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!
Let me start this with the same sentence from the previous report. “The purpose of the Historical Preservation Foundation of the Native Sons of the Golden West is to make California and American history accessible, informative, meaningful, and entertaining for the public through the preservation, sponsorship, and promotion of historical sites and of events to commemorate historical dates.” Remember that.
The last few months have been exciting and productive for the HPF. The HPF is working on many fronts at the same time and they are equally important and intertwined. So let’s start at the top.
Meeting with State Parks Directors
PGP Barney Noel, PGP Dwight Dutschke, GP Dean Zellers and I were able to spend 2 ½ hours with State Parks Director Lisa Mangat and Cultural Resources Director Leslie Hartzell, and to quote PGP Dwight, they are “the two people who not only make the decisions regarding the state’s most significant historical resources, but also who can provide access to information and projects which could directly shape the Native Sons’ historic preservation program. These meetings were huge accomplishments and position our Order for meeting our founding objective of preserving the history of ’49 and California. Once again, the Historic Preservation Foundation leads the way in meeting the mission statement of our Order. Stay tuned—these meetings are only the beginning, but they build on the efforts of the last fifteen years to restore old relationships with the California State Parks. Our future is looking brighter than ever.
Congratulations to all for your contributions to the group’s efforts. Thanks to Grand President Dean for providing gifts which I am sure will serve as lasting memories to each of the officials we had the pleasure to meet.” Well said Dwight, it was a great afternoon to be a Native Son.
The HPF was also busy with dedications. Through the efforts of the HPF, Grand Parlor was able to dedicate the new museum at Donner Memorial State Historic Park in Truckee. A crowd of over 500 enjoyed a beautiful Sierra morning and witnessed this historic affair. There were many references during the opening ceremonies to the history of the Native Sons and California State Parks. This all happened on the same date in June as the original dedication of the Pioneer Monument at the park in 1918. There were 18 parlors from throughout the state represented. Another great day to be a Native Son!!
The latest California Registered Historical Landmark placed by the HPF as part of the Cal150 Legacy Program was the dedication of the Sierra Railway Shops in Jamestown. The crowd of about 100 braved the heat to watch theNative Sons perform the magic. Another great day to be a Native Son!
The next and last opportunity, as the HPF finishes this program, is to place a CRHL plaque on the Watts Towers in Los Angeles at a time to be designated in the future. This program of placing new or replacement plaques has been an unqualified success for the exposure of the Native Sons and we look forward to other potential opportunities to expand this program.
Cash to Parlors and Others
The HPF just recently presented a check for $5,000 to Amador Parlor #17 to be used for the “Miners Bend Park” in downtown Sutter Creek. This ambitious project is a testament to what a parlor can do when motivated. Solano Parlor is the recipient of a $1,500 grant to publish more historic walking tour books of downtown Suisun City for the Solano History Exploration Center. This was done previously and was so successful that more books are needed. The HPF presented a pledge for $25,000 to the Sonoma/Petaluma State Historic Park Association for the repair of the adobe walls at the Vallejo Adobe in Petaluma. That amount is from the HPF, Nicasio Parlor #183, and Fairfax Parlor #307. This was one of the main topics in our conversations with the Cultural Resources Chief.
And lastly the HPF, along with Native Sons Hall Association, each contributed to sponsor the Sloat Monument Celebration early in July. This event was falling on hard times and was too important an event about early California to let it go by the wayside. So a group led by Grand 3rd Vice President Carey Pearce of Santa Lu- cia #97 and PGP Duane Gavin of Redwood #66 collaborated with local groups to get this event back on track. Who knows—maybe there might be reinstated parlor in Monterey coming in the future? Another great day!
HPF Gaining Momemtum
Referring back to the opening paragraph of this report, you can see that the HPF is gaining momentum. Whether it is funding for special historic plaques, restoring historical structures, providing necessary literature for historical districts or supporting historical events, the Historical Preservation Foundation of the Native Sons of the Golden West is on the job. The HPF is not only committed to California history, it is committed to the long term future of the Native Sons of the Golden West and will do whatever is necessary to promote California history and the Native Sons of the Golden West and—most importantly—tell the story of California.