Sunday, May 17, 2009

26 Miles Across The Sea

On a clear day, we can see the outline of Santa Catalina Island from the hill behind our house. It sits 26 miles off shore, a rocky island of only 4,000 permanent residents. The first European to set foot there was Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542, four months after he'd first landed in San Diego. Almost 50 years later, Sebastian Vizcaino "rediscovered" the island and named it for the feast day of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. For 300 years after, Santa Catalina island was home to fishermen, smugglers and otter hunters.

The main town is still Avalon, pictured above in a tinted photograph made by the Detroit Publishing Company in 1903. It was eventually developed as a tourist destination after being purchased by the Wrigley family, of chewing gum fame. With its proximity to the burgeoning population of Southern California, tourists were never in short supply. The photograph below shows a horse drawn carriage above Avalon in 1909.

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