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Monday, April 22, 2019

On a Mission to Photograph the Dam

Another stop I made at Mission Trails here in San Diego was to see the Old Mission Dam which is a registered historic landmark.

Duck, duck, coot!

When the population of San Diego de Alcala Mission (I wrote about the Mission last year) grew during the late 18th century, so did its demand for water. The Spanish colonists solved the water shortage problem by building what is likely the first major colonial irrigation-engineering project on the Pacific Coast. 

The dam collected water near the head of Mission Gorge on the San Diego River.  Although damaged by floods, earthquakes, and human activity, the dam's stonewall continues to hold water. 

The mission’s Native American converts, who were from the Kumeyaay Nation, built the aqueduct and dam structures. The mission community started work on the dam after the drought in 1803 and completed construction of the larger irrigation system by 1817. When the laborers finished, the dam was 220 feet long, 12 feet high, and 13 feet thick.  (information courtesy NPS)

The laborers used cobblestones, bricks, and cement for the dam wall, and they laid tiles on the bed of the long aqueduct to keep water from seeping into the sandy ground. The aqueduct, which ran from the dam to the mission, was two feet wide and five miles long.

While checking out the dam I noticed an overlook but couldn't see a way across the San Diego River to access it.  I poked around and followed the trailhead until I found a bridge crossing.

On the other side of the bridge I found myself on the Canyon Trail, which ended up intersecting with even more trails.  There is also a campground in the park, but unfortunately it is only open on weekends or you would have found me snuggled up there most likely.

Along the way I ended up with a little hiking buddy who wanted me to hold his hand and loved it when I showed him that he could throw rocks in the creek.

The hill for the overlook was easy to spot and up I went, where I found another little one having her lunch on the bench with her mother.

On the way back I cut through the trees and walked out onto that side of the dam, then took off my shoes and crossed the river in a shallow spot.  It's always more fun if you get a little dirty, right?

Next time I visit San Diego I'd love to stay the weekend there and walk the rest of those trails, who knows what friends I might make with a little more time to spare?

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