From the Vault: Twenty Years. The Big 2-0!

Saturday, April 12, 1997, Turtle Bay Exploration Park (Then Turtle Bay Museums and Arboretum on the River) opened its first new, post-merger attraction, Paul Bunyan’s Forest Camp. The free event launched the beginning of the Turtle Bay build out and was the first public physical manifestation of the hard work of The Forest Museum, founded 14 years earlier. The camp also provided a gateway for public access to the Interpretive Forest planted in 1992/1993.

The Forest Camp on Kool April Nites weekend in 1997

It was a wild day. We estimated that about 5,000 people streamed across the little boardwalk and through the gate in the hours after Paul Bunyan himself (okay, honestly, it was a really tall actor) cut the ribbon. Those first guests walked into a carnival atmosphere. Paul’s famous companion, Babe the Blue Ox, was on site in a big red corral. The Dolbeer Steam Donkey was up and running under the tender care of John Nicoles and Jerry Harmon, who still work with demonstrating two person chainsaws for curious kids. Every available space had an activity set up, and there was plenty of food.

Ribbon Cutting April 12, 1997
Jerry Harmon fires up the Dolbeer Steam Donkey April 12, 1997
Turtle Bay’s first Curator of Forestry, the former Forest Director, Linda Ragsdale, on opening day

Babe the Blue Ox and our popular Tree Cookie activity on opening day.

It was my 13th day on the Turtle Bay staff. I’d been recruited straight out of grad school to help the Curator of Forestry, Linda Ragsdale, and the Forestry Educator, Jeanne Tomascheski, run the brand new Forest Camp. Almost the entire Turtle Bay staff turned out that day to put on the event, even people whose focus was on our other sites, the Redding Museum of Art and History, Carter House Natural Science Museum, and the Redding Arboretum.

Paul Bunyan’s Forest Camp has changed quite a bit. In 1999, we opened the Butterfly House in the Interpretive Forest. In 2000, we moved the camp’s entrance when we opened the Visitor Center – soon to be the Mosaic Restaurant. The animal program re-located from Carter House to the camp in 2002. We started adding animal habitats to the Interpretive Forest five years ago and launched Wildlife Woods.

The original playground and the water area on opening day – before the shade canopy.

Improvements continue. The amphitheater has undergone extensive renovations twice and is getting more shade sails as I type. Over the years, we’ve rebuilt and refurbished the playground until parts were so worn that they had to be removed entirely as part of the extensive renewal project that is taking place in tandem with hotel construction. We are very excited about the new entertaining and educational experiences families will have in the modernized and expanded play area. The first kids to run through the front gate are adults now, and many of them bring their children to Turtle Bay.

It has been an eventful 20 years, both for Turtle Bay and for me. In 2002, I was promoted to Collections Manager and moved out of my Mill Building office and over to the museum’s Collections Facility. In 2007, I relocated to an office in the Museum and took over curatorial duties. When I walk around Paul Bunyan’s Forest Camp, the biggest shock for me is the Interpretive Forest. Steady growth sneaks up on you. While gathering images for this blog, I looked at pictures of the trees in 1997 when I began taking kids on tours. Some of the taller trees topped 15 feet, but not many. Today, the Interpretive Forest is visible from a distance!

The Interpretive Forest in December 1998 as we were surveying for the Butterfly House.

Who knows what the future holds, but here is to twenty more successful years!

 

The Vault is Always Open,

The Curatrix

 

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From the Vault: Water, water everywhere!

California residents know that when it comes to precipitation, it is often a matter of feast or famine. Currently, Redding is experiencing the feast after a relatively dry spell. We wanted the drought to end but not, you know, all at once! At 79,000 cubic feet per second, releases from Keswick Dam are the highest they have been since the El Niño/La Niña cycle of 1997-98. Heavy rains have flooded valley towns and aging infrastructure is threatened. We are, however, lucky this isn’t 1862. In that year flooding was terrible. A United States Geological Survey paper confirms newspaper accounts that the Sacramento Valley was a 350-mile long, 20-30-mile wide lake!

Here at Turtle Bay, we are perfectly poised to watch the Sacramento River as it rises and falls with each controlled change in the release level and with every rainstorm. The plaza under the Sundial Bridge is underwater, but that has happened a few times since it was completed in 2004.

March 21, 2011
February 13, 2017. The sign you can see in the 2011 photo is completely under water in the 2017 image.

The Turtle Pond on the trail on the north side of river is currently part of the river and last week the river began flowing over the south trail for the first time since it was paved, filling the wetlands behind the museum.

