Western Trips

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Hopperstad Stave Church Replica

Western Trips visited the Hopperstad Stave Church Replica which is a very unique building in Moorehead Minnesota, founded in 1871 and the largest town in northwest Minnesota.

stave church
Hopperstad Stave Church
The Hopperstad Stave Church Replica located in Moorehead is just across the Red River of the North from Fargo, ND. Just as it's name implies, the structure is an exact replica of a Norwegian Stave church dating to the 1100s. The Hopperstad Stave Church today resides in a very appropriate area of the U.S. since it serves as a symbol of the Norwegian heritage in the Red River Valley.

Defining a Stave Church

The definition of a stave church is a wooden medieval church structure. The method of construction gives the stave churches their name. It's elaborate columns and precise details of construction allows these buildings to last many centuries. An architectural detail all stave churches are their corner posts and framework of timber with wall planks standing on sills. Stave walls are constructed with vertical planks and their bases are in a groove on the sill beam. Their tops are in a groove on the wall plate. The entire combination of the corner posts, the verticle planks and the grooves both at top and bottom make for very solid construction.

 During the Middle Ages while churches on the European continent were being built with stones, in Norway the same process was going on but the churches were constructed with wood. In fact, if you visit Norway you'll have the opportunity to visit the world's oldest wooden church, the Urnes Stave Church, which was constructed in 1150.Most of the existing stave churches are located in Norway with some also in Sweden. 

Hopperstad Stave Church Replica
Detailed roof line of church
Constructing the Hopperstad Stave Church Replica

Construction began on the Hopperstad Stave Church Replica in Moorehead Minnesota in 1997.
The church is constructed of cedar, redwood, and pine. The church is the creation of Guy Paulson who traveled to Norway to obtain the original plans for the Urnes Stave Church. With those plans Paulson was able to calculate all his measurements and his project was launched with the aid of local architects. 

Paulson who had been carving for decades was not a carver by profession. Wood carving was a hobby. Rather, he was a retired research chemical scientist in Fargo North Dakota. Guy Paulson's carvings both inside and outside of the church are absolutely magnificent.

Paulson and his family paid for building the church replica. After it's completion Paulson donated the building to the city of Moorehead Minnesota.Today, the church is used for weddings and family reunions and is open for the general public to tour.

stave church replica
Hopperstad Stave Church Replica
The church has carved dragons and crosses on it's peaks, narrow doorways and is without pews as worshipers would stand during services. Included is a stone cross that is a replica of one located in the church yard of Loen Nordfjord, Norway.

It's an interesting note that the Hopperstad Stave Church Replica is built on the same grounds that also house a Viking ship replica that was also built by a local man. These are the grounds of the Heritage Hjemkomst Center which is a fascinating place to visit that displays excellent local artifacts and records.

Heritage Hjemkomst Center

The Heritage Hjemkomst Center, operated by the Clay County Historical Society and owned by the city of Moorehead,  features photographs, recordings and an award-winning documentary that chronicles the construction of the 76-foot, hand-built Viking ship Hjemkomst. As a side note, the Clay County Historical Society is recognized as having one of the largest historical collections found in Minnesota.

The ship was built by Robert Asp and his family and is made from oak which Asp found in the area. The plan he used for construction was of the ship Gokstad which was retrieved from a clay burial mound south of Oslo Norway. A replica of this famous ship was in Chicago and it was from it that the proper measurements were taken. 

Construction of the vessel began in 1974 in a warehouse in Hawley Minnesota and was christened in 1980. Robert Asp passed away about four months after the ship's maiden voyage in 1980. 

moorehead mn stave church
The story of this Viking ship replica is absolutely amazing. After much fundraising from the community, the Hjemkomst was transported to Duluth Minnesota and eventually sailed to Oslo Norway. The Hjemkomst returned to the United States on the deck of a merchant ship.

Today, the Hjemkomst is on permanent display at the Heritage Hjemkomst Center in Moorehead Minnesota. The Heritage Hjemkomst Center also features many events throughout the year and offers rooms for rent for special occasions.

Two additional Western Trips articles you'll enjoy include...

Tall Ships

The Minnesota Massacre and the start of the Western Indian Wars

Visit the Heritage Hjemkomst Center

Visiting the Heritage Hjemkomst Center, the Viking ship Hjemkomst and the  Hopperstad Stave Church Replica makes for an excellent addition to your road trip planner. Moorehead Minnesota is just across the Red River from Fargo North Dakota. Moorehead is about a 3 and one-half hour drive northwest of St. Paul Minnesota. 

(Article and photos copyright 2013 Western Trips) 

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Historic San Francisco Theaters

There's one fact about the theater industry in San Francisco. Historic San Francisco theaters go all the way back to the gold rush days of the 1850's. Although San Francisco was at one time only a settlement of tents along the sand hills, and a settlement that burned down and rebuilt itself more than once in the 1850's, there was no doubt from the beginning that it's residents, and part time residents wanted entertainment.

opera singer jenny lind
Swedish Opera singer, Jenny Lind
The earliest recorded theater in California is Sacramento's "Eagle Theater," which was assembled in October of 1849 out of packing crates and canvas. The Eagle Theater was washed away by river waters in January 1850 reportedly while a performance was going on. Below is a link to an article about the Eagle Theater Flood on our Trips Into History site.

