Julian Historical Society
Musings, reflections, ruminations...
This is where you will find more historic information than opinion (we hope).
Because Julian bloomed from the discovery of gold, maybe gold is where this column should begin.
What do you see in Julian?" I've heard so many say,
Ah, there is so much, my der, I'll just tell part today.
I see the flaming pear trees, swollen mountain streams,
the gorgeous sunsets, moonlight nights, akin to fairy dreams.
A district school house, all night dance, ruffled skirts and peg top pants.
See a caller wave his hand, starting off a country band,
"Choose your partner, now let's go, Rye waltz, two-step, heel and toe.
Mr. Johnson do-se-do, the more you dance, the less you know".
Graduation fuss, oration, flowers, youngsters, decorations
Gathered by wagon load on hill by streams and dusty roads.
Forest fires, fear and dread, darkness, quiet, embers red,
Neighbors called from out their bed, women up to keep 'em fed.
Miners, gold, sudden rushes, claims and stamp mills, paying crushes,
Weary travelers, stage and four, mail and freight, an oil lit door.
Thunder storms, a muddy street, old saloon and shoeless feet,
General store, a team and wagon, Indian squaw with kids a taggin'.
Weddings, brides and chivarees, pumpkins, cider, Christmas trees,
Hay rides, hikes, and fishing trips, crocheted shawls and unroughed lips.
Fiestas, lanterns, games of chance, birth and death and sweet romance.
Family albums, weekly tub, medicine to take or rub.
Measles, mumps, gout or flu, someone had a curing brew.
Snowy nights, toboggan spills, chilblains, mittens, sore throat pills.
All the beauty, all the pests, East wind, hoppers and the res.
A million things pass my eyes as I look back where memory lies.
-Alice Price Hoskings
(as written by Edward Harvey Davis, Mesa Grande) The narrative below is true in all essential details. The names, places, events are absolutely true, and I wrote it down as it was told to me by my father, Captain Lewis S. Davis.The story of the Peg-leg mine on the Colorado Desert has been the cause of more deaths by thirst than any other mysterious mine. The story as I have heard it dozens of times, originated with Peg-leg Smith, an old hunter, who, while crossing the Colorado desert, mounted a hill to get his bearings, stooped down and picked up some pebbles and stuffed them in his pocket, and then continued his journey to San Bernardino. He had the stones he had found analyzed and they found them to be filled with gold. He told where he had found the nuggets way out in the desert on one of a group of three hills. He died in the hospital. For twenty or thirty years, miners, prospectors and people with no desert experience, have hunter unsuccessfully for this mysterious mine and many have left their bones bleaching in the sand. Peg-leg got caught in his own bear trap in the Rocky Mountains and had to cut his own leg off with his hunting knife to save his life. Then he hewed a stick for a wooden leg. EHD
here the trails grow dim in the waverin' heat
An' the sky is a cloudless blue;
Where the purple ranges far away
Are always callin' you.
I hear their voices in the night
When the moon comes over the rim,
An' the smoke trees in the canyon wash
Look spectral, white an' dim.
I must go to the land of the blue mirage
Where there's nary a drop to drink,
I've got to go where the chollas grow,
Way down in the Salton drink.
The rugged ranges bleak an' bare
With neither shrub nor tree,
Their temple canyons deep an' wild
Are always callin' me.
My burro's packed, my canteen's filled,
My bed roll lashed on tight,
With powder an' grub an' pick an' drills,
We're pullin' out tonight.
We're headin' straight to the Malapi hills
Where Peg-leg found his ore,
An' where he found so much loose float,
There must be plenty more.
They found him deep in the Malapi hills,
In the grease woods' scanty shade;
They followed his crooked trail for miles,
By the tracks his burro made.
His shrunken hands clutched his dry canteen,
An' close to his prospect hole,
In the stillness of the night he had answered the call
An' the desert claimed his soul.
The first gold was discovered in what was to become Julian, in the winter of 1869. Flakes of gold spotted in a creek would soon spark a rush into the mountains around the high valleys above San Diego. The gold that was discovered was placer gold. It did not take long for the miners who worked the streams to conclude that the gold had to be washing into the streams from the hills and mountains higher up. This would be where the hard rock mines would soon be developed between 1870 and 1910.
The largest and highest producing mine in the mountains above San Diego was the Stonewall mine near Lake Cuyamaca. At it's peak it was a twenty stamp mill site. Gold in this area was found in rock known as Julian schist and quartzite.