At a period geologically recent, the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Ranges of mountains inclosed a basin about four hundred and fifty miles in length by about forty in width, comprising the present valleys of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.
During the same period the region east of the Sierras, now embraced in the States of Nevada, and the Territories of Utah and Arizona, was an inland sea, connected with the Pacific by straits and inlets. The evaporation from this body of water affected materially the climate of the adjacent regions. Lowering, as it must have done, the general temperature, and increasing the humidity, it induced precipitation from the saturated winds of the Pacific, while from its own evaporation it added materially to the rainfall it thus invited. From these causes, the precipitation of that period, both as to volume and duration, must have been greatly in excess of the present, and vegetation must have been correspondingly more luxuriant. From the slopes of the mountain ranges the waters flowed southerly in a majestic stream, forming broad lakes as the basin widened, a river where the narrowing valley restricted its borders, until, passing throught the bay of San Francisco and the present valleys of Santa Clara and Pajaro, it found an outlet in Monterey Bay. In the era that measured theexistence of this ancient river, it had borne in its turbid waters the disintegrations of the regions it traversed, and in the ooze and slime of the lakes that intercepted its course and stilled its current, was the decaying mold of generations of forests that had flourished on its banks.
At a later geological period -- probably the Quarternary -- there was an upheaval of the southern part of this basin, its axis probably being near the present course of the Salinas River. With this rise came a depression in the bay of San Francisco. The drainage was now to the north. The Coast Range was broken through at the Golden Gate, and the waters of the great basin found there their outlet to the sea; while the former lakes, uplifted and drained, were transformed into fertile plains. During the same peiod, the sea that lay to the east of the Sierras was cut off from the Pacific. The evaporation of this now land-locked basin was in excess of the rainfall, and gradually these waters receded, until today Salt Lake is the remnant of that inter-ocean which once extended through thirty degrees of latitude, and from the Rocky Mountains to the Sierras. This, the recent history of these regions, the geological records upon every hand fully attest -- here by beds of water-worn pebbles, by strata of clay (always the deposit of quiet waters) that underlie the whole valley, by the trunks of trees that the drill of the well-borer discovers hundreds of feet beneath the surface, and by the vast deposit of vegetable mold that forms everywhere the surface soil of the valley; while to the east, mountains of marine shells and fossils, vast beds of salt, beach lines, upon the slopes of the mountains, attest the existence of the sea that left these proofs of its presence, and wrote with its fretful waves the story of its long companionship upon these rugged cliffs, and then shrank from them forever.
With the subsidence of this sea, there came that change in climate which now characterizes this coast. The vapors from the Pacific were now absorbed by the dry air of this region, and the precipitation which the sea had promoted, the desert now prevented. The classification of these seasons as wet and dry often misleads -- for while the latter is all that the term implies, the rainy season has as much of sunshine as of storm, as the records abundantly show. A brief epitome of these seasons and the attendant phenomena will be given.
Beginning with the month of October, the signs of a coming change are apparent. The winds, no longer constant and from one quarter, become variable both as to direction and force, or wholly cease. Sudden blasts raise miniature whirlwinds of dust and leaves, which troop over the fields, and the stillness of the night is broken by fitful gusts, and the sudden wail of the trees as the breath of the coming winter sweeps through them. These are the recognized precursors of the season's change, and are usually followed in the first ten days of October by an inch or more of rain; and this usually by weeks of the finest weather. The effect of these first rains in magical. The dust is washed from the foliage, and is laid in the roads and fields. The air has a fresh sparkle and life. The skies are a deeper azure, and the soft brown hills seem nearer and fairer than before. It is the Indian summer of the East, but instead of the soft lassitude of the dying year, here it comes with all the freshness and vigor of the new-born spring. If in this and the succeeding months there are further showers, the grass springs up on every hand, and the self-sown grain in all the fields. The hills change their sober russet for a lively green. Wild flowers appear in every sheltered nook. Hyacinths and crocuses bloom in the gardens, and the perfume of the violet is everywhere in the air.
