Explorer John Charles Fremont, later a Civil War general, gave the Golden Gate its name in 1846. He was comparing San Francisco Bay to the harbor at Constantinople known as the Golden Horn. The entrance to San Francisco Bay had been found in a 1769 Spanish land expedition led by Jose de Ortega, who didn’t Continue reading CA Places: The Golden Gate
Today no longer in existence, Sutterville was proudly established in the mid-1840s by pioneer John Augustus Sutter. Hoping for and anticipating increased American immigration to California, he knew his fort’s trading post near the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers wouldn’t be adequate to supply Continue reading CA Places: Sutterville
Now the largest city in northern California, San Jose was founded November 29, 1777, twenty years before Mission San Jose was built, as a farming community to provide food for Spain’s presidios (forts) in Monterey and San Francisco Bay. Its original name was El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe (the Town of Saint Continue reading CA Places: San Jose
Before bicycles and automobiles, city folk got about on foot or horseback, and in a variety of four-wheeled conveyances. A solitary horse could manage a light-weight buggy, but heavier wagons were generally powered by teams of mules or oxen. A “spike team” was a familiar term for an unusual turn-out of three oxen (two at the wheel and one in the lead) that always attracted much attention when it passed by on city streets.
Companies of wide-ranging American fur trappers were the trail blazers for subsequent explorers, gold rushers and settlers. The mountain passes they crossed, the routes they trod, and the valleys where they camped became the routes and stopping places that others followed. When the fur trade declined in the mid-1840s, many of these adventurous mountain men became emigrant guides to caravans of covered wagons.