Saturday, August 27, 2011

Corrall Hollow Road: Tesla Coal Mine and pottery works

I have been researching some local historical areas.  Corral Hollow road goes from Tracy to Livermore.  This road gets regular use today from people going to the Carnegie State Recreation Area where they do off road biking. 

However the area was first developed as a coal mining area.  The coal was used to power steam locomotives and the rail way.  The mine opened and closed several times.  Most recently is was called the Tesla Mine, after a developer for electrical energy and alternating currents.  During that period the coal was sent to Stockton to power the factories there.  At one time it was proposed to make a coal powered generator there, but this was not done as it was felt it couldn't compete with hydroelectric power.

Also in the area was a pottery works.  There was also sand and clay manufacturing.  The sand was sent to Stockton for manufacturing into glass. 

Today it is hard to recognize the original mine locations.  Entry into the area is discouraged for fear of falling into a mine shaft.  The links below provide additional historical information as well as a mad of the canyon.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

1969 Altamont Free Concert

On the train I heard of a big concert that took place at Altamont Speedway; The Rolling Stones West Coast answer to Woodstock.   Although the Speedway is in Alameda County, it is actually in the San Joaquin Valley, and the closest town is Tracy (Mountain House now.)  It is where the 580 and the 205 split. 

The line up included, in order of appearance: Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, with the Rolling Stones taking the stage as the final act. The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to perform, but declined to play shortly before their scheduled appearance due to the increasing violence at the venue.  (Wikipedia)

Several logistical problems plagued the concert.  First, it was moved to the location only a day before.  It was originally planned for San Jose, and then San Francisco, but both venues fell through.  It required quick logistical changes.  The problems of  parking or ample rest rooms were not overcome.  300,000 or more were at the concert.  That crowd would have required much more planning and accommodation. Cars were parked up and down the freeway.  The hastily built stage was too low, which allowed audience members to sit or lean over the stage disturbing the concert and damaging property.  The Hells Angels were hired, for $500 of beer.  The used their bikes to block access to the stage.  There were fights over the bikes, and over keeping people off the stage.  Often the Hells Angels would use clubs to control the crowd.

The 1969 concert has been declared the end of the hippy era.  It demonstrated that free-love and drug abuse have consequences.  The concert is known as having four births, but also four tragic deaths.  The deaths included an accidental drowning which occurred in a local canal, a hit-and-run auto accident, in which a car ran over a couple of party goers, and a tragic murder.  A young black man, Meredith Hunter, at the concert with a white girlfriend, which was a bigger deal in those days, high on methamphetamine, had brought a gun to the concert.  When he pulled the gun to confront some of the Hells Angels, who were in charge of security, one of the Hells Angels stabbed him in the back of the neck, as he was taken to the ground and kicked.  He was pronounced dead at the scene.  Latter is was adjudged to be self defense because of the gun.

There were also many broken heads and other injuries.  The concert performers had to stop many times to ask the crowd to calm down.  The lead singer for Jefferson Airplane was hit, Mick Jagger was hit when he first arrived, and there were many scuffles.  Several times while the Rolling Stones played, they had to stop and calm the crowd.  Many times they threatened to stop the concert, but in the end, thought the riot would be worse had they stopped.  The Rolling Stones did not realize anyone had been murdered until after the concert.  

At the concert there were too many drugs, too many people who were interested only in themselves, too many people.  What was suppose to be the best party of December, turned into a tragedy instead; and the end of the age of innocence.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Reviews: Mormon Country by Wallace Stegner

Mormon Country:  This book presents a nice picture of Mormon Territory in the 1940s.  This book was published in 1942.  It starts with the description of a mutual dance, and talks about the importance of the mutual in a Mormon Community.  Wallace Stegner is very good at description, and this chapter is very fun.  He talks about the immigration of the Mormons to the Great Basin, including a chapter on the handcart pioneers.   He talks about “Mormon Trees” how Mormon Communities are lined with trees.  He can recognize Mormon land as a result.  He tells the stories of prominent Mormons J. Golden Kimball, and apostle who would get in trouble at the pulpit for colorful language; and Jesse Knight, who established mining in the Tintic era.  He was able to develop a righteous mining environment.  He also became very wealthy, and used much of his wealth to establish economic opportunities for other Mormons.  Some were successful and some weren’t, but still they provided employment. 
Stegner does not hesitate to talk about black spots as well, self-proclaimed prophets, polygamy.  He devotes a section of the book to talk about “gentiles” in Mormon Country.  He talks of the establishment of the dinosaur quarry outside of Vernal. He talks of prominent criminals, including Butch Cassidy.  Many who rode with him were Mormons, or at least raised Mormon.  I found many of his stories interesting and enjoyable, however a few were a bit too much, and focused on the negative.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

John Horner: My Father's Field

I visited the temple grounds to see the musical, My Father's Field.  It was enjoyable.  I had read about John Horner on several occasions  How he had purchased his property on several occasions, with different people saying it belonged to them, and then how he had to buy the same property three or four times.  Then after being a success, he lost everything by over extending himself in signing notes for others, and not keeping $30,000 available as advised by the Prophet.

However John Horner was a good man, a church man.  Church was held in his home on many occasions.  He was also a good friend to the missionaries traveling to the South Pacific and Hawaii.  I read in the Millennial Star the story of how some missionaries traveling west were told to seek him out, and he helped pay their passage to Hawaii.  At the first state fair he was declared "The first farmer of California."  It is ironic that he left California and ended up pioneering agriculture in Hawaii.

This link is the script for the musical.
This link is a brief promotion for the musical