In the latter part of November the rainy season is fully established. A coming storm is now hearlded by a strong, steady wind, blowing for a day or two from the southeast, usually followed by several days of rain, and these succeeded by days or weeks without a cloud -- and thus alternating between occasional storms and frequent sunshine, is the weather from October to April -- the rainy season of California. The amount of rain that falls, varies materially with the locality. In San José it is from fifteen to twenty inches, while in places not ten miles distant, twice that amount is recorded. During this period there are from thirty to forty days on which more or less rain falls; from fifty to seventy that are cloudy' the rest, bright and pleasant. These estimates will very with particular seasons; but taking the average of a series of years, it will be found that from October to April one-half the days are cloudless, and fully three-fourths such that any out-door vocation can be carried on without discomfort or inconvenience. Cyclones and windstorms are wholly unknown, and thunder is only heard at rare intervals, and then as a low rumble forty miles away in the mountains.
With the month of March, the rains are practically over, though showers are expected and hoped for in April. Between the 1st and 10th of May there usually falls from half to three-fourths of an inch of rian. Coming as this does in the hay harvest, it is neither beneficial nor welcome. By the 1st of July the surface moisture is taken up and dissipated, and growth dependent upon this ceases. The grasses have ripened their seed, and, self-cured and dry, are the nutritious food of cattle and sheep. The fields of grain are yellow and ripe, and wait but the reaper. Forest trees and shrubs have paused in their growth. This to the vegetable world is the season of rest. This is the winter of the Valley of Santa Clara -- winter, but strangely unlike winter elsewhere, for here man has interposed. Here, by art and by labor, he has reversed the processes of nature, and constrained the course of the seasons. In gardens bright with foliage and resplendent with flowers, there is spring in its freshness and beauty; while in orchards teeming with fruits, and vineyards purple with ripening grapes, summer and autumn vie for the supremacy. And so with changing beauty and ceaseless fruition pass the seasons of this favored clime.
The Californians' estimate of the climate of their State has been the theme of much facetious comment. In view of the fact that elsewhere, those who are able, spend half the year on the St. Lawrence or the coast of Maine, to escape the heat of summer, and the other half in Cuba, Florida, or on the shores of the Mediterranean, to avoid the rigors of winter; that, in fact, most of their lives are migrations in search of climate; -- the residents of this State may accept with equanimity the badinage of these birds of passage, and may well felicitate themselves upon those conditions that bring to their very door the summer to the Thousand Isles and the winter of the Antilles.
That this is not an exaggeration is easily shown. Thermometrical records, however accurately kept, are quite apt to mislead those who seek to deduce from these, practical results. There are many important conditions not expressed in these observations. It is well understood that from the dryness of the air, forty degrees below zero is more tolerable in Dakota than thirty degrees higher in the humid air of the Atlantic seaboard; and for the same reason, and almost in the same ration, as to heat. It would be but little consolation to a person to know that some thousands of miles away, the temperature from which he was suffering would be quite endurable. So as to averages, which usually form a conspicuous feature of these records. It is not from the averages, but from the extremes that men suffer and vegetation dies. Nor do even the extremes represent the effect -- their continuance is important. A plant often survives a severe frost, and then succumbs to a much lighter repetition, and a degree of heat which may be endured for a day, becomes intolerable when continued for several. In view of these well recognized facts, I propose to present the question of temperature as shown by effects, which are readily appreciated by all, rather than from compilations of figures thus liable to mislead.
The rains of October are usually followed by frosts sufficiently sharp in the lowlands of the valley to kill the more delicate plants. During the months of December, January, and February these frosts are more frequent and severe. Every variety of grapes, figs, olives -- in short all the semi-tropic plants -- remain unaffected by the frosts. Callas, fuschias, geraniums and heliotropes, when grown by the wall of a house, in the shade of an evergreen, or given the slightest covering, flourish and bloom through any winter, and in many seasons do so without any protection whatever. As a rule, however, where exposed, the tops of these plants are killed; the roots remain unaffected, and by the middle of April the new shoots are again in bloom. Every known variety of rose flourishes without the least protection, and not only do they retain their leaves, but there is not a day in the winter when blossoms, hardly inferior to those of June, cannot be gathered in the open grounds of any garden. The lemon verbena shrub here attains a height of from ten to twenty feet, with a trunk from two to ten inches in diameter. Bees increase their stores during the rainy season, and every clear day, humming birds and butterflies appear in the gardens. For personal comfort, fires are usually started in the morning, die down toward noon, and are rekindled for the evening. As little fire as can be kept burning, usually suffices for comfort. There are days, stormy, damp, or cold, when more fire is required. Such days are the exception, however, and the rule is as stated. Within the last twenty years, snow has fallen in San José on three occasions. In no instance was it over three inches in depth. It disappeared before nightfall of the day on which it fell, and its presence transformed the usually staid and orderly city into a snowballing carnival.
