Tuesday, June 4, 2013

We Jumped the TOC again!

According to Forbes magazine, about 40 million Americans move each year. For the last few years, Sheila and I have added to that statistic. This blog got its name from our wandering about the country, besides the fact that my interests drift to so many different subject areas. We have been in search of that part of the country that was the perfect balance between geography, weather, people, politics, and history. After trying out several sections of the USA, we've come full circle and decided that where we started out is actually where we belong. So last month we moved to Fresno, California's best kept secret and my adopted hometown.

This marker, on the Sugar Pine Trail at the corner of Shepherd and Maple,
says "Site of historic Williams Ranch which saw first use of a Caterpillar
tractor for farming - 1920's, Provided by Jim Kaufmann." This marker
sits in front of a luxury apartment complex.
Sheila and I both grew up in southern California. We've lived in Fresno before. I graduated from Fresno State in 1984 and received my commission through the ROTC program there. All of the familiar sites and sounds are back, including 100-degree days (but it's a dry heat) and Wah's Kitchen, the best Chinese food I've had since I was in college (thirty years since I was a regular customer and nothing has changed, except the prices are just a bit higher. Everything is great; try the lunch special!).

California has some world-class historic sites and museums. I'm looking forward to sharing some of our trips to these and maybe some articles on local history. But I'd be the first to admit, we don't have an over abundance of historic buildings left standing, especially here in the San Joaquin Valley. California is big on building new, and I know you cannot (or should not) preserve every old building. But that doesn't mean we should not acknowledge what was once there. I'd like to show you a couple of examples I found along my new favorite bike path.

This marker, on the Sugar Pine Trail on Shepherd Ave between Chestnut and
Willow Avenues, says "Site of Garfield School known as the first Native
American school in the area. 1884 Provided by Thielen and Associates"
Behind the marker is a relatively new housing development.
Fresno's Sugar Pine Rail Trail is one of the smarter things this city has done in the thirty years since I was in college. The original railroad brought logs from the local Sierra Nevada mountains to a lumber mill located in a place called Pinedale (now a Fresno neighborhood surrounded by new development). The Pinedale area has an interesting history of its own, and I'll get to all that in a future post. The route of the railroad is now a paved bicycle path that cuts through neighborhoods and runs beside busy boulevards for thirteen miles through north Fresno and the neighboring city of Clovis. It is awesome to have an off-street trail of this length that is accessible by so many walkers, joggers, and bicyclists in order to safely exercise or use it as a transportation corridor to go to the store or the library. Bike paths and bicycle lanes together is one of the major reasons we settled here. Are you listening local government?

I've shared with you pictures of two monuments, erected not by a government agency or local historical society, but placed through the efforts of private parties. The monuments, found along the Sugar Pine trail, point out what was in this location prior to suburban development. I was thrilled to see that someone thought enough of the history of this area to place those monuments even though there was no remaining evidence of what was there before. It reminds me of a state historical marker program, only this was accomplished by private funds.

There will be more information coming from "Fres-waii" (our name for our new home because we can live in shorts and t-shirts nine months out of the year). But in the meantime I had to share these pictures with you. It made me happy to find them.

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