01 September 2013

Santa Barbara Mission (with PLSS marker hunting)

Santa Barbara

Scanning the map (Santa Barbara 1995 7.5' quad from USGS) westward for more benchmarks, I came upon another mark on the map that I've come to know since stumbling over one of them on Sawmill Mountain, matching it up with a mark on the map, and then looking that up on the topographic symbols sheet the USGS offers. There, the map indicates a meander corner, part of the Public Land Survey System. Here, the map indicates a found corner a short way up Rattlesnake Canyon just feet from the trail. Or maybe it's a weak corner, it's rather hard to tell if it is bold or not. There is another a bit further off Jesusita, but it may not actually have that trail in the correct drainage. The Rattlesnake one was curious since I expect I'd have tripped over the marker already if a marker was really along Rattlesnake Trail, but then I figured out exactly where it is. If it was not actually on the trail, it would certainly have an easily spotted trail to it just as the one on Sawmill does. Just past the creek crossing where the monster greets travelers. This is a spot where heavy use trails cut switchbacks. Among these trails is one that does not cut the switchbacks, but goes up around some rocks and is perfectly placed to be heading to a marker. The thought that this might be waiting in a place so familiar less than a mile up the trail nagged at me, so I decided to go up and see if it was there. Also, Craig Carey just posted another of the PLSS markers on his facebook page not much more than a week ago to remind me how cool they can be.

sandstone monster along Rattlesnake Trail
What's it got in its mouth today? The teeth and pupil stones have been removed and a whole diorama of Buddhas and baskets has been added.


The marker I'm looking for may not be like the one on Sawmill. The initial point for the surveys that cover this area was established west of San Bernardino Peak in 1852 (then again in 1892 and 1907), but the caps were still fairly new when the set of 1905 markers were set in the local Forest Reserve. Getting past the monster, I turned up the hill to look for the marker. These markers generally have witness objects as well. Posts set in the ground near them and bearing trees. The bright yellow metal signs tacked onto trees are indicators of bearing trees. I've seen more of these, but they have been dated (to my recollection) in the 1950s and 1970s. I looked for witness objects as well.

something skinned and the skin left to hang in the chaparral
A bit of fur, skin attached but nothing else, found hanging in the chaparral. An odd find.

I searched up and down the hill looking through the not too dense chaparral. I found a bit of pelt hanging on a branch and wondered who had put it there and why. I wandered around the rock, but paths just wander around the rock. I saw nothing. I perched up on a rock for a few minutes just above the trail wondering if maybe someone had pushed through a road this far. The maps show one getting close, but it turns and climbs instead of crossing the creek. A big group of kids came by on their way to Tin Can being lectured on the evils of going off trail. Hi, kids! I thought about where else I could be evil while looking for this marker, then got down and started down a track that drops back to the creek instead of climbing with the trail. I noticed it marked on Google maps along with the use trail up to the catway in Mission Canyon. It looked big enough for almost 50 feet, then went along a slope without any cut and down into downed trees and all sorts of small branches crossing over the route. Not a lot of people go that way and I quickly tired of it. Google, or more likely some user supplying content, is getting really enthusiastic about marking every little thing that might be a trail. The heat was already getting to me, so I decided not to head up to Gibraltar and instead have a glance at the mission.

Santa Barbara Mission from the rose garden
They tell us that we are special for having two towers. This is because Saint Barbara carries her own around to add to the usual tower.

I got to the mission shortly before Sunday mass let out and parking was a slight challenge. I meandered the rose garden a little, then wandered down the couple blocks to the marker I know about. The garden is looking spectacular as always and plenty of people were photographing it or sitting and enjoying it.

yellow rose with pink tips
Just one of the many exquisite roses in the rose garden across from the Santa Barbara Mission.

Santa Barbara Mission Rose Garden
Roses are thick today.

This marker is also on the USGS map but is marked with a red box with a dot, a mark for other land survey systems than PLSS. It certainly looks like one. For a bit of fun, the sidewalks around it are not only stamped with the contractor's mark, but dated. The dog on the corner was dressed up for Labor Day. I guess they've been dressing it long enough to even know how to do that.

boundary marker for SB Forest Reserve
Forest Reserve post on the corner of Mission and Garden. It seems to be stamped as a witness corner for section 15, but is on the edge of the very small section 16. There were a lot of markers placed between the one on Sawmill (21) and this one.

contractor's mark on the old sidewalk
Some 95 and 85 year old sidewalk laid by C.C. Pike on either side of the 108 year old boundary post.

bronze dog dress for Labor Day
A Santa Barbara icon. This dog gets dressed up for all the holidays.

After, I poked around the mission grounds a little. In front of it are a Moorish fountain and lavanderia for clothes washing. Across the street, a short section of the aqueduct that brought water to the mission remains. The line of the aqueduct separates the Rose Garden from more mission grounds that have been left unwatered but have more artifacts.

the long lavanderia or washing basin, as the sign says
The sign says, "This lavanderia or washing basin was completed in 1818. It served as the original mission laundry. The Indians soaped clothes on the sloped sides and rinsed them in the center pool." It leaves it up to the reader to figure out why specifically the native people were doing the work.

a small remaining section of aqueduct
A short section of aqueduct remaining. A sign on it says it was "built about 1806 by Indians under supervision of the padres". The sign itself has some years on it as it is dated 1935 and leaves it to the reader to figure out "under supervision".

aqueduct building materials
Building materials were whatever was at hand, large and small sandstone rocks and bits of broken bricks. The mortar doesn't look historical.

I poked around the unwatered areas which have a few paths crossing it. There are signs identifying the artifacts here, too. The most notable is the jail in a far corner. For some reason, it is built like a spring house. I have this feeling they told us why a jail needs a spot for water to flow in and out again, like cleaning out waste, when we toured here as children. Now I just think it needs a stream of water, maybe from an aqueduct, to actually be a spring house.

the old jail
The sign says jail. A hole to allow water to flow out is to the left of the doorway. Another to let it flow in is in the middle of the opposite wall.

After wandering the rather ignored areas of the mission grounds, I crossed back over to the mission itself and gave the back door to the cemetery a push. It is still nailed shut so didn't give any. I wandered back toward the fountains, then to a short path with the stations of the cross that is next to the parking lot.

front face of SB Mission
Built, rebuilt, repaired a few times. The sign to the left of the door details these things. Today, the bells still ring out the hour. The chalk drawing remain on the paving from I Madonnari at the end of May.

the Moorish fountain with a few lily pads
The Moorish fountain, built in 1808 and used, according to another old sign, as a laundry in spite of what the nearby sign on the lavanderia says.

lily pads in the fountain
The lilies are kept fairly sparse in the fountain, as are the coins.




©2013 Valerie Norton
Posted 9 September 2013

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