The Sacramento Valley Railroad

From the early 1800s New England boasted railroads, factories, and telegraph lines–but prior to the Gold Rush, California was a pastoral land with none of these hallmarks of civilization. The first railroad west of the Mississippi was the Sacramento Valley Railroad, officially opened for passenger and freight transport in Continue reading The Sacramento Valley Railroad

General Mariano Vallejo

Long before the United States acquired California from Mexico, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo was already an important man. Born in Monterey to an aristocratic Spanish family 15 years before Mexico achieved its independence from Spain and assumed control of California, he was educated by tutors and maintained a love of Continue reading General Mariano Vallejo

The Pioneers: Edwin Bryant

Edwin Bryant, the author of What I Saw in California (published in 1848) was a Kentucky journalist who undertook the perilous overland journey in 1846 as a literary mission, intending to write a first-hand report on the advantages and disadvantages of life on the new frontier. “Westering fever” was already drawing Continue reading The Pioneers: Edwin Bryant

The Pioneers: Theodore Judah

Theodore Dehone Judah was the brilliant engineer and visionary who convinced a group of merchants, and the United States Congress, that it was possible to build a railroad across the razorback spine of the Sierra Nevada. His dream was the 19th century equivalent of today’s Space Program. Born in 1826 in Continue reading The Pioneers: Theodore Judah

The Pioneers: Jacob Leese

Ohio-born Jacob Primer Leese, aged 21, was a trapper in Arkansas and soon afterwards a trader in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He first came to Mexican-owned California in 1833 to transport mules between New Mexico (also a Mexican province) and Southern California, returning in 1834 to settle briefly in Los Angeles. Two Continue reading The Pioneers: Jacob Leese