Thursday, November 20, 2008

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Just in time for Christmas

A new historical railroad book is about to hit the stores, just in time for Christmas. Local train historian, John Bergman, has written The Southern San Joaquin Valley: A Railroad History. In it he outlines the history of the railroads between Bakersfield and Fresno and includes 250 photos. Visalia trains and railroads are included. John is offering a very good pre-publication price if you purchase before November 30, 2008. For questions or to purchase, contact John at or at (559) 627-3291.

Speaking of books, there will be a local authors gathering at Costco coming up.
On Saturday, December 13, 2008 from 11:00am to 4:00pm at the Visalia Costco, the following authors will be present to sign and autograph their books:

John Bergman, The Southern San Joaquin Valley: A Railroad History
Chris Brewer, Official Historical Atlas Map of Tulare County
Ron Hughart, The Place Beyond the Dust Bowl
Jay O’Connell, Train Robber’s Daughter: The Melodramatic Life of Eva Evans
Robin Michael Roberts, Images of Hanford 1900-2000
William B. Secrest, Day of the Grizzly: The Tragic Story of the Mighty California Grizzly

Come by and pick up one or more of these books and get it autographed by the author—a great opportunity. A signed history book is always a great gift!

Historic Block in Escrow

Rumors have been flying about a pending sale for the last couple of weeks, and then the Valley Voice reported on it November 6, 2008. The 400 block of E. Main Street is now in escrow and the sale may happen as soon as January 2009. It is a historic block which at one time contained an old Chinese laundry, the California Hotel, Ramona Hotel, Automotive Parts Co., Dodge Brothers automobile dealership, Army Surplus, Wilson’s Cyclery, and Santa Fe Liquor to name just a few. The Mangano Co. is the buyer and according to Steve Peck, a company spokesman, the two-story brick building has severe structural problems. But when I talked to him about that, he indicated a more detailed inspection will be done. It’s certainly a historic area of Visalia and is one of the few remaining untouched brick structures in downtown. Most of them were removed in the 1960s and early 1970s as part of a revitalization effort. If you have any interesting anecdotes about any of the businesses that occupied that block or stories about the buildings themselves, please share them with us. As downtown moves east, I hope we can preserve the history of this historic block.

The Mystery Post—Need Help on This One

Visalia historian Joseph Vicenti recently passed along an interesting mystery. There is a concrete post embedded in the sidewalk near the curb on the northeast corner of E. Main Street and Liberty, directly across the street from the Uhl Tire Co. It stands a little over 4’ high and has “1948” stamped at the top. It must have served a purpose at one time, but what that was, no one seems to know. Joseph needs help on this one and it is a rather curious feature rising from the sidewalk. Drive by and take a look and if anyone knows something about this mystery post, please pass it on to us.

1936 Boy Scout Log Cabin Dedicated

On November 8, 2008, the Boy Scout cabin that stood on the south bank of Mill Creek near Sierra Vista School for many decades was given an official dedication at its new home in Mooney Grove Park. The restoration took close to a decade to complete, but it was worth the wait. Glen Drake, Jim Royall and Bob Ludekins deserve the lion’s share of the credit for this huge undertaking, however many were involved. It stands as a showcase for what can be done. The Boy Scouts have a right to be proud, Visalia does too. Thanks to Sandy Newman for this great event photograph.

New Agricultural Museum About to Get Underway

Bids are out and hopefully in a few short weeks ground will be broken for the new agricultural museum at Mooney Grove Park. Scheduled to be finished in 2009, the building will contain 10,000 square feet of useable feet, expandable to 17,000 square feet. It will house exhibits related to agriculture and farm labor history. The building will be built adjacent to the existing museum, but on the other side of Cameron Creek. It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate county for an ag museum than Tulare County. The project will cost over $3 million.


{{}} The Grubstake Restaurant building on Walnut Ave just east of Mooney has been demolished and the materials hauled off.

{{}} I am told the much anticipated 2009 Visalia Community Bank historic photo calendar will be available to the public on about December 8th. Thanks to this civic minded organization for a great gift to the community.

{{}} The Annie R. Mitchell History Room at the Tulare County Library is open after about a 6-month remodel project. Come up – it’s bigger and better. Hours are 1:00-5:00pm Monday thru Thursday.

The man who took the stovepipe from the brick church is requested to bring it back. If not returned in a few days we will naturally conclude that he intends to steal it. Tulare Times, December 21, 1872.