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.
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.
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!
Who knows what the future holds, but here is to twenty more successful years!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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!
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 (email@example.com) or give us a call at 530-242-3191. The sooner the better!
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!)
Nothing shows support like wearing a t-shirt for your candidate.
2000.2.3 Gift of Lupe & Carl Arness
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
Campaigns are not without controversy. Jesse Carter didn’t have a website, he had a typewriter.
1992.7.7 Gift of Clay McClain
Ballot bags from local elections. Clearly those cards worked and W. O. Blodgett won an election for County Clerk at least once!
In celebration of our rapidly growing hotel, the current Spotlight on Northstate History in the Museum features the former hotels of Redding. This is the two dimensional version for those of you who cannot make it down here to see it in person – complete with artifacts and a map.
When the railroad arrived in Redding in 1872 a need for accommodations quickly arose in the new town. Hotels immediately began springing up near the new depot. Of all the hotels that have come and gone, four of the oldest that remain today are the Lorenz, The Empire Hotel building (now the Empire Recovery Center), the Hotel Redding building on Market Street and the Western Hotel building at the corner of Yuba and Oregon streets, west of the Post Office. None of these buildings serve their original purpose. Current motels and hotels are not included here.
The hotels list below is by no means complete, as information and photos are often scarce, but it gives us a picture of which early hotels have come and gone since 1872, and what is there now.
Many of these hotels were residence accommodations where people lived full time, or for weeks at a time while they were “In town.” Others catered to business and pleasure travelers.
According to an article in the 1976 Covered Wagon, “The first Depot Hotel was built in 1872 by the California & Oregon Railroad as a dining, drinking, and eating establishment for its passengers. A second Depot Hotel, considered first class, was built in 1885 at the present site of the Redding Amtrak Station. It was built when Redding was the end of the railroad and a busy place, but by 1900 it had become outmoded and unnecessary. With the Lorenz being built so near the Depot, the owners chose to tear it down. Mr. W.J. Gillespie, the manager, and his clerk went over to the Lorenz and brought with him several pieces of old lobby furniture from the Depot. The caption on an undated photo of this hotel from a newspaper article states ”old Southern Pacific Hotel stood on the lot of the present train depot.”
The Paragon Hotel was built in 1883 by George Groves, a native of England, who came to Redding 1878. In 1887 he built the Del Monte Hotel. It burned some time after 1903
The Stump Ranch Hotel was erected in October 1873 by William Thompson on the west side of Market Street between Butte & Tehama streets. Later proprietors were Frank & Carrie Thompson. It was the headquarters for the Redding & Copper City Stage Line. It was later named the Tremont Hotel.
Castle Hotel, Redding Restaurant and Lodging House, A. S. Castle prop was a very early hotel. An article in the Redding Independent Aug 1881 chronicles a fire that broke out on California Street between Tehama and Butte and in less than two hours consumed 11 businesses among them the A. Castle Hotel with a loss $5000 and no insurance.
In 1885 Harriet Major opened the Major Hotel on Market Street opposite the post office. An article in the Redding Free Press June 20, 1885 states “She was well-known throughout Shasta County as a splendid housekeeper and she knows what good accommodations consist of”.
The California Hotel was built by Frank Miller and was situated upstairs from the Oasis Café, and next door to the Ohio Café. As the buildings in the area grew old, the neighborhood declined into a little “skid row” and the building was torn down in 1962. In the opinion of Mabel Frisbie it could possibly have been Redding’s oldest brick building, “predating the one Mr. Bush built”. It is uncertain if there is truth to this claim.
The Del Monte Hotel was built in about 1887 by Mr. and Mrs. George Groves, who had also built the Paragon Hotel. It was located on the hill just south of the Court House where the jail is today. The Women’s Improvement Club was organized there in 1902. It housed many permanent residents who wished for a homelike and quiet place to live. There was always a waiting list for rooms, especially young men who wanted to rent apartments away from the noise of downtown. A well on the property produced more water than was needed, (10,000 gallons per hour) so Mr. Groves laid pipes to the business center of Redding. In 1934, Orr Chenoweth remarked that, “George Groves was a landscape gardener of considerable ability and the Del Monte grounds were a beautiful private park.” It was torn down in 1960.
The Idanha Hotel at the southeast corner of Pine and Yuba Streets was built in the 1880s, destroyed by fire in 1913, later rebuilt, then torn down in 1963. It was a large wooden building with a covered porch across the entire front. The Idanha was home to many local bachelors and the boarding house for Benton Ranch harvest crews. On winter evenings they would play cards in the tiny lobby in the corner of the building and in the summer they would move their chairs outside onto the sidewalk to keep cool. At one time it was operated by Mrs. Kathlerine (Kate) Lean who had a popular boarding house connected with it. Meals were 22 cents each. Later her daughter, Clara Rise, ran it for many years and did all the work herself.
