Unforgettable: Long Ago San Diego

The Death Ship Returns to Baja and Salvation

The Death Ship Comes Alive When the crew of the San Diego heard they were finally going home, relief erupted. “They thought they might have a few more days to live,” writes Father Antonio Ascensión, ...

Bitter Cold and Scurvy Dog Vizcaíno’s Ships

Toward the Freezing North As Sebastian Vizcaíno’s expedition prepared to leave San Diego Bay, a member of the crew struggled to board a launch. Stiff-legged, barely able to walk, he stumbled, struggled to stand up, ...

Exploring San Diego Bay

Long-ago San Diego

Fifty years after Columbus first set sail, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo discovered “a sheltered port and a very good one” on the California coast. Guarded by a steep promontory, dark green with vegetation, a channel doglegged ...

Vizcaíno Meets Storms, Natives, and, Finally, San Diego

Lost and Found Onboard the flagship San Diego, Sebastían Vizcaíno hadn’t seen the Santo Tomás in 41 days. Before his expedition left Acapulco to chart the California coast in 1602, the old Santo Tomás had ...

A Search for Water on the Sea

Long-ago San Diego

Water Everywhere Sebastián Vizcaíno began charting the California coast on May 5, 1602. Three ships crossed the Gulf of California, from Mazatlán to Cabo de San José. After several tries, they finally cleared the cape ...

God Blessed and the Devil Cursed Vizcaino’s Crews

Of Miracles and Grave Misfortunes It had to be a miracle! As Sebastián Vizcaíno’s three ships neared the bay at Cabo de San José, a fog curtained the shoreline, and the ships separated beyond hailing ...

Across the Vermilion Sea

Three ships nodded with the tide in Acapulco Bay. The San Diego, Santo Tomás, and Tres Reyes were light draft vessels, able to anchor in shallow waters. Each had been careened — flopped on its ...

Assault the Place of Peace

By rights, we should call San Diego “San Miguel,” after the archangel who evicted Lucifer and his minions from heaven. At his first landfall in Upper California — September 28, 1542 — Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo ...

Assault on a Galleon

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo never received full credit for exploring the Pacific Coast, complained historian Henry R. Wagner. In 1602, 60 years later, Sebastián Vizcaino sailed north, covered the same territory, and “arbitrarily changed” Cabrillo’s findings. ...

Rosa/Luisa: The California Whirlwind, Part Two

“Strange things are happening to this land,” said Luisa Moreno in 1949. “Yes, tragically the unmistakable signs are before us…who really love America. And it is we who must sound the alarm, for the workers ...

The California Whirlwind, Part One

She thought she’d finally found a home. For two decades, Luisa Moreno abandoned her private life and championed the rights of workers. She zigzagged around the country, protesting, organizing, and negotiating for labor unions: garment ...

Unforgettable: Banner Challenges Julian's Supremacy

Drury “Drew” Bailey and the Founding of Julian City, Part Two In 1858, asked to write about why “A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss,” Drury “Drew” Bailey compared it to “the wanderer who starts…with bright ...

Julian? Who's Julian?

Drury Bailey and the Founding of Julian City, Part One On November 10, 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno sailed into San Miguel Bay. He renamed it “San Diego,” after his flagship and the saint of Alcalá. For ...

Jumpin' Julian, Way Back When

Civilization and Its Malcontents “Julian was never the hell roarin’ town commonly associated with mining camps,” wrote Dan Taylor in 1939. And that’s been pretty much the image ever since. Even so, the lure of ...

Unforgettable: The Long and Winding Road to Gold

After gold had been discovered in the Cuyamacas, ranchers accustomed to outback solitude witnessed an eerie parade: would-be miners trudging up an old Indian trail from Santa Ysabel to Julian City. The steep and rocky ...