Charlie Siebenthal presents expanded talk on the Sonoma Valley Railroad

Announcement, Days of Yesteryear, Glen Ellen, Lectures, Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society, Railroads, Santa Rosa, Sonoma


The next program will be on Monday October 27, 2014

NWPRRHS President Charlie Siebenthal will present a much expanded talk on the Sonoma Valley Railroad, its successor as the Sonoma Valley Branch of the NWP and the Sonoma Valley Branch of the Southern Pacific. Field work plus recently discovered maps and newspaper articles will be used to answer the many questions asked during his first talk on the railroads of Sonoma Valley.

Monroe Hall, 1400 West College Avenue, Santa Rosa. Parking in the rear of the building.
Take 101 to the College Avenue exit. Turn west onto College Avenue. Monroe Hall is on the left just past the G&G Shopping Center.
For further information please contact Charlie Siebenthal at 707-838-8882 or
Please mark this date on your calendars.
If you wish to receive an email reminder of each program please send an email entitled “WN list” to Charlie Siebenthal at your email address will be held confidential.

Image courtesy of Elmore Powell

Windsor barn preserved by Strawn instead of burned for practice

2014, In The News, Preservation, Relocate, Windsor

Milo Strawn, a carpenter and millwright by trade, was not one to discard the old or broken for the new and different. He was from the generation that never threw anything away. When it broke, you fixed it.

So when the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department decided  to use a 100-year-old, open dairy barn in east Windsor for training burns,  Milo, the Fire Chief,  offered to take it apart instead. He bought it for $1 in 1985 from a contractor, who planned to develop the land where the Mattie Washburn School and Pleasant Oak Park now stand.   …read more

Source: Press Democrat

The little engine that could, just can’t anymore – Support the Howarth Park Train

2014, Announcement, Fundraiser, Preservation, Santa Rosa

Howarth Park Train

Help Keep the Howarth Park Train in Motion

Santa Rosa Parks Foundation’s 1st annual Family Fun Night is on October 10th at Howarth Park from 5-9pm. All proceeds from the night will go towards the purchase of a new ADA compliant Howarth Park Train.

This event will include live musical performances by Pat Jordan Band, Bear’s Belly and Midnight Sun Massive, along with delicious provisions provided by The Wurst, Island Ice and Third Street Aleworks. Santa Rosa High School’s agricultural department is supplying pumpkins for a children’s pumpkin decorating booth and rides will run until sundown.

The train has been a part of the Santa Rosa community for 44 years, and as stated in a previous article by the Press Democrat, “The little engine that could, just can’t anymore.” Currently, the C.P. Huntington costs the city of Santa Rosa $30,000 a year in maintenance and sadly due to its datedness, the 1863 replica steam engine is broken down 1/3 of the time. We ask the community to come together for this special event so that the future generations of our city can enjoy 50 more years of wonderful memories. Tickets will be sold at the venue or you can purchase them now at Prices are $10 for adults and $5 for children: adult entry fees include an adult beverage and children entry fees include a train ride.

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E Clampus Vitus honors historical Cloverdale buildings

2014, Announcement, Cloverdale, Cloverdale Historical Society, Historic Landmark, In The News

Cloverdale, Shaw House Plaque, c2014

Plaques presented to Owl Cafe, Gould Shaw House

On Saturday, Sept. 13, E Clampus Vitus, came to Cloverdale and commemorated the placement of two plaques. Known to be a fun loving group of men with prankster-type antics, they are also known for researching and honoring places of historical significance. Two locations were commemorated. One plaque was placed in a large rock in front of the Owl Café. It was presented by the Yerba Buena Chapter 1. The other was placed at the Gould Shaw House, now the site of the Cloverdale Museum, by the Sam Brannan Chapter 1004. “Clampers” from both chapters were on hand to participate in the ceremonies. Wearing their red t-shirts, they were observed all over Cloverdale from Thursday through Saturday.

Source:: Cloverdale Reveille

Image courtesy of Sean Bressie | Sonoma County Historical Society

Nailing it down at Blue Wing

2014, Historic Landmark, In The News, Preservation, Sonoma

Sonoma, Blue Wing, c1906

Work continues at The Blue Wing Inn on East Spain Street — Lot 35 in Mariano Vallejo’s master plan of 1835 — as the historic adobe gets a seismic upgrade and new roof. The unreinforced masonry building was designated as potentially hazardous in 1990, and has been vacant since 2001. It is owned by the California State Parks, which paid for the ongoing repairs. More work will be needed to meet code requirements, a critical step towards the adaptive reuse model – including the possible rental of business space – promoted by the nonprofit Blue Wing Adobe Trust to fund … …read more

Source: Sonoma Valley Sun

Image courtesy of Sean Bressie | Sonoma County Historical Society

Guerneville Cemetery Tour – Oct 11, 2014

2014, Announcement, Days of Yesteryear, Guerneville, Russian River Historical Society

 Join us for the 5th Annual Guerneville Cemetery Tour.

Saturday, October 11th at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Directions from Main Street, Guerneville:  Go north on Armstrong Woods Road two blocks, turn right at the  fire house and follow the signs uphill.

Image courtesy of Russian River Historical Society

What Is Historical Significance?

2014, Days of Yesteryear, In The News, Petaluma Argus-Courier

Some readers might ask, “How do we define historical significance?” One web site “Facing the Past-Shaping the Future” addresses that concern:

“Historical significance is the process used to evaluate what was significant about selected events, people, and developments in the past. Historians use different sets of criteria to help them make judgments about significance. Significance has been called the forgotten concept in history, no doubt because it can be challenging for both teacher and students.”

