Southern California’s Julian Pioneer Museum

San Diego, California, is renown for its superb climate, exquisite beaches and abundant
tourist attractions. And, as would be expected, the city and nearby scenic surroundings are
the attention-getters; however, travelers do themselves a disservice if they do not venture
beyond the well-known. There are Indian reservations, lakes, warm springs and historic
sights to be explored on the outskirts of the city. One small, quaint town that deserves a
visit is the mountain community of Julian, about an hour’s drive northeast of San Diego,
that is sandwiched between the Cleveland National Forest and the Volcan Mountains. This
once-bustling mining district drew crowds in such numbers with the discovery of gold in
1870 that it was considered for the San Diego County seat. In the downtown historic
district of Julian, on the corner of 10th and Washington, the Julian Pioneer Museum
features many exhibits from the area’s gold-mining past. Originally built as a brewery,
later transformed into a blacksmith shop, the small building was eventually restored by the
Julian Woman’s Club with the help of various county and civic organizations and finally
opened to the public in 1952. A second restoration returned the building to its original
configuration. Today, visitors can explore about 2,000 square feet of space dedicated to
turn-of-the-century memorabilia. Clothing, household items, furniture, tools, Indian
artifacts, pictorial records and the largest collection of fine lace in the state are on
display. Working closely with pioneer families, the Woman’s Club continues to manage the
museum; Mable Carlson is curator. Admission is free, but the museum depends upon the
contributions of visitors. Julian also offers a variety of eating places, numerous antique
stores, horse and buggy rides, seasonal melodramas and several festivals. RVers can stay
close-by at the William Heise County Park, where 900 acres of forests and meadows provide hiking and horseback-riding trails. For more information on the museum, call (760)
765-0227; for directions from San Diego and Los Angeles, call the Julian Chamber of
Commerce at (760) 765-1857.


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