The Theater That Washed Away

The Demand for Entertainment

The first theaters in San Francisco actually sprouted from the saloon/gambling halls. If you look back at any of the gold rush towns, saloons and the gambling that went with it were typically the first real structures. While San Francisco itself was a ways from the Sierra Nevada foothills mining camps, it had enough people arriving there by ship everyday that it grew fast. San Francisco was also the place where a lucky prospector might travel to by steamboat to spend some of that gold dust.

orpheum theater san francisco
The Orpheum, San Francisco, CA
There was entertainment at the gold rush camps but during the early years it tended to be non-theatrical to say the least. Fights between bulls and bears in a ring were not uncommon. Prospectors would bet on the outcome and in some cases one of the two animals might flee before fighting. It took a few years for the mining camps to have legitimate theater. Acting troupes from San Francisco would tour the camps.

The First San Francisco Theaters

The first theaters in San Francisco were said to have been opened in 1850 by Yankee Robinson and Tom Maguire. Robinson's theater was named the Dramatic Museum on California Street and could seat 200. Maguire opened an 800 seat theater named the Jenny Lind. An interesting side note is that Jenny Lind reportedly never performed in San Francisco and Maguire's choice of her name for his theater has never been fully understood.

Both Robinson and Maguire became fierce competitors, each trying to outdo the other. Yankee Robinson  had the dubious distinction of later building a huge theater on recent land fill which sank two inches during the opening night's performance. It was thought that the weight from hundreds of theater patrons caused the sinking. Building codes were something in the distant future. The story about Tom Maguire is that he sold his third version of the Jenny Lind, under questionable circumstances, to the city for use as a city hall.

orpheum theater
The Orpheum on Market Street
The theater sale is often referred to as the Jenny Lind Theater Swindle. City Hall had been in rental quarters and needed a permanent building. The city council overrode the mayors veto and purchased the third Jenny Lind Theater for $200,000 from Tom Maguire. The building was considered poorly built and even the general public was against the sale. Another $200,000 would be required for proper renovation. As it turned out the matter was brought before the Supreme Court who ruled in favor of the sale. That settled the matter and Tom Maguire kept his money. Tom Maguire built the Maguire Opera House in 1856.

The link below is to our Western Trips photo article about historic Nevada City California and it's famous Nevada Theater during the gold rush days.

Also see our Western Trips articles...   Nevada City California

The San Diego Zoo / A Must Trips Stop

The Oldest Building in San Diego / Old Town  

San Diego's Popular Gaslamp Quarter

Today's Historic San Francisco Theaters

Two historic and well known theaters operating today in San Francisco are the Orpheum and the Golden Gate

The Orpheum located at Market and Hyde Streets opened it's doors in 1926. The interior of the Orpheum has vaulted ceiling and the building's outside was built to resemble a 12th century French cathedral. Two renovations, one in the 1970's and the other in 1998 helped to make the theater more usable for Broadway shows.  The Orpheum is designated as a San Francisco Landmark.

golden gate theater
Golden Gate Theater
The Golden Gate Theater which today has common ownership with the Orpheum was built in 1922. Vaudeville acts first took stage at the Golden Gate and later motion pictures. After the theater deteriorated during the early 1970's it was renovated and reopened in the late 1970's as a performing arts venue. It remains so today. The Golden Gate Theater is located a 1 Taylor Street just a few blocks away from the Orpheum. If you walk east along the north side of Market Street from the Orpheum you'll come across the Golden Gate.

There are some additional theaters that also share a place as San Francisco Landmarks. One is the CastroTheater which was originally built in 1910 at 479 Castro Street. In 1922 a new Castro Theater was built at 429 Castro Street. This is near Market and Castro Streets. The new Castro Theater had an 1922 invitation only gala premiere showing the Paramount movie, Across the Continent. The Castro Theater was also used in the filming of the movie Milk in 2008.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 Western Trips. Jenny Lind photo is from the public domain)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tall Ships

tall ships
Western Trips had the opportunity to explore one of the more historic sailing ships now located on the west coast. This is a tour you definitely want to add to your San Francisco trip planner. Among the tall ships that plied the waters of the world, the Balclutha tells the story of an 1800's ship and the important role it played in maritime commerce. In a large way it's a living history museum that's available for anyone to explore.

Today, the Balclutha resides at the Hyde Street Pier which is a part of the San Francisco Maritime  National Historical Park in the western part of the Fisherman's Wharf area of San Francisco. The park is administered by the National Park Service and is probably one of the most interesting sites in the country to learn about 1800's shipping. In addition to the larger vessels the San Francisco Maritime Historical Park also features a collection of smaller boats.

There are five main vessels moored at the park and each has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. In addition to the Balclutha, visitors will be able to inspect the Alma, Eureka, C.A. Thayer and Hercules.

balclutha ship
Main deck
Balclutha Hauls California Wheat to Europe

The Balclutha is one of the best preserved tall ships you'll come across today. This is a three masted, steel
hulled, square-rigged ship that was built to carry a variety of cargo all over the world.

