Visiting Fort Rosecrans, The Cabrillo National Monument, and The Point Loma Lighthouse in San Diego, California
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
- Bayside Hiking Trail | Point Loma at Cabrillo Park | San Diego CA
Bayside Trail - Easy San Diego Urban hike on Point Loma at Cabrillo National Monument Park - This hiking trail is convenient and features amazing views across San Diego Bay.
- U.S. National Park Service Free Entrance Days in the National Parks
Free Entrance Days in the National Parks
The History of Point Loma
In Spanish, loma means hill, and the drive up Catalina Boulevard takes you through areas of San Diego that offer diverse geography and archeology. The drive is part of San Diego’s 59 mile Scenic Drive. The views are spectacular on your way up to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Cabrillo National Monument, and the Old Lighthouse.
Human remains found in the area date back 7,000 years ago. In 1797 the Spanish constructed Fort Guijarros to the east to guard the harbor entrance. In 1852 a military reservation was designated to the south. In 1934 Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery was established. Point Loma neighborhoods were established by generations of fishermen. Today the neighborhood is varied with small cottages next to multi-million dollar mansions.
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
Fort Rosecrans is named after Major General William Starke Rosecrans who was a union general in the American Civil war. It became a National Cemetery 1934.
Remains of soldiers buried here date back to the Mexican American War of 1846 and the subsequent Battle of San Pasqual where 19 of General Kearney’s soldiers lost their lives. The soldiers were originally buried where they fell then moved in 1874 to the San Diego Military Reservation in Point Loma.
In 1882 the bodies of General Kearny’s soldiers were again moved, interred at what is now Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, and memorialized with a stone boulder brought from the battlefield. A bronze plaque was mounted by The Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West with the names of the soldiers who lost their lives.
Several ships are memorialized including The USS Bennington. The Monument commemorates the death in 1905 of 62 sailors when a boiler exploded on board and ripped through the ship. The Bennington was anchored in the San Diego Harbor at the time. The USS Wasp is memorialized. The ship sunk during the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942. The USS Ommaney Bay monument is etched in granite to memorialize the men lost in action when the ship was sunk in 1945. Be sure to visit the USS Midway Museum downtown if you like war ships. Spectacular!
Many more monuments are here along with the remains of many Medal of Honor recipients. Some dating back to the 1877 Indian War Campaign and include Ruben H Fleet, a WWI aviator. The Ruben H Fleet Science Center and Theater in Balboa Park is named after him. Fort Rosecrans is the place to be on Memorial Day. Flags decorate the entire area in remembrance of those who gave their lives.
Cabrillo National Monument
In the 1540s the Governor of Guatemala, Pedro de Alvarado, wanted to establish trade routes between Central America and the Spice Islands. He chose Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a conquistador (Spanish soldier), to build and provision three ships to explore the Pacific Coast.
In 1542 the ships set sail from Navidad, Mexico with provisions for two years. Cabrillo’s flag ship, The San Salvador, and her sister ships arrived in San Miguel Bay three months later. Cabrillo anchored in what is now know as San Diego Bay somewhere on Point Loma’s east shore near the Cabrillo National Monument.
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo claimed the land for Spain and became the first European to set foot on the West Coast of the United States. Cabrillo died during the expedition after a skirmish with the native Kumeyaay Indians. However his crew pressed on perhaps as far north as Oregon until winter storms forced them to return to Mexico. In 1913, four hundred year later, President Woodrow Wilson created Cabrillo National Monument to commemorate Cabrillo’s voyage.
Today a huge statue of Cabrillo overlooks the bay he sailed into in 1542. A replica of the San Salvador is on display near the Visitor Center. There is a film and exhibit at the Visitor Center that presents Cabrillo’s life and a tide pool to visit. On week-ends and in the summer there are ranger led programs offered. The parking fee is $5.00 unless you have a park pass.
Old Point Loma Lighthouse
In 1851 a US Coastal Survey selected Point Loma for the location of a navigational aid. In 1855 the light keeper climbed the narrow stairs and lit the Point Loma Lighthouse light for the first time. The Lighthouse was located 422 feet above sea level, overlooked the harbor, and well out to sea.
For 36 years the Lighthouse lit the way for sailors who visited San Diego Bay. However, fog and low clouds often obscured the light. In 1891 a new Lighthouse was built at a location closer to the water at the tip of Point Loma. You can view it from the Old Lighthouse.
Today the Old Lighthouse is a historic step back in time and a place to remember the people and times that came before us. 100 years ago people drove a horse and buggy over steep and rutted roads to visit the Old Lighthouse and enjoy the spectacular 360 degree view 422 feet above sea level. A great place to retreat from a busy modern world even today.
Tips: Take along comfortable walking shoes and a jacket. It can get cold and windy.
There are plenty of great hiking trails in this area and surrounding San Diego County.
Are we there yet? What to take on a road trip:
An ice chest with food, snacks and drinks for everyone. Forget sharing.
Don't forget your chargers, headphones, earplugs, meds, and a trash bag.
Take along your Kindle and cell phone to keep yourself and the kids occupied on long road trips. Down load any e-books and apps that will help you.
Remember to take along a great camera. We found the Sony Nex-5 to be light weight and user friendly.
Freeways, streets, and traffic jams are frustrating. Take along a good GPS system and visit off season.
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