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Vallecito Stage Station Cemetery
San Diego County, California

Contributed by Steve Paul Johnson [steve@cleardigitalmedia.com]. Recorded on February 13, 2000. Total records = 2.

The Vallecito Stage Station was built in 1852 and was first used as a stop for a transcontinental mail route. From 1858 to 1861, the Butterfield Stage Line carried passengers from St. Louis, MO to San Diego, and up north to San Francisco. Passengers would rest here, and sleep overnight.

The stage route followed the same route first blazed in 1774 by Francisco Garces, of the Mission San Xavier de Bac near Tucson, in search of a route that would connect with the California Missions. In 1775, Juan Bautista de Anza followed this same route, and so did the men of General Stephen W. Kearney, on their way to sieze Alta California from Mexico. Today, County Highway S2 roughly follows this path.

Located along County Highway S2, just outside the border of Anza Borrego Desert State Park, the Vallecito State Station is now a camp ground. The original station, being made of adobe, has since crumbled, and a replica has been built. The cemetery, also referred to "Campo Santo" (Holy Ground), lies about 100ft east of the station. Only three people were buried there.

- Steve Paul Johnson

Unknown, "The Lady in White"
Hart, John, d. 16 Mar 1867, 31y
Mason, James E., b. 1851, d. 1931, "U.S. Land Patentee", "Native Son"

John Hart and James Mason had once owned the lands adjacent to the station and farmed it. James Mason was the last owner of the land until the County of San Diego purchased it and turned it into a park.

"The Lady in White" has become famous among the regulars at the campground. She came from "back east" to join her fiancé in Sacramento who had stuck it rich in the gold fields. The stage journey normally took a month to complete, and tested the strengths of most travellers. The water was often bad, and meals normally came once a day. She became gravely ill, and when the stage stopped at Vallecito, the men carried her in. They rested her in the bedroom. Despite the best care they could give, she died that night.

Later on, they went through her belongings but could not find any identification. They found a white wedding dress, dressed her in it, and buried her 100ft outside the station.

Since then, station hands and other stage passengers have reporting seeing a "lady in white" pacing nervously outside the station. She never seems to bother anyone. To this day, campers still report seeing her roam nearby.

Memories of Vallecito: Rick Mealey, of Seeley wrote a poem about the Lady in White, and Stacy Vellas, an Imperial Valley schoolteacher, recalls taking her students to the cemetery. Click here.

Anza-Borrego A to Z : People, Places, and Things - Amazon.com
Colorful Butterfield Overland Stage - Amazon.com

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