The Balclutha was launched in Glasgow Scotland in 1886 and carried cargo an amazing seventeen times around Cape Horn. Amazingly, she accomplished these seventeen trips in thirteen years. This was the era before the Panama Canal. Any journey from Europe to the west coast meant a trip around the often perilous cape. It also meant a journey of several months, likewise the crew lived on board for months at a time.

The Balclutha usually had a crew of about twenty-five. Later during her service to the Alaskan salmon industry she was known to have more than one hundred crew on board.

san francisco maritime museum
Three Masted Tall Ship
The ship was built primarily to haul California wheat to Europe. It's maiden voyage began in January 1887 as the ship cast off from Wales destined for San Francisco. The Balclutha was at sea for 140 days before entering the Golden Gate of San Francisco Bay. After mooring, the Balclutha unloaded coal shipments to California and readied herself  to take on wheat.,

The Balclutha Crosses the Pacific

This historic tall ship called on several ports throughout the world during the 1890's. New Zealand is one example. Here the Balclutha hauled wool to London.

In 1899 Balclutha's registry was changed to Hawaii upon which time the tall ship became a part of the busy west coast lumber industry. Much of her travels during this period were between the Puget Sound area and Australia. The lumber she carried to Australia was important for the bustling mining going on there.

An historic note about the Balclutha was that she was the last vessel registered under the Hawaiian Kingdom status. Congress voted to allow the ship to change her registry to the U.S. which allowed her to operate between U.S. ports. This opened the way for the Balclutha's entry into the growing Alaskan fishing industry.

tall ship balclutha
Balclutha below deck
Balclutha and the Alaskan Packers Association

The Balclutha is still around today because she was never scrapped like so many other vessels from the 1800's. The vessel changed careers several times as mentioned above and it was for this reason she remained around. She was able to adapt to the changing maritime commerce environment on the U.S. west coast. In other words, there always seemed to be a need for her.

The Names of the Balclutha

This tall ship went aground in 1904 near Kodiak Island. The vessel was then bought by the Alaska Packers for a distressed price of only $500 and renamed the Star of Alaska. The newly renamed ship worked in the salmon hauling trade until 1930. In 1933 the vessel took on another owner and was renamed the Pacific Queen. The Pacific Queen found itself appearing in the film Mutiny on the Bounty with Clark Gable.

hyde street pier san francisco
Cargo Hold exhibit
The Balclutha's Restoration

Today, visitors to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park are able to tour the vessel because of the work started for her restoration in 1954. After her film debut in the 1930's theBbalclutha didn't do much of anything other than being a floating exhibit ship.

Over the decades the vessel deteriorated and it was a 1976 restoration effort that made her what she is today. This was accomplished with donations including material and labor from the local community. The Balclutha was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area and really want to explore an historic tall ship, you'll absolutely love touring the Balclutha.

The links below will take you to additional photo articles we've published which you'll enjoy. All three vessels featured are on display in the San Francisco Bay Area.

USS Red Oak Victory Ship

USS Pampanito Submarine

Jeremiah O'Brien Liberty Ship

three masted ship
Crew sleeping quarters in bow
Touring the Balclutha

When you tour this historic sailing vessel you will be able to inspect it bow to stern. This is a large vessel. The dimensions are as follows...overall length 301 feet...beam 38.6 feet...height of the main mast 145 feet and the depth 22.7 feet.

The National Park Service offers guided tours of the Balclutha and you're also free to do a self-guided tour as well. All of the rooms and compartments are identified with informational plaques and you'll also get a good glimpse of all the different cargoes the ship hauled during her service life.The cargo holds are filled with various crates and boxes which reflect the brand names of the era such as with the various canneries of Alaska.

(Article and photos are copyright 2013 Western Trips)

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rodeo de Santa Fe

The very popular annual Rodeo de Santa Fe is held every June. This professional rodeo which takes place each June celebrated it's 64th anniversary in 2013. Today the Rodeo de Santa Fe is recognized as one of the top 60 PRCA Rodeos in the nation.

rodeo de santa fe
2013 Rodeo de Santa Fe
Rodeo de Santa Fe, A Tradition Since 1949

Starting in 1949, the Rodeo de Santa Fe was organized by Roy Butler, Austin “Slim” Green, Gene Petchesky, Paul Ragle, Paul Rutledge and others to bring a true professional rodeo to Santa Fe New Mexico.

 Interestingly enough, Santa Fe's first cowboy competition of riding and roping actually took place in 1847. This would have been about a year after Brigadier General Stephen W. Kearny and his troops rode into Santa Fe claiming it and Nuevo Mexico for the United States. Kearny was to serve as the territory's military governor during 1847.

Some have disputed this fact and claim that the story of the 1847 rodeo in Santa Fe really never occurred. Many historians however contend that it did happen and it happened in 1847. The detractors point out that Santa Fe in the year 1847 was a place of turmoil. It is a fact that the territory's first governor, Charles Bent, was killed by insurrectionists in 1847. The murder took place in his Taos house, not in Santa Fe. Detractors also contend that there was no cattle ranching in New Mexico at that early time. Proponents however say that there are indeed records of this first rodeo and some historians have so noted it.

rodeo clown
The important Rodeo Clown
It should be mentioned that several towns do make claim that they hosted the first rodeo. Two towns that make the claim are Deer Trail, Colorado claiming 1869, and Pecos, Texas claiming  1883. Prescott, Arizona which has a popular annual rodeo each year began theirs in 1883. According to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, the rodeo as we know it did not exist until the late 1800′s, but its roots in North America are traced back to the Spanish settling California and becoming cattle ranchers.

