Wednesday, June 17, 2009

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Thanks for visiting Historic Happenings! If you are not on the email list yet, and would like to be notified via email when a new posting of this newsletter is made, please email, me, Terry Ommen at I will add you to the list.

Mystery Spot Identified—Congratulations David Miller!
Over a dozen of you identified the mystery spot as the old (1962) Santa Fe Railroad overpass trestle that spanned Highway 198 for many years. David Miller was the first to identify it and less than 1 minute later, yes, Randy Groom got it too. Thanks to all of you who took a stab at it. I understand that two Santa Fe Railroad signs that were on the overpass have been “saved.” Anyone know where they went?

Suspect a Spirit is Paying You a Visit?
Visalia has had plenty of ghost stories in its long history, and after all these years Visalia now has paranormal investigators, too. So if you are living with unwanted visitors, relief is on the way. According to the website of the Tulare County Paranorm
al Society, they will help you to determine what your “eerie” problem is utilizing scientific equipment. You can visit the society at their website: or you can call them in Visalia at 697-2962. While at their website, signup for a historical/paranormal walk on October 24th. Jack and Charlie’s restaurant (in the basement of the old Tulare County Jail) will be the featured location as it is, according to the Society, a “very active place both of history and paranormal activity.” Consider being part of this paranormal walk in search of the supernatural. The picture here shows what the paranormal group captured on film at a location near the library. Pretty interesting, huh?

Just Like 65 Years Ago, the Robins Finally Have Water Again!
On June 13, 2009, Carroll Barnes’ Robin Fountain or birdbath as it is known, was rededicated on the grounds of the Tulare County Library. Water is flowing through the fountain pipes again and the concrete basin offers a refreshing dip for visiting birds. It also gives Visalia a nice visible piece of public art and a peaceful and tranquil gateway to the children’s library. This photograph taken by Sandy Newman shows pretty little Megan Forgey and Lynne Sharon Lipscomb Brumit at the fountain. Megan recited the exact speech that Lynne Sharon gave at the original dedication in 1944. Other speakers at the Rededication were Carole Firstman, co-founder of First Arts, Janet Loffland Moffett, who was at the original Dedication, and Visalia Mayor Jesus Gamboa, who accepted the fountain on behalf of the citizens of Visalia. Thanks to the 50 or so people that attended the event and a special thanks to those who drove long distances to be there.

Yuma, Arizona—the End of the Line for a Famous Visalian
Last month, my wife, Lari and I traveled to Yuma, Arizona in pursuit of more information about Arizona Charlie Meadows. His life had more twists and turns than a Manzanita walking stick. This native of Tulare County and soldier of fortune spent his last years in the southwest desert town of Yuma, Arizona. Even in retirement, excitement followed this legendary bigger - than - life showman. Gathered some great history on him but unfortunately, I was unable to get medical reports as to his cause of death. According to Arizona Charlie’s biographer and relative, Jean Beach King, he was “the tragic victim of his own error in judgment.” In 1932, refusing to see a doctor for relief, he “opened” his troublesome varicose veins with a pocket knife. Arizona Charlie died like he lived, pushing life to the maximum and living way beyond the ordinary. His bronze headstone in Yuma’s cemetery lists Visalia as his place of birth.

New Mystery Spot – For the Artistically Inclined
Here’s the mystery object for this issue of HH . On what building is it located? Here are the clues:
1) The metal art is the creation of Three Rivers artist Carroll Barnes, the same man who sculpted the Robin Fountain and the COS Giant.
2) The representation depicted here is that of a special type of bird that symbolizes power.
3) The building on which this artwork is mounted has a special connection to a national holiday in November.
4) This corner building was dedicated in 1952.

What is the building and where is it located? Good luck.

{{}} Rick and Susan Mangini confirmed Visalia’s “Little Italy” was in the area by Bridge and Santa Fe between Noble and Tulare Ave. We really need to map the locations in Visalia of the various ethnic and cultural groups.

{{}} Recently I heard that there could have been tunnels that ran along Mill Creek not to far from the L.J. Williams Theater and may have even connected with it. This is amazing! With all of the tunnel possibilities that have surfaced (no pun intended), Visalia should no longer be called “Oak Tree City”, but “Tunnel Town.”

{{}} The impressive 17,000 square foot Museum of Farm Labor and Agriculture building is going up fast and it will be finished by September 16, 2009. This building is impressive!

“Teeth for Everybody” was an advertisement proudly displayed in the Visalia Weekly Delta Newspaper by Dr. Elmendorf, resident surgical and mechanical dentist, December 19, 1866.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Visalia Then & Now - available now

Visalia Then & Now is an interesting look at the town's history. It is a trip through time, comparing old Visalia photographs with contemporary photographs showing how the town has changed and how it has stayed the same. A wonderful way to understand history with images pictured side by side. Get your signed copy today. For ordering information please email