American Auto Trails > El Camino Real in California

1911 El Camino Real San Diego - Oceanside, Bells and Automobile Club Logo


Good to Go!:
I don't think of the Automobile Club of Southern California as slow or reluctant in boosting road related interests, and that certainly was true in the pre 1920's period.  Along with the railroads, they built the Southern California tourist industry (in my humble opinion).  And they were quick to identify and mark auto trails.  

So if the Camino Real Association of California was mapping the El Camino Real in 1905, why doesn't the ACSC 1911 Tour Book make note of the route?  It references the Coast Route, referring of course to the road that followed the coast through La Jolla and not Rose Canyon.  But no El  Camino Real.

I suppose that raises the question of when the bells were put up.  Mrs. A. S. C. Forbes, chairwoman of the location committee (and designer of the bells) writing in 1915 refers to the 400 bells installed along the El Camino Real.  It is strange to me that the 1911 Tour Book doesn't seem to note them.  

ANSWER: I was writing the above I thumbed through the 1911 Tour Book looking for reference to the El Camino Real, and then noted something interesting I hadn't paid attention to before.  The ACSC logo on the cover lacks the familiar bell!!  See copy below.  I wonder if the "bell movement" influenced the logo redesign....or was it simply the mission influence?

Also in reading California Missions and Landmarks: El Camino Real by Forbes on page 279 (Google Books...ya gotta love em!)  it is noted that there are no bells south of Los Angeles in 1911 and that suggests that the interest in El Camino Real may have been limited at that time..  However by 1915 the bells existed at every mile along the El Camino Real (75 in san Diego County), and perhaps not by coincidence the ACSC had a bell in its logo, and was touting the El Camino Real.  Also, not incidentally,. officers of the ACSC had all along been active in the "bell movement."

Well, enough speculations....the "facts" as printed in the 1911 ACSC Tour Book follow:

Good to Go!

As I point out on my El Camino Real page, the "El Camino Real" of the Federation of Women's Clubs was an auto trail generally following the route of the historic mission paths. Evidently it was researched, but that doesn't mean they were really the same. I think the Coast Route, as opposed to the Inland Route, was generally equivalent to El Camino Real. It was this road on which the bell guide posts were placed, making it perhaps the earliest signed auto trail in the U.S. I'll take a look at the Forbes Book. I have fond a lot of valuable stuff on Google Books. also has good stuff. Essential reading is Westgard's Tales of a Pathfinder. (I managed to get a real copy of this on ebay.)
As I commented in another post, it was cartographer Elmer J. Brown who designed the bell-on-wheel logo.

BTW, here's a list of many known bells on my site;
Bell List


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