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December 30, 1860: Mission San Gabriel

December 30, 2010

the sixth sin

Mission San Gabriel interior; by 1600 Squirrels, on Flickr

Camp 4
[This] morning I rode over to the Mission, about three miles from camp, with Guirado, who went to Mass. The old church and a few houses still stand—the church bells are by far the sweetest I have heard in California—six are left in the old tower, two are gone. Extensive ruins of adobe buildings, now the abode of myriads of ground squirrels, told how large the town once had been. Long lines of tuna, or prickly-pear hedges, now all ruined, told of ancient enclosures and vineyards, but now a waste. Immense labor had once wrought this lovely valley into a veritable paradise, but now it is desolate again.
anchor lady

Mission garden; by 1600 Squirrels, on Flickr

A few tall date palm trees are there, but the fruit does not ripen. We went into a garden owned by the priests, still enclosed. It was still kept up, the finest orange trees were laden with golden fruit, so that the trees were propped up to keep them from breaking under the load. They were most beautiful —the graceful form of the tree, the intense dark green of the foliage contrasting with the rich golden fruit, produced a beautiful effect. We bought some oranges, also lemons and limes. Olives abound—many of the trees are large—and English walnuts grow as fine as in Europe. Water was brought for irrigating from a neighboring stream in a long ditch from the San Gabriel River, over twenty miles distant from the remotest part. Such was San Gabriel Mission—now it is a ruin and cut up into ranches.

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