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29C Cahuilla Mountain

Location: Riverside County, California

Named for the Cahuilla Indians, whose Reservation is nearby.

The northeast slopes were traveled by Garces (1768) and Anza (1775). But the peak achieved world-fame for a different reason. Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-85) wrote Ramona in 1894. An enormously popular book, based on truth and legend, it was meant to be a polemic outlining wrongs to the Indians. Instead it was devoured as a fabulous story of star-crossed love. It succeeded by greatly romanticizing the attempts of the Californio’s to uplift the natives, in counterpoint to the greed and vulgarity of the Yankee usurpers. "Juan Diego Flat" between Cahuilla and Little Cahuilla Mountains is where the real model for the fictional "Allesandro" was senselessly killed. For decades afterward, the first tourists to Southern California came primarily to visit Ramona's (imaginary) home. They were met at practically every tram station by someone declared to be the "real" Ramona. Dozens of towns throughout the Southland were named Ramona. The manufacture of Ramona curios became a basic local industry. Scores of just-founded hamlets claimed to be her birthplace. Later there would be a stageplay (1902), hit song (1926), movies (1910,1916,1926), and even a Ramona starring Don Ameche and Loretta Young (1936). Today, two towns still remember: Hemet-San Jacinto produces the Ramona Pageant and Cahuilla maintains the graves of Ramona and Juan Diego/Allesandro. The truth long ago became a myth that has redressed much of the wrong.

Cahuilla was first noted (misspelled "Coahuila") on the first USGS San Jacinto quad. The peak was originally named "Taakwi" by the Luiseños. It was standardized in its present form by USBGN in 1963.

Peak was on the original 1946 HPS Peak List.


Hundred Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club
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Updated 25-February-2003