Toward the eastern end of Golden Gate Park in the “City by the Bay” (San Francisco), is a Japanese Tea Garden. You have to pay to get in, but on my birthday near the end of June, I was on vacation and was asked what I wanted to do for my birthday and I said I wanted to take some pictures. I suggested we go to the Tea Garden as I’d not been there for for some time.
It was at least as beautiful as I recalled – maybe more so. in spite of the grayness of the seemingly ever-present fog in San Francisco in the mornings. In some of the photos I shot, the wear and tear of the San Francisco weather on the paint on this building was quite obvious, but from a distance it was still quite beautiful.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I have since learned that this is the oldest Japanese Tea Garden in the United States. According to their web site, “Originally created as a “Japanese Village” exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, the site originally spanned about one acre and showcased a Japanese style garden. When the fair closed, Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara and superintendent John McLaren reached a gentleman’s agreement, allowing Mr. Hagiwara to create and maintain a permanent Japanese style garden as a gift for posterity. He became caretaker of the property, pouring all of his personal wealth, passion, and creative talents into creating a garden of utmost perfection. Mr. Hagiwara expanded the garden to its current size of approximately 5 acres where he and his family lived for many years until 1942 when they, along with approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans, were forced to evacuate their homes and move into internment camps. When the war was over, the Hagiwara family was not allowed to return to their home at the tea garden and in subsequent years, many Hagiwara family treasures were removed and new additions were made.
Today, the Japanese Tea Garden endures as one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco, featuring classic elements such as an arched drum bridge, pagodas, stone lanterns, stepping stone paths, native Japanese plants, serene koi ponds and a zen garden. Cherry blossom trees bloom throughout the garden in March and April.
I encourage you to visit if you are ever in the area. It truly is a peaceful, tranquil setting.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1866, Colonel Henry Carrington begas construction on Fort Phil Kearny, the most important army outpost guarding the Bozeman Trail.
In 1863, a Georgia-born frontiersman named John Bozeman blazed a wagon road that branched off from the Oregon Trail and headed northwest to the gold fields of western Montana. The trail passed through the traditional hunting grounds of the Sioux, and Chief Red Cloud attacked several wagon trains to try to stop the violation of Indian Territory. Despite the questionable legality of the Bozeman Trail, the U.S. government decided to keep it open and began building a series of protective army forts along the route.
Colonel Henry Carrington was assigned the task of designing and building the largest and most important of these outposts, Fort Phil Kearny. A talented strategist and designer, Carrington planned the fort with care. He selected a site in northern Wyoming that was near a source of water and commanded a view over a good section of the Bozeman Trail. He began building on this day in 1866, setting up a timbering operation and sawmill to supply the thousands of logs needed for construction.
By fall, Carrington had erected an imposing symbol of American military power. A tall wooden palisade surrounded a compound the size of three football fields. Inside the walls, Carrington built nearly 30 buildings, including everything from barracks and mess halls to a stage for the regimental band. Only the most massive and determined Indian attack would have been capable of taking Fort Phil Kearny.
Unfortunately, Carrington’s mighty fortress had one important flaw: the nearest stands of timber lay several miles away. To obtain the wood essential for heating and further construction, a detachment had to leave the confines of the fort every day. The Indians naturally began to prey on these “wood trains.” In December, a massive Indian ambush wiped out a force of 80 soldiers under the command of Captain William Fetterman.
Despite this weakness, Fort Phil Kearny was still a highly effective garrison. Nonetheless, the U.S. Army found it nearly impossible to halt completely the Indian attacks along the trail. In 1868, the government agreed to abandon all of the forts and close the trail in exchange for peace with the Indians. Immediately after the soldiers left, the Indians burned Carrington’s mighty fortress to the ground.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Pharaoh Pepi II (2246-2152 B.C.) had the longest reign in history—94 years. He became Egypt’s king when he was only 6 years old.