929 Idaho sheepman Abram Houghtelin bought a bunch of land between Escondido and San Pasqual, south of Highway 78 (near present-day Teepee Drive). For reasons he never made clear, even to his family, he decided to build a huge teepee at the top of a hill. He and his sons did all the grading and construction; the finished product was 50 feet tall and 60 feet in diameter, a huge wood-framed cone covered with sparkly tarpaper. They planted citrus and avocado around it, but the stock market crash halted building before he could reinforce the structure with metal and plaster. The thing sat there, unused, for almost 50 years. Since the teepee was visible from as far away as Poway, it was adopted as a favorite local landmark, even though nobody knew why it was there. Or maybe because nobody knew why. It was vandalized, of course, and teenagers used it as a hangout. It deteriorated in the sun and wind and finally blew over in a storm in December of 1977.

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