Posts Tagged ‘Old Town San Diego’

4th May
written by Richard

We arrived at San Diego very tired at ½ past 7. Did not know where to go or what to do. It was dark. A serious time. At length, Walter, Keane, and self were taken in at the Dragoon Quarters and the rest got a tent. Our supper was coffee and crumbs of biscuit. –H.M.T. Powell, December 3, 1849

The diary of a tired traveler from Illinois provides a rare, colorful account of early San Diego. Of an estimated 80,000 gold-seekers who found their way to California in 1849, relatively few stopped in San Diego. Fewer still left recorded narratives of their time here. The journal of H.M.T. Powell, published in 1931 as The Santa Fe Trail to California, 1849-1852, is considered by historians to be one of the most important accounts of the Gold Rush era.

An eyewitness view of Old Town San Diego in 1849: H.M.T. Powell and San Diego

7th January
written by Richard


For landing and taking off hides, San Diego is decidedly the best place in California.  The harbour is small and land-locked; there is no surf; the vessels lie within a cable’s length of the beach, and the beach itself is smooth, hard sand, without rocks or stones.  For these reasons, it is used by all the vessels in the trade, as a depot.  –Richard Henry Dana (1835)

Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana Jr. is an American literary classic.  The thrilling narrative of a voyage from Boston to the California coast in the 1830s was Dana’s personal memoir of his time at sea—an account which prominently featured early San Diego. 

The story of Richard H. Dana and San Diego.

15th July
written by Richard

July 29 – 8 to meridian. At 10:30 hauled up courses, standing in for harbor of San Diego.  At11:30 came in to 9½ fathoms; hoisted out boats . . . At 3:40 the launch and Alligator under command of Lieutenant Rowan, and the Marine Guard under Lieutenant Maddox, left the ship to take possession of the town of San Diego.

–Log of the USS Cyane.

Read the story of the first flag raising over San Diego in 1846: Raising the flag