Living Columns & Blogs

Remember when ...

Scene of former town of Bagby, now under Lake McClure near the Bagby Bridge. This town was a stop on the rail line from Merced to El Portal.
Scene of former town of Bagby, now under Lake McClure near the Bagby Bridge. This town was a stop on the rail line from Merced to El Portal. Sierra Star / Fresno Flats Archives

Compiled by Debby Carter from the archives of Fresno Flats Research Library and the Sierra Star

50 years ago

The Oakhurst Chamber of Commerce will discuss proposed airport sites at its meeting and will decide whether or not to endorse any of the three suggested sites: Malum Ridge, Bass Lake, or Big Cedar Springs. Robert Wall, Madera County planner, will be on hand to answer questions. Also on the agenda is a vote on whether to endorse a proposed Jobs Corp Camp north of the Sierra Sky Ranch.

Dedication ceremonies for the new Highway 49 Bagby Bridge across the Merced River. Historic Bagby will be the third early gold mining community to go under the waters of Lake McClure behind the new Exchequer Dam.

Classified ad: three-bedroom cabin in the pines and cedars, 3,500 feet elevation, fireplace, $10,750.

40 years ago

Gas prices are up again. The retail price of regular grades of nationally advertised brands has risen about a penny a gallon since July 4 according to a survey by the AAA. Full service stations are asking an average of 64.9 cents a gallon. The pattern of high prices in resort areas and lower prices in metropolitan areas continues to prevail.

School bus alarms are being considered. State Senator George N. Zenovich announced that he is planning to introduce legislation to prevent a repeat of the mass kidnapping that occurred in Chowchilla when 26 children were abducted on their bus as they returned from school. The emergency signaling devices would be audible for a great distance and would admit a sound that is distinct from any other kind of emergency signal.

The Madera County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to send the Oakhurst library and firehouse out for bid, despite strong opposition by Board Chairman Jack Schmitz. The project also calls for an ambulance bay. An earlier call for bid had a low offering of $165,000. Supervisor Cornwell said that “the longer we stall, the more it’s going to cost.” He’s learned that there has been an increase of 20% for some materials since the project first went out for bid.

Midway Super Market advertises: cantaloupe, sweet and juicy, four for $1.00; fresh Pineapple 59 cents each; Libby’s Catsup 33 cents for 14 ounce bottle; Bartlett Pears 19 cents a pound.

30 years ago

Highway 49’s Golden Chain Council has been selected to receive the state’s first rural tourism grant. The nine county organization, including Madera, will receive $12,750 from the state office of tourism to finance attendance at consumer and trade shows where regional attractions and services can be promoted. The grant is a new facet of “The Californias” tourism campaign.

“Buzz” and Joann Baxter are named the grand marshals for the 1986 Mountaineer Days. Both of them have been named as Citizen of the Year, he in 1970, and she in 1974. They donated the Marge Lyman house to the Sierra Historic Sites Association, and are life members of that organization. They have been active in many of the community’s affairs and organizations, and have had many honors bestowed upon them. When told of this latest honor, Dr. Baxter laughed and said, “I’m not old enough to be grand marshal.”

Congressman Richard H. Lehman wrote the following in response to a letter from a local resident: “I have received many complaints about the proposed bingo parlor at the Picayune Rancheria in Madera County, and I have written to the BIA in Sacramento. There is a bill in the U.S. Senate that would not outlaw Indian gambling, but would put stricter regulations on it. The bill is not yet law, and may not be so in time for your proposal. Write to the BIA of your objections and concerns.”

20 years ago

A photographer representing Money Magazine (MM) is in Oakhurst. Thor Swift, a freelance photographer from Fresno, is working for an MM editor located in New York, and has been instructed to bring back photos of local people and businesses integrated with the mountains. Earlier this year, MM listed “Oakhurst/North Fork” as sixth in “America’s 50 Hottest Little Boomtowns” with populations of 50,000 or less.

A total of 2,770 acres burned in the Stumpfield fire, which started one-half mile off Hirsch Road in Mariposa County. In addition to the brush and oak woodlands that burned, 15 residences and three outbuildings were destroyed. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The estimated loss was listed at $1,030,500. At the peak of the firefighting effort, 1,961 people were working on the blaze.

Yosemite High baseball coach George McWherter captured his sixth United States Amateur Baseball Association World Series title when his Central Valley All-Stars 18-and-under squad won the World Series in Fresno. Former YHS standout Corey Miller was named Most Outstanding Pitcher. In a twist of irony, Central Valley captured a 6-1 championship win over ValliWide, a team coached by YHS assistant coach Dan Roberts. ValliWide included former YHS players Mark Villasenor, Chad Jacobs, and Jeremy Green.