Group to dedicate, restore monument to mark vivid history of La Playa Trail
by KAREN SCANLON and CHARLES BEST, Special to the Beacon
Published - 04/21/10 - 02:40 PM | 4249 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sen. Leroy Wright officiates the 1934 dedication of the original Roseville monument that was located at Rosecrans and Byron streets. The marker was destroyed when Rosecrans was widened some 60 years ago. A new monument is being raised  to re-mark the site of Roseville on the La Playa Trail, which runs from Ballast Point along Rosecrans Street to the Presidio and Mission San Diego. COURTESY PHOTO BY SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY
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If you live, work or shop along Rosecrans Street, you traverse the oldest commercial trail in the Western United States. On Thursday, April 29, members of the La Playa Trail Association will dedicate a new stone monument to commemorate the community of Roseville, which was situated on this well-worn, historic path.

The monument will be placed at Union Bank near the corner of Rosecrans Street and Avenida de Portugual. Public ceremonies will begin at 10:15 a.m., with the dedication set to take place at 10:30 a.m.

Klonie Kunzel, co-chair of the La Playa Trail Association (LPTA), has worked closely with Point Loma architect Richard J. Lareau in the design of the new monument. It is a near replica of an original marker dedicated in 1934 at Rosecrans and Bryon streets. That one was destroyed when Rosecrans was widened in the 1950s.

Today’s monument is primarily funded by a generous grant from the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation. Assistance — both financial and in-kind — has also been provided by Point Loma Foundation, District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, Point Loma Association and others who will be recognized during the event.

John Rickards of National City Foundry cast the brass “face” of the stone marker that was built by general contractor Ed Brasseur of Brasseur Construction.

History tells us that, in 1932, soon after the founding of San Diego Historical Society and construction of the Serra Museum on Presidio Hill, historians John and Winifred Davidson and architect Richard Requa began a drive to define and mark the La Playa Trail. They identified it as running from the landing spot of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and the Spanish Fort Guijarros on Ballast Point to the old Mission San Diego.

Six concrete markers decorated with a bas-relief of an Indian vaquero and a Mexican carreta (or ox cart) were placed at significant points along the trail.

The first monument was raised in the settlement of Roseville. It was followed in succession by identical markers at Lytton and Rosecrans streets across from then-Naval Training Center and a monument to Jedediah Smith, located at the base of Presidio Hill. Two others honored Cabrillo (adjacent to the naval fuel depot at Fort Rosecrans) and at Mission San Diego. The last monument stands near the intersection of Midway Drive and Rosecrans Street.

Early in 2005, Point Loma residents Joe Mannino, Charles Best, Klonie Kunzel, Pat Baker and Mary Ellen Cortellini formed the La Playa Trail Association to carry on the work of the earlier trailblazers. Civic-minded members refurbished and rededicated the Midway marker in July of that year.

Studies have identified some 75 registered national, state and city historic landmarks along the route of La Playa Trail and more than 400 sites of historic interest — notably, Dutch Flats, Ryan Field (where Charles Lindbergh began his 1927 flight to Paris), the sites of Portuguese and Chinese fishing colonies, what became Fort Rosecrans dating from the 1870s, and of the America’s Cup victory by San Diego Yacht Club.

Patti Adams, an LPTA past chairman and Realtor, said, “My impetus to become involved in this organization was getting that Midway marker looking better. But we’ve got a lot of our greatest generation of folks who are contributing — Deutilde Varley (who, sadly, recently passed away), Edwina Goddard with a terrific memory of 1930s-’40s-’50s Point Loma, and Virginia Correia of the Portuguese populace whose ‘roots’ reach deep into our community’s soil.”

At the upcoming Roseville marker dedication, third- and fourth-grade students from Cabrillo Elementary School will re-enact a presence — as students did in 1934 — among guests and dignitaries at this historic event. A time capsule will be placed in the concrete base, which will hold statements of our community today.

So, while you’re sipping at a local coffee house, be reminded of those who precede you — Kumeyaay Indians, Spanish priests and soldiers, fur trappers, Boston-China traders, Portuguese whalers and fishermen, Indian vaqueros, American cowboys, railway men, the U.S. Cavalry, Mexican rancheros, English explorers, Chinese fishermen and a myriad of adventurers — who have left record here.

Mark the date: Thursday, April 29. See you on the trail!

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