In the dry season, beginning with April, the mornings are clear, calm and not unpleasantly warm. About noon, a brisk breeze from the Bay blows down the valley. This, harsh as it sweeps in through the Golden Gate, is soft and mild here. It goes down hills are well adapted to fruits and vines. The summers of Gilroy are warmer and drier than in San José. The cool winds from the Bay are materially softened as they sweep down the valley, and the differences of temperature between the day and night are not so marked. The air is mild and balmy, and the nights agreeably cool and pleasant.
The watercourses within the county greatly diminish, when they do not wholly disappear, in the summer. Sinking as they approach the valley, they augment the subterranean resources which supply the artesian wells. These are found all over the valley. They are usually from sixty to one hundred feet in depth, though some find a larger and more permanent supply at a much greater depth. The water is raised by windmills into tanks, and is ample for household and gardening purposes. About Alviso, and near the Bay, hundreds of acres of strawberries and of vegetable gardens are irrigated from these wells, and the water rises to the surface with such force that the most massive appliances are required to restrain the flow.
Of the fruit product of this county, it is impossible to speak accurately -- difficult to speak instructively. The orchards in bearing are generally increasing in their yield, and will continue so to do for many years; while extensive areas are coming into bearing, and the planting of new orchards and vineyards is constantly going on. In fact, the system of summer culture, which renders irrigation unnecessary, makes all the arable land in the county available for fruit. In view of these facts, estimates would be but the merest of conjecture. One thing may be said -- that all the fruits of the temperate zone, and most of the semi-tropical fruits, are now grown in the greatest perfection, and in quantities which tax to the utmost the resources and labor attainable to gather and preserve them. Orange trees have been grown for many years in this county; in San José more for ornament than for fruit; generally seedlings, and with no care as to either selection or culture. In the vicinity of San José, considerable groves have been growing for twenty years, producing abundant crops of well flavored fruit. The citrus fairs held last year in San José and other places, showed the very extensive sections where these fruits were being successfully grown; and this, with the stimulus of a market, has induced the planting of orange trees throughout the warm belt in this county. That these trees will grow, and luxuriantly, and that they are not affected by the frost, is established; and that certain varieties will mature excellent fruit, seems more than probable. If, however, it shall be found wanting in the flavor of qualities of the oranges of Tahiti or Florida, it is because it does not have the long hot season -- the burning days and sweltering nights -- of those countries. I question whether it would be desirable to accept that climate, though with it we could secure this single production.
The great and increasing extent of the fruit production, the fact that over much of the State it is being prosecuted with energy, suggests the frequent inquiry, "Where is the future market for all this to be found?" This is the inquiry that at some stage of development confronts every form of industrial enterprise, whether the product of the soil or the result of manufacture. The subject is too extensive and too intricate to here receive but the briefest consideration. The fruit product of this State is the result of special climatic conditions existing within restricted limits. Unlike manufactures, this form of production cannot be extended by either art of enterprise. Upon the other hand, the consumers will be found wherever any industry can be maintained, or men can exist. If, then, fruit production shall increase in geometrical ratio, nature has fixed the limits, within which this progression must cease, while no such bounds exist to the range of consumption. Farther than this, experience and invention are constantly diminishing the cost of production, and thus enlarging the class of consumers. If wheat and wool, staples of the world, and everywhere grown, are rarely found in excess of profitable production, it may fairly be assumed that these special products of California, thus limited as to area, and restricted as to conditions, will be always a profitable industry. The question, however important, is at present but one of speculation, and time alone can give the full solution.