The Redding Hotel was built in 1872 by Stewart and Gray, the former soon retiring and Gray continuing the business until August 1873, when Barney Conroy took charge and it was known as the Conroy Hotel. It included a bar, large fireproof wine cellar, and was also the location of the stage office that provided daily service to all points north and east. It stood on the site of the present post office. A photo from the 1917 Memorial Day parade shows the name Hotel Redding on one sign, and Hotel Reading on another! But it is not to be confused with the newer Hotel Redding on Market Street. This hotel burned to the ground in 1917.
The Temple Hotel was built by the Redding Masonic Lodge, completed in 1894 and lasted until 1964. It was located at the corner of Tehama and Market Streets and had 100 rooms and one bathroom. In the early days most people bathed once a week, so on Saturday the rush was on. The first floor housed the offices, lobby, dining room and kitchen and general operation of the hotel. The second floor was divided into rooms. About half of the 3rd and 4th floors were reserved for the use of the Masons with the rest serving as hotel rooms. Mr. and Mrs. Henry Clineschmidt managed the building. In 1906 the Masonic Building Association sold the hotel to the Clineschmidts and their family managed it for 3 generations. [Covered Wagon 1970]
It was a brick Gothic revival building four stories high, making it the tallest building north of Sacramento. At one time the hotel sent an omnibus driven by two handsome gray horses to meet each train as it arrived in order to attract and carry passengers to the hotel.
In the early 1900’s waitresses received $20 a month plus room and board while the head cook was paid $56. The kitchen staff killed, cleaned, and plucked its own chickens which were sold live to the hotel for $3.75 per dozen. Butter brought by Herman Giessner from Cassel was 50 cents per pound.
The Western Hotel is on Oregon Street west of the railroad tracks near the present day Post Office at the southwest corner of Oregon and Yuba streets. The building was originally three stories, but some time after 1917 a fire burned the third floor, which was removed. Today there are businesses at street level and small apartments on the second floor.
The Golden Eagle Hotel, built at the southeast corner of California & Yuba Streets in 1888, boasted 100 rooms. It was supposed to be named the Hotel Gronwoldt but when dishes were ordered and unpacked the new service was marked Golden Eagle. The Grondwoldts gave up, kept the crockery, and it became the Golden Eagle Hotel. At the time, California Street was mostly rocks, hills and hollows. In summer the streets were inches deep in dust and almost impassible with mud in winter.
Mabel Frisbie sometimes stayed at the Golden Eagle before 1900 when her family came to town from French Gulch. Her uncle, John Lowdon, was the manager at the time. She remembers there was a large lobby on the street floor which served as a meeting place for people who came to town from the country. The restrooms off the lobby were a great convenience.
The Golden Eagle was consumed by a fire of unknown origin on Sept 22, 1962. At least one person died and damage was estimated at over $500,000. It had been one of Redding’s finest convention, dining, and rooming establishments.
The Lorenz Hotel site was originally a large pond full of mosquitoes reaching north to Placer Street along the tracks. Freight wagons were often mired in the bog. Then Susan Lorenz chose the site hoping to catch the trade of people coming in on the trains. Working with pick, shovel, and wheelbarrows, the area was excavated until solid ground was reached and on this ground Mrs. Lorenz built the four-story building. It is the third oldest brick building in the city that is still standing. The first is the Odd Fellows Hall and second the old Bank of America building on the northeast corner of Market & Butte streets. The sandstone blocks at the front of the Lorenz Hotel were cut at Sand Flats a few miles north of Redding and installed by William J. Masterson of the Redding Marble Works. The building was completed and opened in 1902, although Judge Eaton said when the hotel was new the numbers “1901” were high up on the front of the building.
In the beginning there were 44 rooms on each floor, 132 rooms in all and not all had private bathrooms. By 1987 there were 26 rooms on each floor and generally one bathroom to be shared between 2 sleeping rooms.
In 1903 the Shasta High graduating class held their graduation dance at the Lorenz Hotel. At the time the streets were still dirt and mud and travel was by horse and buggy. A fire in 1937 necessitated many repairs including the addition of an elevator.
The Lorenz is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Hotel Redding, at 1748 Market Street, was built in 1927 on the site of the first two-story house built in Redding in 1872 by Chauncey Bush. It is a three-story concrete and terra cotta Mission Revival building and featured a rooftop swimming pool when built. It became part of the Market Street revitalization and demonstration block in the late 1990s. Today the building is residential.
Newspaper article July 10, 1935:
You often hear of a race between the stork and an ambulance but seldom one where the stork leaves the ambulance at the post. Early this morning a son was born to Mr. and Mrs. William J. Morrison at the Hotel Redding with only a few moments warning. The ambulance, however, caught up, and did double duty in transporting mother and son to the Dozler sanitarium.
