Sunday, July 31, 2016

Summer 2016 update

If you'll scroll down, you will see we are a bit behind in our blogging, but we had an AMAZING summer of 2016! While we catch up, here is just a brief photographic summary of some of the places we have been in June and July 2016. 943 sites down, and only 168 left to go!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Adobes, Grapevines, and Arrowheads in San Bernardino County - 9/26/15

Since we didn't visit any sites in August-- gasp!-- we decided that we needed to get a move on.  Therefore, after a lovely night at the Disneyland Halloween Party we took off for San Bernardino sites.
Our first site was the Yorba-Slaughter Adobe (CHL 191).
This adobe was built in the early 1850s by Raimundo Yorba and was purchased by Fenton Mercer Slaughter in 1868.
The adobe was sometimes called "Buena Vista" and the road below it was well traveled, since it was party of the road from Fort Yuma to Los Angles.  This was also an optional stop on the Butterfield Overland Stage Route.  Fenton M. Slaughter was an interesting fellow who gained wealth sheep ranching and eventually served in the California State Assembly.
The sign said that it was open for touring on Saturdays, but the gate was firmly locked when we visited-- there was a great deal of construction on the adjacent road, so perhaps it is closed for now.
A short drive away (and nowhere near where the address says it should be) we came to the Site of the Rancho Chino Adobe of Isaac Williams (CHL 942).
From the state:  "Near this site, Isaac Williams in 1841 built a large adobe home, located on the 22,000-acre Rancho Chino which he acquired from his father-in-law Antonio Lugo. The 'Battle of Chino' occurred at the adobe on September 26-27, 1846, during which 24 Americans were captured by a group of about 50 Californios. Located on the Southern Immigrant Trail to California, the adobe later became an inn and stage stop famous for its hospitality."
I did a little more research on the Battle of Chino, since it was only briefly mentioned by the state-- here is what I found:  This "battle" of the Mexican-American War was fought September 26-27, 1846 and involved about 50 Californios coming to arrest 24 Americans who were barricaded inside the adobe.  On the morning of September 27th gunfire was exchanged and one Californio was killed.  In order to get the Americans to surrender, the Californios threatened to set the adobe on fire.  It worked and the Americans were arrested and held in prison briefly before they were released.
Moving from Chino to San Bernardino we came to the Site of Mormon Stockade (CHL 44).
It is said that the first house in San Bernardino was built near this spot in 1839.
However, it is much more famous for this being the site of the Mormon Stockade.
I found on this site a really great description of what the stockade looked like (which you can read below).  I can only imagine living in such a restricted place with 1000 people!
"In June of 1851, the Mormon newcomers in San Bernardino were alerted of Indian skirmishes and raiding dangers in the area. In the center of their new mile-square town of San Bernardino, the leaders set aside eight acres and fenced in a parallelogram. 300 feet wide by 720 feet. Twelve foot high walls protected three of the sides. The fourth side was a series of log buildings jammed close together. All exterior walls were loop-holed and the gateways were indented to allow for crossfire. 

Ranger Horace Bell, In his book Reminisces of a Ranger, described the structure as "a stockade about a quarter of a mile square with two great gates leading into it. Inside they placed their dwellings, shops and stores. Every night the gates were barred and a sentry kept vigilant watch from the walls against surprise." The Mormons stayed in the stockade for approximately nine months, the anticipated war with the Mojave Indians never occurred. It was in October of 1857, when Brigham Young called the "saints" to "Zion."

On December 27, 1958, when United States Colonel William Hoffman's "Mojave Expedition" camped near the original Cajon, they learned that approximately 1,000 had stayed in the area of San Bernardino." 
Next up was one of the coolest sites we've been to in a while... the Arrowhead (CHL 977).
This supposedly natural phenomenon of an arrowhead on the hillside has been a landmark in this area for centuries.
Native Americans looked to it to find the mineral springs below.
The arrow "consists of light quartz, supporting a growth of short white sage" according to the state.
We took this chance to take a family photo with the famous arrowhead!
We continued north up to Glen Helen Regional Park to find the Sycamore Grove (CHL 573).
The Mormons who stockaded themselves in our site earlier today camped here in June of 1851-- it was their first campsite.  Captain Jefferson Hunt (a captain of the Mormon battalion and later a California State Assemblyman), Amasa Lyman (one of the first right-hand men to Joseph Smith), Charles C. Rich (an apostle of the LDS church), David Seely (a Mormon pioneer), and Andrew Lytle (was the captain of the wagon train that brought them out to California) were among those who camped here.  You can read a fascinating account of this group here.  

