Banquet Piece, Pieter Claez

Friday, February 6, 2015

Mission Peak, 1904

Mission Peak, 1904

In the History of  Washington Township (1904), the Womens' Club of Washington Township wrote about Mission Peak.

The landmark that dominates the whole region, however, is Mission Peak, with its 
scarred front, the result of ancient and more recent landslides. It has been 
variously estimated to be from 2275 to 2900 feet high, and although the former 
estimate appears in several histories, the authority for it seems unknown. Whitney gives the height as 2566 feet, and Dr. Lorenzo Yates, a noted scientist, formerly 
resident of the township, measuring with a barometer made it 2750. He also found atthe base fossil elephants, mastodons, llamas, tigers, wolves, etc., and at the top rare land shells and fossils. The rounded point just south he computed to be about 300 feet higher than the peak, although from its position it is not so noticeable. There is a big fiat stone on the top of this point, and upon it is carved the 
initials of a name with a date. Ten years later, cut by the same hand, appears the same lettering, the date onlv changed. It is told that the man who fashioned this inscription had made a vow to return every ten years as long as he lived and repeat his work. The years have come and gone, but no later record has been added. Who wasthis stranger? Is he living, or has he passed over the great divide? 

Perhaps the denizens of this valley are so accustomed to the sight of Mission Peak that they fail to appreciate the dignity and individuality which it gives to the landscape. Whether the outlines, snow-capped may be, are sharp and distinct on a clear, frosty morning in winter, or overspread with the purple afterglow of a summer sunset; whether rising grim and rugged against black storm clouds, or emerging into sunlight from unwinding fogwreaths, the mountain has a majesty of its own. The rain torrents of winter have for ages beaten upon it, the scorching heat of summer suns have fallen upon it, but unmindful of the elements, of changes wrought by men, this grand old peak stands overlooking the entire vallev, a giant sentinel forever on guard. It is a singular fact that many living in the township, even some born and reared here, have never ascended this mountain. They have gone to Tamalpais, tramped to Diablo, and to other mountains farther off, ignorant of the vast and wonderful landscape to lie seen from their own. Standing on the top, when the day is clear, we can see far in the east the shining summits of the high Sierras to Pyramid Peak, and bevond the Yosemite the snow peaks of the Lyell group. Spread out between is the great plain of the San Joaquin, and the smaller valleys of San Ramon, Livermore and Svmol. The canon immediately in front drops down 2,000 feet into Rosedale, and on the other side are the serrated crags of the Calaveras. Far and faint in the south is the huge bulk of the Gabilans, while nearer is flat-topped Loma Prieta, and closer still the silver dome and clustered dwellings of Lick Observatory, with the higher top of Mount Hamilton behind. Due north rise the splendid double peaks of Monte Diablo, the giant of the Coast Range. Turning, the great valley, our own, stretching north and south and full of busy life, lies at our feet a variegated patchwork of orchards, gardens, farms, meadows, marshes and meandering streams. The Santa Cruz mountains, topped with their giant redwood forests, are in the southwest, and climbing over their foothills just where the narrow gauge railroad plunges into the mountains, is the beautiful village of Los Gatos. So near, that we look into the streets and see with a glass the trolley cars, which appear like toys as they speed back and forth from San Jose and Santa Clara. On the other side of the lower arm of the bay backed by the blue Palo Alto hills, and showing amidst magnificent groves of live oaks, are Palo Alto, Stanford University, Redwood City, Menlo Park and San Mateo. The trains running from Monterey to San Francisco and touching at these points are distinctly seen. Faint, yet plainly outlined away off in the northwest, is the superb solitary mass of Mt. St. Helena, and between it and San Francisco, the sleeping beautv. Mount Tamalpais. Between San Francisco on the far side, and Oakland and Alameda on this, dotted with specks of sails, numerous steamers, and ferry boats crossing and recrossing, are the shimmering waters of the great Bay of San Francisco, curving out to the Golden Gate. Here and there throughout the valley are the little towns not only of Washington tonwship, but also of Eden. The old padres have moldered into dust, gone are the teepes of the Indians, the adobes of the Spanish-Americans, and their herds of grazing horses and wild cattle. The stagecoaches of the pioneer days have given place to electric lines, and the numerous railroad trains that steam up and down the valley and out through the mountains trailing airy ribbons of smoke—
while scattered over the plain, nestling among the foothills, or built on natural terraces of the mountain sides, are pretty cottage homes and more pretentious country houses, where live an industrious and contented people live.

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