The Columbus Hotel was built by Domenico Mazzoni who came to America in 1890, eventually coming to Shasta County. He saved his money and sometime before 1908 acquired enough to go into the hotel business with a friend. He built the Columbus Hotel on California Street atthe later site of the Empire Hotel.
The Empire Hotel in Redding (there was also an Empire Hotel in Shasta) was built in 1918 at 1233 California St. on the previous site of the Columbus Hotel which had been destroyed by fire. It was partially made with large bricks, 9” x 13” x 6” thick from the Balaklala smelter smokestack at Coram. Today the building houses the Empire Recovery Center.
Hotel Casa Blanca was built in 1950 on a 5 acre lot half that was a mile north of Redding on US 99 on north Market Street. It boasted having “50 Ultra Modern Motel Air-Conditioned Units, each with private telephone, fully carpeted, Beauty Rest-equipped, and serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails.” It was torn down about 2002 and the property is now owned by the McConnell Foundation.
Photos exist of several other area hotels but no further information has been found. They are Hotel Central, 1353 Butte St. (at the corner of Market & Butte), Yuba Hotel at 1423 Yuba, and the City Hotel on Market St in 1872.
A lot has changed in the past 100 years, but we can use Turtle Bay’s collection of photographs and artifacts to step back in time and take a peek at 1916 and see what life was like for Redding’s residents in the year Woodrow Wilson was elected President and before the US entered WWI.
Imagine Downtown Redding before the Cascade Theater and before the Mall. This photo by Chester Mullen was shot on July 3, 1916 and features the San Francisco Nationals Band in an Independence Day parade through downtown Redding. The photographic record suggests that parades in Redding were more frequent than they are today and that they were a great source of public entertainment.
If you were driving down the street that day, your license plate tag looked like this. Even though we were not yet at war, a conservation effort was on and the State stopped issuing new plates each year and gave out tags instead, as they do today. (1992.14.1 – Gift of K. M. Crawford)
Imagine seeing this edifice on the corner of Placer and Court Streets. The Shasta County Courthouse and Hall of Records were prominent on the Redding skyline until 1963. This photo was taken in about 1912 by Chester Mullen.
Now the County Jail dominates that corner. We have parts of the Courthouse’s outside staircase in the collection–exhibited here in 2013’s Gowns to Gold Pans. (SHSX102 – Gift of Anonymous Donor).
Imagine Redding before Shasta Dam. Lake Redding formed when the ACID diversion dam was built. The Diestelhorst Bridge was completed in 1915, creating a swimming and diving mecca. Carnivals and contests brought participants from all over. The swimming hole became a popular place to cool off and it was one of Chester Mullen’s favorite subjects.
Bystanders and audience members at this 1920s Water Carnival wore very different clothing than we do today. Men, imagine wearing wool trousers, a long-sleeved shirt, suspenders, and a tie in Redding in July! Ladies were fully and respectably dressed as well and used parasols to shade themselves. Miss Cottonwood’s bathing suit showed a lot of skin for the time.
The photo on the left was taken on July 4, 1915 at an event in front of Freight Depot. Once again, everyone is fully dressed. Many events took place near the railroad hub. It was the center of town and the train brought people, freight, correspondence, dignitaries, and news to Redding. Note the vehicles in the background. Several local dealers and repair shops sprang up after automobiles reached Redding in about 1906.
If you had a car in 1916, you would have been driving around in something like the cars sold by Hersey’s. And you may have driven to San Francisco for the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915. (2000.24.84 – Gift of Carolyn McHenry).
Mt. Lassen dominates the eastern skyline. Imagine living here when it was erupting. Even though the climactic eruption happened in 1915, the volcano continued to spit out steam for a couple of years afterward as the snow melted into the hot crater. Redding residents had to wonder if something bigger was going to happen. Chester Mullen photographed the mountain extensively.
At the same time the earth was filling the air with smoke, steam, and ash, numerous copper companies in the hills around town were polluting the air with the toxic byproducts of copper smelting. The chemicals in the air denuded the hillsides of vegetation and changed the view from town significantly. It was an environmental disaster, but many businesses and families were dependent on copper mining for their livelihood. When the copper bust hit after WWI ended in 1918, Redding entered an early economic depression. There was very little new construction until the 1930s.
Volcanoes and smelters were not the only things putting smoke into the air. Structure fires were a frequent occurrence in a time when people cooked and heated with fire and many still read by the glow of oil lamps or gas lights. The Hotel Redding on Yuba Street burned in 1917. It was just one of many large fires that changed the face of Redding’s downtown. The presence or absence of these buildings helps us use undated photos to “tell time.” Oh, and if you did have electric lights in your house in 1916, your bulbs might have looked like this. (1981.70.27 – Gift of Leona Galley).
These are just a few of the photos and objects in Turtle Bay’s collection that tell the story of life in Redding.