The South Trail was impassable on February 14, 2017

Before Shasta Dam, this area flooded regularly. One of the dam’s primary purposes is to control those floods. The flood of 1906 washed out the old Freebridge, south of the current Cypress Street Bridge. It was rebuilt and then damaged again the following year. Floods in 1909 and 1913 affected the roads and rail lines. High river flows in 1915 threatened to take out the Diestelhorst Bridge while it was under construction.

1913
Looking upstream in 1913.
Diestelhorst
The Diestelhorst in February of 1915.
washout
Rail line washout. This happened more than once before the dam was built.

While Shasta Dam was being built, Redding experienced its last major flood, the devastating Flood of 1940. On February 28, 1940 the city was cut off by the floodwaters. The storms that month caused the river to peak at more than 185,000 cubic feet per second at the dam site. In his 1997 article for the Covered Wagon, engineer Clair Hill cites a 189,000 cfs maximum flow. Hill also noted that he remembers driving south to Sacramento through water two feet deep on Highway 99. On February 29, 1940, the Oakland Tribune reported that the river was up to six miles wide in some places near Redding. I have heard anecdotal reports that the water crossed the buffer of floodplain farmland and reached the downtown Safeway on Cypress and Market streets.

gravel plant
A rare color slide of the gravel plant at Turtle Bay during the Flood of ‘40
Redding neighborhood
A color slide of a Redding neighborhood during the Flood of ‘40

The east abutment of the old Free Bridge washed away, the abutments of North Market Street Bridge were damaged, and both ends of the Diestelhorst Bridge were under water, effectively cutting off vehicle traffic both north and east. The new rail trestle over the river was badly damaged as well.

In a 1994 Covered Wagon article, John Fitzpatrick recounts pushing a “borrowed” flat car of dairy products north across the trestle to replenish communities, such as Buckeye, that were completely cut off from the food supply. Sadly, that car was also used to ferry back the body of 19-year-old Irene Clement who had drowned in Salt Creek as the result of a car accident. Fitzpatrick reports that on the return trip, the trestle began to buckle as one of the supports gave way. They abandoned the flat car and carried Irene back to Redding.

diestelhorst
The Diestelhorst Auto Camp was destroyed in the Flood of ’40.

As we know from this February, Shasta Dam only controls river flooding; it does not prevent it entirely. Nor does it prevent downstream flooding from heavy rains or localized flash flooding. River flooding severe enough to make news across the state has occurred many times since 1940. For example, the San Bernardino County Sun reported a 70,000 cfs release in January of 1953 that flooded homes, ruined a new dance hall, and flooded the Riverview golf course. In February of 1970, the Red Bluff Daily News announced that 14 northern counties, including Shasta, were to receive Federal Disaster Relief funds as a result of heavy flooding. The El Niño of 1983 brought February flash floods and high releases, as reported in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

What’s the moral of this story? Pay attention to the weather because Mother Nature bats cleanup and chin up, it could be 1862!

From the Vault: West Coast Biennial

West Coast Biennial is BACK! This year marks the fourth Biennial at Turtle Bay Exploration Park. This art competition and exhibition is the brainchild of Mary and John Harper. Mary is our former Education Manager and John, a long time instructor at Shasta College, is a former Curator of Art at the Redding Museum of Art and History. They wanted to restart a tradition and oh boy did they!

2011 West Coast Biennial
2011 West Coast Biennial

The Redding Museum held an annual art competition and exhibition associated with the Art and Craft Faire for many years. The move to the new museum building in 2002 put that contest on hold until we could figure out a way to organize it in the new space. Mary formed The Friends of the Arts at Turtle Bay from the existing Arts Council and set about turning this dream into a reality. We had a small “logistics” run with the Find Your Walden in Redding photo contest in 2010.

2011 Best in Show – James Allison’s Cable Mechanics
2011 Best in Show – James Allison’s Cable Mechanics

The contest and exhibition are biennial, meaning they happen every other year. Artists must be from California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska and pieces must have been made in the previous three years and can’t have been previously shown at Turtle Bay. It is juried by a new outside juror each time. Past jurors include Santa Rosa-based artist, instructor, and curator Bob Nugent; the Crocker Museum’s Associate Director and Chief Curator, Scott Shields; the Portland Art Museum’s Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art, Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson; and this year’s juror Michael Duncan, an art critic and independent curator based in Los Angeles.

2013 Best in Show – Jim Gilmore with his piece Paoha
2013 Best in Show – Jim Gilmore with his piece Paoha

Jurors choose the entries that will be included in the exhibition from digital images. All of the artist information is withheld during this process to prevent prejudice. The juror then visits Turtle Bay and sees the chosen pieces in person to determine the prizewinners and to give a juror’s talk open to the public for free. Michael Duncan spoke on the Bay Area artist Bruce Conner. You can see a video of that talk here.