In the book Gender, Whiteness, and Power in Rodeo: Breaking Away From the Ties of Sexism, authors Tracey Owens Patton and Sally M. Schedlock state that rodeos actually began as community events during holiday festivals such as in San Antonio Texas in 1844 and Santa Fe in 1847.

The real answer to the question of where did the first rodeo take place is probably found in one's definition of what exactly a commercial rodeo is versus simple competition among cowboys on early ranches. It's also believed that the events themselves differed between the early rodeos. The competition in Santa Fe differed from the later competition in Deer Trail Colorado. Uniformity came a bit later. In actuality, it's a good bet that the exact year of the first rodeo will be a continuously debated issue.

cheyenne frontier days riders
Cheyenne Frontier Days riders
A Grand Rodeo Parade

The Santa Fe rodeo starts each year with a parade through downtown Santa Fe. The parade involves floats which vie for the best entry award. The parade serves as the kick-off to rodeo week and both of these events make an ideal family outing. A the rodeo grounds the kids will have fun at a calf scramble, a carnival midway and there's plenty of food and souvenirs offered.

There is an annual Rodeo Kick Off Party in addition to the parade. The 2013 kick off party was held at the Inn of Santa Fe.

Rodeo Competition

Bulls, bucking broncos and sheep will come running out of the chutes. Contestants compete for cash prizes and custom belt buckles. People love rodeos and as proof it's said that about tenty-five million people attend Professional Cowboys Association rodeos each year in the U.S. and Canada.The rodeo was probably more important in the history of the west than many may have thought. Rodeo competition was more significant than the gunfights that Hollywood movies like to highlight.

santa fe rodeo
Chutes at Rodeo de Santa Fe
The country's largest rodeo if said to be the one held each year in Cheyenne Wyoming during their very well attended Frontier Days. The Cheyenne event is considered the country's longest continuously held rodeo. It's said that people from every state attend this rodeo.

Competition at Rodeo de Santa Fe includes all the events you've come to expect with professional rodeos. Bronc riding, bull riding, calf roping, barrel racing and steer wrestling. Additionally, there is a rodeo Queen contest and a rodeo Princess contest. Queen contestants must be between the ages of 18 and 25. Princess contestants must be between age 13 and 17.The 2013 Rodeo Queen, Alexandria Layne Tapia was named Miss Rodeo New Mexico Elect for 2014.

The links below take you to some interesting articles you'll enjoy from our Trips Into History Site.

The Buffalo Bill Wild West Tours Europe 

Cattle Drives and Cowboys 

On our Western Trips site see the photo article Women of the Western Frontier Ranch

new mexico rodeos
Santa Fe Rodeo grandstands
Performers from Cheyenne Wyoming

Alexandria (Alex) Layne Tapia, reigning Rodeo de Santa Fe Queen 2013, was named Miss Rodeo New Mexico Elect for 2014. - See more at: http://www.santafe.com/article/rodeo-de-santa-fe-queen-names-miss-rodeo-new-mexico-2014#sthash.uibG41w7.dpuf
Alexandria (Alex) Layne Tapia, reigning Rodeo de Santa Fe Queen 2013, was named Miss Rodeo New Mexico Elect for 2014.  - See more at: http://www.santafe.com/article/rodeo-de-santa-fe-queen-names-miss-rodeo-new-mexico-2014#sthash.uibG41w7.dpuf
Alexandria (Alex) Layne Tapia, reigning Rodeo de Santa Fe Queen 2013, was named Miss Rodeo New Mexico Elect for 2014.  - See more at: http://www.santafe.com/article/rodeo-de-santa-fe-queen-names-miss-rodeo-new-mexico-2014#sthash.uibG41w7.dpuf
During the 2013 Santa Fe event, the Cheyenne Rodeo and the Cheyenne Frontier Days were represented by a group of female riders from Cheyenne. It's a fact that the first women's event, the Ladies' Relay Race, was held at the 1899 Cheyenne Frontier Days. The female riders visiting the Santa Fe rodeo as shown on the photo above performed various horse maneuver routines along with a fine exhibition of overall horsemanship.These skilled riders serve as excellent goodwill ambassadors for the Cheyenne's Frontier Days.

