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Oasis in the Desert for Stagecoach Riders, Civil War Soldiers 

March 13, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Can’t live without your cell phone? What about your car? Imagine then riding a stagecoach out on the western frontier 150 years ago. While you can’t actually step back in time, you can get an idea of what life was like back then at Vallecito Days, a free weekend festival March 16 and 17 at Vallecito County Park.

The seventh annual event highlights the role the Vallecito Stage Station played as a stop for the San Antonio-San Diego Mail and the Butterfield Overland Stage Service. Thousands of travelers passed through what is now Vallecito County Park to begin new lives out west. During the Civil War, Union volunteers marched east across the desert to fight invading Confederates in Arizona and New Mexico. They all sought much needed respite at the stage station before moving on.

“If you love history or want to teach your children about life on the frontier, come on out,” said County Parks and Recreation Director Brian Albright. “Volunteers in period attire will demonstrate how to throw a tomahawk, archery, flint and steel fire making, soap-making and how to cook on an open hearth.”

The infantry will come marching in after a 32-mile trek and be dressed in authentic garb down to their shoes. Mountain men such as trappers and hunters will set up camp as they did in the mid-1800’s. Horseback riders from the Ramona Trails Association and the Backcountry Horsemen of California will also don period costumes to re-enact the delivery of Overland Mail to the stage station. Spinners and weavers will give demonstrations and a surveyor will show how the people of that time ‘mapped the west.’ Visitors can also take tours of the stage station. If you’d like to make a day of it, bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the sunshine. Food is not being sold at the park.

The events for Vallecito Days run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. The park is located south of Shelter Valley at 37349 County Route S-2 (Mile Marker 34-35) Vallecito Valley, CA. 92036. For more on the park and how to get there, see these directions. For a schedule of events, visit the Parks and Recreation website or call (760) 765-1188.

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