The Valley of Dry Bones
In the latter part of the month of March, 1847, two companies of Col.
Stevenson's regiment who were about embarking for Santa Barbara, marched
from the Presidio where they had been garrisoned, into the then village
of Yerba Buena and the now famous city of San Francisco, and encamped for
the night in a little valley on the outskirts of the settlement. The camp
was pitched in regular order, and after the beating of the tattoo the command
turned into their tents to sleep. It was a lovely, star lit night, and
the poor fellows had little knowledge of what was to happen before monring.
About two o'clock, however, not only the windows but the very flood gates
of heaven were opened, the rain began to fall as it never fell before or
since, even in California, and Old Boreas blew a blast which seemed to
contain the force of all the winds from the four quarters of the globe.
The guards retreated, after getting wet to the skin, the rain began to
patter through the canvas, and finally the insecure fastenings of the tents
began to draw out from the moistened ground. Soon the tents themselves
began to fall, and by five o'clock but one was left standing. The poor
soldiers, drenched to the skin, crawled out, the camp was deserted, and
they fled in despair for shelter to an old ten pin alley that stood where
now is the corner of Kearny and Washington streets. In direct contradiction
to the facts, the valley was christened the "Valley of Dry Bones," and
by that name was known for a long time. The Valley of Dry Bones is now
the foot of Broadway, and is built up with houses. The hills around it,
which then were barren and tenantless, are now settled portions of our
city, and far beyond the valley are houses, wharves, and all the appearances
of a city. The magnificent bay upon which the occupants of the tents looked
and saw some half dozen vessels, lying in anchor, is now filled with the
representatives of a world's commerce, and the old valley itself, which
was then considered as valueless, is the foot of one of our principal streets.
Verily has a change come o'er the spirit of California's dream.
Source: Daily Alta California. 21 February 1851. 2.
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