From high atop Mt. David, the panorama stretches as far as the eye can see. For hundreds of years, a place later known as "The Beacon" has been a landmark in the San Gorgonio Pass. When skies are powder blue, you can see clear to Hemet and San Jacinto, the Interstate 215 grade at San Bernardino State University, Moreno Valley, Banning, and east to Cabaon. Many have found inspiration, adventure and serenity nearly 3,000 feet above the city lights and everyday life.
On the lookout
Some, like Leslie Rios, remember Pass history classes at Beaumont High School, where students learned about Native Americans keeping a lookout on the mountain top for settlers' wagon trains and the U.S. cavalry. During the 1930s, Easter sunrise services on the mountaintop drew the faithful who took in the early morning light that played across the mountains. In the early 1950s, David Valdivia remembers hiking up to "The Beacon" and heading deepin into the mountains south of Beaumont. He and other youngsters sought adventure in a world all their own. They bagged rabbits with .22 rifles, camped in tents and roamed the nearby hills. Like the wayfarers of old, they came upon many wonders.
They chanced upon an ancient rock cave in the side of a granite mountain. Dropping to their knees one by one, they crawled inside for about 20 feet and felt the air growing colder and colder. They wondered silently who might have lived in this cave through the ages. on another odyssey, the boys stumbled across a deep hole in the ground-probably six feet across. They crept over the edge and peered down into the inky blackness. Then, the boys took turns tossing rocks into the pit and waiting for the muffled sound of a stone to hit the bottom. Valdivia's older brother Arthur was fearless. He would lie on his belly, clutch a rock, and scoot his way over to the lip of the black hole. With friends clutching his feet, Arthur would shoot his arm out and drop a rock. It seemed that whatever the young adventurers threw down, the abyss swallowed right up.
The Beacon's call
As decades passed, the environment changed atop "The Beacon." In the early 1950s, there was only a single red "beacon" light blinking on and off to warn low-flying aircraft. With technological advances, many began wanting space on the high mountain. Today, the Beaumont Police Department and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department have radio equipment atop the mountain summit. Cell phone companies have their own towers. But on a starlit night in Beaumont, "The Beacon" still calls to us. It's always been a special place and remains so today.