First-Person Historical Narratives
Ruth Kedzie Wood’s
The Tourist’s California,
New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1915
You can click on any of the thumbnail postcard photos to see a larger
|"South of the Hot Springs on the road to San Luis Obispo is the
military camp at Atascadero, where, at certain seasons, stirring war
games are enacted. Eastward
is the Tulare Desert, westward the sea, both walled out by sturdy
stirring war games are enacted."
"At an elevation of
1000 feet, we glimpse the vale that spreads to the base of the twin
crowns, San Luis and Obispo. In
the valley, ‘baking in a circle of gaunt hills,’ reclines the City
of the Bishop, seat of a county as varied in its scenery as in the
products of its soil.
"The Spaniards named
the Mission they established here for St. Louis, Bishop of Tolosa
[Toulouse, France]. A quarter of a century later, another St. Louis was thus
honoured, he who had been king of France; his namesake settlement [San
Luis Rey] is situated near San Diego.
Mission San Luis Obispo
as it appeared at the time
Ruth Kedzie Woods visited it.
|"The main building of
the Bishop’s Mission is still used for mass, though its physiognomy
has been utterly spoiled by an over-lay of boards and the substitution
of shingles for the mellow red of the pottery roof.
A Carnegie Library has made inroads upon one of the walls.
In the garden-court, guarded by a white-pillared portico and the
cupola-spire of the church, are gnarled grapevines and an enormous palm.
The ranch wool was employed by the Indians in weaving blue cloth
and blankets, and they also made tiles of superior reputation.
The title-pages of the monastery and marriage registers,
inscribed in the flourish of Fr. Junipero Serra himself, set forth that
the Mission was founded a expensas del Catholico Rey de los Españas,
el Señor Dn Carlos III on
the first day of September, 1772. One
of the bells in the tower was cast a century ago, in a Peruvian foundry.
||"Near the Court House
may still be seen the grass-covered trenches which Fremont constructed
previous to the attack on the settlement when, on his way to help put
down the rising in Southern California in 1846, he was informed, and
wrongly as it developed, that enemies were hiding there.
||"A mile from the Court House is the Free Polytechnic School
controlled by the State.
miles distant are the Hot Springs, reached from the town by stage.
|"Port Harford is the
well-protected harbour of San Luis.
A short rail line and the Camino Real run to it. A little way south is Pizmo Beach, which is an extraordinary
floor of hard-packed sand extending for
|| 20 miles between long rocky
arms….In winter it is as lonely as it is vast and sonorous with the
boom of the surf.
summer finds it alive with throngs who dwell for the most part in tents
and cottages, and consume
| with limitless appetite the
clams of this strand. Over
the firm shining track, many fast motor-races are run.
"On the way down the
coast, the rails of the main line are laid for miles by the edge of the
sea. The Royal Road for
motorists, and for those who prefer to enjoy this picturesque region
behind or astride a good horse, turns east from the Southern Pacific at
Pizmo Station, and follows the general direction of the Pacific Coast
Railway for about 70 miles through the Arroyo Grande Valley among walnut
groves, past ranchos planted to sweet pea and nasturtium, through fields
of sugar-beets and heavy growths of the Australian Blue Gum to Los
Olivos. In this vicinity
was the estate of a cousin of Richard Dana,
Jr., which was the
meeting-place of the letter carriers who left San Francisco and San
Diego every Monday and exchanged their pouches here."
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