2011 Biennial
Biennial, seen here in 2011, offers guests a lot of diverse media. There really is something for everyone.

The exhibition always opens the night of Redding’s Cultural Cruise, a long-standing, free, city wide event that falls on the last Friday every January. West Coast Biennial usually brings in a larger than usual cruising crowd to Turtle Bay that night. About 375 people saw the 2017 Biennial on opening night. The following day, local artist Lura Wilhelm, who has a piece in the exhibition, gave a painting demonstration. Oh yeah, and we have a winner. Best in Show goes to Gina Herrera for her piece Rocking the Future. You will just have to come in and see it!

Are you an artist working in California, Oregon, Washington, or Alaska? Keep an eye out for the next contest announcement in August 2018!

2015 Biennial
2015 Best in Show Hansel and Gretel by Katherine Ace is on the right.
2015 Biennial
Every Biennial, seen here in 2015 is different. The combination of entries and outside jurors makes for a new experience each time.
2013 Biennial
The crowd awaits the announcement of the winners at the 2013 West Coast Biennial.

The Vault is Always Open!

Curatrix Julia

 

 

From the Vault: Staff Picks coming soon to the Museum!

Door to collections
What’s behind the heavily secured door? It’s a treasure trove of stories and information contained in objects, documents, and art.

What would you choose if you were given the opportunity to look through Turtle Bay’s Permanent Collection for an object to exhibit; a vintage coffee grinder or a hundred-year-old typewriter perhaps? Or are you more of a beaded evening bag sort of person? Would you choose something you already know or something you want to learn more about?

This is exactly what we asked the Turtle Bay staff to do for the next glass case exhibition in the main gallery. (We usually call this display space the “basket case” for a number of reasons.) Normally only the Collections and Exhibitions staff and volunteers access the Collections Facility, but we wanted to find out what would happen if everyone was given a chance to run wild (with gloves on – of course) among the museum’s 35,000 objects.

Coding
Once staff learned our not-so-secret-code, they can locate things on the shelves that they have found in the database.

Staff were given object handling training and some parameters. The object has to fit in the case, can’t have been exhibited in the past year, and can’t be a work of art – for reasons that will become clear next fall (cue evil Curatrix laugh). After ruling out these objects people were given the choice of doing a targeted search by using our database or to “go shopping” in the aisles, or any combination of the above.

Once an object is chosen, the staff member is given all of the information we have about it. From there, everyone was left to write about their choice in whatever style they want, from deep research to an essay about the choice itself, or both – as long as it fits on a single sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper in a readable font size. (See, I really am looking out for you.)

Behind the curtain
A place for everything. Staff got to pull back the curtains and open the boxes that house and protect our collection.

Some people have very specific reasons for their choice; say a passion for Disney or a special connection with another country. Others have had an appealing or intriguing object catch their eye. People have been coming over and searching in groups and it has been great way to get to know each other better. How else would we know that the Curator of Animal Programs and the Curator of Collections and Exhibits share a passion of old technology? You should see us in the typewriter section. Seriously, it’s embarrassing.

So far the most common things we’ve heard are “Wow, there’s so much stuff!” and (my favorite) “It’s so organized!” If it weren’t, we’d never find anything!

I am really looking forward to seeing how this comes together and to seeing how all of you react to it. Do you think you can predict what our Guest Services team or the Retail Manager chose? What about the Creative Services Officer or our animal trainers? What does the Horticulture Manager have in common with one of our baristas? You’ll just have to come see us January 27 for the Cultural Cruise to find out. Can’t make the Cruise? The Staff Picks exhibition will be up until April 30, 2017.

 

The Vault is Always Open!

 

Curatrix Julia (It’s official now – I have my Snoopy Plate.)

Curatrix

From the Vault: This Place Matters

Postcard
Postcard of Downtown Redding in the 1960s.

November 15 was the kick off meeting for the This Place Matters coalition in Redding. Turtle Bay was in attendance and we decided this was the perfect time to launch a new program we have been thinking about for a while. People love maps and aerial and historic photos. We are often asked questions about buildings, businesses, and neighborhoods. Sometimes we know the answer and sometimes we don’t.

Former Shasta High
Part of the Westside in 1936. The former Shasta High School – now Learning Center – is in the center. Unknown photographer.