Dependent as this region is upon the regular rains of winter, the knowledge that these sometimes fail, makes the subject of rainfall one of much anxious consideration. There is a theory that the seasons move in cylcles of twelve years, passing by regular gradation from a maximum to a minimum rainfall in that period, and culminating in a season of floods at one extreme, and drought at the other. The observations of the last few years do not fully support this theory of a gradual transition, although records extending back to the year 1805 seem to indicate that the twelfth year is deficient in rain. Should these dry years recur in the future, the disastrous and destructive consequences of the past are not likely to follow. The industry of the State was then cattle-raising, and the country was stocked to its fullest capacity. With a drought, the short-lived natural grasses failed. The watercourses dried up, and as no provision was made for supplying either, the cattle perished by thousands. At present the land is more profitably utilized in other pursuits, and cattle are comparatively few, and for these, some provisions can be made. Trees and vines, though their product may be diminished, are not destroyed by a drought, however severe.
A further consideration--the possible effect of artificial conditions upon rain-fall--may be worth estimating. It has been often asserted that the cutting off of the forests of the Sierras and the Coast Range would diminish the rain-fall, and in other ways prove detrimental to the moisture supply. If this as a consequence of such denudation follows anywhere, it may be doubted whether it does here. In almost every instance the removal of the timber is followed by a dense growth of young trees, or of thicket, and the effect of this, either as inducing precipitation, or retaining moisture, must be fully equal to that of the larger, but scattering, trees thus replaced. Further than this, in the valley of San Joaquin, hundreds of square miles of prairie and plains are now, by irrigation, thoroughly saturated, and from waters that had their former evaporation surface in the area of a comparatively small lake. On the slopes of the Sierras the same causes are at work. Water stored in immense reservoirs is conducted in canals to thousands of acres of orchards and of vineyards. These causes, large at present, and constantly enlarging, cannot but produce some effect upon the rain-fall of this coast. Regions that before absorbed the moisture, now by their own evaporation contribute to it, and induce precipitation. If it be argued that these causes are inadequate to the results suggested, it may be replied that forest and prairie fires, the burning of cities, the firing of cannon, are known to be followed by copious rains. The meteorological conditions that accompany a saturated atmosphere are often very nearly in equilibrium, and very slight distrubing cause may determine for or against precipitation. The causes I have indicated, are neither transitory nor insignificant. They embrace areas equal in extent to States, and are affecting in a marked degree the temperature and climate of these extensive regions. If any consequences shall follow from these changes, every reason seems to indicate, they will be found in an increased rain-fall, and against the recurrence of drought.
The population of the county is about 45,000; its assessed valuation, $40,000,000. By the subdivision and sale of the larger tracts, population, improvement, and values are rapidly advancing.
In this description of the capabilities and climate of Santa Clara Valley, I have substantially described San José; for this is her environment, these are her resources, this the rich setting, of which the "Garden City" is the central gem. San José is located in the heart of the Valley of Santa Clara, fifty miles south of San Francisco, and eight from tide water at Alviso, and is ninety feet above the level of the sea. Its political existence began in the establishment by a party of Mexican soldiers, in November, 1777, of the Pueblo of San José de Guadeloupe; while in the same year the Franciscan Friars established in the same locality the Mission of Santa Clara. The growth of the place, as shown by the records, was slow, and its history uneventful until the Mexican war, when it became the theatre of some adventures connected with the occupation by the Americans of the country. With the gold discovery the quiet pueblo assumed a new life. The hosts of emigrants drawn hither from every part of the world could not be insensible to the advantages and attractions of this section, and population and improvement increased rapidly. In 1849 it was made the capital of the State, and the legislature of that year here convened. From that date there has been a steady and sustained increase in population, wealth, and improvement, and to-day San José is the fifth city in the State, and numbers a population of 20,000, with an assessed property valuation of $11,000,000.
