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OUT of a population of from sixty-five to seventy thousand persons -- the number estimated to be in San Francisco at the present time -- it is to be expected that for health, change, business or recreation, a large proportion, at convenient seasons, will make a flying visit to localities of interest that can be easily and cheaply reached, beyond the suburbs of the city. Of these, one of the most interesting and pleasant is that from San Francisco by the Mission Dolores to the Ocean House, and Seal Rock; returning by Fort Point and the Presidio. Upon this interesting jaunt we hope to have the pleasure of the reader's company; for it is almost always more agreeable to visit such scenes in good companionship than to go alone.

As these places are visited by all classes of persons, whose means and tastes widely differ, it is not for us to say whether it is better to go on horseback, or in a buggy; by a public omnibus, or a private carriage; or, on that very primitive, somewhat independent, but not always the most popular conveyance, technically denominated "a-foot." We must confess, however, that inasmuch as our physical and mental organization are both capable of enduring a large amount of comfort, as well as pleasure, our predilections decidedly incline to the former. Yet, to those who, to be suited, would choose even the latter, we can most conscientiously affirm that "we have no objection!" This point, then, being duly conceded, with the reader's consent, we will set out at once on our jaunt, each one by the conveyance that pleases him feet.

Let us now thread our way among the numerous vehicles and foot- passengers that crowd the various thoroughfares of the city, to Third street, at which point we can take one of three routes to the Mission Dolores; namely: by the Old Mission road, Folsom street, or Brannan street, but either of the former is now by far the best. The Old Mission road, as its name would indicate, was the first made road to that point; although in 1849 and 1850, we had to thread our way among the low sand hills, and across little valleys, by a very circuitous and laborious route. In 1851, this road was graded and planked; but as the planks wore rapidly away, it was found to be very expensive to keep it in repair.-- Within the past year, it has been macadamized nearly its entire length, and now is almost as good as the far famed Shell road, between New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.

It is difficult to give the actual amount of travel on either of these roads, as much of this is regulated by the state of the weather; yet the following will give an approximate estimate:

On the Old Mission road, an omnibus passes and repasses fourteen times daily, with from 1 to 30 passengers, and will average 12 each way; leaving the Plaza on the even hour, from 7 O'clock, A. M., to 8 P. M. The San Jose stage, which leaves the Plaza at 8 A. M., and the Ocean House omnibus, which leaves the Plaza at 10 A. M., passes and repasses daily; the Overland Mail stage, via Los Angeles, which leaves the Plaza every Monday and Friday, at noon; is due, returning on the same day, but it generally arrives three or four days before time; Dorlin's express runs twice a day to the Mission and back; in addition to these, there are 5 water carts, 10 milk, 12 meat, 18 bread, 40 vegetable, and from 20 to 30 express, or parcel wagons, daily. On the 24th ult., there were 34 horsemen, 66 double horse, and 177 single horse vehicles, such as carriages, buggies, sulkies, &c., in addition to those above mentioned.

On the Folsom street plank road, an omnibus passes and repasses twelve times daily, with an average of 12 passengers, each way, leaving the Plaza on the half hour. There are also, 40 milk, 20 vegetable, 20 lumber, liquor, bread, and meat wagons, of single and double horse; and about 80 buggies, single and double; besides foot passengers. On Sundays, no less than 40 omnibusses, and from 150 to 200 buggies, pass and repass, besides from 1 to 3,000 people, a large proportion of whom are bound for Russ' Gardens.

With this preliminary explanation, and the reader's consent, as we cannot very conveniently journey together on both roads, we will take that which, of the two, is rather the most pleasant, namely, the Folsom street. The sides of this road, like those of the other, are adorned with private residences, and well cultivated gardens and nurseries; among the latter, the first which attracts the traveler's attention, is the "Golden Gate Nursery;" then the "United States;" then "Sonntag's" and at the corner of Folsom and Centre, the "Commercial Nursery."-- But after passing the former of these, and before arriving at the latter, a large building to the south attracts our attention; that is the French Hospital. Next is the celebrated Russ' Gardens," a popular resort for Germans, especially on Sundays. here let us digress for a moment, to relate a somewhat amusing conversation that took place on California street,between the servant of a friend, and German woman whose husband makes a comfortable living by mending boots and shoes, In a little wooden house on the side walk.

