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Archive for August 2017

History of the California Dream, 1850-present

Liz du Plessis

 
9/14 to 10/5, Weekly on Thursdays, 6:00-8:00 PM (4 Sessions)
Santa Rosa Junior College, Emeritus Hall Room: 1597
Instructor: Liz du Plessis, PhD in U.S. History
 
The California of Americans’ historical imagination – of adventure, opportunity, and happiness –and the California of historical fact – with its struggles and hardships -- have had strikingly discordant effects on the larger American historical narrative from the mid-19th century to today. This course explores California’s mythology and historiography through artifacts of popular culture including films, songs, and journalistic sources as well as sources that reveal the gritty realities of fires, floods, earthquakes, migrant laborers, and gangs. The instructor holds a PhD in History and will present primary sources from digital archives, slideshow lectures, and film clips. The extensive writings of historian Kevin Starr will receive attention along with works by Carolyn Merchant and other environmental historians of the California region since 1850. 
 
Lectures will be followed by hands-on activities and group discussions to explore selected primary and secondary sources. Participants will have opportunities to play an active role in the course by sharing artifacts and ideas during in-person discussions and in online discussion forums. Multimedia and print materials will be made available online in advance of course meetings to support and extend discussion. Participants will learn not only about course topics but also how to find and interpret historical sources.
 

2017 History Society picnic spot is Sturgeon’s Mill - Sept 17th

For this year’s Sonoma County History Society picnic, our historic chosen spot is Sturgeon’s Mill, at 2150 Green Hill Road west of Sebastopol. It’s a great place to get a sense of what rural life was like back in the late 19th and early 20th century. SCHS day at the mill is Sunday, Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. on. The visit is open to members and friends. We ask that you let us know if you are coming and how many are in your party by phoning Sharie Sbrazza at 707-570-7076 or Marjorie Torliatt at 707-545-7507. Hot lunches will be available for sale at reasonable prices although people can also bring goodies from home if they so desire. There are some restrictions. No dogs are allowed, and the same goes for alcoholic beverages and recreational drugs. It’s recommended that people wear flat shoes, since there are some slippery areas, and since we are not going to a Broadway musical, high heels don’t seem quite right.

Since we’ll only a few miles from the ocean, mill veterans tell us to dress in layers and take photos in the morning. The mill, with 60 or so volunteers, welcomes visitors four weekends a year. The last weekend opening is Oct. 14-15.

In the 2nd half of the 19th century, logging was a dangerous business. Mules, oxen and horses pulled logs out of the woods. Things got better in the 1880s, when steam-powered Donkey engines came along, improving production of lumber. Arrival of the North Coast Railroad in 1877 opened the Russian River area to more intense logging. Partners Wade Sturgeon, John Donati and J.W. Gonella opened the first Sturgeon’s Mill in Coleman Valley in 1914. In the 1920s, the mill was moved to its present location. In 1942, Wade’s son Ralph and Jim Henningsen became partners and continued in business until 1964.

The current activities include a chance to view close-up an 1890s Atlas Steam Engine which drives a saw blade that cuts through giant redwood and fir logs. Also in prime condition, especially in a year when we’ve had lots of rain, are the Woodland Gardens first planted by Wayne and Esther Sturgeon many years ago. Driving directions: From Hwy. 101 in Santa Rosa, take Hwy. 12 exit toward Sebastopol; go on Hwy. 12 for 3.4 miles, then take a right onto Fulton Road (just one block) and turn west (left) onto Occidental Road; After 7 miles, turn right onto Green Hill Rd., go one-half mile down hill to the bottom where you will find the parking lot.

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