Mount Rubidoux is a small but prominent mountain on the south side of the Santa Ana River around which historic village of Riverside was settled in the late nineteenth century. The mountain was owned by Frank Miller, one of the city's early promoters and builder of the Mission Inn. Miller originally planned to develop the mountain for expensive homes; but this plan failed. Miller transformed the mountain into an inspirational park. He graded a road, circling around the steep hills to the top, where, in 1907, he installed a cross. On April 4, 1909, the American reformer, Jacob Riis, a friend of Miller and a guest at his Inn, proposed that Easter sunrise services be held on the mountain top. The first ceremony was held a week later, on April 12, and a service has been held each year since.
Over the years, the top of the mountain was developed as an amphitheater with the cross and seating steps at one end and an American flag with more steps for seating at the other. The winding road became a pilgrimage road; and, indeed, offers inspiring glimpses of the cross as the hiker approaches the top. In the 1920s, Miller added more structures along the road and at the top. Not all of these remain; but the surviving Peace Tower is a moving testament of Miller's nineteenth century faith in internationalism and the abolition of war, similar to Andrew Carnegie's views.
The mountain is now a Riverside City park. The road is no longer open to regular vehicle traffic. The narrow, paved road is a popular jogging path. There are two main routes up the mountain. The route with the least incline is exactly two miles from the park entrance to the top, hence, four miles altogether. Quarter-mile stones mark progress. There is also steeper road that is considerably shorter. Foot trails drop down the hillsides on several sides, providing good training for athletes. One trail goes through a tunnel under the road. Small wildlife are frequently seen - skunks, rabbits, hawks, coyotes. Dogs are welcome on leashes.
We start our photo tour with view from the road as we walk toward the mountain top, since the historical purpose of the development was to provide a pilgrimage path for an important Christian holiday. Historical plaques are grouped at the bottom of this photoessay.
(The photos here are thumbnails. As usual, click on them for larger images with more detail.)
The Peace Tower
Near the Top, 1
Near the Top, 2
At the Ampitheatre
The Northeastern Side of the Amphitheater
(American flag on the promontory, Peace Tower visible to the right)
Landscape Views from the Mountain
Our next group of photographs are simply snapshots of views of the surrounding river valley and the City of Riverside. Except where noted, all photographs were taken in late morning. Clouds from several days of rain were lifting and breaking. By the time our hike was over, the sun was shining in a partly cloudy sky. The rains of late December 2004 and this week in February 2005 have made the hills as green as Ireland - a refreshing treat.
The Santa Ana River (flowing southwest within flood levees)
Looking North Across the Santa River
(Toward Rubidoux and the Flabob Airport with the white buildings in the center of the photograph)
Looking East to Riverside City
(Downtown and Civic Center, early evening photograph)
(Late morning photograph)
One of the pleasures of a Mt. Rubidoux hike are the large fields of cactus ascending the slopes of the mountain and flowing downward into the backyard gardens of homes at the base of the mountain. We were captivated by the cactus, their insinuation into the rocky landscape, and the graffiti hikers have carved into their sturdy branches and leaves over the years. The following photos are in no particular order and are not individually titled.
Plaques are placed around the mountain to memorialize historical and prominent personalities associated with Riverside and the mountain. Here are most of the plaques (in no particular order).
Historical information from Tom Patterson, A Colony for California: Riverside's First Hundred Years (Riverside: Press-Enterprise Company, 1971), pp. 250-260.