By PGP DAVID ALLEN
Please note; Brother David writes these reports for the Native Sons Newsletter which is published bi-monthly.
This issue’s article is not as stirring as July’s, but the HPF still has many things in the offing. I will not go into details yet, but suffice to say opportunities have been presented to the HPF Board concerning projects in Monterey and Sutter Creek. We hope to have more information on them in the next issue. The one project that is coming to fruition is the marking of two gravesites at the Old Auburn Cemetery.
The Mountain Quarries Bridge over the North Fork of the American River was designed by John B. Leonard, the same engineer who designed and completed Fernbridge in Humboldt County in 1911. Both bridges have Native Sons plaques on them. Leonard designed 46 known bridges in the west and another noted one was over the Truckee River in Reno. This bridge became known as the “Wedding Ring Bridge” or the “Bridge of Sighs”.
On November 4, 1911 at 10 p.m., during the pour on the El Dorado side of the bridge, the Mountain Quarries Bridge collapsed and three men were killed “crushed by falling concrete, iron and cross timbers.” They were down below packing the concrete. Two of them were buried in unmarked graves at the Old Auburn Cemetery. The connection to the Native Sons happens because the undertaker’s office during that time was a place called Walsh and Keena Mortuary which was located at 301 Commercial St in Auburn. This happens to be the present location of Auburn Parlor #59, Native Sons of the Golden West. On a side note, Auburn Parlor first held meetings in this building in the 1880s when it was the Masonic Hall; the parlor was able to purchase it in 1986.
There will be a tour of the Cemetery on October 18. Features will not only be the newly-marked sites, but the Auburn Parlor Hearse will on display as well. This project was brought to the HPF by Marsha Hayes, a freelance writer from Kansas who happened to be in Auburn writing a story about the Tevis Cup, the 100 mile horse endurance ride from Squaw Valley to Auburn. After some research she discovered this story which led her to me and after some discovery and collaboration, the proposal was submitted to the HPF and the history is now history.
The above is an example of one of many small vignettes or pieces of California history that are in front of all of us. These prospects are endless. Keep your eyes and ears open and be observant. As you walk through any community in California, you see opportunities for preserving, restoring, educating, and identifying many things in your community. The cost is usually minimal. The hardest part is the leg work and the research. Whether the funding comes through the HPF, your parlor, a local group or a combination thereof doesn’t matter. The important thing is that it is acknowledged as a California historical site, which is our mission. Happy Prospecting!