really, I wanted to find my picture of the Julian cemetery but I couldn’t find it in flipping through my folders of photos. instead you get this sign that’s on the road between downtown Julian and Menghini & J.Jenkins on Wynola Road.
the cemetery sits atop a hill on the west edge of town. it overlooks the Julian Pie Company, as well as the fire house (put to use defending the town and surrounding area in October of 2007 as the Witch Fire burned through much of central San Diego County). the cemetery was established not long after the town; not surprisingly, the arduous trip west to the mountains of central San Diego county, and the hard life of a gold prospector beat many people and, as the Julian Historical Society puts it “For many pioneers, the toil of hard life ended on the hill above Julian.” for many years, however, the only access to the burial grounds was up the steep slope of the hill facing the main road through town. (here is where a photo would prove superlatively useful and illustrative. look here instead.) they’ve since built another road and parking lot, which access the cemetery some two-thirds of the way up the hill. when one notable resident died one winter, the burial had to be postponed until the ground thawed sufficiently to dig a space for her. there was still snow on the ground when they got her up the hill — something like eight men hauling the funeral sledge up the incline.
going back to an earlier Julian-related post about the sense of history of a place. I’ve uncovered some of the reason I feel so strongly that San Diego has less weight of history than anywhere else I’ve lived. although the state was established at nearly the same time as Wisconsin, that didn’t mean there was anything approaching population centers at the time. it was more a consequence of the Gold Rush, and less the need for governmental services to serve the population. Julian was settled in 1869 and San Diego wasn’t even chartered until 1886. one of the founders of Julian, Drue Bailey, is buried in the Julian cemetery. he arrived in the area at the age of 25 — he was only five years old when Wisconsin became a state, and six when California followed suit. beyond all of this, he died in the twentieth century (in 1921). if your headstone isn’t old enough to threaten toppling, isn’t so abused by the elements that you can barely read the inscription, then I have a hard time granting you any “weight of history.”
another reason I so enjoyed driving up to Julian is the sense of history the town possesses. even though California became a state immediately after Wisconsin (and was followed by Minnesota), and San Diego was incorporated the year the state was established, it always seemed to have a more limited sense of history. (I anticipate that at some point I’ll get into San Diego history, but today is for Julian.)
the unincorporated town is a California Historical Landmark, and the surrounding area is the Julian Historical district. it was established following the Civil War by soldiers who headed west to California. gold was discovered in the area by a former slave in 1869 and a minor gold rush began. the lode didn’t yield much, but during the period another settler brought some apple trees up into the mountains and discovered that the plants flourished. now Julian is well known for it’s apple pie. mmm, apple pie.
the town was home to some of the first settlers in San Diego County and, according to information from the 1880 census, the majority of blacks in the county lived in and around Julian. the first business to be owned and operated by blacks in the county was in Julian — the Robinson Hotel, owned by Albert and Margaret Tull Robinson. it’s now the Julian Gold Rush Hotel (pictured above). it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
the mountains, the sunshine, the sense of escape that comes with traveling an hour away from somewhere — all reasons I’d drive up to Julian while I was living in San Diego. I don’t have the same inkling to head an hour away now that I’m back in Wisconsin. even gas edging towards $5 in Southern California didn’t deter me from my Julian sojourns when I needed them.
but beyond all of that, perhaps the biggest reason I’d escape to Julian: it served as an excuse to visit the Menghini Winery. I don’t even know what drove me to stop there the first time, if it was apple pie or wine tasting or just getting out of San Diego. (I remember my second visit quite clearly, with one Miss RLD.)
the winery is located in a valley and, in the winter the wind howls something terrible around the converted barn that hosts tastings. there are resident cats and dogs, tables and chairs out the back and in the front for leisurely tasting. I went up often enough that the woman who usually ran the tastings (and whose name now escapes me) recognized me. on my last visit before I moved, it was mid-week at the end of apple season and I was the only there. they were getting ready to drain and bottle one of the aging tanks. she let me try some of the unfiltered white wine. it was a most peculiar taste, and something that, while I can’t quite describe, has certainly stayed with me.
yesterday I had a sudden and strong desire to be driving through the mountains on the way to/from Julian. whenever I needed to get away from San Diego for a while, I’d take to the hills. drive a loop that would take me up through Poway, and the fire-scorched land around Ramona, Santa Ysable and Wynola. sometimes I’d double back through Ramona, but more often I’d take the twisty turny mountainy road down through Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. the land to the east and south of Julian is devoted to parklands — Cuyamaca, Cleveland National Forest, and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park/Wilderness. on days like the one when I took this picture, the sky is an amazing gradient of blues, from the whispy white-blue near the horizon to an incredible azure above your head. it’s also a drive that requires your attention — switchbacks, narrow roads, blind curves. one of my favorite places on that drive is a short stretch through real (Californian) forest (with actual trees and low scrub brush, much more reminiscent of forests I am used to), where there are two curves that turn back on themselves and you drop your speed down to near nothing. take them a little on the speedy side and it’s a thrill.
Cuyamaca State Park association