Tuesday, October 14, 2008



On October 11, 2008, the Tulare County Historical Society hosted a 38 vehicle caravan retracing the 1858 Butterfield Overland Stage route through Tulare County. The tour finished at the Tulare County Museum at Mooney Grove Park and ended with a bang! An anvil salute was demonstrated to our tour participants and it was the same type of salute that greeted the first stage that came through Visalia in 1858. It was a way for the old timers to celebrate something exciting and it was re-created for us thanks to Bill Bennett. The salute consisted of two 100 pound plus anvils stacked one on top of the other, with black powder in between them. The black power was ignited and the explosion that resulted was thundering as it launched the anvil on the top into the air. Thanks to the photography of Dallas Pattee who captured the moment, we see the results of the explosion. All who witnessed the anvil salute at historic Mooney Grove came away with a great appreciation for the power of black powder. Folks don’t try this at home!


A couple of weeks ago I received a call from Visalia native Art Browning. He was very excited and told me he had been reading Jay O’Connell’s latest book Train Robber’s Daughter. As he read the part about the shootout in the 1890s at the Evans place near Houston Ave., he remembered as a young boy he found an old rusted 45-caliber pistol near his home also by Houston Ave. He wondered, “Could that old gun have been connected to Chris Evans or the lawmen hunting them down?” Hum, I wonder!


Susan and Rick Mangini were invited recently to attend a Visalia Heritage meeting and word has it there was lots of excitement in group about doing something in support of the re-creation of the fort. I haven’t heard anything recently about the Fort Visalia block . Anyone hear anything? What’s the status of the sale?


After reading in Historic Happenings some time back about the history of the Visalia Fair Mall, I received an email from Russ Dahler who shared that Visalia’s Gottschalks had the first and only escalator in Tulare County in 1964. He said a visit to it “was a must-do fieldtrip for Visalia Unified Schools.” at the time. Russ worked for Gottschalks at the time and remembers the excitement created around the escalator.


Thanks to Supervisor Phil Cox, County Director of Tourism Eric Coyne, and TulareWorks Supervisor Marlene Cardoza, many of us had a nice guided tour of the old 1935 art deco courthouse building. It contained nice wood trim and features plus beautiful old art deco light fixtures. We all got to see the “secret” old tunnel access door, too. It was a great tour of this neat old solid building and all the tourists are appreciative of all who made it happen. Recently I received an email from David Weinstein who is a member of the Art Deco Society and he encouraged preservation of the old courthouse as he indicated Ernest Kump, the courthouse architect, was well known and that he was regarded as one of California’s most important architects.


Recently I drove past the old Mearle’s Drive-In and it looked like the glory days at the old eatery. The parking lot was jammed with cars and it looked like they were open for business. But, unfortunately it was not open and was not serving great food. The cars parked in the parking lot were just occupying space, while the drivers were in class at COS. Other than the packed parking lot , not much else seems to be happening there. But the building seems to be aging rather quickly. How long can/should this go on??


I received a couple of emails regarding the precise date that Bill Allen’s book on Michael Mooney will be re-printed and available for purchase. I contacted him recently and he indicated it looks like it will be available for purchase about November 15, 2008, just in time for Christmas. The Tulare County Historical Society will be offering it for sale and when it is available you will be notified in Historic Happenings.


Recently, I drove by the old hamburger stand that was the Grubestake for many years. It looks like the old building is getting ready to be demolished. As you recall it was the hamburger stand on Walnut Ave, just east of Mooney Blvd. The building has been vacant for years, and according to reliable sources, it will be leveled and will be a bare lot until a master plan is developed for the sight. A lot of nostalgia there. Anyone know who last ran this fast food business there? I do.

Dakota Sioux tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, dismount.

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