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Sweeney Ridge

Stashed in: History, History!, California

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Portola Expedition monument and Nike missile site

One of the most bizarro things about the San Francisco Bay is that it was not discovered by sea, but rather on foot. Although the Spanish and probably the British had explored the far smaller Monterey Bay and really tiny Drake's Bay to the south and north, they somehow persistently sailed right past the enormous San Francisco Bay! The way I have heard it explained is that from the path of a sailing ship in the Pacific, tiny Alcatraz Island somehow appears to block the Golden Gate entirely, like a cork in a wine bottle.

San Francisco Bay was finally discovered by Europeans in 1769 when Gaspar de Portola -- with a priest, 63 soldiers, and 100 mules -- got lost and overshot while trying to walk from San Diego to Monterey. Climbing the 1200 foot summit of Sweeney Ridge, they got their first good look at San Francisco Bay on October 31. This is something like what they saw:


And on the other side of the ridge, the Pacific Ocean where the town of Pacifica now lies:


Worth a trip for fairly fit history buffs!

That is fascinating, Joyce. Thank you for sharing!!

Oh also wanted to mention that even into midsummer there was a tremendous variety of wildflowers here from the Skyline College side.

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