Note: Compiled by Debby Carter from the archives of Fresno Flats Research Library and the Sierra Star
50 years ago
☆ Only 27 acres of Sierra Forest land burned in the 1967 fire season announced Forest Supervisors Walter J. Puhn of the Sierra National Forest and Lawrence M. Whitfield of the Sequoia National Forest. This was the third most successful season since record-keeping began in 1911. In 1956 only 18 acres burned.
☆ Harry Baker unveiled Sierra Telephone’s plans for a new improvement program aimed at upgrading service by reducing the number of phones on party lines from 10 to four, or possibly even two party lines. He said that phones are being used three times as much as 10 years ago. There will be no increase in rates.
☆ Classified ads: 4 ¼ acres adjoining the national forest, with spring water piped to property and beautiful view. Only $5,950.
40 years ago
☆ Coarsegold resident, Velenya, is transforming Oakhurst Elementary School campus. She is painting a vast array of artwork on the walls of the school. She was originally hired to paint the trim on the buildings, but when it was discovered that she could paint figures and designs, the principal, Ray Langley, asked her to do some artwork around the campus.
☆ Thousands of drought-stricken trees in the Bass Lake District of the Sierra National Forest have died this year due to a massive assault by the western pine beetle, a tiny insect that bores itself into the bark of a tree and eventually chokes off the plant’s supply of water and nutrients. Four million board feet of timber have been lost. Ponderosa pines are the heaviest losses, but sugar pines are also under attack.
☆ Sierra Historical Sites Association members are thrilled with “an incredible donation” that has been given to them by Al LeGras. His collection of antique wagons and buggies will be part of the planned Fresno Flats Historical Park display. Leo Grizel, president of the SHSA, says the 13 pieces will be moved next year from Ahwahnee where they are now.
30 years ago
☆ Universal Studios is now filming Big Country (later changed to The Great Outdoors) at Bass Lake and The Pines Village, where a carnival, complete with a ferris wheel, was built in the parking lot. Two cabins were built at Pine Point with a special use permit from the USFS, and scenes were also filmed outside and inside of the historic Ducey’s Lodge on North Shore Drive. Dan Akroyd and John Candy are the stars of the film, which is using hundreds of local residents as extras. The movie centers around a summer vacation in the north woods.
The Madera County Film Commission, headed by Brian Wilkinson, was instrumental in getting Universal Studios to film portions of the movie at Bass Lake. The cast and crew of 150, were at the lake between Oct. 20 and Dec. 3, 1987, generating about $1.8 million in direct expenditures in the Mountain Area, including the hiring of more than 1,000 extras.
Six months after filming at Ducey’s, a kitchen fire totally destroyed the building on June 2, 1988.
☆ The Golden Chain Theatre will end its 20th anniversary season with a Christmas extravaganza featuring area youngsters. LaRetta Roope will be the director, and the choreography will be by Patti Law.
☆ Sierra Justice Judge Richard McMechan received word that he has been appointed judge of the Mariposa County Superior Court by Governor George Deukmejian. He will be Mariposa County’s sixth Superior Court judge since the court began in the 1860s. He will be up for election to the judgeship in June. Prior to his election to the Sierra Justice Court he had been in private law practice in Oakhurst.
20 years ago
☆ Leisurely touring Yosemite National Park in the comfort of your own vehicle - not to mention sitting idly in miles of stalled traffic may become things of the past in a few short years. The “Yosemite Valley Implementation Plan” was released by the NPS earlier this week. If all goes according to plan, visitors will leave their vehicles at shuttle sites in outlying towns such as Oakhurst and Mariposa.
☆ After almost 18 months of restoration work, the famous Naman Collection figurines are being put on display in store buildings throughout North Fork. The delightful Naman scenes were displayed at the Fresno District Fair from 1948 to 1975.
☆ Unranked Yosemite High School cross country teams pulled a stunning upset by bringing home the Valley Championship and runner-up honors from last Thursday’s California Interscholatic Federation Central Section Finals. Coach Ellen Peterson said, “We always run well when we emphasize our unity, strength and faith. No matter the conditions, opponents or odds, the Yosemite runners were committed to a great race, to helping each other succeed and finish with joy.”