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San Diego Old Town History Comes Alive

On Saturday, January 25, 2020, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Old Town San Diego State Historic Park will be transformed into an 1847 encampment of fun-filled activities for the whole family. Bringing history alive as Old Town commemorates the 173rd anniversary of the Mormon Battalion’s arrival and historic contributions to San Diego. The Mormon Battalion, US Army of the West, Commemoration Day is presented in partnership with Old Town San Diego Historic State Parks.

The Mormon Battalion Commemoration event will offer hands-on authentic period activities and events that will educate and excite families as they make dolls, learn to quilt, make rope, and milk a pretend cow. There will be historic displays, storytelling, dancing and music to entertain throughout the day. The event and booths are free of charge, with ample parking at the CalTrans parking lot at Taylor St. & Sunset.

The commemoration opens with a parade where Mormon Battalion enactors will march around the park. Children are encouraged to come early dressed in period clothing and participate in the parade. Cannon and musket firing will commence at 2:00 PM.

Old Town Historic Park is located southeast of the Hwy 5 and 8 interchange and is bustling with novelty shops and restaurants. It is adjacent to both Trolley and Coaster stations making for a great family adventure.

The Mormon Battalion Historical Site located at 2510 Juan St, San Diego, only a few blocks from the park will be open for tours. Travel back in time to 1846 and accompany the men and women of the famous Mormon Battalion via a state-of-the-art, interactive, multi-media presentation as hanging portraits come alive. Participate in more hands-on activities and enjoy an interactive informational museum containing displays of Battalion-related artifacts, panning for gold, and a photograph station for your own personal souvenir. The Mormon Battalion Historic Site is a popular, family-oriented, interactive museum open daily from 9am to 9pm. Admission is free. Friendly hosts and hostesses dressed in 1840’s attire lead tours that are available in English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Special tour requests are welcome and can be easily arranged.

The Mormon Battalion arrived in San Diego on Jan 29th, 1847. They started their journey six months earlier and 2000 miles away on the plains of Iowa. They had fled with their families from Missouri to Illinois under an extermination order issued by then Governor Boggs. Persecutions continued, leading to their expulsion from Illinois. While traveling West to make a new home in the Rocky Mountains, stretched across the Iowa plains, huddled under wagons and in small encampments, the US Government requested that the Mormons assemble an army of 500 men to assist in the Mexican American War.

With encouragement from their leader, Brigham Young, the men enlisted to help provide money for their families to journey west. Many of them left with just the clothes on their backs and no food in order to leave the rest for their struggling families.

The Battalion was commissioned to blaze a wagon trail from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to San Diego. It was one of the longest marches in U.S. history and probably one of the most influential events to California history and U.S. western expansion. The contributions of the Mormon Battalion to California and especially to the little pueblo of San Diego are numerous. The Old Town Mormon Battalion Commemoration is a wonderful way to learn of their legacy of service.


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