If your plans call for New Mexico travel in June 2014 this is an event you'll want to put on your trip planner. Lots of good rodeo competition from some of the country's best performers. Plans for the next Rodeo de Santa Fe can be found at www.rodeodesantafe.org

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rails, Tales, and Trails

For those wishing to learn more about the historic Central Pacific Railroad, the western link of the famous transcontinental railroad, Western Trips has discovered two well researched sources. One is a book and the other a film. Each accompany the other.

central pacific railroad
The book Rails, Tales, and Trails, is now available. It is a guide to the historic sites of the Central Pacific Railroad, built by hand in the 1860s. The part of the book featured in this article talks about the Auburn, Ca. area.
Rails, Tales, and Trails will tell you what you need to know for a self guided trip to the historic sites of the Central Pacific Railroad, built by hand in the 1860s.
Below is the excerpt from the book which is meant to accompany the film "The Hidden Wonder of the World, the Transcontinental Railroad from Sacramento to Donner Summit." The film won the Award of Excellence from the Sacramento County Historical Society.
Both the book and the film were created by author Bill George and Nimbus Marketing. For more information about obtaining this award winning film and book visit website www.transcoshow.com.

c p huntington locomotive
C.P. Huntington locomotive
About The Film
For the first time the hidden wonders of one of America’s greatest construction and engineering feats are revealed on camera. Come along and visit the abandoned granite tunnels, stunning trestles, gigantic cuts and breathtaking scenery traversed by the Transcontinental Railroad. 

People come from all over the world to see these hidden sites. Now you can travel to the summit of the Sierra Nevada and marvel at how the master engineers and builders of the 1860s accomplished this heroic deed.
Perfect for history, railroad and travel fans!
An Excerpt from Rails, Tales and Trails


Elevations Between 1,000 and 1,400 Feet
I-18 Exit at Elm Street 

Auburn is a beautiful little town tucked right next to the freeway.  Its hilly streets offer wonderful vistas, and it is a great town for walking especially if you can catch a glimpse of a train chugging on one of the trestles, knowing they have done this for almost one- hundred and fifty years.  If you take the I-80 exit at Elm Street, you will be in Old Town, which dates from the Gold Rush.  Old Town took a bit of a hit in 1865 when the Central Pacific reached Auburn and bypassed Old Town and built a depot on a hill about a mile and half away.  Most businesses packed up and relocated to the new depot area, leading to two downtowns for this small town. Both offer nice restaurants, antique stores and pleasant hilly hikes. Today you will find a perfect replica of the old depot with offices occupied by the Chamber of Commerce at 601 Lincoln Way.  The railroad did not just disrupt business, it had a huge impact on people, many of whom blamed the railroad for disrupting their quiet, pastoral lives.  One of the CPRR’s “villains” was big, blustery hard-hearted, one-eyed James Harvey Strobridge. Immortalized over time as the construction boss who browbeat and bullied workers, Strobridge was accused of pushing them past exhaustion to accomplish tasks thought to be impossible.  Strobridge has been portrayed as one of the toughest guys in American history, even depicted in one television series engaged in axe-handle battles with workers to keep them in line.  But Strobridge had a softer side.  When the railroad reached Auburn in May, 1865 it caused immediate and unbeatable competition for the California Stagecoach Company, which laid off its station manager, Samuel H. Whitmarsh.  With two children to support, and no job, Whitmarsh fell into depression and shot himself through the head.  The “cruel” Strobridge, in the midst of construction, adopted the boy and the girl.

It was at Auburn that the railroad first began to employ Chinese workers in large numbers. They are memorialized with a 22-foot high monument that was sculpted by a local dentist and never fails to draw attention from tourists. 

A true wonder, Bloomer Cut

End of Herdal Drive, Auburn

From eastbound I-18 take the Maple Street exit in Auburn and stay straight. Go through the stoplight and continue on Auburn Folsom Road. After about 1 1/4 miles, turn right onto Herdal Drive. Park where Herdal Drive ends at Quinn Way and take the walking trail heading east. Bloomer Cut will be about 300 feet ahead.
From eastbound I-80 take the Maple Street exit in Auburn and stay straight. Go through the stoplight and continue on Auburn Folsom Road. After about 1 1/4 miles, turn right onto Herdal Drive. Park where Herdal Drive ends at Quinn Way and take the walking trail heading east. Bloomer Cut will be about 300 feet ahead.The cut was once regarded as the Eight Wonder of the World. It is located in Auburn in a quiet residential neighborhood, west of downtown. It is a rocky trail that rises and falls so be sure to wear hiking shoes. You can climb to the top of the cut and peer down the vertical side and see the railroad tracks. ">It was one of the first engineering challenges the railroad faced. On February 22, 1864, workers began the dangerous and exhausting job of cutting a wedge through a tough, rocky hill.  The hill was described as consisting of “boulders embedded in cement.”   Look at it today and you can see how the cut sides of the hill have withstood the vagaries of time with very little erosion.  The cut is an engineering marvel and a testament to the strength and determination of the laborers who built it.  The workers used black powder to blast through the hill—building a tunnel without a top.  The cut is 800 feet long, and the workers excavated more than 45,000 cubic yards of earth and rock, using shovels, picks and wagons. The work could be dangerous, as evidenced by what occurred to the project’s hands-on construction chief, James Harvey Strobridge.  He was working in the cut when a powder charge went off; his injury cost him the use of an eye.  Strobridge was back at work the next day.

You can still see the marks from pick and shovel. The railroad still runs on the original route today, and trains barely squeeze through the narrow passage. 

Bayley House

From Auburn take Highway 49 south and east about 6.7 miles past the town of Cool

This is a 20-minute drive down a winding road featuring hairpin turns, over the American River and through the beautiful Auburn State Recreation Area. Stop by the river and look around,you will notice the Foresthill Bridge, at 731 feet above the riverbed the fourth highest bridge in the U.S.  There are also some nice, short hikes along the river. Continue on Highway 49 and you will come to three-story brick building, standing all alone, on the right-hand side of the road.