We have photos of homes that no longer exist, of whole blocks that have been forever altered by redevelopment, and of neighborhoods that bear witness to a developer’s dream realized. Old, new, or somewhere in between, these are the places we live. The places we love. It’s time to put all this information together for easy public access.

Like our Famous Families project, this will be an on-going, additive endeavor. Working with the Shasta Historical Society, the City of Redding Planning Department, and YOU we want to discover and share the stories of the neighborhoods of Redding and the surrounding area. We hope this will grow to encompass other local communities.

Across town
Looking northeast across town. Probably taken in the teens. Note the Lorenz Hotel in the just above and to the right of center. Photo by Chester Mullen.

When we talk about local history, we tend to focus on the oldest possible stuff, which is great, but we don’t want to ignore more recent history. It doesn’t have to be “antique” to be interesting.

Do you have a neighborhood story? We want to hear it! Do you have neighborhood photos to share? We want to borrow them! We will scan your images, give you back your originals with a digital copy, and credit you whenever we use them. Let us know via email: jcronin@turtlebay.org

New subdivision
A new subdivision! Note the flooded conditions. This was probably during the flood of 1940. Shasta Dam made a lot of new neighborhoods, like Lake Redding and the Garden Tract, possible by preventing regular flooding.
Temple Hotel
Tearing down the Temple Hotel for redevelopment. Unknown photographer.

 

The Vault is always open!

Curatrix Julia

From the Vault: Digging into the Past and Mining the Future for new Exhibitions

While we are known for bringing in exhibitions such as Titanic: The Exhibition, A T-rex Named Sue, and Art of the Brick, or the upcoming Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids from the American Museum of Natural History, much of what we do focuses on our region and happens in collaboration with local organizations and people.

Hauling Hay
Photo by Chester Mullen

Right now, we are creating Rooted in this Land: Growing Food in Shasta County. This exhibition bubbled to the surface while we were discussing Shasta County’s first post-European-contact industries. Trappers came through the area, but they did not settle and start communities. The mining and timber industries were both vitally important to our early and on-going local economy, but they did not come first. That honor goes to ranching and farming.

Euro-American settlers, such as Shasta County’s first non-native resident, P.B. Reading, came here to settle on the land and to use that land to produce food. The property the Museum sits on was part of Reading’s original land grant.

This land use was at odds with the Native American tribes who already lived here and it has permanently altered the landscape and environment in unanticipated ways. It has also provided food to millions and livelihoods to many thousands of people, some of them in multi-generational family businesses.

Prunes
Drying Prunes
Photo by Chester Mullen

From historic cattle drives to modern Internet auctions and from sun-dried prunes and walnuts to organic wild rice and strawberries, things have changed over the years, but agriculture is still a big business in our region and it is part of our culture. So help us celebrate it!

Equipment
Farm Equipment for Sale
Photo by Chester Mullen

The exhibition will run from January 21 – April 30, 2017. If you have an idea or a local story you want to share or equipment to display, please email me (jcronin@turtlebay.org) or give us a call at 530-242-3191. The sooner the better!

 

The Vault is Always Open!

The Curatrix

Cattle
Grazing Cattle
Photo by Chester Mullen

 

From The Vault: Campaigns & Elections!

Things are heating up on the campaign trail as candidates go head to head in anticipation of the national, state, and local November elections. In this age of TV ads, instant news, social media, web sites, and the ability to contribute electronically to the candidate of your choice, we take a step back to remember other means of campaigning. Some of these, like the handy lapel pin or poster, have not changed over the years. Others, such as campaign cards, seem a little less familiar. The ballot bag is a tried and true method of getting the votes back to be counted.

Take a break from the digital onslaught and enjoy some of the campaign and election artifacts from Turtle Bay’s collection. (And no, it did not escape my notice that you are on our website reading this blog electronically!)

Campaign Cards

 

Campaign Buttons

Candidate shirtNothing shows support like wearing a t-shirt for your candidate.

2000.2.3 Gift of Lupe & Carl Arness

 

 

 

 

 

Yard signs

Posters and yard signs are also popular. This was from the 1988 special election to save the Shasta County Library. It worked!

1989.26.1 Gift of Howard & Marion Adams

 

 

 

4Campaigns are not without controversy. Jesse Carter didn’t have a website, he had a typewriter. ­­

1992.7.7 Gift of Clay McClain

 

 

 

 

Ballot Bag

Ballot Bag

Ballot bags from local elections. Clearly those cards worked and W. O. Blodgett won an election for County Clerk at least once!

SHS1982.18.2 & 3 Gifts of Virginal Dare Hammans

 


The Vault is Always Open!

 

Curatrix Julia