Another explanation of how to establish historical significance is: “The past is everything that has ever happened anywhere. The past is recorded as history, but there is too much history to remember it all. So how do we make choices about what is worth remembering? Significant events include those that resulted in great change over long periods of time for large numbers of people. In this sense, an event like World War II would pass the test for historical significance. But what could be significant about the life of a worker or a slave? What about my own ancestors, who are clearly significant to me but not necessarily significant to others? Significance depends upon one’s perspective and purpose. A historical person or event can acquire significance if we, the historians, can link it to larger trends and stories that reveal something important to us today. For example, the story of an individual worker in Winnipeg in 1918, which is seemingly insignificant compared to the story of World War II, may become significant if it is recounted in a way that makes it part of a larger history of workers’ struggles, economic development, or post-war adjustment and discontent. In that case, the “significant” life reveals something important to us, and thus becomes significant. Both ‘It is significant because it is in the history book’ and ‘It is significant because I am interested in it’ are inadequate explanations of historical significance.”

Source: Petaluma – Our River Town

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If the Plaza could speak - Healdsburg Museum Exhibit

2014, Healdsburg, Healdsburg Museum, In The News, Museum Exhibit

Healdsburg Plaza

The Healdsburg Museum & Historical Society has an exhibit dedicated to its longstanding hub: the Healdsburg Plaza. “If the Plaza Could Speak,” running through November 9. It focuses on the history of the city through the context of the Plaza, which has served as an anchor for Healdsburg since its founding in 1857. …read more

Source: Healdsburg Tribune

Lest We Forget – Brainerd Jones

2014, Architecture, Brainerd Jones, In The News, Petaluma, Petaluma Argus-Courier

Although a photograph of Brainerd Jones hangs on the wall of the Petaluma Historical Museum and Library I wonder how many current Petaluma residents know about the impact he had on architecture of the schools, churches, businesses, public buildings, as well as homes in our town? As stated in his obituary in the Argus-Courier (March 21, 1945), “Architecture was his life and today a large group of buildings in this city rise as monuments to his artistry and skill.” Among the most notable structures he designed in Petaluma over a five decade career are:

Brainerd Jones


The Carnegie Library (Now the Historical Museum) 1904-1906.
The former Lincoln Primary School, School Administration building, 11 Fifth Avenue
The former Post Office Building, 22-34 Petaluma Boulevard (1926).
The Petaluma Woman’s Club, 518 “B” Street
An addition to the Sunset Line and Twine building (1906 & 1922).
The remodel of the old Opera House, 147-149 Kentucky Street
The original art Deco-style Fire Station on “D” Street (1938).
The Must Hatch Incubator building, 401 7th Street
The 1922 Petaluma Golf & Country Club Clubhouse
The First Congregational Church, Fifth & “B” Streets
Former Philip Sweed School, 331 Keller Street
Jones’s home-office, 226 Washington Street
The Byce House (used for filming of Peggy Sue Got Married), 226 Liberty Street
Residences at: 319 Keokuk Street, 300 Kentucky Street, 500 Western Avenue, and 625, 901, 910, 920 “D” Street.


Jones was born in Chicago, Illinois and moved to Petaluma with his recently widowed mother, when he was six years old. He won drawing contests at local fairs, as a young man. After his studies and work as an architect in San Francisco, he returned to Petaluma and became a very active member of the community: Petaluma Rotary Club, Petaluma B.P.O.E. Lodge #901, City Council member, and the City Panning Commission.

It has been estimated that approximately 75% of the buildings in Petaluma’s historic core were designed by Jones, although many are no linger there, now. Local researchers have found it difficult to find much about Jones’ personal history. Katie Watts, has written for the Argus-Courier that, “It’s almost as though he planned it that way – allowing his work to speak so magnificently about who he was.” Lest we forget.

Research files: Petaluma Historical Library & Museum
History Room, Sonoma County Library, Petaluma
Katherine Rinehardt, Petaluma: A Histoiry of Architecture, 2005.

Source: Petaluma – Our River Town

Image courtesy of

The Sages of Petaluma – Oral History Project

2014, Collections, In The News, Oral History, Petaluma, Petaluma Argus-Courier

Recently, my blogs have focused on promoting our Petaluma Historical Museum and Research Library as a local “Treasure Chest” that contains many “Golden Nuggets” that enrich the legacy of “Our River Town.”

A discussion group of Petalumans, who were either born here or have lived in Petaluma for several years, has been meeting monthly at the Museum and sharing their personal memories of growing up, going to school, playing, working and living here. They’re known as “The Sages of Petaluma.”

A few years ago, an oral history project was initiated by students at Kenilworth Jr. High School. They interviewed several Sages, using a video camera. To date, seven of these interviews, plus DVDs featuring “The Petalumans of Yesteryear” (Capt. Tom Baylis, Isaac Wickersham, William Howard Pepper) and a talk about Fred Wiseman’s first air mail flight from Petaluma to Santa Rosa in 1911, have been given to the Museum and will be available for viewing by the public.

The Sages who have been interviewed include: Dick Dunbar, Jim Giovando, Growling Bear, Lily Krulevich, Shep Shepard, Tim Talamantes, and Don Waite. Hopefully, additional interviews will take place over the coming months and added to this collection of “Golden Nuggets” in our community’s “Treasure Chest.” Stay Tuned.

Source: Petaluma – Our River Town