German woman, to Irish servant;" Bridget, why don't you get marry, and live in a comfortable house of your own ?"

"Faith, and I don't see that ye's very comfortable ye'self, for ye's slaving ye'self from Monthay marning until Satharday nite, washing clothes for other peoples, while ye'r husban' is mending boots and shoes, in that box, on the side walk."

"O yes, but what of that; you know we must all work for a living; and besides, I and my husband are very happy the whole of the week, for if I wash clothes, and he mends old boots and shoes, from Monday morning until Saturday'night, we always go to Russ' Gardens on Sunday's!"

Now, if this does not preach a sermon on contentment, it is of no use our trying. So we may as well pass on to say that the next object that attracts our attention is the black volumes of smoke, that roll from the chimney-top of the San Francisco Sugar Refinery. In this refinery, some 4,200 tons of sugar is refined annually, consuming about 1,600 tons of coal, 400 tons of bones, (for making ivory or bone black for filtering purposes,) 1,300,000 staves, 1,100,000 hoops, and 200,000 heads for barrels and kegs. -- Within, there are about 60 men employed; and without, from 75 to 80 more, in getting of staves, hoops, heads, making barrels, freighting, teaming, &c.

But we must now pass on, and as quickly as possible, for two reasons; reason first, the hog-ranches by the road side are not as fragrant as the roses in Sonntag's nursery; and reason second will appear when we arrive at Center st.[now 16th Street], and, turning to the right, cross the bridge over Mission Creek, and on the new San Bruno turnpike, turn to get a general view of the Mission, that may enable us to forget reason first.

The beautiful green hills, and pretty houses that here dot the landscape; with the fine nurseries in the foreground, will explain why the Mission Fathers chose this fertile and well watered valley in preference to the bleak and comparatively barren Lagoon for their semi-religious and semi-philanthropic object.

In the hollow, some three hundred yards below the Nightingale hotel, is the Willows, a shady retreat for pleasure seekers and parties; from which spot let us now go at once to the Mission.

Now we have arrived at the quaint, old-fashioned, tile-covered adobe church, and buildings attached; part of which is still in use by the Mission, and a part is converted into saloons and a store. This edifice was erected in 1777-'76, and was completed and dedicated, August 1st, 1776; and was formerly called San Francisco, in honor of the patron saint, St. Francis, the name given to the Bay by its discoverer, Junipero Serra, in October, 1769.

While the church buildings were in course of erection, the Fathers had great difficulty in keeping the Indians who performed most of the labor at work. The earthy clay, of which the adobes were made, had to be prepared by the Indians, who, after water had been thrown upon it, jumped in and trampled it with their feet, but soon growing tired, they would keep working only so long as the Fathers kept singing.

The visitor will notice a number of old adobe buildings scattered here and there, in different directions; these were erected for the use of the Indians; one part being used for boys, and the other for girls, and in which they resided until they were about seventeen years of age, when they were allowed to marry; after which other apartments were assigned them, more in accordance with their condition.

As late as 1849, there were two large boilers in the buildings back of the church; and as meat was almost the only article of food, an ox was killed and boiled wholesale, at which time the Indians would gather around and eat until they were satisfied. Of course, most of our readers are aware that Catholics are not allowed to eat meat on a Friday, but owing to this being the only article of diet to the Indians and native Californians, around the Mission, they were not required to abstain from it, even on that day.

According to Mr. Forbes, a very careful and accurate writer, who published a work in 1835, entitled the "History of Lower and Upper California," the number of black cattle belonging to this Mission in 1831, was 5,610; horses, 470; mules, 40; while only 233 fanegas (a fanegas is about 2 1/2 bushels) of wheat; 70 of Indian corn; and 40 of small beans, were raised altogether. At that time, however, the missions had lost much of their former glory; for in 1825, only six years before, that of Dolores, alone it is said to have had 76,000 head of cattle; 950 tame horses; 2,000 breeding mares; 84 stud, of choice breed; 820 mules; 79,000 sheep; 2,000 hogs; and 456 yoke of working oxen; aud raised 18,000 bushels of wheat and barley. Besides, in 1802, according to Baron Humboldt, there were of [Indian] males, in this Mission, 433; of females, 381; total, 814. And yet, according to Mr. Forbes, in 1831, there were but 124 males, and 85 females; and now, there are none. Truly, "the glory has departed."