The streets of the city are broad; the roadways a solid, smooth, and compacted bed of gravel and clay; the sidewalks wide and well paved. The business portions of the town are of brick, substantial and sightly. Its water supply is from a stream in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and is fine and abundant. The streets and squares are lightly by electricity. Gas is generally employed for interior illumination. A sewer of the most approved plan and durable material, and of capacity for a city of a million inhabitants, traverses the city at a depth of from twelve to twenty feet, and connects with tide water near Alviso.
The educational facilities of San José are of the highest order. There are five common school buildings conveniently located throughout the town. They are constructed in the most thorough manner as to security, convenience, and architectural beauty, and at a cost of from $12,000 to $20,000 each, and furnish all the accomodation required. The schools are open through the whole year, and are maintained in the very highest state of efficiency. Very many families from abroad make their residence here for the advantages afforded by these schools for the education of their children. The Normal School, maintained by the State, has an average pupilage of over three hundred. The edifice is an imposing structure, built of brick, and stands in the center of a tract of thirty acres, donated by the city to the State. The extensive grounds are to-day a garden of flowers. With a few years' growth for the trees, this plat will be a stately park of the future. The Convent of the Notre Dame, under the charge of the Sisters of that name, is located in the heart of the city. Its grounds are extensive, and maintained in exquisite order, and its buildings capacious. Here from two to three hundred scholars from every part of the coast are to be found, and the reputation of the school is second to none in the State. In Santa Clara a flousrishing school is conducted by the Jesuit Fathers. Pupils are here received without distinction as to creed. The thoroughness and practical efficiency of the methods here pursued is evidenced by the fact that among its graduates are to-day to be found leading men of the State in every walk of professional and political life. Less than two miles to the north of San José, and connected with it by pleasant drives and street cars, is the University of the Pacific, under the special patronage of the Methodist Church. Here, also, students are received without distinction as to creed. It has at present over three hundred students, and the attendance is steadily increasing. The thoroughness which has always characterized its management, and the liberality exhibited by members of this church, assures its position among the first of the educational institutions upon this coast; and the well-kept grounds, green hedges and groves, among which the buildings are placed, present a sylvan scene of singular attractiveness. Twelve miles to the north is the proposed site of the unversity established by Governor Stanford, in memory of his son. Here nature seems to have exhausted herself in embellishing what is yet to be crowned by art. The forethought of the founder has already secured the establishment and maintenance of this institution beyond any contingency, while his munificent endowment places it in resources in the first rank of educational institutions; and the executive ability and energy of its projector guarantee the speedy and thorough accomplishment of his plans. Alike as a memory, or a benefaction, the Stanford University is destined to stand first among the foremost on the scroll that bears the names of Yale, of Harvard, and of Dartmouth, and venerable universities of the Old World.
All the creeds of the world, Christian and pagan, are represented in San José. St. Joseph's Church, upon Market Street, is one of the most substantial and beautiful church edifices in the State. It is in charge of the Jesuit Fathers, who here exhibit all the administrative ability which Loyola impreesed upon his order, the fervid zeal which burned in Xavier, the "Apostle of the Indies." Among the larger of the religious societies are to be found the Episcoal, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Hebrew. These church edifices are upon the principal streets, are commodious within, and ornamental without. The societies are flourishing, their members ernest and active. Professing distinctive creeds, they yet exhibit no spirit of bigotry or intolerance. In financial enterprises they cheerfully assist each other. In every effort looking to the advancement of general morality, or the public good, all--pators and laymen--are found in full and earnest co-operation. Sunday is here observed as in most Eastern cities as a day of rest. Secular business is suspended, and a large proportion of the population attend some place of public worship. The excursions from abroad which often on this day visit the pleasure grounds of the vicinity, pass through the streets in orderly silence, constrained thereto, as much by public sentiment as by positive ordinance.
The roads of San José and vicinity are wide, well graded, and ballasted with gravel and rock, of which there is an inexhaustible supply in the immediate vicinity. Unaffected by frost or flood, they improve with use, and require but little attention to maintain them in the finest condition. To the visitor who drives at random over these roads, every turn brings a new suprise, reveals a new beauty. Now the road is through an avenue of stately trees; then comes a succession of gardens; and again it is the abandoned channel or a former stream, where giant and gnarled sycamores and old oaks shade the way, and then for miles, a bewildering succession of vineyards, orchards, and fruitful fields; while everywhere, half hidden in the orchards, nestling among the vines, embowered amid the roses, stately mansions and beautiful cottages bespeak alike the thrift and refinement of their occupants. When the stranger thus finds each day, and for months, a new avenue, with new beauties before and about him, he will give credence to the assertion that here are to be found more delightful drives than in any other city of the State, and will declare it fitly named the "Garden City."