Next up was one of the strangest landmarks we have ever visited-- the United States Rabbit Experimental Station (CHL 950).
This is the first and only experimental station in the country that is devoted to rabbit research.
  Over the years of research here they increased the amount of litters a female have each year and increased the average weight of the rabbits while cutting food costs.  You can watch a video about the facility here or read an interesting news article here.
Our next site was a two-fer-- and boy do we love hitting two sites at once.  The first was the site of the Tapia Adobe (CHL 360).
Near this site in 1839 Tiburcio Tapia, a soldier, merchant and alcalde in Los Angeles built an adobe on land granted to him by Governor Juan Alvarado.
The adobe was abandoned in 1858 and completely disintegrated-- so sadly there is no site left.
Tiburcio also established the Cucamonga Rancho Winery (CHL 490)-- which is advertised to be the state's oldest winery.
It seems that we have visited the state's oldest winery in a few different counties-- so just take that with a grain of salt... It is an old winery and one of the first in the great state of California!
There is a sad looking vine on the property-- which looks like it has been here since 1839 :(
It was fun to travel along Route 66 for a bit!
Our final site for the day--- and one of the most interesting we've ever seen is the Madonna of the Trail (CHL 1028).
There are actually 12 of these statues across the country-- each sculpted by August Leimbach and financed by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Two of the sides are identical on each of the pedestals-- the one above and the one below.
The other two sides are specific to the location of the statue.
The statues are meant to commemorate the westward movement of the American people and the role of pioneer women during that challenging time.  
The statue we saw in Upland represents four historic trails:  the Mojave Trail, the de Anza Trail, the Emigrant Train and the Canyon Road.
The rifle on this statue was modeled after Daniel Boone's-- which was very difficult to see the details.
The sculptor also hid a snake in the grass at the base of the statue-- we were able to find it, can you?
After we complete California we want to see all of the other statues.
You can see a list of the cities where all of the statues are here.
It was so fun to get back into the swing of things with our California Adventures.

Monday, July 27, 2015

More Gold Country-- 7/27/2015

We were able to take a day trek to Gold Country on our final summer trip to Stockton.  Our first two plaques were right across the street from each other-- which makes life so much easier :)
El Dorado (Originally Mud Springs) CHL 486 was the first plaque we saw.  El Dorado was a camp on the Carson Emigrant Trail and a gold mining town in the mid-1850s.
Across the street we came to the El Dorado-Nevada House (Mud Springs)- Overland Pony Express Route in California (CHL 700).  This station was an important remount stop on the Pony Express and William (Sam) Hamilton stopped here carrying the first westbound mail from Missouri to Sacramento. 
Next we moved on to Old Dry Diggins- Old Hangtown- Placerville (CHL 475).  That's a great deal of synonyms for one very quaint little town!
This was a very rich mining camp and the terminus of the Comstock Lode.  
According to the state, "John M. Studebaker, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, Phillip Armour, and Edwin Markham were among well-known men who contributed to Placerville's history, as did John A. 'Snowshoe' Thompson, who carried from 60 to 80 pounds of mail on skis from Placerville over the Sierra to Carson Valley during winter months."
Our next stop creeped Libi out!

It's a good thing that we couldn't see much due to the building being under construction the Hangman's Tree (CHL 141).
The stump of the hangman's tree is actually located under this building!
This helps to explain one of Placerville's many names-- Hangtown.  It was here in 1849 where vigilantes executed men for their crimes.
We came upon another Pony Express site next, the Placerville-Overland Pony Express Route in California (CHL 701).
Placerville was the western terminus of the Pony Express from July 1- October 26, 1861.
The plaques in Placerville were all very well done!
We found a really cool store in Placerville-- while it's not a CHL, we still decided to take a photo.
It is the oldest continuously operating hardware store west of the Mississippi River!  Pretty neat!
A short walk down Main Street brought us to the Site of Studebaker's Shop (CHL 142).  

