The Cooper’s Art

Woodcraftsmen who made containers were called coopers, and the use of particular woods to suit each need was the cooper’s special art because each wood reacted differently, both in the crafting process and also to items that might be stored within.  The wet cooper, also known as a tight cooper, made staved casks Continue reading The Cooper’s Art

Boom Times, 1887

For 20 years southern California had poured money, and millions of printed words, into a publicity campaign to attract settlers from the eastern United States. Now in 1887 the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroads, locked in a fierce price war, reduced their fares so low that thousands of people who had been intrigued by the idea Continue reading Boom Times, 1887

Solar Eclipse

Residents of Northern California will not be able to see the partial solar eclipse that begins later today . . . but there was much excitement in 1854, when a full solar eclipse on May 26 gave San Franciscans an opportunity that would not occur again for many years: the chance to determine the difference of longitude between San Francisco and the principal Atlantic observatories.

Gold Miner’s Christmas

When Christmas came during the early Gold Rush years, thousands of predominantly male, mostly young gold-seekers were far away from ordinary comforts and the familiar faces back home. A number of preachers in the gold camps or town saloons offered short holiday services, and some miners dodged the pain of Continue reading Gold Miner’s Christmas

Creating Thanksgiving

President Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving as a national holiday in September 1863, following Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Prior to that, the observance was sporadically celebrated, mainly in the American North, as a day of feasting and merriment after the autumnal harvests. Sectionalism Continue reading Creating Thanksgiving