Like just about everybody and their proverbial brother, businessman A.J. Bayley wanted a piece of the speculative action the railroad offered.   He believed the rail route would follow a well-known wagon freight route, so he built a grand 22-room hotel alongside what he thought would be the railroad.  Visions of dusty tourists getting off the train and paying top dollar for a respite at his hotel jumped in his head.  Those hopes were dashed when Theodore Judah put the road on the other side of the canyon you just drove through. Bayley finished his “hotel” using 300,000 bricks, which a local writer said made it out  “like the veritable sore thumb.”  Its doors opened in April 1862, but with no train traffic its commercial future was doomed, so Bayley lived there.  Bayley survived the debacle and built the Grand Central Hotel and resort near Truckee this time along a thriving tourist rail line, so his concept played out if the timing did not.  Unfortunately the Bayley House is boarded up so you won’t be able to see the ornate wooden staircases and other affectations of 1850s-era wealth, and over time the scoffers dubbed it “Bayley’s Folly.” 
Here you may enjoy a wonderful drive, spectacular scenery, and can forever tell friends you were in Cool, California. You can even make up a catchy story about how Cool got its name, since no one really knows.  

See our Western Trips article...A Visit to Truckee CA and It's Historic Hotel

central pacific railroad film

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips. Rails, Tales, and Trails book excerpt and video jacket image copyright Nimbus Marketing)


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Las Golondrinas

There is a very interesting site just a few miles to the southwest of Santa Fe New Mexico which is not only historic but also offers a family the opportunity to get a good glimpse of what life was like in Nuevo Mexico during the time of Spanish occupation. To say that this is a unique historic site is an understatement.

el rancho las golondrinas
Las Golondrinas Church
An Ancient Site

El Rancho Las Golondrinas is a living history museum. This site dates back to the 1700's when the supply trail between Mexico City and Santa Fe was the lifeline of all trade and supply efforts. This was a century before the Santa Fe Trail came into existence connecting Santa Fe with the American trade from Missouri. Much of the goods that traveled over the Santa Fe Trail also made their south on the El Camino Real into Mexico. An interesting side note is that during the 1600's Santa Fe was the only incorporated town north of Chihuahua.

El Rancho Golondrinas, the Ranch of the Swallows, while being only about fifteen miles southwest of the Santa Fe plaza, was in the 1700's a full one day journey from Santa Fe. It was the first camp heading south out of Santa Fe and the last if you were heading north from Mexico. This was along the famous Camino Real. This was referred to as the public road and a vital one at that.

There is also a lot of evidence in this area that points to habitation many years before the Spanish Conquistadors journeyed north out of Mexico. Pueblos overlooked the valley where they planted beans, squash and corn. This was the valley along the Cienega stream.

las golondrinas
Blacksmith Shop
This region was changing dramatically during the first half of the 1800's. The Spaniards were expelled from North America in the early 1820's by the new Mexican government and then not many years later the United States took possession of the southwest after the Mexican American War during the 1840's. After the New Mexico territory was secured the Americans pushed westward to take control of California.

The Reestablishment of Rancho Las Golondrinas

As the years passed, roads that were built out of Santa Fe largely bypassed Las Golondrinas. As a result the settlement was largely abandoned and the structures were in disrepair. The last relatives of the original owners sold the property in 1932. The property was purchased by the Curtin family of Santa Fe and California.

El Rancho Golondrinas was saved by Leonora Curtin and her husband Y.A. Paloheimo. Paloheimo was a Finnish consul and he and his wife Leonora began making the ranch into a living history museum. Their efforts are what made Las Golondrinas what it is today. Structures were repaired when possible and others were erected on their original foundations. Historically accurate livestock was brought to the ranch.

new mexico rugs
Woven rugs and blankets
El Rancho Las Golondrinas opened it's doors to the public in 1972. Today when you visit this very unique living museum which is spread over some 200 acres, you'll be able to see blacksmithing, weaving, artists at work when strolling the grounds. There are also special events scheduled at various times.

The Defensive Tower

To be sure, the area around El Rancho Las Golondrinas could be a hostile one. One of the structures you'll notice near the entrance is the Defensive Tower. This was called in Spanish, El Torreon Defensivo. It was reportedly constructed from orders directly from the King of Spain. The tower was used for two important purposes.

A sentinel would watch the countryside from the upper level looking for any danger. The rancho could be approached at anytime by hostile Indians. As an alarm, the sentinel would either ring a bell or blow a horn if danger was spotted. This would alert the field workers who could then rush inside the rancho's protective walls. The Spanish also kept food and arms within the tower and could fire upon any attackers from the openings on the tower's upper level. The upper level was reached by a ladder built through the floor.

vertical loom
Vertical Loom
A Vertical Loom

Another interesting and very important item you'll view at El Rancho Las Golondrinas was the vertical loom. The 400 year old replica loom was constructed by museum volunteers. The vertical loom is designed primarily for large tapestries and rug. The vertical loom is also known as the High-Warp Loom.

