Thursday, December 28, 2017

Book Review: A River Ran Wild

A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History by Lynne Cherry, Hampton-Brown Books, Carmel, CA, 1992.
This is a history of a Nashua River and the valley that carries the same name.  It starts with Native American times, when the river was home to many wild animals, and Native Americans built a village along its banks and used the river for fishing and transportation.  The river supplied all they needed.  Next came a mountain man, who was welcomed.  Then came farmers, who cut down the towering forest and raised crops and animals.  They built saw mills along the river and used the power from the river.  They trees were cut into lumber to make houses and buildings.  Native American fishing rights vanished, as did the forests for hunting. 
This was followed by an industrial age.  Paper factories dumped leftover pulp and dye into the river.  Then came plastics.  Chemicals and plastic waste were also dumped.  The river became more and more clogged.  It also became smelly.
Oweana, a Native American descendant of those early Native Americans, and his friend Marion, both dreamed of the pebbled bottom of the river, which was long gone, and decided something must be done.  They began talking to others who imagined a clean river with a pebbled bottom.  First the convinces the paper mills to build a waste plant and no longer dump in the river.  They also persuaded factories to stop dumping.  New laws were enacted and factories stopped polluting.  Slowly the river's current began cleaning the river.  Today it is a river restored. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Book Review: Ghost Towns of Northern California

Ghost Towns of Northern California: Your guide to ghost Towns and Historic Mining Camps, text by Philip Varney, photographs by John and Susan Drew, Voyageur Press, St. Paul, MN, 2001.

This is a book you have to have in your hand to enjoy the pictures.  It divides the ghost towns into five regions,  These include the Bay area and south Bay, Northern California, and then two on the western Sierra, and a last on the eastern Sierra. 
It proclaims Bodie, California as the gem of the lot.  This ghost town is east of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and like most of the ghost towns, was a mining town.  This gives me a goal of someplace to see.  There are many other gold towns.  In fact this book starts with a chapter talking about gold mine discovery in California.  Of course not all the mining was for gold.  There was also silver and quicksilver, and coal and other minerals mined, and ghost towns left as a result.  South of San Jose is New Almaden, and this ghost town is documented in this book. 
There are a few towns that did not start as gold mining towns.  This includes a Chinese town, and a duckhunter, bootlegger town in the Bay.  I visit this town, Drawbridge, almost daily.  It is along the rail route that I take to work. 
One town it misses, and this is most likely because there is not much to see there with the exception of a plaque.  This is San Joaquin City which was along the river about five miles from where I live.  This town once had over 1000 residents.  A considerable amount of history took place there, but there are no structures left standing as far as I know. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Book Review: Bigler's Chronicle of the West

Bigler's Chronicle of the West: The Conquest of California, Discovery of Gold, and Mormon Settlement as reflected in Henry William Bigler's Diaries, by Erwin G. Gudde, University of California Press, Berkely and Los Angeles, 1962.
Here is a great book, most of it based on Bigler's diaries, meaning this is a good source of original information on the Mormon Battalion, the discovery of gold, and the trip from California to Utah by former members of the Mormon Battalion.  This record chronicles the discovery date of gold, and circumstances surrounding the discovery.  It also talks about some of the early prospecting.  The Mormons were prospecting mostly on Angel Island in the American River, but also found gold in other locations.  It tells the story of how they left some of their gold on the mill waterway when John Sutter came to visit, to impress him.  However in the meantime, and youth discovered the gold and claimed it for himself. 
However before this, it gives a very good, although not complete, history of the day-to-day struggles of the Mormon Battalion.  It talks about those who left with the sick train, talks about getting paid, and their digging of wells and making improvements in San Diego.  It talks of the trip north, where in they passed New Hop in San Joaquin Valley on their way to Sutter's Fort.  They worked on the saw mill, while others Mormons worked on a flour mill.  As part of their payment Sutter gave them cattle to take to Utah.  He also furnished two cannon he had purchased from the Russians at Fort Ross. 
This report chronicles the death of three Mormons, who got ahead of the group returning to Salt Lake.  These men were Daniel Browett, Ezrah H. Allen and Herderson Cox.  The Mormons named the place Tragedy Spring and the name still is used.  They found the gold pouch belonging to Ezrah H. Allen and returned this to his wife. 
The trip to Salt Lake was full of hazards.  Often Indians would shoot poison arrows into the horses, with the hopes they could eat them when they died.  They also shot other animals, but seemed to like horse meat.  However some Indians were more friendly.  they had issues with finding the route, taking a cutoff rather than going to Fort Hall.  The finally arrived to Salt Lake and family.
Bigler was subsequently called on a gold seeking mission to California, and three missions to the Hawaiian Islands. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Historical Crest Theater Sacramento

Attended a presentation at the Crest Theater.  It is very unique for a theater.  It goes back to the age of Golden Age of Theater.  It was redone in the 1940s, and the auditorium is basically this version.  It hosts live events, lectures and specialty movies.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Book Review: Valleys and Canyons

Valley and Canyons by Larry Dane Brimmer, Grolier Publishing, New York, 2000.
This is a geology book rather than history; but my thought is geology is just ancient history, at least history of the rocks and natural world. 
This is a youth book.  It explains in a simple way where canyons and valleys come from.  Of course there are no canyons or valleys without mountains.  There are many causes of valleys and canyons.  Glaciers create U shaped valleys, while water and wind create a more V shaped valley.  Rift Valleys are formed by faulting action.  Often the valley sinks while the mountains rise.  This are called rift valleys.  There is a large one in Africa; but the largest is under the ocean.  Valleys under water are called submarine valleys.
The crust of the earth, sitting upon a molten core, and moving as it does, creates mountain and valley action.  When the mountain is forced up, the part left down becomes a valley.  Volcanoes also contribute to mountains being formed. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterans Day History

Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day.  It is the day the peace treaty ending WWI went into effect, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918.  It was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.  It is a day set aside to remember all veterans.  Memorial Day, in May remembers all those service men who passed away in war.  National Armed Services Day, also in May, honors those currently serving. 
November 10, 1775 is the birthday of the Marines.  When Mark was in the Marines they had a yearly  party, which included a formal dance.  (Gleaned from Wikepedia)