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History & Mystery in
San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano Historical Society
Los Rios Street
History Mystery

"Talk to the Old Timers, talk to The Old Families, talk with those of us who remember vividly the legends we were so lovingly told. They were not told to amuse or scare the enthralled listeners. These stories bless us, and grace our lives. These stories are our culture, our soul, our being."

- Mrs. Rita Avila (Member of the Don Juan Avila Family, who settled in San Juan Capistrano in 1833)



History of San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano, the Birthplace of Orange County, was founded more than two hundred years ago. Today it is a monument to California' multi-cultural history, embracing its Native American, Spanish, Mexican and European heritage.

Ortega Hwy and El Camino Real
(949) 234-1300

Los Rios District
Oldest Neighborhood in California. The Los Rios Historic District is an example of neighborhood life at the turn of the century and before, and is continuing as the oldest neighborhood in California.

The Depot
Completed October 8, 1894 and was written that: "Old San Juan will soon blossom with the finest depot on the Santa Fe system.
We invite the architecturalistic to come view this unique building illustrated with arches, a dome 40 feet high with a mission bell, dainty ticket office and quaint old fashion fireplace that will capture the tenderfoot as he breathes the balmy sea air."

The statement was by columnist Dr. Alexander Hamilton Rowan on April 14, 1894 in the Santa Ana Standard, a weekly paper.

Blas Aguilar Adobe
Information on the historical site of Blas Aguilar Adobe

Dona Polonia Montanez
Her commitment to the children, her community, and the teachings of the mission make her a jewel in a city rich in California history.

The Legend of Old Motorcycle Hill
On the southern edge of town, stood an imposing hill that was often referred to as "Gibraltar of the Pacific Coast." This rugged terrain was conquered on March 18, 1917 by a fearless group of motorcycle enthusiasts who were adventurous enough to try. Read more...

"Plants and People"
Information on native plants and some of the historic people of San Juan Capistrano as contributed by Mission San Juan Capistrano.

"Oldest Neighborhood in California, Los Rios"
It was not that long ago that the streets were dirt. The large trees at the lot corners were used to denote property boundaries, and many go as far back as the beginning of European settlement in the area. There are about 40 homes, which vary in age from 50 to 204 years old. Read more...

Story of the Swallows
The Story of San Juan Capistrano's Mission Swallows - their annual flight from Goya, Argentina to San Juan Capistrano. .

The Swallows of Goya
Story of the Swallows of Goya as told by Enrique Bermudez Correspondent in Argentina Pedro Iribarren

The Trysting Tree
Learn the history of the "Trysting Tree", picked as the most majestic California Sycamore by the American Forests Champion Tree Project.

Abraham Lincoln
President Lincoln accompanied by the 116th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment Company "C" of the Union Army, arrives in San Juan Capistrano.

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Mystery of San Juan Capistrano

Ghosts Return to Capistrano
Real or imagined, San Juan Capistrano's ghost stories add a special flavor to its folklore. They have provided mystery and suspense for two centuries and whether you believe in them or not, they are a source of continuing entertainment.

Cross Creek Cowboys
The Cross Creek Cowboys are an 1880s re-enactment group who authentically depict old west events, including shootouts, saloon gun battles, jail breaks, bank robberies, and train robberies.

San Juan's First Felon Was Railroaded
The story of one young woman who defied the powerful Santa Fe Railroad in 1889.

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Mission San Juan Capistrano
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