The loom was needed to make clothing, rugs and blankets to name just a few items. These items were quite important along the desolate frontier and could be bartered easily for other needed items. It was a very important part of the rancho.

The links below will take you to two additional Western Trips photo articles of historic sites along with fun hiking trails near Las Golondrinas.

The Turquoise Trail

Hiking Trails Near Santa Fe

las golondrinas santa fe
Defensive Tower
Visiting Las Golondrinas

When you're visiting the Santa Fe area it is very easy to reach Las Golondrinas.

The site is only about fifteen miles southwest from the Santa Fe plaza and is just west of Interstate 25.

Las Golondrinas is open April through October. Both guided tours and self-guided tours are available. You'll also be able to view a short film regarding the ranch and the Spanish explorations of the area. Las Golondrinas schedules theme weekends, festivals snd other events through the season.

El rancho Las Golondrinas is affiliated with the Association for Living History, Farms and Agricultural Museums and the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail.

This is a very unique living museum and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the Santa Fe New Mexico area.

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Silver City New Mexico

palace hotel silver city nm
Palace Hotel, Silver City, NM
Silver City New Mexico is a historic town in New Mexico in a very scenic part of the state that offers many attractions for both history lovers and recreational enthusiasts.The town was named Silver City because rich deposits of chloride silver were discovered just west of town during the 1870's. Silver City's growth took off after this discovery. A lumber mill was established shortly afterward using the vast nearby timberland to supply wood for the mines.

Open pit copper mining processes can even be viewed today at a site about fifteen miles west of town. Minerals have been produced from this very same site since the 1880's. It's one of the largest of it's type in the United States. Another open pit site about twelve miles south of Silver City yields about 50,000 tons of copper ore today. Mining obviously is still a big industry in the modern Silver City.

The Town of Silver City sits atop a site that has been home to Native American, Hispanic and Anglo settlers for hundreds of years. 

silver city hotels
Palace Hotel lobby
As a side note, and Silver City's connection to the old wild west, it's said that William Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid, experienced his first arrest and incarceration in Silver City. While The Kid went on to infamous notoriety, his family did reside in Silver City for years. William Bonney's mother is buried in the town cemetery.

Located about 230 miles south of Albuquerque and about 40 miles west of Interstate 25, Silver City is the jumping off point to some of the most popular attractions in New Mexico. When you look at the map of New Mexico you;ll notice that Silver City is located about 45 miles south of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. From Silver City you drive scenic NM 15. The drive from Silver City will take about two hours. Once there you will want to take the hiking trail to the ancient cliff dwellings. The Mogollon ancestral people lived in this area of great beauty and serenity.

Historic Downtown Silver City Hotels

Silver City New Mexico is the site of two historic district downtown hotels. One is named The Palace Hotel and the other The Murray Hotel.

murray hotel silver city
Murray Hotel
The Palace Hotel has been featured in the New York Times as well as other popular publications such as Sunset Magazine, Travel and Leisure, Lonely Planet and others. The hotel offers eighteen suite rooms and was originally built in 1882 to serve as a bank building. The hotel opened on the site in 1890. When the hotel opened it offered some of the finest accommodations in the region. Each suite offered bathrooms and closets.

After decades, The Palace Hotel was restored to it's original splendor and was reopened in 1990. If you enjoy staying in an old west hotel in an old western town, The Palace Hotel is the place to experience. All of the rooms are on the second floor and each is decorated differently.

The Murray Hotel also in the downtown historic district was constructed in 1937 and is a local landmark best noted for its Art Deco style. Art Deco was particularly popular in the 1930's. The hotel originally had 52 guest rooms. In 1949 an addition increased the hotel’s occupancy with 48 more rooms. Included in the hotel was a dining room, coffee shop and in 1949 a ballroom was added. When the five story hotel was built it was the tallest structure in downtown Silver City and still is. It's streamlined Art Deco style remains it's unique touch.

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<b>Silver City Arts and Cultural District</b><br />
<br />
The historic district of downtown Silver City New Mexico features<b> artist studios and galleries</b>.Author <b>John Villani</b><span style="color: #006633;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"> <span style="color: black;"><span style="font-size: small;">named the <b>Silver City Arts and Cultural District</b> one of the </span></span><b><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-size: small;">"100 best art towns in America".</span></span></b><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-size: small;"> </span></span></span></span><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family:
Silver City Museum
Villani is the author of the book of the same name. The Arts and Cultural District pretty much is centered along Yankie Street in the downtown historic district.

The Gila National Forest

The Gila National Forest, established in 1905 during the President Theodore Roosevelt administration, is very well known for the Gila Wilderness area, the first wilderness area in the United States. Prior to 1905, the area was known as the Gila River Forest Reserve

The Gila National Forest is comprised of over 2.7 million acres and is a short drive north from Silver City New Mexico which is where the forest headquarters are located. The National Forest surrounds the site of the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

silver city new mexico historic district
Part of Silver City, NM Historic District

The links below will take you to three additional Western Trips photo articles you'll enjoy. 

Historic Mesilla New Mexico which was the first settlement in the present day Las Cruces New Mexico area.

