Belmont Park

History courtesy of Belmont Park

In the early 1900’s, a wealthy sugar magnate by the name of John D. Spreckels was hard at work driving the development of San Diego. A main focus of his development plan was the up and coming Mission Beach. In 1925, in an effort to stimulate real estate sales and to promote his electric railway, Mr. Spreckels built the Mission Beach Amusement Center, now known as Belmont Park. One of the amusement center’s star attractions was the Giant Dipper roller coaster. The 2,600 foot long coaster was created by the noted design team of Prior and Church and was built in less than 2 months by local suppliers and a crew of between 100-150 workers. The original cost to build the coaster was $150,000, including the two, 18 passenger trains.

Along with the coaster, the Natatorium, which later became known as The Plunge swimming pool, was constructed as a centerpiece of the park. The 60’ by 175’ pool was, at the time, the largest salt-water pool in the world holding 400,000 gallons of water. The building encapsulating the Natatorium was styled after the Spanish Renaissance style buildings that were erected in San Diego’s Balboa Park between 1915 and 1916 (in celebration of the opening of the Panama Canal at the Panama-California Exposition).

Follow the link above to learn more about the fascinating history of Belmont Park.

Fun Fact: The designers of the Giant Dipper also built a Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz amusement park. It took 47 days to build, and opened in 1924. Both wooden coasters have been named a National Historic Landmark. — David P.

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Where the Sun Spends the Winter

My hometown … El Centro, California … county seat of Imperial County … incorporated in 1907 when local residents voted to secede from San Diego … and the last county to be formed in California.  My family came here from Hungary in 1903 to farm a 160-acre homestead in the northeastern sector.

The bulk of domestic winter produce is harvested in the Imperial Valley. El Centro is the center of a desert wasteland. Its lifeblood is water from the Colorado River which flooded in 1905 thus forming the Salton Sea — California’s largest inland body of water.

The Salton Sea is an important stopover for millions of migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway. The New River — one of North America’s most polluted waterways — flows across the border from Mexico into the sea. Every known pathogen, virus and bacteria has been detected in the New River. It’s an environmental catastrophe.

The city’s official slogan is … Where the Sun Spends the Winter. When the U.S. Navy Blue Angels were looking for a permanent home to conduct winter training the flight leader said, “Let’s go to El Centro”. They’ve been here ever since.

The Imperial Valley– though it is located in California — is part of the Greater Colorado desert.

Copyright © In Pics and Words

John Denver — In Memory

In Pics and Words remembers John Denver on the anniversary of his untimely death. Video first posted on our YouTube channel.

October 12, 1997 … the headline read:


Denver loved to fly, and was actively involved in NASA’s “Citizen in Space” program.

In 1985, Denver passed NASA’s rigorous physical exam and was in line for a space flight, a finalist for the first citizen’s trip on the Space Shuttle in 1986, but he was not chosen. After the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster with teacher Christa McAuliffe aboard, Denver dedicated his song “Flying for Me” to all astronauts, and he continued to support NASA. [Wikipedia]

I was a fan of John Denver, and still enjoy listening to his music. I wrote a poem that was published as a memorial to his life.

Golden Boy

His songs are like the whisper
of a gentle breeze
and the laughter of a playful child.

Music that speaks to our inner soul
and warms our heart
like the sunshine from above.

“Sweet surrender,” said he,
“If life is worth living,
I don’t need to see the end.”

The “golden boy” has died.

From mountain high
to country road …

The laughing child cried.

Copyright © In Pics and Words