Of the hundreds of miles of these drives, which lead in every direction, some are deserving more than this general mention. The Alameda, a broad and beautiful avenue, leading to Santa Clara, is four miles in length, as level as a floor, and shaded by trees planted by the Mission Fathers a hundred years ago. Bordered through its whole extent with beautiful residences, it puzzles the passer-by to know where San José ends and her sister city begins. Another notable drive is to Alum Rock, a distance of seven miles, over a road as perfect as art can make it, through a deep gorge, with a prattling stream, keeping company, to a natural park of four hundred acres owned by the city. Here in a sheltered nook, a comfortable hotel shaded by mighty oaks is kept, with mineral springs of every quality and every temperature, bubbling up in every direction. Scarce a day in the summer that a party is not found picnicking in this park, and making the hills ring with music and merriment. To the west, within a dozen miles, is the Almaden quicksilver mine, employing three hundred laborers, and supporting a population of a thousand; a place interesting as being the richest deposit of cinnabar on the continent, or perhaps in the world, and also for the thorough system and scrupulous neatness exhibited on every hand. Another drive is to the Guadaloupe, second only to the Almaden; another to Los Gatos, where all the zones and all the seasons seem to have combined to crown this favored spot with the choisest treasures of them all; another to Saratoga, with its soda spring, unsurpassed in the State, gushing from the hillside; to Lexington, last of this triad of mountain beauties; and everywhere--in the little valleys, garlanding the hill-sides, climbing to the very summit of the mountains--orchards, orange groves, and vineyards.
The drive into these hills is always delightful; but it is in the spring, when everything is in bloom, that it appears in all its glory. Then, as far as the eye can reach, hillside and plain are decked in all the splendors of the rainbow. Here the white blossoms of the prune sway in the breeze like drifting snow, while beside these, the valley is blushing with the dainty hues of the apricot, the peach, and apple, and the vineyards are upon every side in their delicate green. It is in fact one vast parterre of floral beauty--its coloring by acres, and stretching away for miles, until the distant hills frame in the gorgeous picture. In all these mountain villages are to be found hotels, cosy and pleasant, and as the guest sits in the evening upon the porches and sees the lamps of the distant city twinkling like fireflies below him, with the electric lights gleaming like planets above them, with the soft, dry air, that stirs but in sephyrs, he can but feel that this is indeed an earthly elysium. In the morning a striking sight often awaits the visitor. They sky is blue and cloudless as ever, but the valley has disappeared. A fog has crept in during the night and engulfed the plain, as though the ocean was asserting its old dominion. Upon every hand the hills that held the ancient sea in their long embrace, now clasp this fleeting phantom, as though in its shadowy image there were cherished memories of the past. Above it, like islands, rise hills and peaks. As still as fleecy wool sleeps this soft, white sea. But even while look and wonder, the sun assers his power, and the still lake swells in waves, and rolls in billows. Through rifts you catch glimpses of houses, of forests, and of fields, and then, you know not how--you see not where--the fleecy mantle is gone, and the valley, in sheen and sunshine, is again before you.
