Half Dome – Yosemite Musiing
Today we have a special treat. A guest blog from Alice van Ommere. She is a Stockton resident and is an authority on the history of this fine town. She teaches its past at the University of the Pacific. Stockton’s location on a deep water port in the Central Valley made it a link between the growing San Francisco suppliers and the gold country. Most Yosemite Park visitors would travel through Stockton enroute to the park in its early days. A Half Dome fan herself, she also is a renown collector of olde tyme postcards showing Stockton’s early days. She is the author of Stockton in Vintage Postcards and also has an extensive Yosemite postcard collection. I have attached a few below for your viewing enjoyment. She’s on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/alicevano. And now I turn the keyboard over to Alice.
The Big Oak Flat Road, now known as Highway 120, was one of the first roads into Yosemite Valley. The origin of this popular route began on the Stockton waterfront. In 1849, prospectors came from all over the world to San Francisco and traveled along the San Joaquin River to Stockton, which became the supply center for the southern gold mines. It was from there that pack trails would lead them to the Sierra foothills, the location of such mining camps as Chinese Camp, Big Oak Flat and Jamestown. In 1874, the Big Oak Flat Road extended into Yosemite Valley and provided passengers and freight with a direct wagon route from Stockton. Besides its strategic location, Stockton prospered as an agricultural, business and transportation center in the early 1900’s. This led to commercial development that included hotels, restaurants and theatres making it an important tourist destination for those traveling to Yosemite.
Stockton’s historical connection to Yosemite remains evident today. There are the various naming conventions, including Yosemite Street that stretches along one of Stockton’s earliest residential areas and the Yosemite Club, one of California’s oldest clubs, founded in 1888. In addition, the University of the Pacific Library is the home of the John Muir Center that holds the largest collection of papers, photographs and journals on Yosemite’s most important historical figure. Another important attraction, the Haggin Museum, is located near the center of town. The museum is rich with art and history and has several major works by Albert Bierstadt, best known for his painted landscapes of the unsettled west. The collection includes Looking Up the Yosemite Valley and In the Yosemite Valley both painted around 1870 before tourists arrived.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.” – A wise old man
*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com