Palomar Mountain, at an altitude of 6,140 feet and with an average of 300 clear nights per year, has the distinction of being the home of one of the world’s most significant astronomical observation sites, the Hale 200-inch telescope installed at the Palomar Observatory in 1947. Before that, the mountain played a role in San Diego County’s rich African American history and culture. One of many who migrated to the area in the mid-19th century was Nathan Harrison, a former slave who owned a large swath of property on the mountain where he farmed and raised cattle, the importance of which is just being revealed through archaeological excavations conducted by local university students. According to local historians, Harrison and other former slaves made up a major segment of the backcountry population until about 1900.
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