Land of Sunshine

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“Far in the ‘back country,’ sixty miles or so from San Diego, in a region untrodden by the tourist, are the ruins of the Mission of Santa Ysabel. Leveled by time and washed by winter rains, the adobe walls of the church have sunk into indistinguishable heaps of earth which vaguely define the outlines of the ancient edifice…”

That’s an excerpt from the article beginning on the page you see above, from the November 1899 issue of Land of Sunshine, a monthly magazine published from the mid-1890s through the early 1920s.

Land of Sunshine offers some vivid descriptions of Southern California of that time, including excellent photography. I’d characterize it as a cross between, in contemporary terms, Sunset and the New Republic. This is especially true of issues during the editorship of Charles Fletcher Lummis, from 1893 to 1909.

Lummis was an interesting, and definitely eccentric character. As a young journalist in 1885, he literally walked across the nation to California, writing and sending accounts of his travels along the way to Harrison Gray Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, who hired Lummis as the fledgling paper’s city editor on his arrival.

Lummis would go on to be a prolific researcher, writer and photographer of the southwestern United States. A 1985 Los Angeles Times article credited him with turning Land of Sunshine from “a Chamber of Commerce promotional sheet into a sterling literary magazine.” Contributing writers during Lummis’ tenure included Jack London, Joaquin Miller and Edwin Markham.

There were also lots of stories from Lummis himself. Among issues he spoke and wrote about were the rights of Native Americans and the need for historic preservation. He helped found two organizations, the Sequoya Club and the Landmarks Club, to take action on those issues.

I’ll definitely be looking further into issues of Land of Sunshine and the character Charles Lummis. In the meantime, the magazine has fortunately been scanned and digitized on the archives.com website, at https://archive.org/ and search for “Land of Sunshine.” There are also a number of bound volumes of the original print editions in the Genealogy Room of the Carlsbad Public Library. I heartily recommend you check it out.

In addition to archives.com, sources for this post included the Los Angeles Times, the Historical Society of Southern California, and the archive of the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities.

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