Monday, November 30, 2020

Desert View Tower

A few years ago, Willis’ groomer had suggested I visit the Desert View Tower. Photos of it looked interesting, but the fact that it was about 80 miles east of San Diego prevented me from rushing there. Finally, for a photo shoot I trekked out to this wild and wacky place that is literally in the middle of nowhere. Once you exit I-8, you travel down a rough little side road strewn with interesting decrepit structures, debris, and “art”:

Located in the In-Ko-Pah Mountains, the elevation is 3,000 feet here. The centerpiece of this little park is the stone tower, built between 1922-1928 by Bert Vaughn, a San Diego real estate developer who owned the town of Jacumba. Vaughn dedicated it to the highway/railroad builders who opened up the area, which previously took a month to travel between Yuma and San Diego’s beaches. The five-story/70' high Tower functions as a museum and an observation deck with a gift shop at the base. Unfortunately, there was an event at the tower the day I visited and I was unable to go inside. Looks like I’ll have to go back! During World War II, the tower served as a lookout post to ensure that Nazi forces were unable to enter the U.S. via Mexico.

Boulder Park is just steps away from the tower, and is the kind of thing that kids (and adults who still have a childlike yen for exploration) will adore. Imagine caves and rough stoney-paths, sprinkled with approximately 37 large carvings of animals and shapes that literally spring out from the huge boulders.

Unemployed engineer Merle T. Ratcliffe came to the area to recover from tuberculosis and ended up sculpting the quartz granite boulders for a dollar a day and a jug of wine over a two-year period during the Depression era of the 1930’s. The carvings and tower are registered as official California Historical Landmarks (#194 and #939.3).

This wacky place is DEFINITELY worth the journey! See more San Diego and environs photos at my main website.

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