John Mohler Studebaker rented part of the back part of the shop.  He made wheelbarrows for miners, made ammunition for the Union Army, and eventually began making automobiles.  

Next we drove up the hill to the Methodist Episcopal Church (CHL 767).
Built in 1851, this is the oldest church building in El Dorado County.
It was originally located on Main Street, but was moved in 1961.  
We drove to Diamond Springs (CHL 487) which was located outside of a fire station.
The town got its name from the spring water that flowed nearby.  Here one of the largest nuggets found in El Dorado County was dug-- weighing 25 pounds!
Diamond Springs produced lumber, lime, and many agricultural products-- which have allowed it to still be a thriving community.
Our next town was Shingle Springs (CHL 456).
The Boston-Newton Joint Stock Association which traveled from Boston to Sutter's Fort in 1849 camped here.  

The pioneers on this journey left behind many written records which have helped historians have a better understanding of what travelers experienced on this journey.  Libi was excited that one of them had the last name of Ayer which is also the name of a teacher at her school. 
We drove to Rescue, CA to find the Coloma Road- Rescue (CHL 747).
The Coloma Road was the route between Sutter's Fort and his sawmill where gold was discovered.
 This road also was the route of California's earliest stage line.
Today was full of important stage stops-- and this next one was one of the most interesting we have seen.  The Pleasant Grove House Overland Pony Express Route in California (CHL 703) was a road-house stop on the route.
While the plaque was behind a fence, we were able to use the zoom to get some better photos.
The house is still there, but it was also behind fences so we didn't get a chance to visit.
Ron did venture into the yard of the house, upon the recommendation of two folks who were leaving the site when we drove up.  There was a Pony Express map drawn into the sidewalk that went from the barn to the house-- it was super cool!
There are artifacts all over the place, but most are behind fences.
We are assuming that this barn was where the houses were kept.
The Mormon Tavern- Overland Pony Express Route in California (CHL 699) was our next Pony Express site.
The Mormon Tavern was built in 1849 and became a remount station of the Pony Express.  You can find a neat account of the tavern here
The next three sites are all near this location.  Sadly there are no plaques or other remainders of the sites.
Negro Hill (CHL 570), Salmon Falls (CHL 571), and Condemned Bar (CHL 572) all have the same description in the state book:  These historic mining towns, and other mining camps of the gold rush era now inundated by Folsom Lake, are commemorated by the nearby Mormon Island Memorial Cemetery. Here were reburied the pioneers whose graves were flooded when the lake was formed by Folsom Dam.

Next we drove a short distance to Folsom Lake to see Mormon Island (CHL 569).
The state tells of the origins of Mormon Island:  
Early in March 1848, W. Sidney, S. Willis, and Wilford Hudson, members of the Mormon Battalion, set out from Sutter's Fort to hunt deer. Stopping on the south fork of the American River, they found gold. They told their story on returning to the fort, and soon about 150 Mormons and other miners flocked to the site, which was named Mormon Island. This was the first major gold strike in California after James W. Marshall's discovery at Coloma. The population of the town in 1853 was more than 2,500. It had four hotels, three dry-goods stores, five general merchandise stores, an express office, and many small shops. The first ball in Sacramento County was held here on December 25, 1849. A fire destroyed the town in 1856, and it was never rebuilt. Its site was inundated by Folsom Lake in 1955.
The lake was very low due to our current drought... 
but it's still a gorgeous spot.
Our final site of the day proved to be the most challenging to find.
The Pioneer Express Trail (CHL 585) was a route between the many gold towns of the area.
The plaque is located on a hillside above the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area-- we had to divide and conquer to find this one, but it was well worth the effort!
That made for 17 sites today!
On the way back to the car there may have been a race between Libi and Daddy...
Mommy just hung back and enjoyed the very dry scenery.
As a reward we stopped at a frozen yogurt shop in Folsom!

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