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September 3, 1861: Los Altos

September 3, 2011

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, west of Los Altos; by dbaron, on Flickr

Camp 49

Today has been a very fine day, very clear. We took a ride of five or six miles over the hills west of camp, pretty rolling hills, covered with wild oats, and stocked with much better cattle than one sees in the southern country. We see everywhere here the evidence of American enterprise in the farming and stock. There is a thousand dollar Durham bull on this ranch.

western goldenrod

Euthamia occidentalis; by randomtruth, on Flickr

This whole valley abounds in the best of fruit: peaches, apples, pears, melons, etc. Peaches are very abundant and cheap. I saw a steam threshing machine at work in a field last week—it worked well, and easily threshes 1,500 bushels of barley in a day. A thousand bushels a day they call light work.

Formerly there was a lack of water here for stock and for irrigating. The large streams that run into the valley either sink or dwindle away to mere pools. So hundreds of artesian wells have been bored. Sometimes water is struck within a hundred feet, but many wells are three or four hundred feet deep. Many of these overflow, often with a large stream, but with the majority the water only rises to near the surface without overflowing. It is then pumped up by windmills, and hundreds of these may be seen in motion every afternoon when there is a strong breeze up the valley. Many of these are very ornamental, costing from three hundred to six hundred dollars, and impart a very peculiar feature to the landscape.

Specimens collected: Conyza canadensis; Cordylanthus pilosus subsp. pilosus; Euthamia occidentalis.

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