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Memories of Vallecito

Stacy Vellas, a retired school teacher and current Imperial Valley Historian, writes on September 6, 2000:

"California History was part of the curriculum in my 4th grade class. I wrote nine units on How to Teach Imperial Valley History and it was published with other units about Imperial Valley.

I took kids on mini field trips 3 or 4 at a time here in the valley in different parts of the valley after they did research of the area. One of the places we went was the Vallecito Stage Station. A man, Rick Mealey of Seeley had written a poem.

I had my kids sit down and close their eyes and I read them the poem Rick had written so they would get the feeling of the place in history.

Then we all went out to the cemetery and saw the three graves. Later I researched and found the girl in the middle grave was Eileen O'Connell. That was exciting! I copied the poem, typed it up and I took a copy up there for them to put in the glass case. I took slides every time I took kids out and let them take the slide projector home and show their family. I always took them to the historical cemeteries that is why I have so many slides."

The poem by Rick Mealy:


On the west side of the valley
Just beneath the Laguna Mountain rim
Stands the old Vallecito Stage Station
Restored from a past that's growing dim.

There's a sign out on the highway
Asking travelers to stop and see.
And I usually just drove on by
For it was of little interest to me.

But, then, one evening I was getting tired
And just shortly after dark
I pulled up in there for breath of fresh air
And to stretch my legs in the park.

Now, there was some people
In their campers, motor homes and tents.
So, off to the east of the station
On my little stroll, I went.

The night was almost bright as day
With a full moon on the rise.
Quiet to the ear and the air so clear
You could count every star in the skies.

I found myself by a little graveyard
Only three graves could I see.
Just three mounds of stone on that hill all alone
It was all such a mystery to me.

And it was just then that I heard it
A faintly familiar sound.
Of lug-chuck chains clanking and leather harnesses creaking
And horses hooves upon the ground.

As I strained my eyes in the moonlight
Through the mesquite and the brushy sage
I saw a six-horse team coming up the hill
Pulling a Concord Stage.

The driver and the shotgun guard
Sat stately on the box.
And sparks flew from the horses hooves
From their shoes as they struck the rocks.

They roared up to the station
As I stood rooted to the ground.
With the driver screaming, "Whoa, you fools!"
And the guard came leaping down.

As he opened up that old coach door
There in the shimmering light,
A vision of quiet loveliness
Stepped out into the night.

She was dressed in a wedding gown
All made of satin and lace.
And a beautiful bridal veil of white
Partially covered her face.

And as she entered that station
She made not a sound.
Not a footfall; not a word she spoke
She seemed to float above the ground.

Then the guard climbed back aboard the stage
And the driver whipped up the team.
I don't lie, but I swear I heard her cry,
"Don't leave me here!" she screamed.

So, I raced around the station
To hail the stage coach back.
And on this night so clear, it had disappeared,
Not a sound, not even a track.

The people there thought I'd gone crazy.
They said, "Why, there's been nobody here."
But then the ranger spoke and said, "You're wrong,
It's not the first time she's appeared."

Then he told the story
Of how a hundred years ago
A beautiful bride took a stagecoach ride
To be married in Los Angeles, you know.

He told how she took a fever on the desert
And died right here the next night.
And the girl so brave lies in that center grave
Dressed in her wedding gown of white.

And there's people still who say she walks this hill
Ever since the night she died.
Never to know a husband,
But, forever a blushing bride.

So, if you stop at this old stage station
On a moonlit night so clear,
And you walk down by the graveyard
And strange things you see and hear___

You'll know it's not to worry
For this apparition will come and go
But, you'll never forget the night you met
The Ghost of Vallecito!

- Rick Mealy of Seeley, CA

Her name was Eileen O'Conner and she was on her way to San Francisco to be married. There are two other people buried in that same small cemetery when you visit the Vallecito Stage Station on Highway S-2.

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