Eighteen miles east of San José, upon the summit of Mount Hamilton, is the Lick Observatory. The road by which it is reached is twenty-four miles in length, was built by the county at a cost of $75,000, and is as complete as money and skill could make it. It connects with the Alum Rock avenue, about four miles from San José, and from this point is carried up the western slope of the hill. As the road ascends, the valley comes into view, each turn of the road disclosing some new charm. Seven miles of this, and the road passes to the eastern side, and the valley is no longer in sight. But with this change comes a new attraction. You are now in the mountains, and deep gorges upon the one hand, and the steep hillside upon the other made the landscape; again, and the road is traversing valleys gorgeous with wild flowers, or rolling hills dotted with stately oaks. Ten miles of this, and Smith Creek is reached. Here in a charming nook of the mountain, half-circled by a sparking stream, a comfortable hotel is found. Near as the summit appears from this point, there is yet fifteen hundred feet of sheer ascent, and the road winds three times round the peak, and is seven miles long in ascending it. As the summit is approached, the valley unrolls before you like a vast panorama, and the picture that was left behind is again in view, until at last, at a height of 4,250 feet, you are at the observatory. From here, the view is grand and impressive. At your feet, dotted with villages, and rimmed in with a cordon of pretecting hills, sleeps the valley in all its lovelivness; and beside it the Bay of San Francisco, flecked with the sails of commerce. To the east, the snow-clad peaks of the Sierras bound the distant horizon, while south the valley stretches away till hidden by the misty hills. Upon the west are the forest slopes of the Sierras bound the distant horizon, while south the valley stretches away till hidden by the misty hills. Upon the west are the forest slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with lakes and reserviors that gleam in the sunlight like burnished silver; while upon the more distant horizon a lighter shade tells where sea and sky meet and mingle in the blue Pacific. North, if the day is clear, you are pointed to a dim shadow, scarce outlined on the distant sky, and as you strive to fix the wavering, doubtful image, you are told that this is Shasta, which four hundred miles distant and ten thousand feet high, is enthroned in undisputed majesty, over the great valley. As you note this horizon stretching away upon every hand, you can readily accept the statement of Professor Whitney, that from the summit of this mountain more of the earth's surface is visible than from any other known point upon the globe; and the blue sky and translucent atmosphere attest the assertion that there are her twice the number of nights that are favorable to observations that is anywhere else to be found.
Upon this height stands the observatory, which the founder decreed should have the most powerful glass and thorough equipment that skill and ingenuity could produce; and most thoroughly have those assigned to this duty executed their trust. If years have been employed for the erection of these buildings, it is because they are to remain for the centuries, and they are as massive and as durable as the rock of which they seem but a part. In the equipment, the scientific knowledge and mechanical ingenuity of the world were called into requisition, and this is the grand result. Nor are the appointments of this place, perfect and ample as they are, better adapted to its purposes than are the natural surroundings. Elsewhere, obeservatories are erected amid the busy marts of trade, and among the haunts of men. Here, the rugged mountain forbids all other companionship, and sterility and solitude keep sentinel watch at the portals of this temple of science. It is fitting that this be so, for what, to the watcher of the skies, are the aspirations of life, the ambitions of men? What to him are the boundaries of nations, or the measures of time? The field of his explorations is illimitable space, the unit of his line the vast orbit of the earth. The centuries of Egypt, hoary with age, are scarce seconds on his dial. The Pharoahs are to him but men of yesterday. He gauges the nebulous mist that enwraps Orion, that veils Andromeda, and proclaims the natal day of systems yet to be. He notes the changing hues and waning light of blazing stars, and declares, when rayless and dark, with retinues of dead worlds, they shall journey on in the awful stillness of eternal night. Well may he who deals with these, the problems of the skies, dwell alone and apart from other men.
In the central pier, which
is to support the great telescope, is the tomb of James Lick. Lonely
in his life, alone in his resting place; this seems, indeed, his fit mausoleum,
and the visitor reads, though it be unwritten, as his epitaph, the inscription
in England's great cathedral on the tomb of its architect:
'si monumnetum requiris, circumspice."
The return trip is much more agreeable than the ascent. As the carriage sweeps down the emountain road, with its many curves, the landscape again unfolds, with scenes and shades that come and go like the figures of a kaleidescope; and in three short hours the traveler is again in San José, with recollections of the mountain road, the marvelous prospect, the lofty mountains and the lonely tomb that can never be effaced.
The manufactures of San José, though as yet in their infancy, give promise of future importance. There are four fruit canneries, employing in the fruit season many hundred hands, mostly women and children; an extensive woolen mill, a silk factory, foundries, machine shops, planing mills, wineries, and other kindred industries. These are steadily enlarging and increasing, and give every indication of permanence and prosperity.
