Posted by: Bonnie Phelps | January 30, 2018

Do you know this “Billboard”?

Such an interesting billboard along-side what looks to be a well-traveled road back in the days.  The rock looks very smooth and perhaps had different messages painted during the time of the use of that road.  This one says “BEST WHIPS HARNESS SHOP”. The boulder is big enough, it could perhaps still be in place.  Please see map and quest below from our Palomar Historian, Peter.

Who can give us a clue to the whereabouts?  Thank you!


In the attached image, is the old South Grade dropping down south from Nellie, and the photo site could be along the bottom stretch there:

01 map

From: Peter Brueggeman

Subject: is this c1890s photo at base of Palomar Mtn old South Grade?

Hello, I’m acquiring two old photos, one of Palomar Mtn South Grade in 1896, and the other possibly also of Palomar. Thus I’m asking if you recognize the landscape of the latter.

The two photos were taken by the young San Marcos photographer Percy Smith Cox who went up Palomar Mtn on a camping trip in 1896 and took several photos, with some photos famously of people travelling up the steep South Grade up Palomar. Cox had opened up a photography business in Escondido earlier in the 1890s, and then went on to Mexico City for his photography work/business. Another story there…

Anywho, do you recognize the landscape in the attached photo as being around the base of south grade on Palomar?

It could also be anywhere else in the general Escondido area….


……. Peter Brueggeman La Mesa, California, USA peterbman(at)


  1. Don’t think it’s South Grade – look at the mountains in the back, probably not Palomar Mountain either.

  2. It would be nice if you could sequence the shots, time wise, to show the progress up the mountain that day, for more clues. Also, better if you had the negatives, the format looks like the “postcard” dimentions of the Kodak roll film for bellows camera. Code numbers on negatives tells of which shot comes first and next – etc. The orthochromatic film did not record reds which came out black in print. Like peoples lips. I wonder if he dated and labeled the pix. on back or kept a log. The boulder may be off the presnt road tho. Good luck. I’ll keep an eye out.

  3. Hard to make out the writing: the pix could be improved a lot in PhotoShop re contrast and grey scale.. , the two geologic peak features with the valley between seem to be a relevant clue, The topographic map, would show that configuration, as well as possibly newer topo map and/or google satellite maps, I’d look for a ridge line of about 4000 feet and that valley between 2 higher plateaus, A shaded relief type map. whould be great or shade in a map w light pencil or charcoal – pretend sun is in west and casts shadows. Usually I only see the lines in the road when driving. 🙂

  4. In an unrelated question, for all of the years that we owned our cabin I wondered about the large circular cement pipes(?) sticking out on the side of the road. I always meant to ask you, Bonnie, what were they for?

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