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

CA Places: Bodie

Once a good-sized mining town, Bodie today is a ghost town preserved in a state of arrested decay.  Gold was discovered there in 1859, but it was not until 1875, when a mine cave-in revealed gold in quantity, that the town’s population expanded from 3,000 to about 10,000. It was named for the site’s 1859 discoverer, but the Continue reading CA Places: Bodie