At that time, the Indians and native Californians, for many miles around, would congregate at the Mission Dolores, about three times a year, bringing with them cattle enough to kill while they remained, which was generally about a week, and have a good holiday time with each other.

Before the discovery of gold it was the custom here to keep a tabular record of all the men, women and children; members of. the church; marriages, births and deaths; the number of live stock; and amount of produce in all their business details: but since then everything has changed for the worse. Even the lands devoted to, and sat apart for, the use of the Mission, have nearly all been squatted upon, so that now but a few hundred varas remain intact; and as to where the stock of all kinds have gone, "deponent saith not."

It is quite a pleasurable curiosity to examine the old Spanish manuscript books, still extant at this mission, and look upon their sheep-skin covered lids, and buckskin clasps. Besides these there are about six hundred printed volumes, in Spanish, on religious subjects; but being in a foreign language they are seldom or never read. At the present time the only uses to which this Mission is devoted is to give public instruction in the Catholic religion, the education of some seventeen pupils; the burial of the dead; and an occasional marriage. Of the last named, about eighteen have taken place within the past four years. The great point of attraction here to visitors from the city, is its quiet green graveyard; and but for its being so negligently tended and slovenly kept would be one of the prettiest places near the city. In this last peaceful home, from June 1st, 1858 to May 20th, 1859, the following will show how many have been laid --June, (1858 ) 52; July, 67; August 55; September, 55; October, 65; November, 57; December, 56; January, (1859) 35; February, 45; March, 38 April 83; May,. up to the 20th, 28.

It seems as though we could never weary in looking upon these interesting scenes; but as we have farther to go; and we trust, many more to look upon, let us again set out on our jaunt, and visit this spot at our leisure.

Between the Mission Dolores and the Ocean House there are no objects of striking interest, except, perhaps the San Francisco Industrial School, recently erected for the benefit of depraved juveniles, situated near the top of the ridge we are gently ascending, about six miles from the city and three from the ocean. About this school we will have something say at a future time.

Upon reaching the top of this ridge you perceive that we get a glimpse of the Pacific ocean; and shortly afterwards find ourselves comfortably seated in one of the parlors of the Ocean House, where, while our animals are resting, let us say that this house is about eight and one fourth miles from San Francisco, and was erected in 1855 by Messrs. Lovett and Green; when, if report speaks the truth, they were just beginning to reap the reward of their labors they were cheated out of it.

From this point we have a commanding view of the surrounding country. The hill in front of us, and at the back of the Industrial school, contains a quarry of the finest of sandstone, and which, were there but a railroad upon which to convey it to the city, could be delivered there at from two to three dollars per ton. South is the Lake House, and Rockaway House, at the east end of lake Merced, but the latter is now used only as a private residence. From this point, too, an excellent view of the ocean is obtained, where the ships and steamers are plainly visible.

One would scarcely suppose that here, where the winds sweep over the land with such fury, that stock of all kinds flourish better than in many of the favored inland valleys, yet such is the fact; for owing to the dense masses of heavy fog-clouds that roll in from the ocean the verdure is perpetual, while in other localities it is parched up. The gardens around produce from fifty-five to one hundred sacks of potatoes to the acre, although the soil is very light and sandy. Besides, vegetables are taken to the San Francisco market from this section, at an earlier time than from that of any other part of the State.

About two miles north of the Ocean House, is a lake, known as the Laguna Honda, at which a distressing accident occurred in 1855, as the reader will call to memory, when two ladies and their two children were all drowned together, under the following circumstances. In the back part of a carriage, built in the rockaway style, were seated Mrs. Opeinhimer and Mrs. Urzney, each lady holding a child. On the front seat were two servants, a man and woman, the former of whom was driving. Having taken the road up the Rock House ravine, instead of that to the Ocean House, they arrived at the edge of the lake, above named, and the road not being wide enough to admit their carriage, they drove into the water a little, on the edge of the lake. They could have passed here in safely, but unfortunately the wheel struck a stump, and by some unexplainable means, the horse was thrown round, and be fell into deep water; when the carriage was immediately turned upside down, and the forepart striking the water, was forced down upon the two ladies and their children, shutting them completely in, and they sunk to rise no more. The servants being left free, in the front of the carriage, succeeded in reaching the shore, and were saved.

