El Camino Real Bell officially designated

July 21, 2000
Santa Paula News

The Santa Paula City Council and Father Tom Dome from St. Sebastian Church blessed the new El Camino Real Bell located at 12th and Main Streets

Last month, Santa Paulans dedicated a mural at Blanchard Community Library commemorating the Chumash history of the area, including the Mission period, Norm Wilkinson said Saturday as people stood on Main Street to admire the city's latest historical monument, an El Camino Real bell. The bell further lauds the rich Mission period in California and Santa Paula's place in its history. The historical marker, one of the series of El Camino Real bells that signifies the route of 18th century pioneering Catholic missionaries, was dedicated in a brief ceremony on Main Street, the oldest east-west route through town and probably the best approximation of the original trail, traveled by Franciscans in the late 1700s on their way to establish Mission San Buenaventura, established in 1782.“Travel between missions was not easy,” said Wilkinson, although eventually there were enough missions that each one in the chain could be reached by a day's ride. “In Santa Paula's case, that ride would have been between San Fernando to the east and Ventura to the west.”Between 1697 and 1823, the system of missions was built along the coast of Spanish California, he added.When a bell was replaced last year at Rancho Camulos - the original had disappeared many years ago - Wilkinson realized that Santa Paula is on the direct route of the El Camino Real, “The King’s Highway.”He said the bell dedicated Saturday near the corner of 12th Street is part of a system of hundreds of bells - sponsored by the California Federation of Women's Clubs - throughout California, an effort that started in 1906 when the first bell was installed in Los Angeles.“I would like to give special recognition to Mary Leavens Schwabauer, President of the Moorpark Women's Fortnightly Club, for her generous assistance in securing this bell for Santa Paula,” Wilkinson noted.“Having grown up in Santa Paula I'm just thrilled,” at this latest bell, one of the 20 installed statewide over the past four years, said Schwabauer.
The same foundry has been making the El Camino Real bells for over five decades, she noted. The system of bells now includes hundreds mixing the new models with the old.“It is a joyous and happy day,” said the Rev. Thomas S. Dome of St. Sebastian Church who noted the “very important part bells have in our lives. . .here they mark the heritage and history,” of the Mission period and its relationship to Santa Paula.City Councilman Jim Garfield was pleased that the bell will be “another link” in the Heritage Valley tourism effort. Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa said the bell is a “nice symbol of unity. . .”“It's great to hear the history and importance to the community of the bells,” said Supervisor Kathy Long, who has been present at several bell dedications. “I love joining in the celebration of the bells and having the connection here in Santa Paula.”Also in attendance for the dedication were Mayor Rick Cook, Vice Mayor Don Johnson and Councilwoman Robin Sullivan.

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