Inscription Rock at the El Morro National Monument in New Mexico where early Spanish and Native Americans carved inscriptions during their journeys.  

Mountain Bike Riding in the West ...Trails, Regions and Types of Bikes

The Silver City Museum

The Silver City Museum is located in a mansion downtown at 312 W. Broadway Street. The museum hosts a collection of exhibits artifacts and photos from the 19th and 20th centuries and a lot of information about this area and it's Native Americans in general. 

Also in Silver City is the Western New Mexico University Museum where you'll see exhibits from the prehistoric Mimbres Indian culture. Artifacts here include jewelry, pottery and stone tools.

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

White Mountains of Arizona

Located at an elevation of 7,200 feet in Arizona's pine forested White Mountains is Pinetop-Lakeside, one of the state's most popular tourist and recreation area. The two towns, Pinetop and Lakeside incorporated into one town in 1984. Pinetop-Lakeside is surrounded by the White Mountains, the Apache-Sitreaves National Forest, and the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation.

pinetop-lakeside arizona museum
Pinetop-Lakeside Arizona Museum
A Tourist Paradise

Visitors are able to enjoy a four season climate surrounded by the world's largest stand of Ponderosa Pines. There are also forty lakes within forty miles of Pinetop-Lakeside. Seasonal events include the White Mountain Native American Festival, the Pinetop-Lakeside Fall Artisans Festival and Parade, the Woodland Wildlife Festival and the Run to the Pines Car Show.

Arizonians who reside in the lower elevation desert communities of Tucson and Phoenix have long enjoyed visiting the White Mountains for it's cool mountain air and clear streams and lakes. 

In addition to the above, hikers can enjoy some 180 miles of multi-use trails at an average elevation of about 7,000 feet. Most of the trails have connector trails which give hikers a wide choice of routes to enjoy. Trails are not crowded and the wildlife in the area is abundant. Another popular activity is horseback riding. Many of the multi-use trails offer some great scenic rides.

Golfers can enjoy ten regional golf courses and of course hunting and fishing is spectacular. Add to this snowmobiling, sledding and skiing during the winter months.

arizona white mountains
Hiking trails through the pine forest
Pinetop-Lakeside Arizona is located about189 miles northeast of Phoenix, about 140 miles southeast of Flagstaff and about 10 miles south of Show Low.

Pinetop-Lakeside History

Pinetop-Lakeside is located in Navajo County Arizona. The location is in pines near the top of the Mogollon Rim. The town was established by the Anglos in 1885 prior to habitation by both Native Americans and Spaniards. Mormons also migrated to the area during the 1870's. Originally there were about six LDS families in the area. Coronado traveled through the White Mountains during his 1540 expedition in search of gold. Pinetop is said to have received it's name by the Buffalo Soldiers stationed at nearby Fort Apache. This was the name they used to refer to a man named Walt Rigney who operated a saloon in the area.

Prior to the official designation of the town as Pinetop it had been known as Penrod, named after William L. Penrod who had also ran a saloon prior to Rigney. Lakeside derived it's name due to the numerous lakes in the area.

pinetop-lakeside arizona lodging
Scenic lodging in the pine forests
Ranching and Timber

Farms and orchards developed during the 1890's. This was the decade that the settlement really began to grow.

Sheep ranching was a major industry in the White Mountains. Northern Arizona has a long history of both cattle and sheep ranching. The state saw it's share of conflict during it's early days when sheep and cattle ranchers vied for the same pasture land. Cattle rustling during the latter decades of the 1800's was not lost to northern Arizona. When the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad ( a partner of the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad) built through northern Arizona in 1881 more settlers and more cattle arrived. As a result, rustling increased. There was more cattle to steal.

The beautiful pine forests of the White Mountains also meant that the timber industry would thrive there. Today there is a large paper and pulp mill located in Snowflake Arizona. Interestingly enough, the town received it's name not from the flake of snow that falls from the sky but rather from the names of two early settlers. These were Mormon pioneers Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake sent to the area of northern Arizona by Brigham Young.  Snowflake Arizona is located about twenty-eight miles north of Pinetop-Lakeside along Arizona Hwy 77.

The links below are additional photo articles from Western Trips of great sites to visit in Arizona.

A Visit to Prescott Arizona

Historic Downtown Flagstaff Arizona

Visit the Desert Botanical Garden / Phoenix

horseback riding in arizona
Plenty of excellent horseback riding through the pines
Additional Great Stops Near Pinetop-Lakeside

Skiers will enjoy excellent cross country skiing along many of the White Mountain Arizona trails. In addition to that there is a fine downhill ski spot at the Sunrise Park Resort located on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. This resort offers some of the best skiing in the western U.S. with a base elevation of 9,300 feet and a peak elevation of 11,000 feet.

The Nature Center in the White Mountains of Arizona offers clear streams and lakes and contains the worls's largest stand of Ponderosa Pines. Plenty of hiking trails at this site.

The Pinetop-Lakeside Historical Society Museum opened in 2009 and is located next to the town's city hall. The museum collects, exhibits and preserves historic documents, photographs and artifacts regarding both the town of Pinetop-Lakeside and the larger White Mountain Arizona area. You'll learn all about the rich history of the area at this excellent museum.

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

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