The Weir of Palomar Mountain

Sam is a sophomore at USC who grew up in Escondido, California, about an hour or so south of Los Angeles. His father was a park ranger at the nearby Palomar State park, which often catered to middle-school field trips from schools in the surrounding area. Sam shared with me one of the legends of the mountain that he learned from his father.



So… the legend of the weir… The word “weir” actually means a low damn that helps to regulate the water flow of a river. At Palomar Mountain there is an actual “weir,” which is like this small mortar and stone type-looking tower on one of the trails that loops around the park- right on the edge of a creek. Legend has it, the Weir – the man this time – is occasionally sighted there for brief moments before taking off. He’s a recluse, a man of the mountain itself, and almost looks a part of the elements – dark mud-caked skin, small plants and flora growing off the top of his head, etc. For the most part he remains a rumor more than anything, but every once in awhile a story will come out in which the Weir has been said to have saved someone – rescuing a boy from drowning during a particular rainy season when the creek is over-flowing or distracting a predatory creature so that someone can escape.

But, regardless of the heroics, he disappears as soon as whoever he’s assisting is safe…”



The legend of the mountain man is nothing new: from Big-Foot to the Weir, this sort of elusive live-off-the-land figure has been talked about in stories for hundreds of years. Unlike some more violent versions of this character, however, the Weir is a benevolent figure who only  separates from nature and risks exposing himself in order to help those in a time of need. His elusiveness is attributed to shyness and fear of the civilized world, but in actuality this quality more strongly serves to perpetuate the legend surrounding him.

The legend of a benevolent nature-man watching over the mountain, aside from being a good campfire story, would be a useful tool for a park ranger who must often lead visiting children over trails throughout the expansive nature reserve. A quiet, watchful figure like the Weir who knows the mountain well, keeps to himself and always appears at the first sign of danger to provide help serves to inspire a sense of safety and confidence within the children that no harm will come to them while hiking over the mountain. Because of the Weir’s ability to blend in with the natural elements surrounding him, the story may even inspire a trust in nature itself.