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Tombstone Tourism talk highlights often-hidden part of Mountain Area landscape

Sharon Giacomazzi led a field trip last year to the Santa Cruz Cemetery near Hornitos. A participant in that Sierra Hiking Seniors group pauses to read the historic marker information at the entrance to the cemetery.
Sharon Giacomazzi led a field trip last year to the Santa Cruz Cemetery near Hornitos. A participant in that Sierra Hiking Seniors group pauses to read the historic marker information at the entrance to the cemetery. Special to the Sierra Star

Local author and historian Sharon Giacomazzi will share some of her discoveries of area tombstones and cemeteries in a free presentation, “Tombstone Tourism,” at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 3 at Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park.

The presentation will include cemeteries and grave sites from Sonora to Yosemite, Bass Lake, Raymond and near McSwain Reservoir. Those attending the presentation will have the opportunity to join Giacomazzi the following day, Aug. 4, on a field trip to visit some of the featured grave sites: Bass Lake where four men who worked on the dam are buried and the Westfall cemetery near Fish Camp.

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Sharon Giacomazzi, local author, hiker, backpacker and historian, will present “Tombstone Tourism” in a free program at Fresno Flats at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 3. The following day, she will lead a field trip to two area tombstone/cemetery sites. Debbie Sebastian Special to the Sierra Star

Giacomazzi has hiked and backpacked 13,000 miles of trails in the 35 years she has spent exploring the local mountain area but it has only been in the past year that she has focused her exploration on cemeteries and gravesites.

One of her favorites is the Cassaretto pioneer family gravesite near McSwain Reservoir. “It sits on a knoll overlooking the lake,” she explains. Another favorite, “because of the setting that is oh, so peaceful,” is the Grub Gulch cemetery which sits on private land along Road 600.

The self-described “very senior citizen” explains, “I have an insatiable curiosity and I’m also always jonesing around. I scour maps, I go on outings and I drive around a lot.”

Giacomazzi book cover
Sixty hikes are featured in Sharon Giacomazzi’s “Trails & Tales of Yosemite & the Central Sierra.”

Giacomazzi has published three books and a fourth will be published next year. Her “Trails & Tales of Yosemite & the Central Sierra” is a respected guide to 60 hikes in Yosemite and the surrounding Sierra. In addition to trail maps and photographs, she included introductory sections giving an overview of the history and geography of the hiking areas.

When the summers heat up, the author heads for cooler temperatures along Tioga Road and on the eastern side of the Sierra. These wanderings led to two additional books: “Exploring Eastern Sierra Canyons: Sonora Pass to Pine Creek” and “Exploring the Eastern Sierras: Bishop to Lone Pine.” Both books feature hikes, backpacks, campgrounds, wildflowers and histories of the areas.

Giacomazzi’s curiosity has led to new explorations and discoveries lately as she has been combing the area for unusual outhouses. Her article “Sierra Sitters” was published recently in the California Explorer. She has been a senior staff writer for that magazine for 20 years.

All of the author’s books are available locally at Branches Bookstore in Oakhurst and on Amazon.

Photos featured with the lecture were taken by Linda Shepler.

If you go

First Friday Free Lecture Series at Fresno Flats

Aug. 3: Tombstone Tourism with local author and historian Sharon Giacomazzi

Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park: 49777 School Road in Oakhurst

Time: Doors will open at 6 p.m. for the 6:30 p.m. lecture

Details: www.fresnoflatsmuseum.org or call 559-683-6570

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