Much of the happiness of a community depends upon the social habits of its people. In San José, social gatherings and festivities, picnics and excursions, are more frequent than in most Eastern communities. The weather permits, and the disposition of the people encourages them; and those relaxations which in most places are the privilege of the few, are here the practice of the many. In the summer, many families resort to the hills, or to the shores of Monterey Bay. Here in cottages, readily hired, in tents, or booths, they remain for weeks, relieved of much of the formality, as well as the drudgery, or ordinary domestic life. Others, more adventureous, make up expeditions to the Sierras, Yosemite, or even Shasta. They take their own teams, and in capacious wagons store the bedding and supplies required for a month or more of nomadic life. Of the weather they take no heed, for that is assured. Wherever night overtakes them they camp, and remain or move on as inclination or fancy may prompt. From the farmhouses they replenish their larder and procure feed for their teams. And they return after weeks of this gypsy life, with bronzed cheeks, to resume, with renewed vigor, the duties of life, to live over their past wanderings, and to plan new expeditions for the future.
Among the advantages of San José, not the least is the facility with which places of importance or interest can be reached from it--San Francisco in two hours; Santa Cruz, a delightful watering-place on the Bay of Monterey, in an hour and a half; Del Monte, Monterey, and Pacific Grove in two hours and a half. With all these places the connection by rail is such that a person may reach them from San José after the business hours of one day, and be back before the resumption of business on the following day.
I have thus presented in general terms what I deem some of the principal advantages of this locality. To the interested reader, the question of expense is often of importance, and considerations of comfort, however apparent, must be subordinated to those of cost. The inquiries thus suggested I shall anticipate and endeavor to answer. This, it must be borne in mind, is not a newly settled State. Over a century ago, and while the region west of the Alleghanies was a trackless wilderness, there were here organized communities and flourishing settlements. To these settlers, as part of the policy of Spain and Mexico, had been granted, in tracts of leagues, the most desirable lands of the country. Since the acquisition of this territory by the Americans, successive immigrations have searched every nook for homes, and have appropriated all that has been thought available for settlement. The new comer can scarcely hope that anything very desirable has been overlooked by these explorers, and must expect to acquire by purchase from private owners. These are the approximate rates at which he will find lands held:--the willow lands at from $400 to $1,000 per acre, according to improvement; the adobe lands at from $75 to $125 per acre, the loamy and gravelly lands at from $50 to $100; hill land adapted to fruit at from $10 to $40, and grazing lands at from $5 to $10. Business lots in the city of San José, as elsewhere, vary according to location. Land within a mile of the center of the town, and suitable for manufactories, may be obtained at from $500 to $1,000 per acre. The unit of measurement by which the town is laid out is the Mexican vara; and a fifty vara lot, one hundred and thirty-seven feet and nine inches square, is the usual dimension for subdivision. A fifty vara lot is regarded as ample for ordinary residence purposes, while a half or a third is very frequently employed. The price of a fifty vara lot in a location desirable for residences is about $2,000; its subdivisions in the same ration. Well built, two-story houses, of from eight to ten rooms, cost from four to six thousand dollars; cottages, which are now very much used, with from five to seven rooms, from fifteen hundred to three thousand dollars. Comparison of price lists shows that the cost of food and household supplies is about the same as at the East. Meats and vegetables are cheaper. As to the latter, it may be added that their quality and price induces their very extensive use, and further, that the market season is here greatly prolonged. In localities to the north, the seasons are much earlier than in this valley, and reversing the usual course of the seasons, the zone of maturing fruits moves southward, and the markets of San José are supplied from the north a month or more in advance of the product of this valley.
In this paper I have endeavored to represent to the visitor the surroundings he will here find; to the settler the conditions with which he will here find; to the settler the conditions with which he will have to deal. I shall make no attempt to forecast even the near future; it is proclaiming itself. The tramp of a coming host is upon every hand; the tide of a human sea, impelled by forces that permit no ebb. It comes, and between the desert and the sea it finds the promised land--Egypt in its fertility; Sicily in its fruits and flowers; Italy in its beauty; America in its freedom, its enterprise, and its energy.