Snugly ensconced beneath the hill, about half a mile from the Ocean House, and within a quarter of a mile of the sea, is the Beach House. This was first built on the shore, near the edge of a small lake that we pass, but the high tides flowing in, washed away its foundations, and compelled the alternative of their removing it at once, or of allowing the sea to do it for them; and as the owners considered themselves the best carpenters of the two, they undertook, and succeeded, in the task -- but here we are, on the beach. There is a never ceasing pleasure to a refined mind, in looking upon or listening to the hoarse murmuring roar of the sea; and an unexplainable charm in the music of the waves, as with a seething sound, they curl and gently break upon a sandy shore, during a calm; or dash in all their majesty and fury, with thundering voices upon the unheeding rocks in a storm. This is sublimity. Besides, every shell, and pebble, and marine plant, from the smallest fragment of sea-moss, to the largest weed that germinated within the caverns of the deep, has an architectural perfection and beauty, that ever attracts the wondering admiration of the thoughtful. Yet we must not now linger here, or night will overtake us.

This beach extends continuously from Seal Rock to Muscle Rock, about seven miles. Near the last named place is a soda spring, and several veins of bituminous coal; to obtain which shafts have been sunk to the depth of 124 feet, in which the coal was found to grow better as they descended; but like many similar enterprises, when means to work it failed, it was abandoned. Other minerals are also found, in this chain of hills.

Having had our ride along the beach as far as Seal Rock, and watched the movments, and listened to the loud shrill voices the sea-lions, let us take up the sandbank south of the old Seal Rock House, (now tenantless,) and we shall find the road from the Fort, as sandy and as heavy as we could desire it; yet, with the consolation that we can endure it, if the horses are able, until we reach Fort Foint.

When this was first taken and occupied by American troops belonging to Col. Stephenson's battalion, under Maj. Hardie, in March, 1847, they found a circular battery of 10 iron guns, 16 pounders, mounted upon the hill just above the present works, and which was allowed to remain until a better one was ready to occupy its place.

The present beautiful and substantial structure was commenced in 1854, and is now nearly completed. It is four tiers in height, the topmost of which is 64 feet above low tide; and is capable of mounting 150 guns, including the battery at the back, of 42, 64, and 128 pounders; and during an engagement, can accommodate 2,400 men. There have been appropriations made, including the last, of $1,800,000. The greatest number of men employed at any one time was 200; now there are about 80. The Lighthouse adjoining the Fort, can be seen for from 10 to 12 miles, and is an important addition to the mercantile interests of California, although we regret to say, it in only of the fifth order, and known as the "Fresnel Light," it and is the smallest on the coast; the lanthorn is 52 feet above level. Two men are employed to attend it. Connected with this is a Fog Bell, weighing 1,100 pounds, and worked by machinery, that strikes every ten seconds, for five taps; then has an intermission of thirty-four seconds, and recommences the ten-second strike. This is kept constantly running during foggy weather.

In the small bay south of the Fort, have been two wrecks, the Chateau Palmer May lst, 1856, and the Gen. Cushing, Oct. 9th, 1858; both outward bound, and partially freighted.

Between Fort Point and (the celebrated political hobby) Lime Point, is the world-famed Golden Gate, or entrance to the Bay of San Francisco. This is one mile and seventeen yards wide. The tide here varies about seven feet.

From this interesting spot, and on our way to the city, we pass the Presidio. This is a military post that was established shortly after the arrival of the first missionaries, mainly for their protection; and was originally occupied by Spanish troops, and afterwards by Mexican, until March, 1847, when it was taken by the United States; at which time the whole force of the enemy was a single corporal. At this time also there were two old Spanish brass field pieces found here; and two more near the beach about where the end of Battery street, San Francisco, now is, and from which that street derived its name.

The original buildings were constructed in a quadranglular form; these having fallen into decay, but three remain, two of which at the present are used as store rooms. At the close of the war, this post was occupied by a company of dragoons, who were relieved by a company of the 3rd Artillery, under Capt. Keys, who kept it continuously for ten years. Its present garrison consists of two companies of the 6th Infantry, numbering about 180, officers and men.

Hutchings' California Magazine
June 1859

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